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

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.

Epiphany

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.

Special Services

Communion Services

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Easter Day

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

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.

Advent, Christmastide, & Epiphany Services & Events

River Road Church, Baptist anticipates and prepares for the birth of the Christ child and the season of Christmas by observing the church season of Advent. For four weeks leading up to Christmas, we reflect on Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love as we light a candle to represent each theme during worship, and on Christmas Eve, just before Christmas Day begins, we light the Christ candle and remember the holy moment God came into humanity as a baby in a manager.

Anticipating that moment God became present among us in the act Jesus’s birth lends deeper meaning to the holiness of the season. Like the Jews in first century Palestine, we long for a Messiah, One who will bring light and salvation to humanity, One who will continue to enter into our midst through the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and One who will ultimately return to reconcile all creation to God once and for all. This is our Hope. This is our Prince of Peace. This is our deep Joy and reason for living. We long to experience and provide Love, just as God has loved us through the gracious act of giving us Jesus Christ to transform us and save us.

Join us as we prepare for Christmas and honor the holiness of this season together!

Attend Advent worship services on Sunday mornings, hearing messages of hope, peace, joy, and love. Support and care for each other, grieve and be fully present with God and others at the Starlight Service of Remembrance. Learn about Advent with children at our ADVENTure Lunch. Share in the many ways music brings us closer to God in this season through worship music, Christmas concerts, and carol singing. Give to our Christmas offerings – providing care and support to missionaries doing great work around the world, and providing much-needed food and support to ministries of charity.

And on Christmas Eve, join us as we close the season of Advent with a joyous celebration of the birth of the Christ child at 4:00PM and 11:00PM. We’ll celebrate Christmas and the Epiphany arrival of the magi through January 6, and we hope you can be part of this with us!

Sunday Services

First Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 2, 2018
9:45 a.m., Sunday School
11:00 a.m., Worship in the Sanctuary
Sermon by Daniel Glaze
Childcare provided

Second Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 9, 2018
9:45 a.m., Sunday School
11:00 a.m., Worship in the Sanctuary
Sermon by Daniel Glaze
Childcare provided

Third Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 16, 2018
9:45 a.m., Sunday School
11:00 a.m., Worship in the Sanctuary
Sermon by Daniel Glaze
Childcare provided

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 23, 2018
9:45 a.m., Sunday School
11:00 a.m., Worship in the Sanctuary
Sermon by Daniel Glaze
Childcare provided

First Sunday After Christmas
Sunday, December 30, 2018
11:00 a.m., Sanctuary
Sermon by Daniel Bagby
No Sunday School
Childcare provided

Epiphany Sunday
Sunday, January 6, 2019
9:45 a.m., Sunday School
11:00 a.m., Sanctuary
Sermon by Daniel Glaze
Childcare provided

More information about our Sunday Worship Services can be found here.

Other Advent Services

TFC-Adults: Starlight Service of Remembrance & Holy Communion
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
6:15 p.m., Chapel
Accompanist, Paul Honaker
Flautist, Chris Ertell
Dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall; Reservations required
TFC-Youth & TFC-Kids: Christmas Pageant Rehearsal
Childcare provided

Christmas Eve Family Service
Monday, December 24, 2018
4:00 p.m., Sanctuary
Christmas Pageant
Missions Offering: Non-perishable food items wrapped in white paper
Childcare not provided; children participate in the service

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service & Holy Communion
Monday, December 24, 2018
11:00 p.m., Sanctuary
Music for Organ & Flute begins at 10:30 p.m.
Organist, Robert Gallagher
Flautist, Hannah Hammel
Candles provided
Meditation by Daniel Glaze
Childcare not provided

Advent Events & Activities

ADVENTure Lunch for Children, Youth, & Their Families
Sunday, December 2, 2018
12:15 p.m., Fellowship Hall
Sign up online by November 27

Advent Bible Study with Daniel Glaze
Sundays in December at 6:00 p.m.
Sign up online
Childcare provided

The Tallis Scholars in Concert
“A Renaissance Christmas”
Sunday, December 2, 2018
7:00 p.m., Sanctuary
Tickets are $35 per person and available through Eventbrite; Tickets will not be sold at the door

Christmas Decorating Inside & Outside
Saturday, December 8, 2018
10:00 a.m., Sanctuary

TFC-Intergenerational: Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
6:15 p.m., Sanctuary Chancel
Dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall; Reservations required
Hot chocolate and s’mores by the fire in the Courtyard after caroling at 7:00 p.m.
Adults, Youth, & Children will participate
Childcare provided

Youth Christmas Party
Saturday, December 15, 2018
5:00-9:00 p.m., Fisher-Ingram Home

Children & Family Tacky Light Tour & Hot Chocolate
Saturday, December 15, 2018
6:00-8:00 p.m., Offsite & Upper Commons

Advent/Christmas Concert
Chancel Choir with Orchestra
Sunday, December 16, 2018
7:30 p.m., Sanctuary
Music of Handel
Messiah, Advent/Christmas portions
Organ Concerto in B flat, Opus 4, No. 6
Reserve your FREE tickets on Eventbrite

College Christmas Gathering
Thursday, December 20, 2018
6:00 p.m., Glaze Home
Dinner catered by Taziki’s
Significant others are welcome

Christmas Decorations Take Down
Thursday, January 3, 2018
10:00 a.m., Sanctuary
Tuesday, January 8, 2018
10:00 a.m., Sanctuary

Christmas Missions

CBF Global Missions Christmas Offering
December 1, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Offering envelopes are in pew racks, or you may make a contribution online

RBA/RCFN Christmas Stores
Donations Deadline: Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Donate: clothing (jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts, sleepwear, socks, underwear, coats, hats, gloves); games; toys; books; bicycles and helmets

Advent Devotions

This year’s Advent Devotions are provided by Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS). Each year Pittsburgh Theological Seminary offers their Advent and Lent devotionals for free. You are invited to read daily messages written by members of their community.

How to access the devotions:

A limited number of printed devotions will be available in the Sanctuary narthex and adult Sunday School classes on The First Sunday of Advent. Additional copies can be picked up in the church office.

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.