The Church Year
Traditionally, the church has divided up the calendar year into its own seasons. These seasons revolve around the life of Jesus. As with most liturgical elements, the church calendar is infused with meaning that adds depth to our journey of faith. We invite you to move past the regular cycle of day in and day out and week to week to engage a larger, historical and meaningful cycle.
The church year starts with the season of Advent. Advent marks the four-week season just before the celebration of the birth of Jesus. This is a season of great expectation as we await the arrival of the Christ-child. This season is denoted by the color of blue.
Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, one of the most significant days in the church calendar. So important is this day, that it is followed by 12 days of celebration up to Epiphany.
Epiphany refers to the visit of the Magi, or wise-men, to the Christ-child. These were likely astrologers who followed the stars to find Jesus. Epiphany literally means 'to show' or 'to make known,' and refers to these men revealing to the world that the Christ-child is Lord and King. The season of Epiphany lasts until Lent.
Traditionally, Lent began as a time of preparation for baptismal candidates who would be baptized on Easter Sunday. But since these baptismal candidates were part of a living community of faith, the entire community is called to preparation. So, Lent, a season of preparation for Holy Week and Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday, and culminates with Holy Week.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent with a service that utilizes the Old Testament practice of placing ashes on the forehead as a sign of humility before God, as a sign of mourning at the death that is brought by sin.
Holy Week is the week immediately before Easter and it marks the passion and death of Jesus. Palm Sunday marks the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and the vigil held by Jesus and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Good Friday marks the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. Holy Saturday is a day of rest and contemplation of the darkness of a world without hope apart from God's grace and redemption.
Easter is the most significant milestone in the church calendar. Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus, which is the event that "changes everything." Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday, is followed by a season of hope that lasts until Pentecost.
Pentecost marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Jesus' promise of a wonderful counselor comes to fruition with the Holy Spirit, available to all believers. The season of Easter concludes with Pentecost. The time that follows is often referred to as Ordinary Time, coming from "ordinal" or the counting of the days.
Church of the Palms opens its hearts and doors to the community with an annual Thankgiving service that is held the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This evening service includes gathering at the Lord's Table and is followed by a time of fellowship and good conversation.
Christ The King:
The church year comes to a close with Christ The King Sunday. One of the great high festivals of the church, this Sunday celebrates the coming reign of Christ as King of all and the completed redemption of creation that marks the fullness of the Kingdom of God.