Monday, September 23, 2013

Divine Service Explanation #2 - The Church Year and Lectionary

For over a thousand years, the Christian Church has ordered her prayer life after the life of Christ by means of a yearly review of His life and teachings in her Divine Service.  Readings (“lections”) from the Holy Gospels and from the Epistles (the New Testament “letters” written by the Apostles) have been assigned to each Sunday and other festival days of the “church year.”  The year is divided in two (a “festival half” and a “non-festival half”), and further divided into “seasons,” each season having a certain number of Sundays, each with its own special emphasis.  Different colors help us to remember the emphasis of each season. The seasons are:
Advent:     We prepare for Christ’s coming (His first coming in the past and His second coming in the future) in repentance and quiet meditation. (The “festival half” of the Church Year begins.) (Color: Violet for repentance or Blue for hope) 
Christmas:  We celebrate the birth of Christ and the mystery of His incarnation. (Color: White for purity and divinity) 
Epiphany:   We marvel at how Christ was manifested as the Savior of all nations. (Color: Green for life or White for purity and divinity) 
Pre-Lent:   We begin slowing down in preparation for Lent, fortifying ourselves in the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, Word alone, and faith alone (“Gesima” season). (Color: Green for life or Violet for repentance) 
Lent:          We observe the 40-day fast (either bodily and spiritually, or a spiritual fast only) in repentance as we watch our Savior go to battle for us against sin, death and the devil. (Color: Violet for repentance) 
Holy Week: We meditate on the Passion (“suffering”) and death of our Lord as He earned for us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. (Color: Violet for repentance) 
Easter:     We rejoice in the resurrection of Christ and in its significance for us who believe in Him. (Color: White for purity and divinity) 
Pentecost:  We give thanks for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. (The “festival half” of the Church Year ends.) (Color: Red for fire and blood) 
Trinity:     We grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, who sustains His Church on earth through Word and Sacrament until He returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. (The entire Trinity season makes up the “non-festival half” of the Church Year.) (Color: Green for life)  

Divine Service Explanation #1 - The Purpose of the Divine Service

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