The Church Year

The church has its own calendar of seasons, which have nothing to do with the weather!  Most people know the significant Christmas holidays, but the church calendar is made up of weeks that help us prepare and then live out the meaning of those holy days.


The “new year” begins in the first Sunday of Advent – 4 weeks before Christmas.  It is a season of anticipation, expectation and preparation.  The Christmas “season” begins December 24th, celebrating the birth of Jesus and lasting 12 days until Epiphany on January 6.  The theme for the season of Epiphany is seeing God:  in the life of Jesus, in the world around us, in our own life journeys. 


The season of Lent precedes Easter by 6 weeks, it is a time for reflecting on our lives, our challenges and our faith.  Holy Week concludes the season of Lent, with Palm or Passion Sunday leading to Holy Thursday and Good Friday, when the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus are remembered.  Easter morning falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox, so it is a moveable feast, and has an impact on the dates of the seasons before and after it.  The season of Easter lasts 7 weeks until the day of Pentecost, 50 days later. 


The season after Pentecost is usually called “ordinary time” and is the longest season of the church year, lasting until the “new year” begins again in Advent.  In recent years the United Church of Canada has marked a new season, the season of Creation, which begins the Sunday after Labour Day until Thanksgiving Sunday, which reminds us of our connection to the earth and our responsibility to live with respect in creation.  The last Sunday of the church year is called “Reign of Christ Sunday,” emphasizing that God’s grace, revealed in Christ, will ultimately overcome all injustice and suffering.