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Foundations

seasons of the church


Eastertide

The fifth season of the Christian year

Beginning with Easter, (also called Resurection Sunday) the season of Eastertide spans 50 days, and the color (particularly on Resurection Sunday) is White, the color of the Holiness. White symbolizes purity and celebration. Red can also be used on Sundays other than Resurection Sunday. Red is the color of the Church, symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit, God within us.

Easter is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the dead, demonstrating God's gift of eternal life, and vindicating Jesus as the Messiah.

The celebration continues for 50 days, the 40th of which is called Ascention Day, and celebrates Jesus ascent from earth to reside with the Father. Eastertide ends with Pentecost Sunday, the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit.


Pentecost

The coming of the Holy Spirit

The word “pentecost” means “fiftieth day.” Pentecost Sunday occurs 50 days following Easter Sunday (counting Easter Sunday since it is the first day of the week). Those 50 days span seven Sundays after Easter, so Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter. Since Easter is a “movable feast,” meaning that it occurs on different days in different years (it is tied to the lunar cycle while the calendar is solar based), Pentecost is also moveable. It can occur as early as May 10 and as late as June 13.

The color for Pentecost Sunday is red, the color of the church. Technically, red is used only for the Sunday of Pentecost, although some churches use red for the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost Sunday. The red symbolizes both the fire of Pentecost as well as the apostles and early followers of Jesus who were gathered in the Upper Room for the empowerment from God to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.


Ordinary Time After Pentecost

6th and Final season of the Christian year

Following the Eastertide Season, which encompasses the time of preparation during Lent and the celebration of Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost, the time following Eastertide is known as Ordinary Time. Rather than meaning "common" or "mundane," this term comes from the word "ordinal," which simply means counted time (First Sunday after Pentecost, etc.), which is probably a better way to think of this time of the year. Ordinary time following Pentecost begins after Pentecost Sunday, and ends with Christ the King Sunday, the final day of the Christian year, celebrating Christ as Lord of all.

The color for Ordinary Time is green, a color which has traditionally been associated with new life and growth. In Hebrew the word used for the color “green” also means “young.” In Christian tradition, green came to symbolize the life of the church and the hope of new life in the resurrection.


Advent

First season of the Christian year

The Christian year begins with Advent. The Advent season includes the four Sundays prior to Christmas and closes on December 24. The color is Purple, the color of royalty, as we await our coming King.

The word Advent comes from the Latin advenire, which means "coming." The season focuses on the coming of Jesus Christ in the past (as incarnate Son), in the present (as risen Lord), and in the future (as heavenly King). Thus we can say: "Christ has come, Christ is coming, Christ will come again." Advent is a season of joyous and solemn expectation.

One of the ways Advent is celebrated is with the Advent wreath. The Advent wreath is a circle of evergreens with four-colored candles, one each for each Sunday in Advent. These candles are often purple, although other colors may be used. There is a fifth, white candle in the center of the wreath, the Christ Candle. One of the purple candles is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. An additional candle is lit on each following Sunday, until all four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve.


Christmastide

Second season of the Christian year

Christmastide (also Christmas or the Christmas season) is the second season of the Christian year, and one of the most widely observed. It begins Christmas Eve, and runs to the evening of January 5th, the day before Epiphany. This period is also commonly known as Yuletide, as well as the Twelve Days of Christmas, as referred to in the Christmas carol of the same name. The color of Christmastide is white, symbolizing purity and celebration.

During Christmastide, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem, and all the magesty that surrounded that momentous night, from flights of angels calling shepherds from their fields and singing glory to God and peace to all the earth, to the bright shining star that would lead magi from distant lands, all coming to seek out and worship a king who lays in a manger, a sleeping baby, born of a virgin girl. The birth of Christ is the beginning of a new world.

He Is Come! Halleluja!


Epiphany

Also known as Three Kings Day

Epiphany, or Three Kings day, is the day following Christmastide, January 6th. The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." 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. In some Central and South American countries influenced by Catholic tradition, Three Kings’ Day, or the night before, is the time for opening Christmas presents.

The color of Epiphany is white, symbolizing purity and celebration.


Ordinary Time After Epiphany

Third season of the Christian year

Following the Christmas Season, which encompasses the time of preparation during Advent and the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas and Epiphany in early January (the 6th), the time following Epiphany is known as Ordinary Time. Rather than meaning "common" or "mundane," this term comes from the word "ordinal," which simply means counted time (First Sunday after Epiphany, etc.), which is probably a better way to think of this time of the year. Ordinary time following Epiphany begins January 7th and ends with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

The color for Ordinary Time is green, a color which has traditionally been associated with new life and growth. In Hebrew the word used for the color “green” also means “young.” In Christian tradition, green came to symbolize the life of the church and the hope of new life in the resurrection.


Ash Wednesday

First Day of Lent

Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter Sunday, is the first day of the Season of Lent. Its name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshippers’ heads or foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world. It not only illustrates the mourning at the death of Jesus, but also places the worshipper in a position to realize the consequences of sin. Ash Wednesday is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully Christian.


Lent

Fourth season of the Christian year

The season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but here it refers especially to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling.

Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self- examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that also includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. Lent is traditionally marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The color of the season is purple. During Lent, purple symbolizes both the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus as well as the suffering of humanity and the world under sin, but is also the color of royalty, and so anticipates through the suffering and death of Jesus the coming resurrection and hope of newness that will be celebrated in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.


Holy Week

The final week of Lent

Holy Week is the last week of Lent, the week immediately preceding Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday.) It begins on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) with a celebration of Jesus' "Triumphal Entry"into Jeruselem. It culminates in Maundy Thursday (celebrating the last supper and the institution of the communion) and Good Friday (remembering Jesus' betrayal, crucifixion, and death.) It is observed as a time to commemorate and enact the suffering (Passion) and death of Jesus through various observances and services of worship. This week, though largely ignored by many protestant churches, provides a poignant reminder that there is more to Christ's incredible journey than just the triumphant ressurection. Before that can happen, there must too be death.

During Holy Week, and particularly on Good Friday, it is not uncommon for churches to be stripped of all color. The color for Good Friday, if any, is black.


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