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The Church Year

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED?

When you visit a Lutheran church you will hear things like "We are on the first Sunday of the Church year, the first Sunday in Advent."  You'll see things like blue coverings on the altar, pulpit and lectern.  The pastor will wear different color stoles on his robe.  Here is some helpful information to explain why.
 

What are the meanings of the colors on the altar and Pastor's robe?

  • White     Represents Godhead and eternity, saints in heaven, color of perfection, joy, purity
  • Red        Color of fire, fervor, blood, martyrdom, victorious truth of Christian teaching based on the blood of Christ
  • Green     Color of life and nourishment; the basic color of nature
  • Purple    Color of royalty, mourning, and repentance
  • Blue       Color of the sky and of hope
  • Gold       Color of royalty, riches, and victory



The Seasons of the Church Year

  • Advent season is from the fourth Sunday prior to December 25 through December 24. If December 24 is a Sunday, it is the Fourth Sunday in Advent, but that evening is customarily considered the beginning of the Christmas Season.
  • Christmas season is from December 25 through January 5. These twelve days of Christmas include one or two Sundays. 
  • Epiphany season is from January 6 through the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. 
  • Lent is from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, forty days plus six Sundays.
  • Easter season is forty-nine days long, seven Sundays. Easter is the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon of spring, which follows a pattern for determining the Old Testament Passover. Or, said another way, find the first day of spring (March 21/22), then go to the next full moon, and then go to the following Sunday – that’s Easter. For a fuller  explanation, refer to a document like the chart of Church Year dates, Christian Worship, p. 162.
  • Pentecost season is from the fiftieth day after Easter until the End Time season.
  • End Time season consists of the four weeks prior to Advent. The first Sunday of End Time is Reformation Sunday, the eighth Sunday before December 25 (four Advent Sundays and four End Time Sundays).

When is Reformation Day? 

October 31, Luther's posting of the 95 thesis, the day before All Saints' Day. However, Reformation SUNDAY is the first Sunday of End Time, four Sundays before Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas Day. Reformation Sunday will occur between October 30 and November 5.
 

What is meant by an “early” or “late” Easter?

If the first spring full moon is “early”, that is, very soon after the first day of spring such as in late March, then the next Sunday will be an “early” Easter. 

If the first spring full moon is “late”, that is, up to four weeks after the first day of spring such as in mid-April, then the next Sunday will be a “late” Easter.