Our Christian calendar is universal (catholic) in faith that leads us to worship the one true living God through Christ in unity and community of Christ. Worshiping with a cycle of the calendar was not new in the community of God. The ancient Jews were celebrating the Old Covenant in remembrance of God’s redemption and deliverance from slavery and faithfulness of His covenant through Passover, Yom Kippur, Hannukah, and so on. For us, as Christians, who are in the New Covenant, we celebrate the liturgical calendar in constant remembrance of the redemption and deliverance of God through Christ Jesus for our new born life with forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and hope in his coming again. We benefit most when we do it with a heart of worship; a desire to grow closer to God; to be changed by God as a new creation; and, seeking to be more like His Son. It also gives us an opportunity to constantly learn about the Gospel truth in the life of Jesus.
The Christian liturgical calendar starts from Advent, which is four weeks before Christmas. And we continue to follow the footstep of Jesus on earth from his birth to his death and resurrection; before and after his Ascension to heaven; and then God poured out His Spirit upon His elects to form His Church.
Below is the list of holy days (that is how we get the word “holiday”) for us to observe, pray, and worship in the calendar of the Church.
Advent – The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus”, which means “coming”. Advent is four Sundays before the nativity of Christ (Christmas). On this Sunday, there are twofold observations on what has happened and what is going to come. First, we are in prayer and observance for the Incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ; and, secondly, we are preparing our hearts for the second coming of Jesus (also known as Parousia).
Christmas – This is the day we celebrate the Incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December every year.
Epiphany – It is usually observed on the 6th of January. It is a day where we celebrate the manifestation of Jesus as the Christ to the world and Gentiles. Some people use this day to talk about the baptism of Jesus, the visitation of the magi, or even how Jesus turned water into wine.
Ash Wednesday – It is the beginning of Lent season, six and a half weeks before Easter. During this day, people go to Church for prayer and worship to receive ashes on the forehead as a sign of penitence.
Lent season – Lent is a devotional period of 40 days before Easter. People fast regularly and prepare themselves for the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, and our new life born again in his Resurrection.
Palm Sunday – Palm Sunday is a week before Easter Sunday. On this day we celebrate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is a day that the prophecy of God in Zechariah 9.9 was fulfilled. People usually prepare palm leaves in the Church as part of the celebration.
Good Friday – It is the Friday preceding Easter. We observe the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Easter – It is the Sunday after Good Friday that we observe the Resurrection of Jesus. Some call it Pascha Sunday.
Ascension Day – It is also known as the Feast of Ascension or Holy Thursday. It is the fortieth day after Easter, whereby Christ spent forty days with the disciples and ascended into heaven and seated on the right-hand side of God the Father.
Pentecost – Pentecost is a Sunday to celebrate the pouring of the Holy Spirit upon the elects during the day of Pentecost. It is also known as the day when the Church was formed by the Holy Spirit.
Trinity Sunday – When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, it leads us into the truth of God as Trinity; One God in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; not as three gods, but as one God.
Sundays after Trinity (or Ordinary time) are all the weeks and Sundays after Trinity Sunday that we continue to observe the work of the Holy Spirit (after Pentecost) forming the Church, and how our triune God reveals Himself to us and leading us into eternal salvation. The liturgical calendar then ends and starts again with Advent.
The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (parousia) is always anticipated in the life of the Church, which makes sense that the calendar ends at Advent.