ANGLICAN TRADITION2018-07-25T22:47:34-05:00



“The classical vision of Anglicanism is a people formed by God through common worship, common prayer, and common reading of the Scriptures, growing together in wisdom, holiness, and love, and sent out into the world to witness to the gospel of Christ.

Jordan Hylden, The Living Church

Anglicanism is an expression of Christianity born in the English Reformation and rooted in the ancient faith and practice of the historic Church. The Anglican Church has been about the work of making disciples for over 500 years and through its missionary focus has expanded into a global church called the Anglican Communion which numbers some 85 million members in over 165 countries. A rich worship experience is a key component of the Anglican heritage featuring an emphasis on Scripture, liturgical worship, the two sacraments instituted by Jesus – baptism and Eucharist – and promoting justice according to Kingdom principles as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus.

The Kingdom of God re-orders everything, even (perhaps especially) the way we view time. In the Anglican tradition, we order our common life around the rhythms of the biblical narrative and the Liturgies of Word and Sacrament – focusing on God’s story of salvation and how our stories fit into it. The Christian Year follows an annual cycle, which calls us to live into Jesus’ story of hope and redemption. The liturgical seasons illustrate an ebb and flow ranging from more subdued intervals of contemplation, reflection, and self-examination to times of great joy, triumph, anticipation, and praise; in addition, a significant portion of the year is called “Ordinary Time,” a term which literally means “counted time.” As one writer puts it, seasons are “whole periods of time we enter into with a specific cry, a particular intention, for a reason.”

The Anglican spiritual tradition has yearly, weekly, and daily patterns and practices that form us according to the model of Christ’s life. At Church of the Apostles, the two prayer offices of Morning and Evening Prayer frame our daily practice.

We encourage you to read through this explanation of liturgical seasons in order to understand why things are changing around you throughout the year, both in tone and physical design. Our seasons also celebrate a number of “feast” days and “holy” days.

Christians, lay and ordained, have been praying some form of liturgical prayer daily from the very earliest days of Christianity and it is rooted in forms of Jewish daily prayer.” (Paraphrased from Daily Office Tutorial) The Daily Office reminds us that all time is sacred because it was created by and belongs to God. The Offices also teach us to begin and end each day with gratitude, praise, and prayer; to form our own prayers by giving us words and frameworks to make them our own (and leading us to pray for things we might otherwise overlook); and exposes us to the majority of Scripture over the course of a year. In addition, the Daily Office forms and shapes us, serving as a tool of sanctification: The way we pray shapes the way we believe (lex orandi, lex credendi).

Reading the Bible in accordance with the lectionary and in the context of the liturgies of Morning and Evening Prayer is a disciplined yet powerful way to encounter the living Christ in our daily lives. 

The features of this daily prayer epitomize the spiritual drama of the Christian life, both in goal and in focus, for the ambition to mark each day grows out of a faith in Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega. We are to dwell in him, and to do so each day must be brought captive to Christ. (Daily Office Tutorial)

Historical Perspective:

The original Book of Common Prayer written in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England, was intended to be “a framework of liturgy in which Scripture was to be read, heard, and learned by men and women, lay and ordained, so that they ‘might continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God and be more inflamed with the love” of faith. The first Prayer Book was part of Cranmer’s vision for “introducing and educating England in the saving truths of Scripture, bringing the whole Bible into the lives of the English people.” In order to ensure “continuity and order” in reading Scripture, Cranmer developed a calendar of readings. (Using the Book of Common Prayer: A Simple Guide)

A variety of resources are available to assist you in developing these practices in your own life:

Bringing Each Day Captive to Christ Through the Daily Office

The Daily Office Tutorial

Day by Day We Praise You: An Introduction to the Daily Office

Online Daily Office Readings

Online Morning/Evening Prayer

Online Book of Common Prayer

iOS/Android App for Daily Office Readings

iOS/Android App for Morning/Evening Prayer

1979 Book of Common Prayer (print edition)


Each liturgical season has a specific color assigned to it that represents the theme of the season. The colors are represented in the vestments the clergy wear as well as in the liturgical linens and other liturgical elements of the Church.


Advent is the beginning of the Church year – in fact it is common to hear “Happy New Year” on the first Sunday of Advent. This season begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30th. Advent ends on Christmas Eve.

“Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent is far more than marking a 2,000-year-old event in history; it is celebrating the incarnation of Christ through whom we can be reconciled to the Father, a season of expectation and hope. This time of anticipation symbolizes the period of waiting in the Old Testament as the Israelites awaited God’s deliverance from sin – fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah. During this season we also anticipate the second coming of Christ when He will return and restore all things – making them new and completing God’s rule and reign in a new earth and heaven.

Color: Purple

Christmas or Christmastide

Christmas is both a Feast Day and a season in the Church calendar. The Feast Day, December 25th, commemorates the birth of Jesus, and the season lasts 12 days (the 12 Days of Christmas), from sundown on December 24th to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.

Color: White


Like Christmas, Epiphany is both a feast day and a season. The term “epiphany” means, “to make known or reveal” God through Christ. On the Feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate the coming of the Magi who brought gifts to the Christ-child, and in so doing, “revealed” Jesus as Lord and King to the world. Some common themes of the season of Epiphany are crowns (to celebrate the Magi recognizing Jesus and King), light (Jesus as the Light of the World), and the star which led the Magi to Jesus. January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, and the time between this feast and the season of Lent is called either the Season of the Epiphany or Ordinary Time. Depending on the year, this season can last four to nine weeks.

Feast of the Epiphany Color: White

Season of Epiphany or Ordinary Time: Green


The season of Lent lasts 40 weekdays, from Ash Wednesday until the Saturday before Easter. Lent is considered as a time of preparation for Easter and is marked by prayer, penitence, spiritual disciplines, self-examination, fasting, and reflection with a goal of amendment of life. Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday, including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday) is considered part of the Lenten season, but it is a time to more carefully focus on the pain and suffering of the crucifixion.

Color for Lent: Purple          Color for Holy Week: Red


Easter is the celebration of the resurrection and reign of Jesus Christ. It falls in the middle of the Church year, symbolizing the centrality of the resurrection in our faith.

Easter is a moveable Feast Day, meaning the date changes every year. The date of Easter is determined by a system based on a lunar calendar and is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. The Church celebrates Easter officially for seven weeks, but celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus weekly during Communion – every Sunday is considered a “little Easter.”

Color: White

Pentecost & Ordinary Time

The Feast of Pentecost was originally a festival celebrated in Old Testament times, beginning on the 50th day after Passover. In the Christian calendar, it falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter. In the New Testament, the earliest Christians received the Holy Spirit and Pentecost now marks the beginning of the Church and its mission to the world. The Holy Spirit empowers us for that mission. It’s a time of renewal and commissioning for mission and ministry. The season after Pentecost is called “Ordinary Time.” Like the Ordinary Time following Epiphany, the weeks after Pentecost are a counted time leading up to Advent. These weeks are used to focus on various aspects of the Faith, especially the mission of the Church in the world. During this time, there are celebrations of saints and martyrs to connect us to the Church worldwide and to those who have gone before us.

Feast of Pentecost Color: Red

Ordinary Time Color: Green


The liturgical hangings and clergy vestments reflect the appropriate season of the church year, and each color is symbolic:

White: Symbolizes purity, reverence, and joy; used during the great festivals of Christmas and Easter. It is also used for baptism, marriage, and dedications as well as for funerals as a symbol of the resurrection.

Red: Signifies blood, fire, and the presence of God; used on Pentecost. It is also considered the color of the Church, so it can be used to symbolize the blood of the martyrs.

Purple: Symbolizes royalty and the anticipation of the King as well as penitence; it is the color of Advent and Lent.

Green: Represents new life, hope, spiritual growth and peace and is used for seasons of Epiphany and Pentecost.

Black: Represents great sorrow and mourning for the death of Christ and is used on Good Friday.


Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and begins a season of fasting, penitence, and amendment of life. With the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), the priest makes the mark of the cross with ashes on worshippers’ foreheads as an outward and visible mark that the Cross of Christ is the central part of our story as followers of Jesus. Ashes are a symbol of humanity’s mortality and represent an attitude of humility, sorrow, and repentance. Church of the Apostles observes this holy day with the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist and the Imposition of Ashes.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the three-day liturgical sequence that recalls the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Maundy” is from the Greek word for “mandate or command,” and Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper and commandment to love one another. Church of the Apostles observes this holy day with a service of Eucharist as well as a foot washing and stripping of the altar.

Good Friday

Good Friday, the last Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and is considered the pinnacle of Holy Week. All Christians observe this day with great humility and reverence. Church of the Apostles commemorates this holy day with a solemn and reverent service of Scripture reading, prayer, and meditation.