The seasons and feasts of the church year offer numerous possibilities for congregational movement and choreographed dance. Significant dimensions of these celebrations are best experienced through such action.
The church year provides a ready-made pattern for worship. The key seasons are Advent and Easter, which not only mark important events in the life of our Lord, but also inform the church’s responses to these events in outward and inward worship. In addition, the church year puts the congregation in tune with a great body of Christian tradition that stretches across the world and back through the centuries.
Speaking in tongues is not a natural gift or talent for languages but a gift from God, a supernatural endowment. Tongues are not ecstatic utterance but an activity under the control of the speaker, offered in obedience to the prompting of the Spirit.
The liturgical calendar, which sequentially presents events in the life of Christ, ends with Pentecost. The season between Pentecost and Advent is called the “season after Pentecost” in most Christian traditions. Although it does not feature any major festivals of the Christian year, many lesser feasts and fasts fall in this period. Two of these, standing at the beginning and end of the season, are Trinity Sunday and the Festival of Christ the King.
The celebrations of the Easter season have always been the most joyous festivals of the church year, for they focus on the event that vindicates Jesus as Lord and Messiah and that offers the promise of life for those who belong to him. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). The Easter or Paschal season includes Ascension Day and concludes with Pentecost.
Emerging from its Judaic background, the Christian church did not continue the observance of the festivals of Israelite worship but developed a liturgical calendar of its own, based principally on major events in the life of Christ.
The three major Jewish feasts are associated with three annual harvests; historically each involved the return of a portion of the harvest to the Lord. These offerings symbolized the reasons for the feast itself: God is the source of the fruits of the earth; God’s gifts of produce are for the sustenance and comfort of the people; and because God gives freely, the worshipers must do the same, sharing their benefits with the needy.
Colors of the various seasons of the Christian year express the mood or feeling of the season. The following outline presents the colors most often associated with Christian seasons.
Worship leaders and planners from many traditions have been working toward a consensus or ecumenical approach to the Christian year, resulting in the following outline of the year-long calendar.
The resurrection of the crucified Christ is the point on which the weekly and annual cycles of the Christian calendar turn. In fact, it supplies the clue to the whole history of salvation and indeed the cosmos. Every Sunday and every Easter day is a commemoration and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus and an anticipation of the day when the same Lord will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and finally establish God’s universal kingdom.