The Annual Rhythm of the Church Calendar
Do you like rhythm? Most people would say they do, but in reality our bodies require it. We have a daily rhythm that requires sleep. Your very heart has a rhythm. Creation has a rhythm. Rhythms are part of who we are. When you think of the church calendar, think of it like a rhythm. Depending on where you are in the year, the church calendar gives you the opportunity to reflect and enter into some aspect of the life of Christ.
Most of us know the rhythms of Easter and Christmas. Our culture is shaped by them as are our holidays and planned family events. But there is much more to the life of Christ than his birth and resurrection, as significant as both of those events are. Advent marks a season where we enter into what the Older Testament believers experienced as they looked forward to Christ. Paul reminds us in Colossians 2:16 that many of the practices of the Jewish people were meant to bring them to the reality that is found in Christ. In Advent, we enter into a season of anticipation and looking forward to the birth of Christ.
Christmas of course is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Messiah, to be born in a manger, and to be raised until he is revealed. Epiphany comes next, where we celebrate the fact that Christ has come as the Savior of the World. The season of Epiphany is also a time where we journey with Christ in his ministry as he reveals through signs and wonders that he is the Son of God.
We aren’t to the resurrection yet, but it’s coming! Lent comes next and we begin to walk with Jesus as he makes his way toward the cross. Under constant attack, forces rising on every side, Jesus prepares his disciples for his death and crucifixion. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent and leads us toward what has been called “The Great Tridium.”
This is the moment Jesus has been preparing for and leading his disciples toward. The Great Tridium is made up of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. We will post more later on each of those three days at another time. For now, we move on to Easter morning.
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He defeats death on the cross, taking the sin of the world upon himself, and rises again. You will hear folks say on Easter morning, “He is risen!” and the response “He is risen indeed!” as we reenter what the first witnesses of the resurrection said to one another. This is an expression of faith, hope, and joy as we remember that Christ’s death is our death to sin, and his resurrection is our resurrection to life eternal.
But the story isn’t over. Jesus’ work is not done. The season of Pentecost picks up after Easter season and takes us to Christ the King Sunday. Pentecost is meant to remind us of the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised and that this message of grace will go out into all the world. Until one day, when Christ returns and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the King!
Each of these seasons in the church calendar calls us to consider where we are with our experience and expression of the love of Christ. His life, death, and resurrection shape us as we enter them together with this annual rhythm. I pray your time at Grace Presbyterian Church enables you to enter again and again into the life of following after Christ.