No Matter How You Slice It

There is more than one way to slice up the pie that is the Christian church year, our annual calendar that serves to focus God’s people on Christ’s saving work and word.

The simplest way to slice it would be to view the church year as two equal parts: one that focuses on the life of Christ (also known as the festival half of the year), the other that focuses on the teachings of Christ (the non-festival half). On the other end of the spectrum, the church year can be viewed as 60+ specific Sundays and festivals (plus any number of minor festivals and commemorations), each of which highlights a unique facet of Christ’s work and teaching. In between, the church year consists of six seasons (seven with End Time) with unique sights, sounds, and Scriptural themes that take us from one Advent to the next.

One of the other ways in which the church year can be organized is around the three great festivals that punctuate the Christian year: Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. It’s often been said that those three festivals highlight the saving work of our Triune God. Christmas celebrates the love of the God the Father in sending his Son. Easter celebrates the saving work of God the Son. Pentecost celebrates the work of God the Spirit, who breathes life into the Church on earth.

When organized in this way, the church year is viewed from the perspective of three periods of time. The time of Christmas includes the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. The time of Easter includes the seasons of Lent and Easter along with Holy Week. The time of the Church includes the day of Pentecost and all of the Sundays that come after it. This is the way the church year is organized in Christian Worship on pages 157-159 and explained in Christian Worship: Manual on pages 369-384.

Regardless of how you slice it, the Christian church year has and will continue to serve as an invaluable tool for uniting Christ’s church on earth around the gospel as it gathers for worship at the start of each week.

As we continue on that journey together and with Christians all over the world, the next period of time that looms on the horizon is the time of Easter. As that time approaches, we share this resource as one way to help God’s people see the connection and progression from Ash Wednesday through Ascension as we remember Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection.

Click here for the PDF of the Time of Easter Resource

God’s blessings as you continue your annual remembrance of what our Savior has done!

Rev. Jonathan P. Bauer

Jonathan Bauer serves at Good News Lutheran Church, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

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