Throughout the Christian Calendar we offer and participate in a variety of Special Worship Services and seasons.
Advent is a season of spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ (Christmas). Advent is a preparation for Christmas, so Advent hymns traditionally are used instead of Christmas carols. Advent begins four Sunday’s before Christmas.top
Christmas and the Christmas Season
The Christmas celebration begins on Christmas Eve and continues for the next twelve days of Christmas.
The Lectionary readings for Christmas and the following twelve days (culminating in the feast of the Epiphany) invite the church to reflect on the Incarnation (or embodiment) of God as a human being: “The Word became a human being and lived among us, and we have seen his glory….” (John 1:14).
In Christ, God enters human history and identifies fully with the human condition.The traditional colors of this season are White or Gold, symbolizing joy in the light of day.top
Epiphany and the season following
The season following Epiphany continues the theme established on Epiphany Day: the spread of the Good News of Christ from its source in the Jewish community to all nations on earth. The Lectionary explores the mission of the church in the world. The theme of this season continues in the season after Pentecost, so both seasons together can be called the “Time of the Church.” The traditional liturgical color for both seasons, Green, is the color of growth.
Technically not a worship service, this tradition is associated with Lent. The day before the beginning of Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday. On Shrove Tuesday, many Christians make a special point of self-examination.
Shrove Tuesday is also called Fat Tuesday because on that day a thrifty housewife uses up the fats that she has kept around (the can of bacon drippings, or whatever) for cooking, but that she will not be using during Lent.
The forty days of Lent correspond to the forty-day temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and the forty-year journey of Israel from slavery to a new community.top
On Ash Wednesday, ashes are placed on the forehead as a symbol that we have come from dust and one day will return to dust. It is one of many Lenten and Easter customs that remind us of our historical connection with Jewish tradition. Most of this time of preparation is symbolized by the color Violet, though the season is bracketed by the mourning Black of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Holy Week is the week before Easter. During Holy Week, the congregation follows the footsteps of Jesus from his entry into Jerusalem (Palm/Passion Sunday) through the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday) to his death on the Cross (Good Friday).
On Maundy Thursday, White or Gold symbolizes the church’s rejoicing in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. But at the end of the Maundy Thursday celebration, the mood changes abruptly: all decorations are removed and the Holy Table is stripped bare. The church becomes as empty as a tomb.
On Good Friday, Black is customary—although the use of no color at all is also appropriate.
At The United Churches of Olympia we honor Holy week. Sometimes the Good Friday service is in coordination with other faith communities. We also host Organ concerts at noon every day except for Good Friday.
Instead of finding a sealed tomb, the women who had come at dawn on Sunday are surprised by an angel who announces astonishing news: “Jesus has been raised from the dead” (Matt. 28:7). The heavenly messenger invites the mourners to see the empty tomb and then go and tell the disciples that the Crucified One is alive!
The season from Easter to Pentecost is also called the Great Fifty Days, a tradition inspired by the Jewish season of fifty days between Passover and Shavuot—the feast celebrating the giving of the Torah to Moses.
The liturgical color for this season is celebratory White or Gold. When the season ends on Pentecost Sunday, White is replaced with Red. This color reminds the congregation of fire—the symbol of the Holy Spirit.top
Pentecostal Red is also the traditional color for Reformation Day on October 31. White or Gold is the color for All Saints Day on November 1 and is also an alternative to Green on the last Sunday after Pentecost—the feast of the Reign of Christ.
During other observances, the tradition is to use Red on commemorations of martyrs and other saints. As the color of the Holy Spirit, it is appropriate for ordinations. The colors of Christmas, White or Gold, are also customary on other feast days. Black for centuries was the traditional color for funerals, but in the past fifty years many liturgical churches have preferred to use White or Gold—the colors of Easter and therefore of Resurrection hope.
Season after Pentecost: Ordinary Time
This longest season of the liturgical year is a continuation of the “Time of the Church” that began on the Sunday after Epiphany.This season explores the mission of the church and uses the color of Green, symbolizing growth.
Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
Annually, Interfaith Works sponsors a Thanksgiving Service the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This rotates from church to church and involves many different faiths.top
Starting in June, we move our worship service to 10 am instead of the two services we have throughout the year. From June into September we meet at 10 am.