Living The Christian Year
The Christian Year
The Christian Year
The Christian Year is based on the life of Christ. Each new year, we start afresh to remember Christ’s birth and “follow” him from cradle to cross, from the grave to the sky. This is, however, no boring re-run. The life of Christ, now the Living One (Rev 1:18) revitalizes us, as month after month, we immerse ourselves through the Scriptures to walk in His steps through the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost and Ordinary Time.
The season of Advent, that begins the Christian Year does not just commemorate the birth of Christ, His first coming. It also anticipates the second Advent, His second coming. Between the first and the second, there is his “intermediate coming” where we seek His daily coming to meet and lead us.
EPIPHANY (January ~ March)
Following Advent, this season marks the public ministry of Jesus as He manifests himself as Christ and Lord, and ultimately the revelation that He is the Son of God. Epiphany is a season to be awe-filled afresh – fresh manifestation, fresh revelation, unveiling, insight, new discovery, rediscovery that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Typically, three major episodes in Scripture are used: the visit of the wise men from the East (Matt 2:1~23); Jesus’ Baptism (Matt 3:13~17; Luke 3:21-22) and the First Miracle at Cana (John 2:1~12)
LENT (March ~ April)
Lent is a 40 days period before Resurrection Sunday. We follow the life of Christ as He enters into His passion, suffering and crucifixion. It is a time of fasting and self examination. This 6 weeks duration gives us time to appreciate more meaningfully the depth of Jesus’ suffering and love for us.
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). Resolutely Jesus turns toward death in fulfillment of his mission, and he asks his followers to go with him. This is the pivot from self-gratification to self-denial, from seeking acclaim to risking scorn, from the seduction of power to the prospect of suffering. In so turning we plunge into the paradox of the cross-and-empty-tomb gospel. These truths are simply too profound to take in over a mere Friday through Sunday, so we use the season of Lent to prepare. Lent allows us to enter into the power of Pascha more deeply.
(Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year – Time to Inhabit the Story of God, Page 129)
Lent ends with Jesus buried in a tomb.This day is called Holy Saturday. In the divine drama, this is the non-day between the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is an important but neglected day.
“He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
The early Christians exchanged greetings this way to declare that Jesus is the Living One (Rev 1:18). The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the climax of the Christian Year. Paul wrote that “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” With Jesus’ resurrection, death is swallowed up in victory. Thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:19)
The resurrection marks another 40 days period before the Ascension of Christ.
ASCENSION, PENTECOST, TRINITY SUNDAY (Apr ~ May)
The Ascension of Christ (Thursday) to the Father happened 40 days after His resurrection, followed by the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Sunday). The Sunday after Pentecost is remembered as Trinity Sunday.
The Ascension marks the start of a time in-between, the time between resurrection and the end of history itself. We confess that Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God. He has gone into the future, where he bends our days toward justice and peace, he goes ahead of us into eternity, where all will one day be gathered.
The Ascension follows and completes the resurrection. As Messiah, Jesus became the first fruits of His people in His death, resurrection and ascension. The ascension implies exaltation, and Jesus begins His heavenly ministry as high priest, making intercession for His people. The ascension, with the subsequent gift of the Spirit, inaugurates a new age.2
1. Christan Century, May 28, 2014.
2. Peter Toon, The Ascension of Our Lord (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1984), pages 17-19.
ORDINARY TIME (Jun ~ November)
After the drama and passion of Lent, Ascension and Pentecost, we enter into the season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time sounds rather boring and mundane. But the Church named this season well. This is the time to walk the talk about the resurrected life in the ordinariness of living. This is the time in-between the first and second coming of Christ. We grow in our identity as sons and daughters of God, and live as witnesses for Christ in the world. In the Christian Year, this season is about 5-6 months. A simple focus for this season is ordering our lives according to the Great Commandments ~ To Love God, and to Love Our Neighbours as Ourselves (Matt 22:37)