The church year does not begin with the turn of the calendar year but with Advent, the coming of God through the birth of Jesus. According to Christian reckoning, the week begins not with the first working day, but with Sunday – the day of rest. In contrast to the economic logic of ‘first work, then pleasure’, the biblical-Christian time structure reflects God’s philanthropic order of salvation.
The great Christian feast days solemnly recall events in the life of Jesus Christ. His birth is commemorated on Christmas (December 25), his death on the cross on Good Friday (Friday before Easter), his resurrection on Easter (Sunday after the first full moon in spring), and his return to the Father on Ascension Day (the 40th day after Easter). Pentecost (the 50th day after Easter) has no direct connection to Jesus Christ, but recalls the gifting of the apostles with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). The two main feast days, Christmas and Easter, form two ‘festal circles’ that represent the two pillars of the church year.
The church year offers an agenda for continuously calling to mind the life and work of Christ – in common worship, in one’s personal reading of the Bible and in prayer.