When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

28 October, 2012

The Church Year and Liturgical Colors

As the church year comes to a close over the next month, I thought it might be of benefit to share the beauty of our church calendar with you.  This will look familiar (probably identical) to many denominations, but to far too many--it will be foreign, which I think is a tragedy, but sadly to be expected with the lack of emphasis on tradition in most protestant churches.  In any liturgical church you attend (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Orthodox, etc.), you will likely notice that the colors around the church change at different times of the year as well.  That's included and explained below, from the Lutheran perspective (again, fairly similar in all liturgical churches).

There are three seasons to the church year: the Season of Christmas, the Season of Easter and the Season of the Church.  The LC-MS website has a good summary of these seasons, with details on what all the colors mean here.

Season of Christmas

Advent is the first part of the Church Year.  There are four Sundays in Advent (as we get closer, I will be posting more about each Sunday):
  • First Sunday in Advent, or Ad Te Levavi 
  • Second Sunday in Advent, or Populus Zion
  • Third Sunday in Advent, or Gaudete
  • Fourth Sunday in Advent, or Rorate Coeli
The color of Advent is purple (penitence) or blue (hopefulness), with pink (joy) on Gaudete Sunday.

We then have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  White, the color of purity and Christ, is the color of these celebrations.

Following Christmas, we have Epiphany, and the several Sundays after Epiphany, leading us into the second church year season.  Epiphany, like Christmas, is white (purity), while the following Sundays are green (growth).  On the first Sunday after Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord (also white), and on the final Sunday after Epiphany, we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday (white).  How many Sundays in Epiphany there are depends on when Easter falls.  The earlier in the year, the shorter the Epiphany Season.

Season of Easter

My favorite season of the church year begins with Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lent.  The colors of these days are black (sobriety) for Ash Wednesday, and purple (penitence) for Lent.

We then come to Holy Week, beginning with the triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the institution of the Last Supper and betrayal of Christ on Maundy Thursday, the crucifixion on Good Friday, and the Resurrection of Easter (or Resurrection Sunday).  The colors of Holy Week are scarlet (passion) for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, black (sobriety) for Good Friday and white (purity and Christ) and gold (denoting value).

There are seven Sundays following Easter before the final church season, the second to last Sunday being the Ascension of our Lord, all Sundays being white (purity and Christ).

Finally, the last Sunday in this season is Pentecost.  The color of Pentecost is red (power and fire).

Season of the Church

The first Sunday in this season is Trinity Sunday, where the Lutheran Church celebrates our Godhead and the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity with the Athenasian Creed.  The color of this Sunday is white (purity).  We then celebrate up to 25 more weeks of Pentecost, where the color is green (growth), until the final Sunday of the Church Year, then it all starts again.  Like Epiphany, the number of Sundays after Pentecost is determined by when Easter falls--the later in the year, the fewer Sundays after Pentecost there are.

Feast and Festivals, Commemorations

It surprises even some Lutherans I know to realize we have Feasts and Festivals, and Commemoration days in the Lutheran Church Calendar.

The list of Feasts and Festivals below comes from here.  For a list of all Commemoration days in the Lutheran Service Book, check here.  Most Feasts and Festivals are celebrated with red (power and fire).

November (30)
30 - St. Andrew, Apostle

21 - St. Thomas, Apostle
26 - St. Stephen, Martyr
27 - St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
28 - The Holy Innocents, Martyrs
31 - Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus

18 - The Confession of St. Peter
24 - St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor
25 - The Conversion of St. Paul
26 - St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor

2 - The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord
24 - St. Matthias, Apostle

19 - St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus
25 - The Annunciation of Our Lord

25 - St. Mark, Evangelist

1 - St. Philip and St. James, Apostles
31 - The Visitation (Three-Year Lectionary)

11 - St. Barnabas, Apostle
24 - The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
29 - St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

2 - The Visitation (One-Year Lectionary)
22 - St. Mary Magdalene
25 - St. James the Elder, Apostle

15 - St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord
24 - St. Bartholomew, Apostle
29 - The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

14 - Holy Cross Day
21 - St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
29 - St. Michael and All Angels

18 - St. Luke, Evangelist
23 - St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr
28 - St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
31 - Reformation Day

November (1-29)
1 - All Saints' Day

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