While time is itself created by God, and so all time in a sense is sacred, Reformed Christians set aside certain times to remove themselves from everyday tasks and focus on God and their relationship to God. The basic unit of sacred time in the Reformed tradition is the Sunday service of worship. The basic structure of the worship service is a call to worship, a hymn of praise, a confession of sin, a declaration of pardon, a response, a prayer for illumination, an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a sermon, a creed, prayers of the people, offering of the peace, collection of offering, prayer of thanksgiving, the Lord's Prayer, hymn, charge, and benediction. If there is a baptism it occurs after the creed; if the Lord's Supper is celebrated it occurs after the offering. Two important features to note are the structure-confession/forgiveness/sermon-and the fact that (like many Protestant churches) the sacraments (communion and baptism) are never celebrated without a sermon.
The Reformed liturgical calendar organizes weekly services throughout a calendar year based on a cycle that recapitulates major events in the life of Jesus and the early Church. The events associated with Easter shift in the secular calendar, because the date of Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. The events associated with Christmas are fixed, since Christmas is always on December 25.
The year is divided into:
In addition to this liturgical calendar there are services for "Special Days," which include New Year's, Christian Unity (to pray for reunification of the Christian churches), World Communion, Reformation Sunday (the Sunday on or before October 31, which is the date Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle door in Wittenberg [link to Lutheranism/Origins/Founders], Thanksgiving Day, and Days of Civic or National Significance.
Note that, while the secular calendar makes no distinctions about quality of time (each unit of time is equal, and of equal significance), the liturgical calendar ebbs and flows in intensity. Periods of special sacredness cluster around Easter and Christmas. Thus sacred time is not homogenous, but gives shape and pattern to the annual cycle.
1. Should sacred time be distinguished within the Reformed tradition? Explain.
2. How are basic units of sacred time structured within the Presbyterian Church?
3. What is the Reformed Liturgical Calendar? What events does it include?
4. Why should it be noted that sacred time is not homogeneous?