27 January 2009

A Thought on Restoration of the Feasts

The LSB, when listing Feasts and Festivals, lists eight of them in boldface, with the explanatory note that these are "principle FEASTS of Christ." The suggestion is that they may replace the Sunday propers should they fall on a Sunday (with special precautions about Annunciation - see the additional note on page 960 of the Altar Book). However, if these are indeed principle feasts of our Lord, why on earth not encourage our parishes to actually hold Divine Service on these days? Granted, if they are work days, Divine Service will need to be at either an early hour or a late one, and yet why should we deprive our people of the joy of these feasts except for the odd years one or the other of them happens to fall on a Sunday?

The principle feasts of Christ, besides regular Sundays, Christmas, Holy Week, and Pentecost are:

Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus - Dec 31
Circumcision and Name of Jesus - Jan 1
Purification of Mary and Presentation of Our Lord - Feb 2
Annunciation of Our Lord - March 25
Nativity of St. John the Baptist - June 24
Visitiation - July 2 (new calendar, May 31)
St. Michael and All Angels - Sept 29
All Saints' Day - Nov 1

It strikes me that this is a good beginning for renewal of a richer calendar among us. At least on these days, is it too much to ask that we OFFER the Divine Service and encourage our people to partake of the riches each of them unfolds for us in our Lord Jesus Christ?


Cranky said...

Amen! I agree totally! The Treasury of Daily Prayer has helped my personal prayer life in this regard. I would like to see it spill over into the life of LCMS churches more.

Pr. J. Rutz said...

I have a question on the first feast on the list.

Do you know when the "Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus" began to be observed? It sounds more like a way of "liturgifying" an evening otherwise observed to mark the passing of another year than a principal feast of Christ.

I note that the LSB lectionary for Feasts and Festivals provides pericopes for New Year's Eve on December 31st, but not for the Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. Why are not eve's of the other principal feasts of Christ listed also observed?

William Weedon said...

Pr. Rutz,

I almost included a note on that. New Year's Eve is not a principle feast. The LSB was trying to indicate that the Feast of the Circumcision may be observed on the Eve OR the Day. This is shown in the explanatory note in the Altar Book (p. 949): "The Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus may also be observed on December 31 using the propers for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (January 1) beginning on the following page." Thus, this is a case of either/or: Either New Years Eve on Dec. 31 with Circumcision the next day; or Circumcision on the Eve and nothing the next day. That's how I take the rubrics, in any case. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

A little "Mary-phobia" here?

Why isn't August 15th included?

William Weedon said...

No more so than Apostle-phobia. Their days were not included either. The Day of the Mother of God is observed as her PERSONAL day of falling asleep in faith in her Son; just as the Apostles' Days are their PERSONAL days of falling asleep. The FEASTS are selected for their specific reference to the account of the Redemption being wrought, rather than their celebration of Redemption finding fulfillment in the lives of God's people.

William Weedon said...

P.S. Also note that no less than THREE of those feasts have a significant role for the Mother of God:


Pr. J. Rutz said...

Pr. Weedon,

It makes sense. My LSB Altar Book is at home, the congregation's is on the Altar, so I lazily didn't check either.

It seemed to me that if the feast is going to be celebrated apart from Sunday morning, it ought to be celebrated on the feast day rather than the eve. If the 31st were a Sunday, unless I misunderstand your handy dandy rule, the feast wouldn't take priority over the Sunday propers of a white Sunday anyway. And that would seem all the more to be the case since it's an "eve" and not a feast day itself.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, Pastor Peace Lutheran Church (LCMS) said...


A hearty Amen, brother!

Our "Feast Day Restoration Project," as I like to refer to it, began three years ago. We started by observing Feast Days when they fall on Sundays, and by celebrating Mass every day during Holy Week at Noon. Then, we moved on to adding the Principal Feasts you mentioned on the days they fall at Noon as well. Last year, we observed as many of the additional Feast Days as we could on the days they fall at Noon (or in place of Divine Service on Sundays). This year, we will celebrate ALL of the Feast Days in the Church Year.

Our Noon Feast Day Services are short and sweet - DS 3 sung, but w/out additional hymns, offertory & offering. The hymn of the day is always 517/8 "By All Your Saints in Warfare" with the appropriate stanza inserted (so, we'll sing all the stanzas by year's end). 5-7 minute homily. 30-40 minute Service. We average between 10-20 people on a given day, and those who come just love it.

I'm hoping to expand on this in the years to come, but I'm taking it one step at a time. Wednesday Matins and Vespers are on tap for next year, and maybe we can incorporate the commemorations into those Services as they occur as well.

Anyway, all of this is to simply say that more opportunities for the faithful (including the pastor) to be in their Lord's House and receive His Holy Gifts is an awesome, blessed thing!

So, Amen, brother! (that probably would have sufficed, eh?:)

In Christ,