Many Christian denominations, including Southern Baptists, follow the seasons of the Christian Calendar. The Church Seasons follow the life of Jesus Christ, beginning with the preparation for his birth in Advent, the birth of the Christ child at Christmas, the journey of discipleship in Epiphany as the Wise Men follow the star to Bethlehem, the preparation for remembrance of Jesus’ passion and death during Lent and Holy Week, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead at Easter, and his ascension into Heaven.
After his ascension, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and build our relationship with the risen Christ during this season. This is also a good time to review what we are doing both individually, and as a Church, to fulfill Christ’s “Great Commission” to go into all the world and preach His Gospel (Good News) of Salvation.
The four weeks before Christmas day are known as “The Advent Season”, which is the beginning of the Christian Calendar. Each week of Advent has its own theme. Many churches use different themes in a different order. Here at Union Baptist Church, we will use these themes for the weeks of Advent.
- HOPE November 27, 2022, the 1st Sunday in Advent
- PEACE December 4, 2022, the 2nd Sunday in Advent
- JOY December 11, 2022, the 3rd Sunday in Advent
- LOVE December 18, 2022, the 4th Sunday in Advent
Background Studies for Advent – Links below are to papers (in pdf format) about Advent.
December 25 – The Christmas Season begins with Christmas Day and continues until Epiphany.
Epiphany – Updated 11/2/2022
January 6, 2023 – The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12).
Technically, the word “epiphany” (pronounced ih-pif-uh-nee) comes from the Koine Greek, the language in which most of the New Testament was written. It comes from the Greek verb “phainein,” which means “to appear.” “Manifestation” is another meaning of Epiphany. To “manifest” something is to show that something to everyone.
The word “theophany” means “appearance of God,” thus “Epiphany” is a Christian feast day that celebrates the “appearance” or “manifestation” of God incarnate as the baby, Jesus Christ.
In Western Christianity, Epiphany is observed on the 12th day of Christmas which falls on January 6, and marks the official end of the festive Christmas season. Historically, many Christians also celebrate the baptism of Jesus on Epiphany Day.
In Western Christianity, Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men (Magi) to the manger of Baby Jesus, bringing their gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The Magi were not Jews, thus they represented the non-Jewish peoples of the world, so the birth of Jesus represented a “revelation to the Gentiles,” as spoken by the prophet, Isaiah (Isaiah 49:6).
The above paragraphs were extracted from a paper about Epiphany paper you can read by clicking here.
The Season of Lent
The word “Lent” is a shortened form of the Old English word, “lencten,” meaning “spring season” or “lengthening,” which noted the lengthening of daylight hours. The earliest mention of Lent in the history of the Church comes from the council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The word used for “Lent” is the Koine Greek word tessarakonta which means “forty.” So, for the first time in the history of the Church, came the assignment of a period of forty days to the “Season of Lent.” This length of time was used in imitation of the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry; the time in which Satan “tempted” or “tested” Jesus. In Protestant and Western Orthodox Churches, the Season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the evening of Holy Saturday. With Sundays excluded, the Season of Lent is therefore 40 days.
The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the Christian believer, through prayer, penance, almsgiving, and self-denial, to genuinely commemorate the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days; this is known as one’s Lenten Sacrifice. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, with the goal of drawing themselves nearer to God.
The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice toward God), fasting justice toward self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbors).”
February 22, 2023 – Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday is the seventh Wednesday before Easter Sunday, and marks the first day of the Season of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient Biblical times to express grief. Christians continued the use of ashes as an external sign of repentance of sins. Ash Wednesday takes its name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshippers’ foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world. Ash Wednesday is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully Christian disciples.
In the early Church, ashes were not offered to everyone, but were only used to mark the forehead of Christian worshippers who had made a public confession of sin, and sought to be restored to the fellowship of the Church at the Easter celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Over the years, others also asked to be marked with ashes to show their public admission that they also were sinners. Finally, the ashes were offered to the entire Church body on Ash Wednesday.
Many Christian churches hold an early morning worship service on Ash Wednesday. The minister gives a sermon calling for the congregation to repent of their sins. Then each member of the congregation comes forward and the minister presses his thumb into a dish of ashes and transfers those ashes to the congregant’s forehead. Forming a cross, the minister states: “Memento, homo, quia pulvus es, et in pulverem reverteris.” Remember, mortal: dust you are and to dust you shall return.” The ashes are symbolic of the attitude of penitence in the Lord’s prayer: “forgive us our sins.”
NOTE – The section below, teaching about Holy Week, can be downloaded as a pdf file by clicking here.
April 2 – 8, 2023 – The days between Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter Sunday.
Triumphal Entry – Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the young colt of a donkey, per the prophet Zechariah:
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Matthew 21:1-11 Mark 11:1-11 Luke 19:28-40 John 12:12-19
Vs 11 – Since it was already late, he went out to Bethany…
Cleansing the temple:
Matthew 21:12-17 Mark 11:15-19 Luke 19:45-48 Absent in John’s Gospel
Vs 17 – And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Teaching, Teaching, Teaching…
Matthew Chapter 21 thru Chapter 25:
- The Fig Tree Withers – “If you have faith and do not doubt…you can say to this mountain…
- The parable of the two sons…
- The parable of the tenants – “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
- The parable of the wedding banquet – “…many are invited but few chosen.”
- Paying taxes to Caesar – “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
- Marriage at the resurrection – “…He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
- The Greatest Commandment – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
- Seven Woes
- Signs of the End of the Age – “…keep watch, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
- The Parable of the Ten Virgins – “… watch because you do not know the day or the hour.”
- The Parable of the Talents
- The Sheep and the Goats
Day of Silence
Thursday of Holy Week is known as Maundy Thursday. It commemorates the washing of the disciple’s feet by Jesus. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin, mandatum, meaning commandment, reflecting the words of Jesus, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
Many churches observe the Lord’s supper on Maundy Thursday since the Last Supper was initiated on this day, the feast of the Passover, according to the Synoptic Gospels; i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Matthew 26:17-34 Mark 14:12-26 Luke 22:7-23 John 13
John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
Friday – Good Friday??
Matthew 26:47 thru 28 Mark 14:43 thru 15 Luke 22:47-23 John 18:28 thru 19
Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten, and then crucified. Click here to read a paper about the Crucifixion.
In the tomb
Easter Sunday. The basis for Christianity, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, defeating death forever.
Matthew 28 Mark 16 Luke 24 John 20
April 14, 2022 – Maundy Thursday
June 28, 2023 – The celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit shortly after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Click here to read a paper for Pentecost about H O P E.
Ordinary Time is the remainder of the calendar days from Pentecost, through the spring, summer, and fall until the first Sunday of Advent.