The Liturgical Calendar
Millbrook Baptist Church generally worships according to the Christian liturgical calendar. The liturgical calendar provides a way for Christians to commemorate in worship the redeeming work of Jesus Christ over a 12 month period and is a guide to help the Church in proclaiming what Christ both said and did. The calendar itself was developed by the early Church and came into its present form by about the fourth century CE. There is wide ecumenical concurrence among Christians on the major features of the calendar. The following annotated outline provides a brief introduction to the calendar and its worship themes. The illustration graphically demonstrates the cyclical nature of the calendar, the order of the various seasons and the colors associated with each season.
The Christmas (Incarnation) Cycle
Dominant theme: Light conquering darkness. We celebrate the coming of the true light into the world.
Four weeks of Advent
The cry of the season of Advent is "Come Lord Jesus!" and "Our Lord has come." Advent is a season of anticipation and the time to prepare our hearts for the One who is coming to us as our judge and redeemer. We anticipate the coming of Christ who will bring justice and peace. It is a time to commit ourselves anew to peace and justice.
The 12 Days of Christmas
The fulfillment of anticipation and expectation of the coming of our savior is on Christmas day. This joyful coming of the Lord continues to be celebrated through a 12 day period.
Epiphany (January 6)
Epiphany means appearance or manifestation and celebrates the visible manifestation of God to us in Christ. On the Sunday closest to Epiphany we celebrate the coming of the wise men to see Jesus shortly after his birth.
This refers to that which is standard, normative, usual, or typical. The Sundays of Ordinary Time celebrate the good news of Christ's death and resurrection, and the unfolding presence of the new creation which Christ inaugurated. Ordinary Time occurs twice each year, following the extraordinary times of the Christmas and Easter cycles.
The Easter (Resurrection) Cycle
"Forty Days" of Lent
Lent is a period of learning and reflection on our lives with a focus on what it means to be a follower of Christ. During Lent we have the opportunity to reaffirm who we are and always will be, in anticipation of Easter. Lent is celebrated the forty days (not counting Sundays) preceding Easter Sunday. It begins on Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday (begins Lent)
Worship this day reminds us that we must be willing to die to our old selves if we are to be raised to new life in Christ. Ashes are often imposed on worshippers foreheads as a symbol of our humanity and a reminder of our mortality.
Days of Holy Week:
Passion/Palm Sunday - Worship this day juxtaposes the joyfulness of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem against the somberness of the upcoming crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. Worship this day often includes a procession with palms.
Maundy Thursday - On this night we remember and celebrate the final supper Jesus shared with his disciples. In this meal we share with the Lord a foretaste of the coming heavenly banquet.
Good Friday - The Good Friday service is a penitential service, yet it also celebrates the good news of the cross. No colors, flowers, candles or decorative materials are used except those depicting "the way of the cross".
Saturday of Holy Week - Concludes Lent
Fifty Days of Easter - Celebrates Christ's resurrection
The Day of Pentecost - Celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church
Other important days in and out of season which offer a special focus or special occasions which begin or end a cycle:
The Baptism of the Lord - Begins Ordinary Time
The Transfiguration of the Lord - Concludes Ordinary Time
The Ascension of our Lord
Trinity Sunday - Begins Ordinary Time
Christ the King - Ends Ordinary Time