Seasons of the Church

 

The Season of LentLent 40 days

 Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter. Originally, Let was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord early on Easter Sunday.  But since these new members were to be received into a living community of Faith, the entire community was called to preparation. Also, this was the time when those who had been separated from the Church would prepare to rejoin the community.

Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self-examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.

Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some churches today still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God’s grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epiphany/Theophony Celebration and Its Traditions


Because Epiphany is primarily observed by Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Christians, many Protestant believers don't understand the spiritual significance behind this holiday, one of earliest feasts of the Christian church.

 

If you were fortunate enough to have grown up in a town such as Tarpon Springs, Florida, which Brad and I often visited when we lived in Florida, then you are probably quite familiar with some of the unique cultural celebrations associated with Epiphany. What I remember vividly about this ancient church holiday is kids skipping school each year on Epiphany to see many of the young men ages 16-18 of the Greek Orthodox faith dive into the chilly waters of Spring Bayou to retrieve the cherished cross. The "blessing of waters" and "diving for the cross" ceremonies were famous in that predominately Greek community. That fame was shared for a year by one special Greek boy who had the honor of recovering the crucifix and receiving the traditional full-year's blessing.


After more than 100 years of celebrating this tradition, the annual Greek Orthodox festival in Tarpon Springs continues to draw large crowds, yet many observers do not understand the true meaning behind these Epiphany ceremonies.


Epiphany, also known as "Three Kings Day" and "Twelfth Day," is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.
The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation" and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God's own Son. Likewise, on Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus' miracle of turning water into wine, signifying the manifestation of Christ's divinity as well.

 

October 20, 2014

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