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Content about Church year

May 31, 2009

In early September, many churches begin a new season of church education classes and a host of other programs with a special “kick-off” worship service. Most often these services focus on a theme of dedication, and there never seems to be enough songs with words like “Take My Life and Let It Be.” While this is a strong theme, it can also focus a lot of attention on the enormous outpouring of busyness the new year promises.

March 1, 2007

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’re not always in the “right” frame of mind to plan or lead worship. Much as we might hate to admit it, outside factors do affect our view of worship at a Tuesday night planning meeting or a Sunday morning service. We may be struggling with financial issues, grieving the loss of a friend, or dealing with a family member’s difficult illness. Or we may just be tired and crabby after a long day or a traffic jam.

March 1, 2007

Our church follows the seasons of the Christian year and the lectionary Scripture passages, changing banners and colors accordingly. When we planned a service called “Singing Through the Christian Year,” it provided us with the opportunity to “walk through” the Christian year in one evening and to reprise many of the choir anthems we had learned and used in services over the past year.

September 4, 2005

The last Sunday of the Christian year (this year very early, on November 20) offers a wonderful opportunity to introduce the new year that will begin on the first Sunday of Advent. This past year we decided to celebrate it in a special way with scriptural readings from nine major events in the life of Jesus. While we used about a dozen different readers, as few as four or as many as twenty-plus could effectively be used. (For all the Scripture readings, arranged for various readers, see below.)

March 4, 2004
Q. I find my own worship suffering because of my role as a worship leader. I’m too concerned for the details of the service to really enter into worship. Any advice?

A. This question comes up regularly in classes I’ve taught. Here are some insightful comments from my students, many of them veteran leaders:

September 1, 2002

Unlike other LOFT services, which take place on Sunday night and go for seventy-five minutes or more, this hymnsing service took place on a Friday morning and lasted under twenty-five minutes. It was part of a week-long project of educating students about the seasons of the church and what it means to find our identity, as Paul says, in Christ, inserting our stories into his story, giving our own lives context and purpose.

June 1, 2002

Advent is a time of preparation, beginning with the Sunday nearest November 30. On the four Sundays of Advent, the church both looks forward to celebrating the birth of Christ and prepares for the return of Christ. The liturgical color is purple or dark blue.


Christmas is the festival of the birth of Christ, the incarnation. The twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas Eve and end on the celebration of the Epiphany (January 6). The liturgical colors are white and gold.

August 31, 2001

Many churches observe the Feast of Christ of King on the last Sunday of the Christian year, which falls on the third or fourth Sunday of November and celebrates Jesus’ conquering of sin and victory over death, his eternal reign, and our identity as a royal priesthood that shares in his reign. This festival was established in 1925 by the Roman Catholic Church as a proclamation to combat the secularization of society and to call on everyone, including governments, to submit to Christ.

March 1, 1999

After Pentecost comes Trinity Sunday and the beginning of a long period of Ordinary Time or Growing Time, as many churches teach their children. Ordinary Time (time not connected to the Christmas and Easter cycles) stretches this year from the beginning of June until the end of November. Either the beginning or end of this long period would be a good time to review the entire Christian year. The first two services here were planned for June, and the children were able to sing songs they had learned throughout the year.

August 31, 1994

Since many congregations are still new to observing the Christian Year, a teaching service about the various church seasons can be very instructive The following service was first conducted at the Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Although hymns are suggested in the service, feel free to substitute other seasonal hymns Also, whether you use more or less choir participation will depend on your local situation.

December 1, 1993

"I don't know if we can keep it up I much longer."

We were having a discussion about worship; she was the chair of another church's worship committee. I'd always admired the energy she poured into each service, but it looked as if she was approaching "worship committee burnout."

"I wonder if we are reinventing the wheel every week," she said. "We find it harder and harder to make our services fresh and new."

March 1, 1990

As any liturgist knows, we have to take more than one "church year" into account as we plan our worship services. The last time I counted, I came up with six distinguishable "years."

March 1, 1990

This service, organized around the six parts of the church year, was led by the junior choir of Park Christian Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan, at the conclusion of their choir season. For each part of the service, one choir member changed the pulpit parament with its appropriate colors and symbols. Others read passages from Scripture or Our World Belongs to God, a contemporary testimony found in the Worship Edition of the new Psalter Hymnal. And both choir and congregation sang songs for that season.

August 31, 1989

Diane Karay. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1987,144 pp. $7.95.

This collection of prayers, intended primarily for congregational worship, is also appropriate for personal and family devotions. The prayers are of four types: calls to worship, prayers of praise, prayers of confession or affirmation, and pastoral prayers. As the book's title suggests, the prayers are organized for use in the many seasons of the liturgical year: Advent and Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and a section for all seasons.

May 31, 1989

Using the church year to teach the mighty acts of God

Dirk is five. He wiggles a lot in church. Sings some. Talks too much. And doesn't get much out of the sermon. Sometimes a musical instrument, a choir, or a change of banners and colors catches his attention—but not often enough. Usually worship is words and ideas rather than the concrete objects, people, and events that have meaning for children. So Dirk returns to his crayons.

August 31, 1986

Most Christians would be horrified if a ban were placed on the celebration of Christmas—as some claim happened in Boston many years ago. Yet many are reluctant to celebrate other holy days from the Christian church year. Seasons like Advent, Epiphany, and Lent seem to have a Roman Catholic or Episcopalian aura about them.