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Church Year Overview

Welcome to Today in the Church Year! Read this post to learn more about what the Church Year is and why it matters.

What is the Church Year?

The Church Year is a way of organizing important events in the life of the Church, from the beginning of time until now. It is a means by which we can order our days and months and years during our lives on earth. 

At first glance, the days in the Church Year might seem purely focused on the people and events from the past. However, the Church Year is all about Christ, the living God, who was and is and is to come! As we walk through the days of the Church Year, we are reminded that our days are ordered not by the changing events of this world or our lives, but by Christ’s unchanging Word of promise and His unchanging work of redemption.

The Church Year celebrates important events in the life of Christ.

Many of the days in the Church Year celebrate events in the life of Christ; His birth, Baptism, death, and resurrection. The Church Year starts with the Time of Christmas, which includes the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. During this Time of Christmas, we celebrate important events such as Christ’s birth, His circumcision, and His transfiguration.

The Church Year then moves into the Time of Easter, beginning with the season of Lent. Though this season carries with it a somber tone, we also rejoice in the depth of love Christ showed by suffering and dying in our stead. Our sorrow then turns to joy because of Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven during the season of Easter.

Finally, the Church Year moves into its third major portion, the Time of the Church, where we rejoice in Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit, who continues to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify His Church on earth. In this time, we give thanks as Christ continues to come to His Church today through the gifts of Word and Sacrament.

The Church Year reminds us to look forward to the return of Christ.

The Church Year helps us keep our eyes fixed on Christ by reminding us of His coming again on the Last Day. As the Church Year begins in Advent, we prepare not only for the celebration of Christ’s coming at His birth, but also for His second coming. Similarly, the festivals and propers for the days at the end of the Church Year turn our hearts and minds to Christ’s promised return in glory. This time of the Church Year fills us with great hope and joy as we look forward to that day when we with all the faithful will be united with our Lord in the heavenly banquet, which has no end.  

The Church Year honors those who have gone before us in Christ.

Other days in the Church Year celebrate the lives of those who have been redeemed by Christ. The purpose of these commemorations is not to glorify the person being honored, but to focus on God’s work in and through their lives. When we remember these people, it gives us occasion to thank God for His work in their lives, to be strengthened in faith as we see His mercy and forgiveness overcome their sin, and to be encouraged in our own faith as we seek to imitate their lives of faith and good works in Christ Jesus.

Future posts on this blog will focus on specific celebrations for each day in the Church Year. Look forward to posts each Sunday featuring the appointed propers. You can also expect posts on feast and festival days, as well as the commemorations of the sanctoral calendar. All posts will feature a short devotional passage, while posts on feasts, festivals, and Sundays will include helpful links to our Lutheran Calendar page. We hope that these posts will serve as a resource for your personal and family devotions as you grow in Christ and His Word! 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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