The Christian Year and Lectionary
Using the Church Lectionary
We have just started a new liturgical year as we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. For a write up on the significance of the Church liturgical year, do read from this link bit.ly/do-tcc.
Until recent years, one can only access the Diocesan lectionary through printed copies. Now, this has been made available in our App (Cathedral SG) We have also included the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer and the occasional Cathedral prayer items. If you follow the lectionary, you will complete reading the Bible in three years and the whole Book of Psalms every month. Some will choose to just follow the Morning or Evening Prayer readings. If you are a new Christian, it will be easier to read the Gospel reading for the Holy Communion service as that is laid out in a daily sequence. The readings are also available in audio and this makes it accessible for those who are visually-challenged or for listening when you are commuting. Another blessing of using the lectionary is how it will connect you to special festivals or help you to remember influential Anglicans in the past whom have contributed to the life of the Church. It will also connect you to important events or developments in SAC or the Diocese.
I am aware that not many Anglicans here are used to following the lectionary. But one can always start and it will take a while to form a good habit. You can still use it on top of whatever devotional materials you are used to. One interesting thing about using the daily offices (that is another name for the lectionary) is that you are using something that has been with the Church since her early days. And if enough of us are using it, there is also a sense of our gathering around His Word and observing the liturgical year together as a community.
The Shape of the Christian Year
Much like the gospel the Church proclaims, the calendar the Church keeps revolves around these two divine movements:
— the invasion of the Incarnation, and
— the triumph of the Resurrection.
The former is remembered through the Christmas cycle, from Advent until Lent, and the latter through the Paschal/Easter cycle, from Lent until Pentecost.
The Incarnation (Christmas Cycle): from Advent to Lent
Advent: The Church year begins with Advent, normally around the end of November or the start of December. It is a season where we await Christ’s second advent to judge the living and the dead and also to celebrate his first advent at the Incarnation. Christians await the return of Jesus the Messiah to renew all things.
Christmas begins with the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25 and extends for twelve days of celebrating the Incarnation.
Epiphany begins with the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ and extends to the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ [at the Temple; Luke 2:22-52]. This season commemorates the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles in fulfillment of prophecy, as exemplified in the visitation of the Magi.
The Resurrection (Easter/Paschal Cycle): from Lent to Pentecost
Lent: Just as the Christmas cycle begins with a season of preparation, so the Paschal cycle begins with Lent – the period of fasting and penitence from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday. Because Lent lasts for forty days, not counting the six Sundays which are celebrations of the Resurrection, it recalls Christ’s fasting during temptation in the wilderness.
Holy Week: The last week of Lent, Holy Week, remembers the last week of Christ’s earthly life, beginning with Palm Sunday’s commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Paschal Triduum (“three days”) begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday and lasts until evening on Easter Sunday. It includes: Maundy Thursday (commemorating the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet); Good Friday (a commemoration of the Crucifixion); Holy Saturday (remembering Christ’s time in the tomb); and Easter Sunday, which celebrates the triumphal Resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Easter — then lasts for fifty days — first for forty days until the remembrance of Christ’s Ascension to the Father’s right hand (Acts 1:1-11), and then for ten more days until the commemoration of the Holy Spirit’s descent at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41). This season emphasises the typological fulfillment of the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Weeks in the Christian celebrations of Easter Sunday and Pentecost.
“Ordinary” Time: The Season after Pentecost — The time between Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost, focusing upon the Tribune identity of God) and Christ the King Sunday (the Sunday before Advent, proclaiming Christ’s Lordship)—from approximately June through November—is called the Season after Pentecost, or Ordinary (numbered) Time.
This remainder of the liturgical year is “the time in which the church is to live out its calling in the world, fulfilling the mission of God”. Instructed in the school of sacred time, Christians go forth to love and serve the broken world which God has invaded, and over which He triumphs