dvent Banner ADVENT
In Advent, the liturgy deals with contrasts; light and dark, joy and sorrow, beginning and end, and especially, chronological time and God's time. We discover in Advent that God's time is of the kind described not by clocks and calendars but in terms like "the time is ripe" or "in the fullness of time." Each of the four Advent Sundays has its own particular emphasis, and each reveals the Lord who enters into time and space, into our personal and corporate lives whenever the "right time" occurs. We are led to look forward in anticipation to Christ's return. The First Sunday of Advent is concerned with the Lord's return as Judge of his people and of the whole created order. On the Second Sunday in Advent, John the Baptist is revealed as the Forerunner, the striking figure who fulfills the last prophecies of the Old Testament. He is the human sign that the Messiah has at last come and that God's Kingdom is imminent. On the Third Sunday we hear more of the call to repentance from John and the call to prepare for the Messiah's coming by living lives in keeping with the kingdom of God. We also hear John's testimony to the ministry and significance of Jesus. The Fourth Sunday of Advent is concerned with Jesus' immediate family and particularly with his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her role in redemption. God brought about the Incarnation of the Son through the cooperation of a human woman with the life-giving Spirit. Furthermore, Mary's vocation is not only to bear the God incarnate, but also to be the pattern for us as we become "God-bearers" by means of following her example of cooperation with divine grace.

Lent Banner

On this first day of Lent, the liturgy is intended to be a challenge to Christian people. It confronts us with the radical change in living which is the way of Christ. We are faced with sin and salvation as alternative directions for our lives – sin as separation from God, from others, from ourselves, and from the natural world; salvation as reconciliation with God, others, the natural world, and ourselves.

The liturgy on Ash Wednesday is reduced to its primary elements of Word and Sacrament. We are called to consider our mortality and, in that context, our sin and our absolute dependence on God for salvation and for life.

We may be tempted to limit our concern to our sins and our mortality, letting the ashes be the most important thing in our worship today. But the liturgy uses the ashes simply as the starting point for that which is far deeper and ultimately more important: salvation. The ashes, the penitence, the fasting – all these are but the means to the goal of Ash Wednesday, of Lent and of all Christian living: namely, repentance, new life, and ministry to others.

Easter Banner


Good Friday begins the Sacred Triduum, or Three Sacred Days, of our redemption. This is a celebration: a celebration of our Lord's institution of the sacrament of his Body and Blood: but it is pervaded by the shadow of the cross. Jesus gathered with his disciples in the context of the greatest of all events in Israel's redemption – the exodus and the Passover. Yet the normal joy of such an evening was muted by betrayal, the failure of his friends to understand what he was doing, and his own fear of what was to come.

It was a farewell dinner in which Jesus, by washing his disciples feet, sought to illustrate one final time the character of love and ministry which is central in the life to which he calls us: self-giving love to the point of dying for one's friends. We hear the ancient instructions for celebrating the Passover, Paul's account of the institution of the Eucharist, and John's account of the moment when Jesus washed his disciples' feet.

After Holy Communion tonight, the liturgy will not end. It continues tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday when it comes to its conclusion.

Today's liturgy is the second part of a complex series of rites which cover the Three Sacred Days of our redemption. This liturgy began last night on Maundy Thursday and will be concluded on Sunday. We will engage in intense intercessory prayer for the church and for the world. It was on the cross that Jesus made his full intercession for us, and we are united with him through Baptism in that intercession.

The final portions of this liturgy take place before a cross, where we praise Christ for his love, which he demonstrated on the cross. Then we receive Holy Communion from the Sacrament consecrated on Maundy Thursday. At the end of the liturgy, the church is left in silence and darkness, as we prepare for the final act, which begins at the Great Vigil at sunrise on Sunday. It is as though the church has died and now waits silently to be resurrected out of the baptismal font at the Great Vigil of Easter.

This period of the year, from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost, is the oldest part of the Church Year. It is directly derived from the fifty-day period in the Jewish calendar, which began with Passover and concluded with Pentecost (the Greek word for "fiftieth day.")The Lord's death and resurrection took place at Passover, and its completion - the empowering of the apostles by the Holy Spirit – took place on Pentecost. These are the church's original feast days, which in very early times were both moved to the Sundays following the Jewish festivals, because of the early church's intense reverence for the first day of the week as the Lord's Day, the Day of Resurrection. The early Christians considered every Sunday to be a celebration of the rising of Christ and of the coming of the Holy Spirit – a repetition of Easter and Pentecost.

Pentecostal Banner

The liturgy changes in an important way after the Day of Pentecost. Rather than taking place within specific seasons, each within its own theme, this period does not have one overall theme. Each Sunday takes its theme from the readings for that day and from the biblical and liturgical meaning of Sunday as the Lord's Day.

During this period, we finish reading substantially all of one Gospel each year. The three –year lectionary appoints one of the three "synoptic" Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – for each year. John's Gospel is used throughout the three years for certain Holy Days, Lent, and Easter, and in filling out the Gospel of Mark, which is considerably shorter than the others, in Year B. We also read several of the epistles each year during this period. Finally, the Old Testament readings are chosen to complement the Gospel reading each Sunday. Most often they are events or prophecies that point to the work of Christ in the Gospel passage they accompany.

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