Seasons of the Church

Our church follows the liturgical calendar that has been developed to celebrate specific festivals and seasons. The church year officially begins four weeks before Christmas with Advent, and our Chancel Choir joins with other area church and college musicians in an earth-shaking performance of Handel’s Messiah, directed by Marietta College’s Dr. Daniel Monek in St. Mary’s Basilica (typically the second Sunday in December– see the December Calendar). In Advent we prepare for the coming of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem with lighting particular Advent candles weekly, as well as special successive presentations by the children, Chancel Choir, and Westminster Bells. In January we mark Epiphany when the Wise Men visited.

640 pixel Advent Photo 2013.

The next major season of the church year is Lent. Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week. It begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for six weeks. Near the end of Lent we celebrate Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem, with a not-to-be-missed Sunday morning service and a special Sunday evening Cantata.

Lent: A time of self-examination and prayer

Lent: A time of self-examination and prayer

That following week we observe Maundy (Holy) Thursday and Good Friday (called “Black Friday” in other cultures). On Good Friday, the faithful carry a heavy wooden cross and process among five churches in Marietta to attend dramatic presentations or sing several reflective hymns of the season.

Walk of Christian Witness

Marietta’s Ecumenical Good Friday Walk of Christian Witness

Easter morning heralds joy and alleluias with a glorious sunrise service as well as the later 10:15  am service.

The date for Easter varies from year to year because it follows an ancient church tradition which set it based on the phases of the moon and the spring equinox.

The next major milestone in the life of the church is seven weeks later. Pentecost Sunday marks the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church.  The Dove in our Wooster Street stained glass illuminates our Sanctuary with the power of the Holy Spirit given to Jesus’ disciples.  We wear red on that Sunday to symbolize the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, moving us, leading us and guiding us.

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Pentecost: When The Holy Spirit descended to the disciples to empower us with Christ’s mission and love….

The remainder of the church year is sometimes called “Ordinary Time” and extends until the next Advent. You will notice that our Pastor and choir wear different colored stoles over their robes during worship to symbolize the various seasons of the church year. White is used for special days commemorating the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, such as Christmas and Easter. Purple marks the season of reflective penitence and preparation experienced in Advent and Lent. Red or Purple is appropriate for Passion/Palm Sunday. During Holy Week, the color is Purple until the church is stripped at the end of the Maundy Thursday service…when it becomes Gray until the Easter vigil.  Green vestments are used at all other times, the “Ordinary Time” signifying spiritual growth.