Across the Pastor’s Desk: Notice the changes in the church

Published 9:59 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Katelyn Rakotoarivelo

Katelyn Rakotoarivelo


In a children’s message one Sunday morning recently, I asked the kids what the snow outside reminds us is coming. Winter, of course! It’s a little early for snow, but here we are.

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Anyway, snow and the colder weather signal to us that the season of winter is soon approaching. We also talked about what signals the other seasons to us — falling leaves in autumn, melting snow in the spring, lots of sunshine in the summer.

I shared with the kids that just like we experience seasons of weather throughout the year, we also have seasons in the church year. We wondered what might signal changes in the church year seasons — the type of hymns we sing, the colors of the paraments, the Bible readings we focus on in worship. I challenged them to notice the color of my stole and the paraments these next few weeks to see what changes.

Unless you serve on your church’s altar guild (the group responsible for changing the paraments and setting up communion), you may not pay too much attention to the changing seasons of the church year. You might just slide through the church seasons without noticing them.

But what would happen if you didn’t pay attention to the changing seasons of weather? Your yard wouldn’t get properly prepared for winter, your garden wouldn’t get planted at the right time, you wouldn’t dress properly for the conditions, and so on.

And what happens when we don’t pay attention to the changing seasons of the church year?

Well, we miss out on their depth, meaning, and patterns! The church year may not sound terribly exciting, but it provides meaningful rhythm and change to worship and faith if we pay attention!

For example, we are nearing the end of the current church year; a new one begins with Advent 1 on Dec. 1. The color for Advent is blue (or in some churches, purple) which symbolizes hope as we await and anticipate the birth of Jesus. And after Advent is the Christmas season, which, unlike our society’s calendar, doesn’t actually begin until Christmas and lasts for 12 days afterward! Christmas is a whole season itself after the consumerism nonsense of the world in which we get to celebrate and honor the presence of our Savior among us.

So as we approach a new church year, I give you the same challenge I gave the kids at my church — notice what changes in worship, what themes are highlighted in the Scriptures and songs, and see how they shed new light and meaning in the bigger picture and pattern of worship throughout the seasons. And if the church year is new to you, ask your pastor or look up some information online. Take the time to learn about the church year and its long standing tradition, and how it still impacts and enlivens the church today.

Katelyn Rakotoarivelo is a pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church of Pickerel Lake.