The Liturgical Year

I love how the liturgical calendar differs from our regular calendars. For instance a New Year liturgically begins with the First Sunday in Advent, which this year is December 2. And then instead of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, you have the Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. In place of National holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and the like, you have the principle feasts of The Nativity of Our Lord, The Baptism of Our Lord, The Epiphany of Our Lord, The Transfiguration of Our Lord, The Resurrection of Our Lord, and Christ the King Sunday.

Other important feasts of the Church year that have fixed dates, but their celebration often takes place at the nearest Sunday include The Circumcision and Name of Jesus on Jan. 1, The Presentation of Our Lord on Feb. 2, The Annunciation of Our Lord on Mar. 25, The Visitation on May 31, The Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24, St. Micahel and All Angels on Sept. 29, All Saints Day on Nov. 1. And of course as Lutherans we often celebrate the lesser festival of Reformation Day on October 31.

What saddens me is how some of the principle feasts have been usurped by Pop Culture with a different way of celebrating and having fun. For example, when we think of Halloween we usually think of trick-or-treating and as dressing up in costumes – some of ghouls and goblins, and others as monsters, famous people, cartoon figures, and you name it. All good fun! But where is the remembrance that October 31 is “All Hallows’ Eve”, that is, the Eve of All Saint’s Day?

I could go on by mentioning Jolly Saint Nick and the Easter Bunny, but what’s the use? If only these fun ways of celebrating were on another day, perhaps close by, and we celebrated Christian Feasts with the Divine Service, and an attendant meditation on the event in Christ’s life and ministry being celebrated!

As I mentioned, I love the liturgical calendar…

Since You Asked…

What is the significance of the Season of Advent?

The Church year begins with Advent, a season of preparation that looks toward both Bethlehem and Christ’s return at the end of the age. Advent is its own Season and the rich symbols and themes should be safeguarded and celebrated without being drowned out by the upcoming celebration of Christmas. The first two Sundays in Advent center on the Parousia (Christ’s Second Coming). The third Sunday in Advent centers on John the Baptist as the herald of Christ. And the fourth Sunday often centers on the Virgin Mary in her exalted role in giving birth to God’s Anointed One.