Liturgical Season

Keeping Sacred Time: The Liturgical Year

Whereas many world religions seek salvation as an escape from time, Christianity proclaims salvation as a redemption of time (Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 47-8).

Keeping sacred time did not begin with the Christian movement, however, for the Church calendar traces its origins to the principal feasts of Judaism:

  1. the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover; Deut 16:1-8),
  2. the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost; Deut 16:9-12), and
  3. the Feast of Booths (Deut 16:13-17).

In order to commemorate God’s redemptive acts and continual blessings, these three feast days required special worship at the temple in Jerusalem. According to Christians, however, the redemptive acts of God commemorated in Judaism find their fulfillment in God’s invasion of and triumph over time through Jesus Christ.

Much like the gospel the Church proclaims, the calendar the Church keeps revolves around these two divine movements:

  1. the invasion of the Incarnation, and
  2. 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 (Mitchell, “Sanctifying Time: The Calendar,” in The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer476-7).

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