Church Year

Opening prayer –

The church year starts with the season of Advent.  Begin by praying this prayer from the first Sunday in Advent.
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Intro Video –

Question What is your favorite season of the year?  Name three characteristics of that season that you most enjoy. Use the poll and comment below on your favorite season and the characteristics.
[polldaddy poll=8298762]-

Part 2: The Story

Did you know that the church has its own calendar and seasons that cycle through on a yearly basis?  Take a look at this video to get a glimpse of the seasons and the images and stories that accompany those seasons.

Part 3: The Message – A Living Story

The Cycle of the Church YearThe Church Year – Unlike our yearly calendar, the church year does not begin on January 1st.  The first Sunday in the Church Year is always four Sundays prior to Christmas Day and usually falls at some point in the end of November.  The Church Year consists of seasons that move the church through the story of Jesus coming into the world, his life among us, his death and his Resurrection.  Like spring, summer, winter and fall, each season in the church year has distinct characteristics, colors and sounds.  The graphic above shows you the sequence of the church seasons and the circle reminds us that the story never comes to an end, but is constantly unfolding and intersecting with our lives of faith.  The seasons of the church year are: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany including the Sundays after Epiphany, Lent/Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost including the Sundays after Pentecost.  To learn more about the characteristics of the seasons of the church year, take a look at this webpage on the church year from First Lutheran Church in Warren, PA – http://www.firstlutheranwarren.com/about/our-worship-services/the-church-year.html.

Colors of the Church Year  – Have you ever noticed that the colors in the worship space change during the course of the year?  During the summer the color is often green, while during the seasons of Easter and Christmas, the color is white.  Each color is chosen intentionally to help enhance the celebration of the season.  For a more complete understanding of the meaning behind each season, read “What is the meaning and use of liturgical colors?” from the ELCA: http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/What_is_the_meaning_and_use_of_liturgical_colors.pdf

Scripture Readings during the Church Year – Hearing scripture proclaimed is a central part of Lutheran Worship.  Instead of randomly picking scripture readings each week, most Lutheran congregations follow a lectionary, or series of readings, that reflect the story being proclaimed by that segment of the church year.  For example, in Epiphany we hear readings that reveal Jesus as God’s Son, like the story of the Wise Men and the Baptism of our Lord.  In Easter, we hear stories of the Resurrection and the events following the Resurrection.  To learn more about the cycle of readings used in most congregation, check out the ELCA’s webpage on the Lectionary: http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Worship/Lectionary.

Music during the Church Year – Did you know it is often possible to figure out which season of the church year you are in simply by listening to the music?  In Lutheran congregations, music helps to support and enhance our worship.  Music can help set the tone for the service.  Music can help reinforce the themes proclaimed in scripture and preaching.   Music and connect us to God’s presence in powerful ways.  During the church year, the music in worship is selected to match the themes of the season.  Take a look at these hymns and see if you can match the hymn to the season of the church year.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Joy to the World
We Three Kings of Orient Are
Were You There
Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness

Part 4: Learn and Engage

Pick a season of the church year that you particularly enjoy.  Pick a scripture reading and  three Hymns or Christian songs.  Post the verse and  links to the songs in comments below.
Below are three images that attempt to present the church year.  Create your own visual representation in a way that helps you to understand the seasons and the pattern of the church year.

seasonsseasons1seasons2

Part 5: Conclusion & Closing Prayer

Closing Prayer – Christ the King Sunday is always the last Sunday in the church year.  Pray the follow prayer from Christ the King Sunday at the close of the session.
O God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service, and in him we inherit the riches of your grace. Give us the wisdom to know what is right and the strength to serve the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Opening and Closing Prayers from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2014 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.

Additional Resources:

ELCA worship on Lectionary – http://www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Worship/Lectionary

Liturgical colors – http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/What_is_the_meaning_and_use_of_liturgical_colors.pdf