In our worship we observe the traditional Christian church year. The church calendar, or liturgical calendar, focuses our attention on many important teachings of the Bible and significant events in the life of Jesus Christ.
The liturgical year begins late in November or early in December with the season of Advent. During Advent, which means “coming,” we focus our attention on the coming of Christ. He came once as a newborn baby to accomplish our salvation. He comes now through his word and sacraments to bring to us the salvation that he has accomplished. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Advent is a penitential season during which we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ.
The liturgical color of Advent is blue, which symbolizes hope and joyful anticipation.
The season of Christmas always begins on December 25 and lasts twelve days. During Christmas we celebrate the Incarnation of our Lord—that Jesus Christ, true God from eternity, has become human to redeem us.
The liturgical color of Christmas is white, which symbolizes the holiness, purity, and perfection of God.
The season of Epiphany begins on January 6, the day of Epiphany, and continues until Ash Wednesday. “Epiphany” means “manifestation” or “revelation” or “appearing.” On Epiphany we remember the Gentile wise men who followed a miraculous star to find Jesus, the Savior of all people. Throughout the Epiphany season we consider various occasions on which Jesus revealed to his disciples who he was and what he had come to do.
The liturgical color of the majority of the Epiphany season is green, which symbolizes life and growth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing for forty days (not including Sundays) until Easter, the season of Lent is a penitential season. Throughout Lent we focus our attention on our repentance over sin and on the suffering and death of Jesus for our sin. While our sins against God and against one another cause us deep sadness, we experience also deep joy in the love that Jesus has demonstrated toward us by carrying all our sins to the cross to redeem us.
The liturgical color of Lent is violet, which symbolizes repentance—sorrow over sin.
The liturgical color of Good Friday (and sometimes Ash Wednesday) is black, which symbolizes death and mourning.
The season of Easter begins on Easter Sunday and continues for fifty days until Pentecost Sunday. On Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter season we rejoice as we celebrate the victory of Christ, who rose from death on the third day!
The liturgical color of Easter is white, which symbolizes the holiness, purity, and perfection of God.
We celebrate Pentecost seven weeks after Easter Sunday. On Pentecost we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead. We also celebrate the continuing outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us today through the word and sacraments.
The liturgical color of Pentecost is red, which symbolizes fire and the blood of Christian martyrs.
On the Sunday following Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Trinity. We marvel at our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier who has revealed himself to us as three separate Persons, but also as one undivided and indivisible God. We cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity, but we receive the mystery by faith.
The liturgical color of Holy Trinity is white, which symbolizes the holiness, purity, and perfection of God.
The remaining Sundays after Holy Trinity are numbered as Sundays “after Trinity” or “after Pentecost.” Throughout this post-Pentecost season we no longer consider the life of Christ chronologically, but each week we focus on a different teaching of the Bible and consider how the life and the teaching of Jesus Christ apply in our lives.
The liturgical color of the post-Pentecost season is green, which symbolizes life and growth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.