17 May 2010


Barring a funeral (which may God graciously prevent!) the next liturgy to be celebrated in St. Paul's will be the Divine Service for Pentecost.  So today I took down the Easter banners and stowed them away until next year.  I put the red paraments upon the altar, pulpit, and lectern, and hung up our single Pentecost banner.  Pentecost will be the last Sunday on which our choir will sing till next Fall.  The Paschal Candle was snuffed out at Ascension, and on Exaudi it was returned to its usual home by the Baptismal font. The Church is readying for us a return to what Roman Christians call "ordinary time."

The Day of the Spirit is the border between the Semester Domini and the Semester Ecclesiae.  It belongs to both, I think.  It points in both directions.  We have stood to receive the Holy Eucharist all during the Paschal season, but on Pentecost we kneel again.  Yet, like all of Eastertide, there will be no gradual on Pentecost, and the alleluia will be doubled, but unlike Easter we will return to the "normal" alleluia and set aside the jubilant celtic alleluia till Easter returns again.   In numerous little ways like this, we prepare to go back to the way things usually are.  And yet, I hope we go back a changed people - a people in whom the Paschal joy is not quenched, but in whom it burns in the hidden heart.  It's not that the joy is less, it is that is more interior - deeper, abiding, and yet much less on display in the Church's liturgical life.  If Easter has given us a veritable foretaste of heaven on earth, Pentecost and following Sundays remind us that it was, after all, only a foretaste, and so the yearning remains for the fullness of what is yet to be.  Thus, we pray:

Come, Holy Spirit!  Fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in them the fire of Your divine love!


Past Elder said...

Roman Christians called the upcoming season no such thing as "ordinary time" until 40 years ago, before which the term was unknown.

The time is called The Time of Pentecost, and marks the fifth and last season of the Roman liturgical calendar. Paschaltide ends with the Saturday after Pentecost, and the Time of Pentecost does indeed, in the traditional lectionary, focus on our life in this transitory age, stressing growth in Christlike living, culminating in the end of this age with the Last Judgement and end of time.

"Ordinary Time" in fact dis-established two liturgical seasons of the traditional calendar, Epiphany and Pentecost, rendering them no longer cardinal, or hinge, times, but simply ordinal, in a numbered order, when in fact there is nothing ordinary at all about either of these two seasons. The latter, while not characterised by major feasts like Christmas or Easter, ordinary in that sense, has a definite character, not ordinary at all as simply a numbered order, to continue our progress until the end of the church year calls our attention to the end of this age, or "time of grace" as I learned to call it when I found better teachers than Rome provides.

Woeful as our adoption of the Roman new calendar has been (PTM alert, I am about to say something good about the three-year cycle!) at least our version continues the numbering as Sundays After Pentecost, though I would encourage the traditional Lutheran numbering as Sundays After Trinity.

William Weedon said...

I knew, when I wrote that, that I'd be hearing from Omaha... ;) Past Elder, someday I really do want to meet you in person!

Past Elder said...

Meet me over at PTM's. It'll be hysterical.

Rev. Allen Yount said...

Past Elder,
I hate the term "ordinary time" too. "Ordinary" carries a connotation of "boring" and the last thing we need is another excuse for people to think liturgy is boring.

Rev. Allen Yount
-+-Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio Faciunt Theologum-+-

Sue said...

You change the paraments and the banners? Interesting. I'm on our church altar guild, and doing those things are our responsibility. Though a previous pastor liked to deal with the banners to get just what he wanted.

William Weedon said...

Sue, I don't always do it. We have group that double checks to make sure it's done. But if I have a spare minute or two, I'm happy to help out.

Sue said...

Nice that a number of people help out. It can be a lot of work, but I love being on the altar guild. It's a wonderful way to serve. I do draw the line at anything requiring a person to climb a ladder!