Liturgical Year of the First United Methodist Church

The worship services of the United Methodist Church embrace the liturgical year, in which we celebrate the significant events in the life of Jesus Christ.  During the course of the Christian year, our worship services are marked by organized worship patterns including Christian symbols and colors specific to a Christian season.  The seven seasons interpreted by colors are:
 
·                  Advent –  Purple, blue (love, truth) red (love);
·                  Christmastide  – White and gold (purity, joy, glory);
·                  Epiphany  – Green (hope, regeneration);
·                  Lent  Purple (sorrow, penitence)
·                  Eastertide –  White and gold (purity, innocence)
·                  Pentecost –  Red (power)
·                  Kingdomtide – Green (growth)
 

Advent

“And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.”   Luke 2:3-4
 
Advent is the first season of the liturgical year and is a four-week period in which the church looks forward to the birth and incarnation of Jesus Christ. This season is observed for the four Sundays prior to Christmas. The lighting of the Advent Wreath in our worship services and in our homes is symbolic of our preparation for the Christmas season. The traditional liturgical colors for this season are purple and/or blue.  The trend of the Methodist Church today is to use blue or a  mixture of purple and blue, to visually separate a season of joy and waiting from the traditional purple of Lent, a time of sorrow.

 Christmastide

 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11

Christmastide is a joyous liturgical season. It is a season most dear to Christian hearts.  It  is the celebration of the birth of Christ and God’s coming among us as a human being. The Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve and ends on January 5, the eve of Epiphany on January 6. The traditional liturgical color for this season is white or white and gold.
The early Church selected December 25, the date of the winter solstice when God the Creator gives the sun an increase of natural light in northern hemispheres, as the day on which to celebrate the birth of the Jesus, the Light of the world. Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means “House of Bread.” To Bethlehem at Christmas comes the Savior, who is the Bread of Life. Our forebears gave the name Christmas to the feast of our Lord’s birth because they kept the Mass of Christmas, the “Christ Mass” as the heart of their celebrations.

Epiphany  

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold,
there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.”  Matthew 2:1
 
The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King. The colors of Epiphany are usually the same colors of Christmas, white and gold, the colors of celebration, newness, and hope that mark the most sacred days of the church year. Epiphany is the climax of the Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from December 25th until January 5th.  Epiphany colors extend to January 8 to celebrate the baptism of the Lord.
 
Ordinary Time  
“To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness”
Ecclesiastes 2:26
 
Following the Christmas season beginning on the third Sunday after Epiphany, there is a period of Sundays in which no special festival or occasion is being observed. Liturgically, this is known as Ordinary Time.  “Ordinary” comes from the same root as our word “ordinal”, and in this sense means “the counted weeks.” It is a time of renewal, rebirth, and regeneration of our spiritual lives. There are two Ordinary Time periods in the liturgical year, the weeks after Epiphany and Kingdomtide, the weeks after Pentecost. Ordinary Time lasts until Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent).  

Lent

“The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here.’”
Luke 4:9
The liturgical season of Lent lasts for 40 weekdays in remembrance of the 40 days and nights that Christ spent fasting in the desert, tempted by Satan. The beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday, is therefore dependent on the date of Easter. (Counting Ash Wednesday as number one, and skipping all Sundays, you will end up on Holy Saturday as number 40.) Lent is a time of penance, so that the faithful may share in the joys of Easter Sunday with purity of heart.

Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, while Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week. Holy Week recalls the events preceding and during the crucifixion, which occurred in Jerusalem in the Roman province Judea.

The color for the liturgical season of Lent is purple. 
 

Easter

“He is not here: for he is risen.” 
Matthew 28:6
 
Easter is a 50-day season consisting of seven Sundays, beginning with Easter Sunday, marking Jesus’ resurrection, and ending with Pentecost, the birth of the church through the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christians.  The focus of this season is the hope of new life that we have now that God has defeated the power of sin and death through the resurrection of Jesus.  The traditional liturgical colors of this season are white and/or gold.

Pentecost

“At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.”
 Matthew 3:16
 
Pentecost, occurring  the 50th day after Jesus’ resurrection, is the Church’s celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit.  John’s Gospel (20:19-23) tells of a visit of the Risen Christ to the disciples huddled in fear. “Peace be with you,” Jesus says. “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and added, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” They – and we, in turn – received the breath, the life of Jesus himself. We are God-breathed and Pentecost celebrates that reality. Many, in fact, think of Pentecost as the “birth day” of the Church, because it was on that day that we received the gift that has made it all possible.  We celebrate the season of Pentecost longer than is traditional – from the 50th day of Easter until the Labor Day Sunday, when Kingdomtide season begins.
 
The liturgical color for Pentecost is red symbolizing the blood of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit.    

Kingdomtide

“For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”  Matthew 17:20
 
In our church we celebrate Kingdomtide beginning on Labor Day Sunday until the beginning of Advent, which is the Sunday closest to November 30th.   Because Pentecost is traditionally so short (one Sunday), and Kingdomtide is so long, we prefer to stay in the season of Pentecost (red) until Labor Day Sunday, giving more time to emphasize the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit and to enjoy the spiritual lift from the liturgical color red for a few more weeks. 

Kingdomtide is a period of time when we as Christians share our faith with others, when we renew and reaffirm our own faith, and do the Lord’s work in our church, community, and our homes under the power bestowed by the descent of the Holy Spirit, which lives in us.