AN OVERVIEW OF THE
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The liturgical year begins in late November/early December with Advent, the season in which we anticipate the coming of Christ into the world, two thousand years ago as the Babe of Bethlehem, and at the end of time as the righteous judge of the living and the dead. Christmas, the day we praise God the Father for the birth of His Son, is the first of the "great" Christian festivals and the climax of the season. The Epiphany of our Lord and the Sundays that follow trace out Christ's manifestation of Himself to the world through His public ministry and miracles. The Transfiguration of our Lord, the last Sunday after the Epiphany, signals the end of the first part of the Christian calendar.
Lent ushers in the beginning of the second part of the liturgical year. This somber and austere forty-day period begins on Ash Wednesday, a day of repentance and self-examination, and culminates in Holy Week, the commemoration of our Lord's passion and death. Once again, we reach a climax on the second "great" Christian festival, Easter, the joyous day of Christ's resurrection. After celebrating our Lord's victory over sin, Satan, and death for seven weeks, we conclude the second part of the Christian calendar with the third and final "great" festival day, Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit in wind and fire.
It is late spring (mid-May to mid-June) as the church enters the longest part of the liturgical year, the Season after Pentecost. This season begins on Trinity Sunday and concludes on the Last Sunday of the Church Year. The months in between are a time of growth as the church meditates on the Bible's teachings as they apply to the daily life of each believer. The annual cycle then repeats itself with the return of Advent in late fall.
The liturgical calendar also contains a number of other festivals spread throughout the year. These days commemorate a particular event in history (such as Reformation and the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession) or a person or persons of special significance to the church (such as All Saints' Day and commemorations of individual saints).