Liturgical Seasons & Symbols
The term ‘liturgy’ refers to the work of public worship. We think it’s valuable to pattern our worship and Christian life in recognition of the ancient flow of the Christian year, with its liturgical seasons and holidays.
Throughout the year, there are seven special seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. These seasons move through the life of Christ, from preparation for his birth in Advent, to celebration of his return on Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The time in between these special seasons is known as ’Ordinary Time.’ Although we celebrate special events throughout the liturgical year, not every day can be a holiday. It is also important to have ordinary time. This term has the same root as ’ordinal’ ,a mathematical term indicating numerical position. So, another way to think of Ordinary Time is as ’counted time.’
The principal liturgical colors used in the liturgical seasons are green, purple, white, and red. At Eastminster’s sanctuary service, you will see these colors incorporated in the banners, paraments (cloths used on the pulpit and communion table) and in the stoles that our pastors wear.
Advent: Advent marks the beginning of the church year as we anticipate the birth of the Christ child. “Advent” means “coming.” The year begins as our faith begins, with Christ’s loving move toward us in grace. Purple is used during Advent to symbolize the coming of the King, and the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Christmas: Advent culminates with Christmas, the twelve days we celebrate the birth of Christ. We mark the end of Christmas with the Day of Epiphany. White on this day symbolizes illumination.
Lent: Purple is the primary liturgical color of the season of Lent. Purple, the color for royalty, reminds us of the somber reality that Christ the King came to die for us.
Easter: Easter is not just one day, but an entire season. It begins with our celebration of the day of resurrection and continues for fifty days to Pentecost. The season of Easter is marked with white, which can symbolize purity, hope, and Resurrection.
Pentecost: On Pentecost, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church. The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, a symbol of blood and fire.
Ordinary Time: The main liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green, symbolizing spiritual growth and building up of the church. May we find that as a congregation we grow and flourish in much the same way.
The patterns of our life and worship remind us that God has given us different seasons and times. Life is not a relentless rush and timeless striving. We work, and we rest, and we play, and we worship. Our worship is enhanced as we annually recount the gracious acts of God. When our lives and hearts are patterned after Christ’s order, we are better equipped to go out into the world to serve Him and reflect our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.