“Healing self and relationships, purification, fasting, mind training, self-inquiry, rituals for change, seasonal festivals, the Medicine Wheel.”
I wasn’t raised in the church…I was a “none” long before “none”s were noticed. Maybe that is why I love seasonal festivals; I love the church calendar.
Being Lutheran, the church where I serve God follows the Revised Common Lectionary. We follow the church calendar. Right now we are in the season of Epiphany, the time of church year emphasizing the Light of Christ breaking through into the world…following the season of Christmas. And yes, Christmas is a season, not just a day. And the Christmas season begins Christmas Day, not the week before Halloween, though retail displays might witness otherwise.
I love the ebb and flow of the church calendar…beginning with Advent, we prepare for the birth of Jesus by a time of clearing, a time of preparation that is less about baking and putting up decorations than it is preparing spiritually for the in-breaking of God With Us – Emmanuel.
Epiphany ends with a hinge; Transfiguration Sunday – we celebrate with the Gospel reading of Jesus going up to the mountaintop, being transformed, anointed, claimed by God the Father. The church moves into Lent, a season of 40 days to remember Jesus spending 40 days in the desert, being tested, before he begins his public ministry. Lent has been traditionally a time of sacrifice, a time of giving up, so that we also might be tested. Lent is evolving into a time of reclaiming Christian identity.
Lent is followed by Holy Week: Palm/Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil. Each service follows Jesus’ steps beginning with his entry into Jerusalem with the people waiving palms and crying Hosannah, to remembering the Last Supper – Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus saying, “this is my body, this is my blood.” On Good Friday the church remembers Jesus dying on the cross; it is good because in his death Jesus overcame death. The Saturday Vigil, celebrated in the evening, is the traditional time of baptism for those candidates who have prepared over a one or two year period. Easter services traditionally begin with sunrise, the time Mary and the other disciples discovered the empty tomb and the risen Jesus.
The season of Easter (yes, it is a season and not just a day) end on Pentecost, the day the church celebrates receiving the Holy Spirit. The remainder of the year following Pentecost until Christ the King Day, the last Sunday of the church year, is Ordinary Time, or Sundays After Pentecost. This is working time for the church, when we re-learn how we are called to live as God’s people in the world.
During these seasons, year in and year out, Christ’s followers are transformed, we are reminded who we are called to be, how we are to live, and ever so slowly God’s Kingdom breaks through into the world.