Something profound happened the First Christmas just over 2000 years ago: and it was Wonderful. In fact, “Wonderful” is one of the names of Jesus predicted by Isaiah almost 700 years before the First Christmas occurred. Imagine, without the birth of the Savior of the World in Bethlehem, we would be at a loss to even state our birthdate. The central importance of Christ’s coming “in the flesh” therefore properly animates the calendar of the Church Year.
‘Advent’ or ‘coming’ begins the New Year of the Christian Church, and this Season consists of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. These actually focus on two advents; Advent One, the look back to the first ‘coming’ of Christ at Christmas, and Advent Two, the look forward to the Second Coming of Christ on the Last Day. The special roles played by The Mother of our lord, Mary, and John the Baptist and his parents are also accented.
‘Christmas’ follows Advent and, in the span of its twelve days, we remember Christ’s Birth, His Circumcision and Naming, and the Slaughter of the Innocents. There never seems to be enough time to sing all the amazing hymns of this season in the short time allotted!
January 6th always begins ‘Epiphany’ and celebrates the Wise-men ‘Revealing the Glory of the Son of God’ in their worshiping of the little Christ child: in all of human history this had never happened before! The succeeding Sundays each accent another aspect of Christ’s revealed Glory, and the season always culminates with His greatest pre-Resurrection ‘revealing’ on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Given the fact that the celebration of Easter is a “moveable feast” (not an annual fixed date), the Epiphany Season is short when Easter is early (March 31st in 2013), and longer as Easter is later.
May your worship life be enhanced by recognizing that the Christian Church celebrates its calendar in a logical and consistent way. Please consult the Lutheran Service Book (Hymnal) for all of the Christian Calendar highlights and appropriate Bible readings. And may you be drawn ever closer to Him who has the only “Name under Heaven, given among men by which we must be saved” as the Apostle Peter says in