Our liturgies are organized around a church year. Each season has its own celebrations and feast days.
Lent is a season of preparation as we get ready to encounter again the mystery of Easter. Lent is a holy and solemn time. A time of sober self-reflection on the ways in which we fall short of God’s ideal for us; as such, it is also a time of penitence. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for six weeks through to Holy Week and Easter. Common Lenten practices include, “giving something up for Lent”, taking on a new devotional or spiritual practice, omitting the word “alleluia” from our prayers, and covering or removing some of the adornments in the sacred space.
Palm Sunday (red)
This is the first day of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we tell the story of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He is greeted with a royal welcome and spends the week teaching in the Temple in Jerusalem. We mark the day with a grand procession that includes the waving of palm branches, songs of Hosanna, and even a real donkey!
Maundy Thursday (purple)
On the night before his death, Jesus gathered in an upper room with his disciples to share the Jewish Passover Seder meal. Commonly called “the Last Supper”, Jesus shared bread and wine with the disciples, promising them that he is always present and asking us to continue the practice in memory of him. We share Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday and we too gather for a meal. We also strip the altar of all its adornments and we pray and keep watch in the sanctuary.
Good Friday (still Lenten purple, but technically no colour as all the adornments are stripped away)
On Good Friday, we remember and tell the story of the events of Jesus’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion. At All Saints Kingsway we offer a morning Way of the Cross program. At noon, we dramatize the story as part of our liturgy. This is the most solemn day of the Christian calendar and this solemnity is reflected in our prayers and worship together. Some Christians choose to observe Good Friday by prayer and fasting. It is traditional not to celebrate the Eucharist on Good Friday, though in some places, bread and wine that was consecrated the night before (Maundy Thursday) may be shared by members of the community.
Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil (white)
The vigil begins after sunset on Holy Saturday. We light the new fire and the paschal candle. The adornments that have been packed away for Lent are returned. We read several passages from the Bible, recounting God’s story of salvation for all of humanity. We renew our baptismal vows and anticipate the first Eucharist of Easter the next morning.
Easter Day and the Season of Easter (white)
Easter is the central feast of the Christian calendar. We remember the story of those first disciples who found the empty tomb. We light the paschal candle, sing the Gloria, we bring back Alleluia to our prayers, and we share the first Eucharist of Easter. Our joy and wonder at the mystery of the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated in our music, in our prayers, and in our fellowship with one another. Easter is celebrated in the church calendar for 40 days; this comprises the season of Easter. The Easter Season is a festal season that includes the celebration of Ascension Day and Pentecost. It is also particularly appropriate to celebrate baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations during the Season of Easter.
Ascension Day (white)
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples on several occasions, helping them to understand the mystery of Easter. He appeared to them in bodily form for the last time, and then ascended into heaven.
Commonly called the “birthday” of the Church. Pentecost was an ancient feast day that would bring pilgrims to Jerusalem. On the first Pentecost after Easter, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of fire and wind and alighted early followers of Jesus. Jesus had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit dwells with us and continues to shape and guide the people of God and the mission of the Church.
Season of Pentecost (green)
The season after Pentecost is the longest season in the church year, from late spring until the end of November. It is sometimes called, “Ordinary Time”. There are a few celebrations of Holy Days during this time, but the primary focus is recounting the teaching stories of Jesus and growing and living into our life of faith.
All Saints Day (white/festal patronal colours)
This is a feast day in the Christian calendar. November 1st is All Saints Day, though it is generally celebrated on the Sunday closest to November 1st. This is also the patronal feast of our parish of All Saints Kingsway. On All Saints Day, we remember that great cloud of Christian believers, known and unknown, who preceded us in the life of faith.
Advent is a season in preparation for the mystery of Christmas. It is a time of waiting, with great expectation and anticipation. It has penitential roots, but is now honoured as a time of reflection as we look ahead to Christmas. For many, it is a holy time. Advent is often observed with special prayers and devotions, particularly as a way to set apart spiritual time from the cultural celebrations of Christmas.
Christmas is a major feast in the Christian calendar. We remember and celebrate the incarnation; that God came to us in human form in the person of Jesus. We tell the story of Jesus’s birth. We remember that God fulfills promises. In the incarnation, we celebrate God’s great curiosity with creation. We celebrate Christmas for twelve days. The season of Christmas extends from Christmas Eve until Epiphany.
Epiphany is the time when we remember the story of the Magi, who travelled to meet Jesus and present him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We remember that God’s love and grace, and the Good News of Jesus Christ, is for all people, for all time.
Season of Epiphany (green)
This season begins with Epiphany and continues until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. This is a second, smaller, “ordinary time” when our readings and worship focus on the life and teachings of Jesus. We celebrate the last day of Epiphany with a pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday. A last hoorah before the reflection and solemnity of Lent begins.