Father John Keeler has begun a series on the seasons of the church year. These are the first installments of the series; more will follow.
The Season of Advent
Advent is a season of quiet preparation for the birth of Christ. It is a time to reflect on the promises God made to the people of Israel and to the entire world that a messiah, a savior, would come to restore the world to a relationship with God.
We read in the Old Testament lessons during the Advent Season about the promises God made and kept in the incarnation. We reflect on these promises each Sunday as we prepare for the birth of Christ.
We are thankful for the promise kept during this time in our church year. We are also thankful that even though we prepare and wait, God is still there with us, waiting with us and not abandoning us as we go through our daily lives.
The Season after Epiphany
The season of Epiphany is a time when we should be surprised. It's the season where Jesus begins to show us who He is and gives us hints of what He came into the world to do.
We see Him stay behind after His parents leave Jerusalem, and surprise them when they find Him and see what He's doing. We see Jesus surprise John the Baptist at the Jordan River and maybe even be surprised Himself when the sky opens and the Holy Spirit in bodily form descends. We see Jesus, reluctant at first, then with unbounded generosity, turn water into wine.
We know these and other stories we read and think about during the Epiphany season, but are we surprised by them? Probably not, but we should be. If we look at them as stories that happened a long time ago or that we've heard before, there's not a lot to be surprised about. If we look at them differently, we might find that there are still surprises for us in these familiar stories. The way to look at them is not as old, familiar stories, but as stories that are for us in the world we live in. We read them and reread them, ask questions, and discover new surprises each time. We probe them to see how they relate to our lives and find that they often poke us back in surprising ways.
Epiphany is a season for surprises. We just need to look for them and expect them.
The Season of Easter
Easter lasts for fifty days, from Easter day to the feast of Pentecost. During this special period in our church year we illustrate that this is a very special time in several ways in our liturgy. The most noticeable is our Pascal Candle. You see it prominently as you enter our church. It symbolizes the risen Christ & the light of Christ to the world. This is further illustrated as it is the first candle lit & the flame is taken from the Pascal Candle to light the candles in & behind the altar. It is also the last candle extinguished at the end of our Sunday service. The Pascal candle is used at baptism illustrating the new life in Christ baptism brings and at funerals as a symbol of resurrection life.
Easter is celebrated for fifty days. One of the ways we mark this celebration is with our liturgy as we progress through our Church year. We display and light the Pascal candle each Sunday during our service. We also omit the confession of sin following the Prayers of the People. The rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) say that it may be omitted, on occasion. We use the occasion of the great fifty days of Easter to make this change in our liturgy. It reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate victory. Not that sin has been eliminated, it has not been, but that it has been defeated.
The Season after Pentecost
We are now in the season after Pentecost. The season begins on the Monday following the feast of Pentecost and goes through the feast of Christ the King, which is the Sunday before Advent.
This season is called Ordinary Time to separate it from the two great cycles of the year, Christmas and Easter. These might be thought of as extraordinary times.
The season after Pentecost is not “ordinary” in the usual use of the word.
The color we use during this time is green. It reminds us of living things and all of God’s creation. It also reminds us that all living things require water and nourishment to grow and be what they were designed to be. To live into their potential.
The season after Pentecost, the long green season, stretches from late spring through summer and into fall. It gives us time to reflect on the Church’s mission in the world, the Great Commission, and how we are a part of it, our baptismal vows. It gives us time to reflect on how to live the Christian life, to reflect on the grace from the two cycles we have experienced and to prepare to more fully celebrate them as we pass from ordinary to extraordinary time.
St. Alban's Episcopal Church 109 Brookside Drive Elberton, GA 30635