Word and Sacrament are offered as a testimony that God has reconciled the world from its brokeness (sin) through Christ. We share in Christ’s death and resurrection and are born into a living hope – a new being. Baptism brings us into this spiritual communion with God being continuously renewed and restored by receiving Holy Communion (or Eucharist or Lord’s Supper).
As the world has been reconciled, so too, our sin is forgiven by God through honest confession in Christ. The Spirit guides one to an awareness of God’s acceptance moving us to respond in lives of witness to the reality of the gospel of Christ in our word and deed.
Atonement follows a liturgical or church calendar year of seasons and various commemorations. The structure of the worship service paints God's Word, poems, songs, prayers, message, and Holy Communion seeking to evoke participation, reflection and spiritual response. "The Christian story is at the heart of the Word and Sacrament. God, through Christ, is disclosed in the objects, events, and persons of ordinary life. Rituals attending to birth, marriage, death, worship, music, and visual art use metaphor and paradox to point to the spiritual meaning contained in the stories. Through the power of imagination, ritual and symbol make a past deed present rather than a historical pageant." Such forms help lead one to explore, affirm and experience God's grace in faith, hope and spiritual love.
The present western Christian calendar is derived from the Jewish culture of the Old Testament based on the lunar cycle and integrated within the western solar calendar (Roman Gregorian). Feasts and holy seasons originating from Old Testament times such as the Passover and Pentecost, obtained Christian significance as the spiritual meaning of Christ’s presence emerged as written in the New Testament. In general, movable feasts such as Easter follow the Jewish calendar and fixed feasts such as Christmas and Epiphany follow the Roman calendar.
* Cycle • Season + Festival or Commemoration
• Advent Season--Four Sundays preceding Christmas
Advent is the Latin word for “to come to.” God in Christ is coming to/in the world:
(1) As from the past (Christ’s birth)
(2) As from the present (new awareness or new being)
(3) As to the future (Christ’s return)
• Christmas Season-- Begins on Christmas Day, December 25, and lasts for 12 days until January 5, the eve of Epiphany. The word is derived from the early church liturgy “Christ Mass” (Eucharist or The Lord’s Supper) centering on Christ’s birth celebrating “the good news of great joy” on Christmas day.
History--The Christmas observance developed relatively late in the history of the Church. Early Christians considered the celebration of the resurrection to be far more important, and both Jesus' birth and baptism were celebrated on Epiphany (January 6). In the fourth century, Roman Christians appropriated a pagan festival day honoring Sol Invictus (The Unconquered Sun) which was celebrated on December 25, the date of the winter solstice. On this the shortest day of the year, the Roman pagans hailed the "rebirth" of the sun, which from that day forward would increasingly rule the day. Christians saw an obvious parallel with the "Sun of Righteousness," a prophetic name for the Messiah and adopted this festival to practice their faith within the dominate pagan culture. (Because of errors in the Roman calendar, the winter solstice presently occurs on December 21.)
+ The Nativity--The event, meaning, and purpose of Christ’s birth in fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior to the world given in the Old Testament.
• Epiphany Season--January 6 through the day before Lent (Ash Wednesday). The Greek word Epiphany means "to be made manifest or appearance.” Epiphany observances emphasize the manifestation of Jesus as "Light to the Gentiles" and the "Glory of Israel" related to Simeon when Jesus was presented at the temple, the manifestation of Jesus as God's only Son at his baptism, and the manifestation of Jesus to the world as represented by the wise men of the East (Orient).
History--With the exception of Easter, Epiphany is the oldest season of the church year. In the early church, it was a time when new converts were admitted to the church after a period of preparation. Like several other Christian seasons, Epiphany was appropriated by the church from a pagan festival. As early as 1996 BC, the Egyptians celebrated the winter solstice (which then occurred on January 6) with a tribute to Aeon, the virgin. At first, Epiphany was a celebration of both the birth and baptism of Jesus. After Christmas became a separate season, Epiphany became an observance of Jesus' baptism in the eastern church and of the visit of the wise men in the western church.
+ The Epiphany of Our Lord
+ The Baptism of Our Lord
+ The Transfiguration of Our Lord
• Lenten Season-- A season lasting forty-six days which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the eve of Easter. The six Sundays during Lent are exempted, which means that Lent is observed for a total of forty days. Lent is calculated backward from Easter which may float between February 4 through March 11 (lunar cycle). Lent is characterized as a time of personal reflection and repentance (awareness of sin and remorse). The season centers on imitating Jesus’ journey into the desert wilderness for forty days after his baptism and temptations in overcoming evil.
History-- Lent derives from two sources: (1) the fast preceding the Pascha or Passover (an early commemoration of both the Passion and the Resurrection), and (2) a period of preparation for candidates for baptism. The fast originally lasted one day but was eventually extended to six. It became the model for Holy Week observances which were separated according to the events of Jesus' last week. The preparation period became the rest of the Lenten season.
+ Ash Wednesday--”From dust you came, to dust you will return.”
+ Holy Week--Seven consecutive days beginning with Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday). The last week of Lent. Observances recount the days when early Christians made pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Jewish Passover to commemorate Christ’s Passion (suffering and execution by crucifixion) and Resurrection.
+ Palm Sunday--The entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.
+ Maundy Thursday--The institution of the Lord’s Supper and betrayal of Jesus.
+ Good Friday--The arrest, trial, execution (crucifixion), death, and burial of Jesus.
+ Holy Saturday--The Jewish Sabbath on which Jesus rested in the grave.
• Easter Season--The Easter season begins on Easter Sunday and continues for fifty days ending on Pentecost. Easter celebrates the Resurrection (rising from death) of Christ on the third day after His death. “We are therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of God, we too may have a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in death, we will certainly be united with Him in His resurrection.” [Romans 6:4,5] Easter Sunday is the most joyful day of the Christian year.
History-- Easter is the oldest of Christian festival days. In many respects every Sunday is a reminder of Easter just as from the past. Easter was originally called "Pascha" after the ancient Hebrew word meaning "Passover" linked to the spring harvest in Palestine. The title, Easter, is a derived from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, "Eostre," whose festival occurred at the annual vernal equinox. Easter was originally celebrated as one continuous festival, but in the fourth century the early church divided it into separate observances of the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost. The present date of Easter, which determines much of the rest of the church calendar, is fixed according to the Paschal Calendar (lunar based) developed in 527AD. Using this system, Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon falling on or after the first day of spring (March 21). Fixing Easter in such a manner causes it to fall at the same time as the Jewish Passover, since the first Easter coincided with that feast.
+ Easter Sunday--Christ’s Resurrection.
+ Ascension of Our Lord--Christ ascends (move upward in/with God) to heaven.
Time of the Church
• Pentecost (Whit Sunday) and the Season after Pentecost--The fiftieth day after Easter and lasting twenty-seven Sundays after Pentecost (fiftieth day) leading to Advent. Christ’s disciples were empowered to speak of God’s salvation (eternal life) in Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection (the Gospel). The disciples spoke and all cultures present understood the words in their own native languages (through God’s Holy Spirit). Many understood and believed. The beginning of the Church is commemorated by this event
History--The model for Pentecost was the Feast of Weeks celebrated by the Jews at the end of the grain harvest. Over time, the Feast of Weeks came to be associated with the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses. The Jews saw this event as the founding of the Jewish nation, and early Christians adopted this as a parallel with the founding of the Christian Church.
+ Trinity Sunday--First Sunday after Pentecost. Celebrates the Christian doctrine of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; all three as one (Trinity or Holy Trinity). Derived by the early church, through the Council of Nicea (325 AD).
+ Reformation Day--October 31
+ All Saints Day--November 1. The Christian Memorial Day commemorating all whom died in testimony of Christ.
+ Christ the King
+ Matters related to the Church’s work for the community of faith, the community at large, and in the world.
Atonement is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA)
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