Church Year



The Christian calendar is based on the story of our faith, especially the story of Jesus Christ and his birth, life death and resurrection as described in the Bible and understood in the traditions of the Christian church. As the year proceeds, that story unfolds and we are reminded of why we believe and practice our faith as we do. Of course, the events surrounding the life of Jesus are open to interpretation, but that's half the fun! Wrestling with what it all might mean, and how it affects our lives as Christians in the 21st century is part of our faith journey. Why not travel with us through the year and see what you make of it?


Holy Week is the name that Christians give to the week before Easter Sunday. It begins on the Sunday before Easter, and during this week they retell the story of Jesus's final days. These storied can be found in the gospels books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the bible. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.


On this day Christians remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, cheered on by the crowds who waved palm branches and greeted him with shouts of "Hosanna!" which means, "Save us now!". Perhaps they thought he would save the Jewish people from their Roman rulers, though if he had come to do that, it's unlikely he'd have chosen a donkey to ride! A war horse would have been more appropriate. Many believe that by riding a donkey into the city in this way, Jesus was fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy about God's king coming to his people in humility on a donkey. The people certainly had freedom on their minds - it was the time of the Jewish Feast of the Passover, their Freedom Festival.

Palm Sunday was a cheerful start to the week, but soon the mood darkened as Jesus's enemies began to close in. On one day Jesus cleared a market out of the Temple which was stopping people from praying. This made some of the authorities angry and encouraged them to plot against him. Then on the Thursday, Jesus ate the Last Supper.



On this evening the gospels tell us how Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples. At the end, he shared bread and wine, which he said was his "body and blood" and told them to "do this in remembrance of me". This is why, even to this day, Christians share bread and wine in church as Jesus commanded. Jesus also washed his friends' feet to show them how they should serve each other. He commanded them to "love one another". This day is called MAUNDY THURSDAY from the Latin for "commandment" (mandatum).

That same night, Jesus was arrested.

Jesus was put on trial illegally through the night and condemned to death. The next day, FRIDAY, he was nailed to a cross and left to die.


This is the day Jesus died on the cross (crucified). It is a very solemn day for Christians. Different Christians understand the meaning of the cross in different ways, but they all believe that Jesus's death was very significant. The cross is one of the main symbols of the Christian Faith. When Jesus dies, his body was taken by his friends and laid in a tomb cut out of the rock and a stone was rolled across the entrance. The day was originally called GOD'S FRIDAY, which eventually became GOOD FRIDAY.

HOLY SATURDAY - Jesus's body lay in the tomb.


The women friends of Jesus went to the tomb to anoint his body. They found the stone rolled away and the body gone. Then they began to meet him alive! At first no-one believed he could be alive, but soon there were many different encounters with Jesus, who was the same but different….and the scared disciples and friends of Jesus found their lives transformed! Whatever had happened, that first Easter showed that nothing can stop God's love, not even death. Easter became the celebration of new life for everyone who believes in Jesus. It is the most important Christian festival.



Candlemas on February 2nd marks the very end of Christmas. Yes, I know you probably thought Christmas was over long ago! But in terms of the Christian year, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are all part of one long season that marks the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. This is like "The Jesus Story Part 1" What comes next is "The Jesus Story Part 2"!

Lent starts the day after Shrove Tuesday. This is the proper name for Pancake Day. It was traditional to eat up all rich foods in the form of pancakes before Lent began the next day and people started to eat more simply. Christians used to go to church on this day to make their confession and be forgiven or "shriven" - hence the name "shrove" Tuesday.

The day after Shrove Tuesday is Ash Wednesday, when Lent really starts. In church on this day, when Christians confess their sins, they are marked with ashes as a reminder of our mortality. (The ashes are made by burning the previous year's palm crosses) One day all of us will return to "dust and ashes" as we say at the funeral service. Lent then continues for the next forty days, not counting Sundays.

Lent is a solemn time, when Christians try to live more simply. Some fast (go without food for set times) or cut out luxuries as a spiritual discipline. It also helps remind us what some people have to do without every day through no choice of their own! During Lent Christians are especially encouraged to support charities that care for the needy, and may hold events to raise money for these, such as frugal Lent Lunches, etc.

The whole point of Lent is to recall the human life of Jesus, how he was tempted in the wilderness, how he faced opposition even though he healed people and taught them about the love of God, and how, eventually, he suffered and died on the cross. Some people like to think of Lent as a kind of journey in which they travel with Jesus and deepen their faith by reflecting on his life and teaching.

The colour for Lent is purple and the church will have purple hangings and vestments during this season. There is a bit of light relief in the middle of Lent for Mothering Sunday - but more of that later.





The word "Epiphany" means "showing" or "revealing" and it is celebrated in the western world on January 6th. On this day we recall the story of how wise men from the east followed a star which led them to Jesus in Bethlehem. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was for kingship, frankincense for prayer and worship, and myrrh for death - very strange gifts for a baby! They hint at how special this particular baby was. Often this story is included in Christmas itself, but the wise men (or kings) have always had their own festival at Epiphany.

The wise men were not Jewish, like all the other people in the story were up to this point. They were foreigners, strangers from an unknown land far away, and this is important in the story. It shows how Jesus came to save not just his own people, but everyone - he is the Saviour of the world, and everyone is invited to follow and worship him. Through this story he is "shown" or "revealed" to the wider world - hence the name "Epiphany".

Epiphany lasts about a month. Each Sunday during this month, a different story from the Bible about Jesus is read, gradually revealing more about him: his baptism in the River Jordan, his first miracle or sign where he turns water into wine, the call of his first disciples. It ends on February 2nd with Candlemas.

Candlemas marks the very end of the Christmas season which began in Advent. On this day the story is told of how Mary & Joseph take baby Jesus to the Temple. There, two elderly people of faith, Simeon and Anna, recognise him as the one God promised to send to his people. Simeon calls him "a light" to the people, and knows now he can die in peace. On this day it is traditional to fill the church with candlelight, and to bless the candles to be used in the coming year. Christmas is now officially over, and Christians begin to look forward to springtime, Lent and, eventually, Easter.

All the stories mentioned in these notes can be found mainly in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the Bible. If you'd like to know, more, do contact one of the clergy - Click here for details.


Christmas - December 25th for 12 days

Christmas properly begins on December 25th and lasts for 12 days, ending at Epiphany on January 6th. Long before Christianity, there were various celebrations at this time of year, and some ancient pagan customs have been included in the Christian Christmas as we know it today.

Christmas marks the "official" birthday of Jesus. The date is borrowed from the old Roman festival of the "unconquered sun", as no-one knows for certain when Jesus was born. Christians believe that in Jesus, God came among us in human form. We call this "the Incarnation", which means "in the flesh". The Bible says that Jesus is the very imprint of God, so Jesus is special because he shows us better than anyone else what God is like. He also understands what it's like to be human, with all its joys and sorrows.

The Christmas story describes how Jesus is born in Bethlehem to a young, unmarried mother and laid in a manger because all the inns were full. It shows how God "gets in beside us" in ordinary life. The story of the shepherds, who were poor peasants, coming to visit the baby Jesus reminds us that everyone matters to God. We are all included in his love, whoever we are, and are all invited to worship him. As for the wise men, or kings as they are sometimes described - well, they come a bit later in the story! Read about them in January....

Happy Christmas!



ADVENT - Begins 4 Sundays before Christmas last until Christmas.

Happy New Year! No, we've not lost the plot! Advent really is the beginning of the Christian year. The word "Advent" means "Coming". It starts four Sundays before Christmas, as we begin to tell the story of the coming of Jesus into the world.

Advent is a thoughtful time of year, when we are encouraged to reflect on the state of our world and the frailty of human life. We think about our own mortality, and acknowledge that one day we may be called to account for how we have lived our lives. These rather heavy themes of death and judgement are not meant to be scary, but to remind us of the reality of our world and human existence. Throughout Advent there is also a sense of hope and expectation - that God will come and be with his people.

Although the commercial world seems to skip Advent and starts promoting Christmas from the middle of the autumn, for Christians Advent is important. It is a chance to think seriously before the joyful celebration of Christmas. If we observe Advent quietly and thoughtfully, then Christmas is all the more joyful when it finally arrives. Advent candles and calendars help us to count the days patiently and to think about the importance of preparing our hearts and lives to receive once again the Christ-child at Christmas.

The colour for Advent is purple, or sometimes blue, reflecting the solemn feeling of the season. It's best if we can save our Christmas decorations for the time closer to Christmas, although decorating the church with evergreens reminds us of the everlasting love of God. There are some great Advent hymns to sing before we launch into the more familiar Christmas Carols at the end of the season!

Many people use Advent Calendars or candles. The custom of Advent calendars seems to have begun in the 19th century in Germany, where Lutheran Christians used to count down the days to Christmas by putting chalk marks on their doorposts or lighting candles. Traditionally they depicted the Christmas story or St Nicholas or winter scenes, and as each little window was opened a religious text or picture was revealed to help Christians with their prayers during the four weeks of Advent.

This Advent, why not think of a different way of counting down to Christmas? How about giving a donation you can afford each day (or each week) to a charity of your choice? It doesn't have to be money - a tin or packet from your store cupboard each day would produce a good box of groceries for the Food Bank by Christmas Day. Or try to do a kindness to someone else each day of Advent? Or light a candle each day and think about someone else for ten minutes? Or take out with you a bag of sweets and share them with people you meet? I'm sure you could come up with even better ideas. When Christmas comes, you will have helped in some small way to make the world a better place.

Why Pink?

You're probably wondering why the third candle in the Advent Wreath is rose pink and not purple. This is because we are about halfway through Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas, and if we have been keeping a solemn season of prayer and fasting, we can lighten the mood a bit as the Lord's coming gets nearer! This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means "Rejoice", which is the first word of the traditional Introit for the third Sunday in Advent. (from Philippians 4:4-5 Rejoice in the Lord always). The priest may wear rose-pink vestments on this day for Holy Communion. We do not have any rose vestments at Kirton in Lindsey as they are quite rare, but a set was given to Grayingham St Radegund's recently, and they will be worn today. Gaudete!