Pastor Scott Jacob, Emmanuel Lutheran Church
For denominations that use the Revised Common Lectionary to select their weekly Bible readings for their worship – Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of selected readings with each year focusing primarily on one Gospel account – this past week's reading came from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 2.
In many denominations of the Christian church, these days are known as the season of "Lent" on the church calendar.
Here we are in the midst of the fall-winter transition. In the church, we have celebrated All Saints Day, where we remember our beloved relatives and friends who have died, especially over the past year, and give thanks for the blessings that they have been in our lives.
"Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." — Deuteronomy 6:6-9
"But the angel said to them (shepherds) "Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." — Luke 2:10-11 (NRSV)
We are coming to the end of our summer. That time that we spend eight or nine months during the rest of the year, longing for, dreaming about, and looking forward to enjoying. And here we are, a few handfuls of days left for our relaxing, rejuvenating and replenishing our internal batteries so that we can get back to the daily grind of what many refer to as their "program year" (usually meaning September to May). And we know just how to recognize this glorious time of year, because we bookend it with holiday weekends — Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September.
In the mainline Christian church, the life and rhythm of the church year flows by celebrating the story of the life of Jesus found in the Gospels. The church year begins with the season of Advent, a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. That is followed by the season of Christmas (the 12 days of Christmas from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6, the Epiphany of Jesus). The season of Epiphany varies in length based on the date of Easter in any given year.