We follow the liturgical calendar, which is the ancient way of matching worship with the life of Christ. Through these recurring patterns we are formed and re-formed by the stories of Christ’s life, so that our life, by imitation and association, is immersed in the presence of God in our midst. These are the seasons of the Christian year: Advent, Christmas, the season after Epiphany (Ordinary Time), Lent, Easter, and the season after Pentecost (Ordinary Time).
Advent, Christmas, and the Season after Epiphany (Ordinary Time)
The first cycle of seasons covers about one quarter of our calendar year and is focused on the incarnation—that is, the birth of Jesus—and how God’s presence with us in this world focuses our attention on mercy and justice.
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, at which time we adorn the church in blue for the season. During this season we anticipate the presence of Jesus in the following ways:
Wednesday Evening Prayer and Study | On the first three Wednesdays of Advent we have an Evening Prayer service followed by a shared meal and a class.
Advent Lessons and Carols | On the second Sunday of Advent we have a choral service in which Advent carols and scripture readings tell the story of anticipation. The service is followed by a reception.
The Greening of the Church | On the day before the fourth Sunday in Advent, we decorate the church with greenery and garlands.
Christmas Eve | We hold three services to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The first includes our Christmas pageant. The other two services are led by the Epiphany Choir. The later service is preceded by a musical prelude featuring the Epiphany Choir and instrumentalists.
The Christmas season begins on December 25 and celebrates the incarnate presence of Jesus. We celebrate Christmas Day with Holy Eucharist in the morning, and for the duration of the twelve days of Christmas, the church is white. The first Sunday after Christmas we have a service of Lessons and Carols sung by the congregation. There is no Sunday School.
Epiphany is on January 6 and marks the day the Wise Men visited Jesus in Bethlehem. Epiphany is our eponymous feast day, so we celebrate with a lively worship service, followed by a party. The color is white.
The Season after Epiphany (Ordinary Time)
Following the feast of Epiphany is Ordinary Time, in which we focus our lives on a world transformed by the incarnational presence of Jesus. The seasonal color of the church is green to celebrate the light of Christ’s presence that shines upon a darkened world. The following are particular dates of celebration during the Season of Epiphany:
Baptism of Jesus | On the Sunday after Epiphany we have baptisms and a renewal of baptismal vows during the service.
Mardi Gras | On the evening before Ash Wednesday (also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday), we have a Mardi Gras pancake supper and burn the palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday.
Evensong and Have a Heart | On the Sunday closest to St. Valentine’s Day, the Epiphany Choir leads an Evensong service, which is followed by the annual Have a Heart fundraiser for Service & Outreach ministries at Epiphany.
Lent, Easter, and the Season after Pentecost (Ordinary Time)
The second cycle covers three quarters of the calendar year and focuses on our eternal communion with the resurrected Christ.
The season of Lent anticipates Christ’s death and resurrection with a long meditation on the Cross. For forty days, the church is draped in purple, and we refrain from saying “Alleluia!” in worship. Several services and gatherings help us celebrate Lent:
Ash Wednesday | On the first day of Lent, we remember that we are dust and receive ashes on the forehead. We have a morning service and an evening service, followed by an opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) with a priest.
Wednesday Evening Prayer and Study | On Wednesdays after Ash Wednesday, we have an evening prayer service followed by a shared meal and a class.
Holy Week | The week before Easter is an intensive time of worship and remembrance with services every evening:
- Palm Sunday: A palm procession preceding regular services
- Holy Monday and Tuesday: Eucharist services with lay preachers
- Holy Wednesday: Extended meditative Stations of the Cross service
- Maundy Thursday: An “agape meal” followed by a Eucharist service with foot-washing and the stripping of the altar
- Watchnight: Vigil in the chapel beginning after the Maundy Thursday service until the next morning
- Good Friday: Eucharist service with the Passion sung by the Epiphany Choir
- Holy Saturday: A simple midday prayer service
- The Great Easter Vigil: A quiet meditative service with baptisms, a renewal of baptismal vows, and candles, which turns into a raucous celebration of the Resurrection. This service is followed by a reception.
Easter celebrates the resurrected Christ in our midst. On Easter morning, we celebrate with a brass ensemble, an Easter brunch, and an egg hunt for the kids. The church is adorned in white for the fifty days of the Easter season.
Pentecost is the birthday of the Church and a celebration of the Holy Spirit. We wear red on this day, have baptisms, renew our baptismal vows, and have a party with red cupcakes after the services. Pentecost begins the season of Ordinary Time, which is focused on living our life as it will be for eternity.
The Season after Pentecost (Ordinary Time)
The following feast days and Epiphany traditions take place during ordinary time:
Independence Day | On the Sunday closest to July 4, we use appropriate hymns and scriptures for the day.
Saint Mary the Virgin | On the Sunday closest to August 15, we celebrate the mother of Jesus.
Fall Kick-Off Picnic | On the Sunday after Labor Day, we kick off our program year with an all-church picnic to celebrate the return of regular Sunday School, the Epiphany Choir, adult formation programming, and youth group.
Feast of St. Francis | On the first Sunday of October, we celebrate St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, with an animal blessing. All pets are invited.
All Saints’ Day | On the Sunday closest to November 1, we celebrate the communion of saints with baptisms, a renewal of baptismal vows, and the reading of the names of the dead.
Altar of Remembrance | During the month of November we remember our loved ones who have passed away with an altar of remembrance on which parishioners are invited to leave pictures of their loved ones.
Ingathering | The third Sunday in November is the day we present our stewardship pledges for the upcoming year.
Thanksgiving | We celebrate with a Eucharist service in the morning.
The cycle of incarnation is about our work to bring mercy and justice to this day and time. The cycle of resurrection is about character formation for our eternal work with God. Each cycle, with its different emphasis, has the same impact—that the love of Christ is more fully known in our lives and and in the world.