Liturgical Worship

Worship at Community of the Savior fits within the liturgical tradition of the Christian church, while exploring new modes of expression in music and form. Sunday worship is structured around the historic four-fold pattern of Gathering, Word, Table, and Sending Forth. The summit of Sunday worship is the weekly celebration of the Eucharist in which our spiritual lives are nourished by the real presence of Christ.

The Seasons of the Church Year organize our life together around the rhythms of the Gospel. These seasons are augmented by a lectionary of Scripture readings that seeks to ensure that the major portions and themes of the Bible are read and taught over a 3-year cycle.

The church year begins with Advent, a 4-week season of preparation that proclaims the various comings of Christ, whose birth and incarnation we celebrate at Christmas, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return in final victory we await and anticipate. Each year, Advent calls the community of faith to prepare for these comings. The traditional color for the Advent season is purple, signifying both the penitence called for as we prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming, and the royalty of the coming King. In recent years, some churches have also begun to use blue as the color for Advent, in order to signify the hopefulness of the season and to distinguish the emphasis of Advent from that of Lent.

Christmas is a 12-day season of praise and thanksgiving for the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. The season begins on Christmas Eve or Day and continues through the Day of Epiphany. The name Christmas comes from the celebration of a feast time for the birth of Jesus—the Christ Mass—a practice that first arose in the 4th century. Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphania, which means “manifestation” or “appearing.” The liturgical colors for the Christmas season are white, signifying purity and holiness, and gold, signifying majesty and joy in the presence of God.

The Season after Epiphany is a season of Ordinary Time, which includes four to nine Sundays, depending on the date of Easter. The Gospel readings for the season center on stories from the early ministry of Christ. The First Sunday after Epiphany focuses on the Baptism of Christ and the Last Sunday on the Transfiguration. The normal color for Ordinary Time is green, symbolizing the growth of the kingdom of Christ. The color for the first and last Sundays is white in celebration of two highlights of our Lord’s early ministry, his baptism and transfiguration.

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which refers to the lengthening of days as winter turns to spring. In the historic church, Lent became a season of preparation for celebrating Easter. The season began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by new believers, and then became a time for penance by all Christians.

The Easter Season, also known as the Great Fifty Days, begins at sunset Easter Eve and continues through the Day of Pentecost. It is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ’s resurrection and ascension and on the giving of the Holy Spirit on the first Easter (John 20:22-23) and on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The ancient Christian name for this festival is Pasch, derived from the Hebrew pesach (“deliverance” or “passover”), thus connecting the Resurrection with the Exodus. The traditional liturgical colors for the season are white, signifying purity and holiness, and gold, signifying the majesty and joy of the presence of God.

The Season after Pentecost, also called Ordinary Time, begins the day after Pentecost and ends the day before the First Sunday of Advent. The lectionary readings for the Season after Pentecost cycle through books of the Bible in a semi-continuous fashion. The gospel readings focus on the teaching ministry of Jesus and tend to center on the theme of the kingdom and reign of God. This is a season of living into our discipleship to Jesus Christ. It is a season of considering what it means to embrace the call to life in Christ in the midst of the ups and downs of our regular lives. The traditional color for the season is green.

Portions adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship, © 1992

For further information about the Church Year and the Revised Common Lectionary, see