We all keep different calendars. We keep time by the academic calendar of semesters and breaks. We keep time by the different athletic calendars of Pre-Seasons, Regular Seasons, Post-Seasons, and Off-Seasons. We keep time by the fiscal calendar of budget years and tax time. We keep time by the weather cycles of solstices and equinoxes.
Every calendar forms us to see and live in the world in a particular way.
The Church also keeps time by specific seasons meant to teach us how to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
What's Advent? - The old word adventus simply means “coming”. This is a season of preparation and heightened expectation as we prepare for Christ’s coming. The Church prepares itself to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world as a baby (The Incarnation) and we simultaneously prepare ourselves for Christ to come again to judge the living and the dead.The Church prepares for his coming again by meditating on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Hell, and Heaven.
How Long is Advent? - Four Sundays Before Christmas.
What's Christmas? - For the Church, Christmas is a twelve day feast. We celebrate Jesus, the Word of God, putting on flesh and dwelling among us. This decisive event changed the world and we take twelve days to celebrate it.
How Long is Christmas? - Christmas is a 12 Day feast.
What's Epiphany? - After Christmas, we enter into a season called Epiphany. It is a season where we celebrate Jesus’ demonstrations of himself to the world. Epiphany teaches us that Jesus is worthy of worship, he threatens those in power, and draws all kinds of strangers to himself. Thus, in Epiphany the Church learns how to welcome the strangers that God guides to us. In this season we also celebrate Jesus’ baptism, the beginning of his public work, and the demonstration of his glory on the Mt. of Transfiguration.
How Long is Epiphany? - It is a bit flexible, but, it begins after Christmas and ends at Ash Wednesday.
What's Lent? - Lent is a 40 day season when the Church fasts and corporately laments our sin. This is also a time when we prepare for baptism and confirmation. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, we confront our mortality and remember that we will die. This season helps us to prepare to celebrate Holy Week.
How Long is Lent? - Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent lasts 40 days (not counting Sundays).
What's Holy Week? - This season begins the highest and holiest days the Church has been given. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, yet we fail to recognize our time of visitation. We follow Jesus into the Temple to see his consuming zeal, into the Upper Room to break bread and wash feet, down the Via Dolorosa to the Cross, and then we bury him in the Tomb. On Saturday night we break the Lenten silence and proclaim Jesus' triumph over death.
What Are the Services?
Palm Sunday - Holy Week begins as we reënact Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem by waving palm branches that are later burned up. Those ashes are saved and are used in next year's Ash Wednesday service.
Monday Prayer - Like every Monday, we gather for prayer to prepare ourselves for this most important week of worship.
The Holy Triduum - “Triduum” is a Latin word that simply refers to “Three Days”. Early Christians thought of this as one service that spanned three days. These were not three separate services but one single service. Therefore there is one worship folder and there is no benediction (sending with a blessing) until the very end. This one service has three focal points.
Maundy Thursday - “Maundy” comes from the old latin word meaning “command”. During this time we will retell the story of the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples when he commanded them to love one another by washing each other’s feet. We will offer a foot washing station for those who desire to participate in this act, we will receive communion, and finally, we will strip the communion table of all of the paraments to symbolize the darkness of the Son of God’s journey to the cross.
Good Friday - Our service continues on Good Friday when we will have a very powerful liturgy called “Shadows”. The “Shadows” liturgy marks Jesus’ journey to Golgotha. We will listen to scripture and sing while we reflect on Jesus’ passion and death. The last part of this night is the striking of the “Strepitus”. This loud noise marks the closing of Jesus’ tomb. As we leave we will observe The Stations of the Cross.
The Great Easter Vigil - Our service concludes on Saturday night at a liturgy called The Great Easter Vigil. In the Bible days begin at dusk: “There was evening and morning: the first day.” So, beginning at nightfall, we gather to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death by recounting the entire story of God’s salvation from Creation to New Creation. This night is unforgettable. We pull out all the stops and declare that Jesus is alive and break the Lenten silence by saying, “Alleluia! He is risen!”
Easter Sunrise - We gather in the church cemetery for a service of prayer and the word.
Easter Festal - Our "normal" 11:00 am service of Word & Table.
What's Easter? - Easter is a 50 day celebration when the Church announces and celebrates Jesus’ resurrection and victory over sin and death. This is the time when we celebrate the launch of the New Creation that began with Jesus’ bodily resurrection.
How Long is Easter? - Easter is a 50 day feast.
What's Pentecost? - Pentecost is the season when we coöperate with God the Holy Spirit’s desire to truly renew the image and likeness of God in the Church. This 100+ day season marks the time when we do not resist God the Holy Spirit’s work of perfecting us. Like a fire, the Holy Spirit purges, purifies, and refines us. Like water, the Holy Spirit nourishes us and cultivates the fruit of the Spirit among us. Like wind, the Holy Spirit moves us out into the world into the next season as we work for God’s Kingdom.
How Long is Pentecost? - We celebrate Pentecost for 90 days with the Singapore Methodists.
90 Day Prayer Challenge - More information coming soon.
What's Kingdomtide? - Kingdomtide is the season when we watch for the Triune God to make us Signs, Foretastes, and Instruments of The Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom is not something the Church achieves, rather, it is something that we receive from Trinity. This is a time when we openly receive God’s good gifts and invite others to do the same.
How Long is Kingdomtide? - Kingdomtide varies but lasts until the beginning of Advent.