All the festival of the church
On New Year’s Eve celebrations at All Saints Church is one of the most anticipated events of the season. Almost a week after the Christmas our parishioners find that they have one more reason to don their best apparel. The New Year’s Eve event is a formal affair done with style and excellence. The sanctuary is transformed and New year’s eve is filled with scripture, worship and prayer. Not only do we take time to exalt and lift up our Lord; we also celebrate and lift up one another. We’ve even invite a few special guests and even Special Guest Speakers.
New Year’s Eve celebrations is also called Watch Night service (or Watch Night Mass), as many different Christian churches, hold services on New Year’s Eve. This provides the opportunity for Christians to review the year that has passed and make confession and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving. The services often include singing, praying, exhorting, and preaching.
A harvest festival is an annual celebration that occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times at different places. Harvest festivals typically feature feasting, both family and public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, contests and music are common features of harvest festivals around the world.
In CSI All Saints Church, Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday, the celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home, Harvest Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving.
In the very first Chapters of the Bible in Genesis, in the account of the creation of the Sun and Moon, there is also an emphasis on the origin of festivals: “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so” (Gen 1:14-15, NIV). It is obvious from this passage that religious festivals were directly correlated with astronomical and climate changes, which served as signs for feasts which would have an important role in the history of the Bible and, later on, in the history of the church and civilization.
Every year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lent days, that always falls 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is actually a 40-day season (excluding Sundays) marked by repentance, reflection, fasting and ultimately celebration. This 40-day period represents when Christ was tempted in the wilderness, while he fasted Satan tries to tempt him. During Lent believers set aside these 40 days each year for similar fasting and marking an intentional season that focuses over Christ’s life, sacrifice, ministry and resurrection. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a day of repentance and reflection from sin.
The Lent Days
The word Lent in English is derived from a shortened form of the Old-English word len(c)ten, that means “spring season”.
Many Christians consider Lent as heavy, serious, a time of reflection, self-analysis and intentional consideration of what they believe and stand for as a Christian or Christ’s disciple. Most of the Christian churches consider this 40-day penitential period as preparing for Easter. In Western churches it begins on Ash Wednesday, six and a half weeks before Easter, and provides for a 40-day fast (Sundays are excluded), in imitation of Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness before he began his public ministry.
In Eastern churches Lent begins on the Monday of the seventh week before Easter and ends on the Friday that is nine days before Easter. This 40-day “Great Lent” includes Saturdays and Sundays as relaxed fast days. Duration of 46 days before Easter Sunday is Lent, in reality this 46 days is actually a 40 day season that excludes Sundays that is marked by repentance, reflection, fasting. If one can keep Lent right, they would emerge in 40 days with a renewed understanding of the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and a renewed trust in God’s sovereignty, in the light of the greatest spectacle and celebration that the universe has ever known, which is Easter.
The Passion Sunday or widely known as Palm Sunday is a tradition in most of the Christian churches that marks the first day of the Holy Week, which falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Many churches associate this with the blessing and procession with palms around the church. These palms are generally leaves of the date palm or twigs from locally available palm trees.
Many of us wonder what does Maundy Thursday stand for in reality, let’s look into a small insight on the literal meaning of Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” is an Anglo-French word derived from the Latin “mandatum,” which translates to “commandment.” This in turn refers to when Jesus, in the Upper Room during the Last Supper, said to the disciples: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34, Revised Standard Version).
This day falls three days before Easter Sunday and is called Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday). Varying in the types of services, most of the Christian churches which are mainline denominations and also some of the more fundamental churches, commemorate Maundy Thursday in some way or the other.
Good friday falls on the friday before Easter, on this day Christian Churches annually observe the commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Since the early days of Christianity, Good Friday was observed as a day of penance, sorrow and fasting, a characteristic that finds expression in the German word Karfreitag (“Sorrowful Friday”).
Following the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Christian churches have held that Jesus’ last meal with his disciples on the evening before his Crucifixion was a Passover Seder.
The Anglican Communion, The Book of Common Prayer similarly provides for a Good Friday reception of the “reserved sacrament,” the consumption of bread and wine that was consecrated the previous day. The Three Hour Service has become common throughout all the Anglican churches, and a variety of liturgical services are held on Good Friday in Protestant churches. With the revival of a liturgical emphasis in Protestantism in the second half of the 20th century, a distinct trend of adopting Catholic ritual (no use of the organ in the service, draping of the cross, baring of the altar, etc.) developed.
Unlike Christmas and Easter, which have acquired numerous secular traditions, Good Friday has, because of its intense religious connotation, not led to an overlay of secular customs and practices.
The Holy Saturday, it is also called Easter Vigil, this Christian religious observance ends the Lenten season because it falls on the day before Easter Sunday. This observance commemorates the final day of Christ’s death, which is traditionally associated with his triumphant descent into hell.
The early church celebrated the end of Lent with large baptismal ceremonies, but for many centuries no services were held on Holy Saturday in the Western churches, recalling the suspended state of Christ’s followers in the period between his Crucifixion and Resurrection. Beginning in 1955, the Roman Catholic and some other churches restored the evening Easter Vigil. The Eastern Orthodox churches had never abandoned the ceremony. The vigil celebration may include lighting fires and candles to symbolize Christ’s passing from death to life and tolling bells to signify the joyous end of Lent. Many churches also celebrate the baptism of catechumens (unbaptized converts) and the confirmation or chrismation and first communion of both catechumens and candidates (converts who were previously baptized in a different Christian faith tradition) during the Easter Vigil.
Easter is the day that commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word Easter comes from the Old English or Latin English origins ēaster or ēastre, the festival of spring. The Greek and Latin Pascha comes from the Hebrew Pesaḥ, “Passover.” The earliest Christians celebrated the Lord’s Passover at the same time as the Jews, during the night of the first (paschal) full moon of the first month of spring (Nisan 14–15).
During the middle of the 2nd century most of churches then had transferred this celebration to the Sunday after the Jewish feast and certain churches of Asia Minor clung to the older custom, for which they were denounced as “Judaizing” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book V, chapters 23–25). Later, the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in the year 325 decreed that all present churches of the time should observe the feast together on a Sunday.
Christmas is celebrated around the world, Mostly by Christians. It is celebrated every year on 25th of December to mark the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ, from whom Christianity started. People celebrate Christmas with lots of joy, enthusiasm and happiness. It is one of the most important annual festivals of Christianity. The preparations of the celebration start a month ago and celebrations ends 12 days after the Christmas.
On this day people decorate Christmas tree, invite their friends, relatives and neighbors for feasts and distribute gifts. It is believed that Santa Claus arrives on this day and secretly keeps gifts for the most obedient child in the family. Parents also keep gifts for their children in the night and children get delighted in the morning to get gifts from Santa Claus and thank him for that.
All the schools, colleges, universities, offices and other government and non-government organizations remain closed on this day. Everyone enjoys the Christmas holidays by engaging themselves in various activities and in Christmas preparations. People also prepare various delicacies and cuisines for the big day and enjoy the occasion with their family and friends.
Christmas is the day when there is the festivity all over in the air. Everyone enjoys the day with parties, feasts, dancing and sharing gifts with each others. Christmas teaches us to spread happiness and joy and help everyone, especially the needy one always. It makes us follow the great teachings of Jesus Christ and lead a life away from sins and sorrow.