Regular Variety

a liturgical note from Fr James

Grab your calendars, we are in a busy festive period!

One of the things I love about traditional Christian worship is the opportunity to experience variety within regularity. There is much about our Sunday worship that is the same every week, but there is also much that changes with the liturgical season. We are in the middle of a lot of variety, with layers of regularity and variety that one can tease out in our services. Let me highlight a few of the nuances of the past and upcoming weeks:

  • The Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 5 this year) is Rogation Sunday. The liturgical color for this Sunday is white, as it is within Eastertide. Rogationtide has a few emphases, one of which is a focus on God’s creation, both expressing gratitude for it and asking for God’s blessing on it. We marked this theme by processing outside and praying the Benedicite, omnia opera Domini (“Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord!”).
  • A few days later on the Feast of the Ascension (May 9), still a white day, we extinguished the Paschal candle to mark Christ’s ascension into heaven. 
  • The Sunday after the Ascension (May 12) was the last Sunday of Eastertide. This Sunday was marked by a bit of the dissonance the first followers of Christ must have felt as they were between the departure of Christ and the arrival of the Holy Spirit (thus the line in the collect for that week, “…do not leave us comfortless…”).
  • Eastertide officially came to an end yesterday with today being the Feast of Pentecost. As will be obvious, today is a liturgically red day. Red is the color for services associated with the Holy Spirit like Pentecost, ordinations, confirmations, and the feast days of martyrs. With the end of Eastertide this week, we also removed the flowers from the crown of thorns above the altar, with the anticipation that they will bloom again next Easter.
    • For a little liturgical minutia, note that the seasonal color beginning tomorrow is actually green. Pentecost is just one day, not a season, and so once the day of Pentecost is over, we officially begin Ordinary time, the long green season until Advent. 
  • While Monday-Saturday of this week is green, next Sunday (May 26) we will be back to white due to Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday and Trinitytide will bring some seasonal liturgical changes, for instance to our service music (Gloria, Doxology, Sanctus, Agnus dei), the return of the Prayer of Humble Access (a prayer put on pause for Eastertide), and the removal of the “Alleluias” at the dismissal, although we will retain them for the Fraction acclamation.
  • Finally, the following Sunday (June 2) will be the First Sunday after Trinity where we will transition to green until Christ the King Sunday (teaser: we have a new green vestment set to rotate in with our previous green set). As we have done in the transition times between major seasons, we will pray the Great Litany in our service this day. We have done this on Christ the King (the transition from Ordinary time to Advent) and the Sunday last before Lent (sometimes called Transfiguration or Quinquagesima) the transition from the Ordinary time after Epiphany to Lent.

Yet in the midst of all this seasonal variety, there is still much regularity in our worship. Every week the structure of our service stays relatively the same, we hear God’s word read and preached, we confess our sins and pray, we partake of the Eucharist, and throughout we sing God’s praises.