Seasons & Special Services
Seasons of Worship
Season of Advent
The Christian year begins with Advent. The word Advent comes from the Latin advenire, which means “coming.” The season focuses on the coming of Jesus Christ in the past (as incarnate Son), in the present (as risen Lord), and in the future (as heavenly ruler). Thus we can say: “Christ has come, Christ is coming, Christ will come again.” Advent is a season of joyous and solemn expectation. The liturgical color is purple, symbolic of a spirit of preparation. Advent is commemorated at RRCB in worship with the Advent wreath, a circle of evergreens with four-colored candles, one lit each Sunday in Advent, representing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. There is a fifth, white candle in the center of the wreath, the Christ Candle. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve to commemorate the coming of the Christ child.
Christmastide (also Christmas or the Christmas season) is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. It tends to be defined (with slight variations) as the period from Christmas Eve to the evening of January 5, the day before Epiphany. This time is commemorated by joyous celebration of the Incarnation. The liturgical color is white, symbolizing the holiness of Christ.
The Season of Epiphany, from the Greek word, epiphaneia, meaning an appearance or “manifestation,” commemorates the various ways in which Jesus Christ has made God manifest through his mighty deeds and words. The season begins on the day of Epiphany, January 6, which commemorates the coming of the Magi to the young Jesus, and is followed the next Sunday commemorating the Baptism of Jesus. (River Road often holds a baptismal service on this day). The last Sunday of Epiphany (the number of weeks varies depending on the date of Easter for the year) is always devoted to the Transfiguration of the Lord. The liturgical color for the season is green, suggesting the renewal which comes through Christ’s ministry.
Season of Lent
Lent is the season in which we anticipate Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem and the self-giving nature of love shown in his passion and death. The season begins with Ash Wednesday and extends for forty weekdays through Saturday of Holy Week. Sundays are excluded from Lent, being regarded as feast days in the midst of the forty-day fast. Because Lent is the most strongly penitential season of the year, the liturgical color is purple. The symbol of the crown of thorns represents the suffering of Christ, which reaches its apex during Holy Week.
The Season of Pentecost
Having celebrated the “birthday of the church” through the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, we enter the long Season after Pentecost, also known as ordinary time (from ordinal, meaning counted time). This season celebrates the existence of the church and recalls her mission in the world. The season begins on Trinity Sunday as the church affirms her belief in a triune God—Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. It is a day in which we praise and worship the infinitely complex and unfathomable mystery of God’s being as Holy Trinity. Although the basic liturgical color for this part of the Christian Year is green, for Trinity Sunday the liturgical color is white, symbolizing God’s purity and perfection.
River Road Church, Baptist invites all believers to the communion table to partake in a meal with Christ. On the first Sunday of each month, River Road Church celebrates Holy Communion together. The liturgical color is white, to commemorate the purity and holiness of Christ. Additionally, services of communion are held in special services in smaller settings.
Christmas Eve is December 24, and in our two worship services we commemorate the birth of Jesus. The first service, usually at 4:00 p.m., is family-friendly, celebrating the birth of Christ in a manner appropriate for all ages, with our children and youth presenting the story of Christmas in a pageant. The second service, beginning at 11:00 p.m., is a Candlelight Service in which the Christmas is celebrated in a more solemn way, with beautiful music from our chancel choir and a meditation on the meaning of Christmas. The service concludes as Christmas is ushered in at midnight.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter. The Ash Wednesday service at RRCB is held each year at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The ashes used are typically gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. At this service, believers can receive ashes on their forehead or hand to symbolize their own mortality and the beginning of the fasting season of Lent.
Palm Sunday is the day we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before his resurrection. Palms are distributed at this service to commemorate the festivities in Jerusalem on that day.
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Thursday before Easter). Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday. First, River Road Church observes a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. Second, Jesus’ self-giving act for our salvation is observed through Tenebrae (Latin for shadows or darkness) a distinctive ceremony where the gradual extinguishing of the candles in the sanctuary occurs while the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion is read.
Good Friday is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. Christ’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on Christ suffering for our sakes.
We have a large service of worship on Easter Sunday, the church’s most joyous celebration of the year. The service emphasizes the last word in the Easter story, namely: life. Jesus Christ’s victory over death is Good News!
Day of Pentecost
This day is the great climax of the Easter-Pentecost Season, known as the Great Fifty Days. We celebrate the Holy Spirit (symbolized as fire in Acts 2) being given to the believers, thus giving birth to the church. The liturgical color is red, and we celebrate corporately by wearing the colors of fire: red, orange, and yellow.
Trinity Sunday is a day in which we praise and worship the infinitely complex and unfathomable mystery of God’s being as Holy Trinity. Although the basic liturgical color for this half of the Christian Year is green, for Trinity Sunday the liturgical color is white, symbolizing God’s purity and perfection.
All Saints Sunday
All Saints Day falls on November 1, but may be celebrated on the first Sunday in November in the Christian year. It is also known as All Hallows’ Day. The service of worship and holy communion reminds us of those for whom the battle is over, the victory won, and also of our continuing pilgrimage toward God and the heavenly banquet. To render thanks to God for the lives and deaths of the saints is to recognize the common bond between the church on earth and the church triumphant in God’s love. The liturgical color is white, signifying that it is Christ who lives in the saints.
Christ the King Sunday
Christ the King is both the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year, a transitional Sunday leading directly to Advent and the new Christian year. On Christ the King Sunday, worship stresses the continuity between the celebration of Christ’s sovereignty (kingship) and the expectation of Christ’s coming again in glory, which is anticipated in the Season of Advent.
Summer Vespers Series
Wednesday Evenings, 7:00 p.m., Chapel
Let us not neglect meeting together, for where two or three are gathered in the name of the Lord, the Lord is present with them. (Heb. 10:25 and Matt. 18:20)
With summer months comes busy traveling and the fellowship of the church can become scattered. So in the months of July and August, River Road Church, Baptist takes a midweek break to worship together in a relaxed environment. We gather to pray, to sing, and to embrace the slow summer evening Sabbath time together.
Come… let us gather together in the cool of the evening this summer, for worship, for spiritual renewal, and for fellowship.
Come… refresh your spirit and give thanks for the beauty of the earth and the family of God.
We look forward to welcoming you midweek in the summer as we pause to listen for God’s Word ‘for the living of these days.’
Lay Reader Program
At River Road Church, Baptist, we have a Lay Reader Program that encourages members of our congregation to assist in worship leadership by reading the two lessons each Sunday morning.
Each week our lay readers are given the Lectionary lessons, which they read at their leisure, in order to grasp the meaning and cadence of the text. During the week, they come to the Sanctuary and practice reading each lesson from the lectern to get the “feel” of the sound of their voices projected in our high-ceilinged Sanctuary.
The benefits? It allows laity greater involvement in our worship. It gives clergy an opportunity to hear Scripture as the congregation does. It enables worshippers to connect faces they see regularly with names of readers. Finally, it conveys to our worship guests that Scripture and worship are not the private prerogatives of robed-clergy.
William Underwood and Susan Gordon are providing leadership to our Lay Reader Program. If you would like additional information about the program, or if you would like to volunteer as a lay reader, you may contact them by e-mail.