Major celebrations of the church year
The season of Advent is one of preparation and anticipation. Together, we look ahead to the incarnation (birth) of Jesus Christ which occurs at Christmas. Advent is also the beginning of the new Church Year. Each Church Year is made up of:
Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time (also known as the Season after Pentecost).
During Advent, we offer a traditional…
Hearing the Scriptures that herald Jesus’ coming and singing the hymns which accompany those Scriptures is an ancient tradition of the church. We call this Lessons and Carols. This Saturday afternoon service features our Parish Choir leading worship and is held within the first couple weeks of Advent.
The season of Christmas is only 12 days long (the song was for a reason!) and sometimes that means we observe Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and another Sunday or two of the Christmas season in church, depending on what day of the week Christmas Day falls. If you come to church during this time, you’ll hear the most familiar hymns, you’ll see our regal Christmas trees that adorn our altar, and together, we’ll celebrate the mystery of how a small baby born to a young girl in Palestine 2,000 years ago changed the whole world.
During the Christmas season, we offer…
All children (most enjoyable for ages 2+) are invited to participate in the Children’s Pageant service. There is a rehearsal for all children right after church on the Sunday prior to Christmas Eve, during which we provide lunch, try on costumes, and rehearse the Pageant itself. Older youth provide music, readings, serve at the altar, and shepherd the younger children. Childcare is available. If you or your children would like to assist with this special service, contact Sarah Petersen.
These celebratory services incorporate Holy Communion, traditional carols for the whole congregation to sing, and wonderful anthems from our Parish Choir accompanied by an orchestra made up of local musicians.
1) the 5pm gets the most full, so if you prefer a bit more elbow room, try the 8pm or the 11pm!
2) Childcare is available at the 5pm service, but not at the 8pm or 11pm service.
Immediately before the 8pm and 11pm services, a Christmas Concert is traditionally offered by our marvelous Parish Choir with orchestral accompaniment.
If Christmas Eve crowds aren’t your thing, or if you simply have always preferred Christmas Day worship, join us on December 25 to celebrate Christ’s birth. Joy to the world!
The day after the twelfth day of Christmas is the Feast of the Epiphany, which begins the season of Epiphany. The day itself is when we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men from the East who saw a star and followed it to Jesus’ home to pay him homage. At Saint Barnabas, this is a feast we love, so we always move it to the Sunday closest to January 6 so the whole community can enjoy it.
The season as it goes on (anywhere from 4-7 weeks based on when Easter falls) is filled with stories of the spreading of the LIGHT which came into the world in the person of Jesus when he was born on Christmas. So you’ll hear of how Jesus was baptized, how he was transfigured in front of his friends, how he performed his first miracle, and more. These stories help us get in touch with the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry.
The season of Lent is launched with the annual celebration of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is when we come into close awareness of our mortality. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” is what you will hear as the clergy make the sign of the cross in ashes on your forehead. The invitation is to be thoughtful and aware about how finite our lives are. How can we make the most of them by serving the God who so lovingly created us?
The rest of Lent continues in the somewhat subdued and solemn tones that Ash Wednesday began for us. We pack away the word “Alleluia” and all its celebratory connotations. Many take on a Lenten discipline by either giving up something or taking on something else in an effort to be more prayerful or more conscious of the things that distract us from God. Though it’s a somber season, we continue to celebrate the Eucharist (Holy Communion) every week in church. Did you know that the 40 days of Lent don’t actually include Sundays? That’s because Sundays are feast days! Days when we are called to remember with a quiet joy the sacrifice that was made for us.
The final week of Lent is called…
In this special “season within a season,” we observe what is called the Triduum (trih-dyu-um): the three holy days during which we offer…
This is the day Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with his disciples. He also washes their feet as a symbol of his servant leadership of them. We observe this special day with a service of Holy Communion that ends uniquely: in the Stripping of the Altar. All the symbols of our worship and of Christ are either removed or draped with cloth. The only symbols of Christ left in the world are us.
We follow that action by offering an all-night prayer vigil in the Sanctuary. You can sign up to be part of this as the season draws closer, and can stay after the service, or can come back at any time during the night before 11am the next day. This recalls Jesus’ time in the Garden of Gethsemane before he is arrested, during which he asks his disciples to “stay awake and watch with me” while he prays. Also during this time, a foot-washing station is available for any who feel called to serve their fellow parishioners in this way.
The services of Good Friday are some of the most painful of the church year. This is when we recall Jesus’ arrest, beating, and execution at the hands of the Roman empire. It is a solemn occasion with the clergy and servers dressed all in black. We do not celebrate the Holy Eucharist, but we do distribute pre-blessed bread and wine to the congregation as a form of strengthening to get through the day ahead.
On Good Friday, we also offer a service of the Stations of the Cross (usually at 12pm) which is a brief walk through the traditional 14 stations from Jesus’ arrest to his death.
The most under-rated, but for many, the most glorious celebration of Easter takes place on Saturday night. The Great Vigil of Easter was the original 1st century Easter liturgy. There are four parts: the lighting of the new fire, which is Jesus’ spark of life rekindling in the tomb. This is followed by the recalling of the salvation history, in which we hear stories of how God has been saving us all through our Scriptures which culminates in his ultimate salvation of the whole world in the resurrection of Jesus. This is followed by the Rite of Initiation, as Easter celebrations are a marvelous time to baptize those who wish to call themselves Jesus Followers. Lastly, we celebrate the First Easter Feast: the first Eucharist of the new world when Christ has been raised, and we have been raised to new life with him.
This joyous season starts with Easter Day when our choir and orchestra help us celebrate with the most gorgeous music you could imagine. The season then continues for 50 days. Throughout this time, we hear the stories of how Jesus appeared to his followers in many ways after his resurrection; we hear what he taught them about how to live, and how to carry on without him. During this time, we also celebrate his Ascension into heaven (which Saint Barnabas also likes to move to a Sunday so we don’t miss the celebration!).
This is followed by the arrival of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate on…
Based in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the event of Pentecost is the celebration of all peoples hearing the stories of God’s mighty acts in their own languages. Tongues of fire touched each of them and empowered them to hear! We celebrate this day with a boisterous reading of the Acts lesson in communion with one another (you have to be there to truly revel in it!), as well as with special music and preaching. Pentecost is the third of our three major feasts in the church year alongside Christmas and Easter, so you won’t want to miss it!
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