A Season of Family
The liturgical year offers us a sense of emotional and spiritual timing in ways that the secular calendar simply cannot. From the reserved, introspective time of Lent to the boisterous celebrations of Easter, the anticipation of Advent and the peaceful joy of Christmas, the church calendar gives us intentional time throughout the year to live into the full gamut of emotions and feelings that we will likely be confronted with in our daily lives. Learning to mourn on Maundy Thursday each year can help us learn to mourn when tragedy strikes in our lives, just as we can learn how to celebrate well by looking back to our church holidays.
Sometimes, though, the liturgical calendar and the secular calendar line up to produce wonderfully creative and new seasons. Take this May, for example. Thanks to an unusually early Easter, we now have an early Pentecost (which falls on the 50th day of the Easter season). This year, Pentecost falls directly between Mother’s Day, and as luck would have it, Youth Sunday. With three Sundays in a row, all in May, perhaps this month should be considered a new season – The Season of Family Celebration!
On the 8th, we are given space to take the time to celebrate, commemorate, and remember the women who have mothered us. Whether we are great-grandmothers, new mothers, mentors, sisters, or looking forward to creating new life ourselves one day, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to exclaim our gratitude for the women who have led us, guided us, and shaped us, whether they are our biological mothers or not. Great women of the faith might be looked to as surrogates, as well; from Mary, Naomi, Deborah, and Junia in the Bible to Thecla, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa, and others throughout church history, we have no shortage of strong women who teach us faith through their words and actions. What a wonderful time to recognize the deep history of women’s faith in both our lives and the life of the church! On the heels of celebrating those who give and sustain life, we then turn our focus to Pentecost- the birth of the church itself.
At Pentecost, the Apostles were hidden together, unsure of how to proceed now the Christ had ascended to Heaven (having resurrected on Easter). As Acts tells us, the Spirit descended on them like tongues of fire, and they went into the crowded streets to preach the Gospel. Though the crowd was full of people with diverse languages they were all able to understand, and it is from this moment that the Church was born – birthed into a diverse setting, but unified by God. Throughout the New Testament, we are reminded of both the diversity and unity of the Church; 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4 all speak to a Body with many diverse parts, but ultimately all connected together. How might we look differently at our own families, or even our own congregation, if we truly looked to see them as a singular body? If we saw each person as an equal piece, what might change about how we live?
One way we might make a small change is in giving others who normally take a backseat a chance to become leaders. And on Youth Sunday – May 22 – we will get just that opportunity. Our youth group, which involves students at our congregation as well as two others, will plan, prepare, and lead our Sunday worship all on their own. Both of our seniors will be preaching, while the rest of the group leads Communion, prayers, the benediction – all of it! As a body, our church is called to see each member as an integral part of who we are – just as a family sees every member as equally loved and equally important.
Parents, siblings, and children; the young, the old, and the in-betweens; the analytical and the emotional; the confident and the questioning; the conservatives, the liberals, and the undecided; all of the different pieces of our church can come together during this special ‘season of family’ to celebrate our diverse viewpoints and places in life, while holding fast to the Pentecost teaching that the body is unified and held together by the love of God. I invite you all to continue to look for the threads between Mother’s Day, Pentecost, and Youth Sunday – who knows what else this season will teach us?