Paschaltide: The Days of Pentecost (Chapter 27 of Joan Chittister’s The Liturgical Year)

by Andrea Tisher

So much of life is lived as one event after another. We anticipate and over-expect and then pick apart all the ways the event did (or mostly didn’t?) live up to our expectations. And then we choose the next event and do it all over again.

But the calendar isn’t so much about events. It’s about seasons. Which is tricky because we’ve made many of the seasons of the calendar into events as well. Christmas. Easter. Just one day (or one hour) events. But, if we’re willing to lean into the calendar in new ways, we’ll discover that there are whole seasons that we’ve been missing out on. Eastertide – or Paschaltide, as Chittister calls it – is just such a season that is so much more than the usual “Hooplah of Easter” followed by a “lull” of some kind. In our church this year, we tried to be intentional in a couple of ways. First, on the cover of the worship folder, we called each Sunday by its proper name. (ie. 2nd Sunday of Eastertide, 4th Sunday of Eastertide) and then we also tried to have at least part of the music reflect that we were worshipping the RISEN King. Then, on this past Sunday, we celebrated Ascension (which, technically is on the Thursday previous, but I don’t think we’re ready for a whole service devoted to the Ascension)  and called it Ascension Sunday and next week we’ll celebrate Pentecost to finish the season.

I love what Chittister says about the season of Eastertide: “the period of unmitigated joy, of total immersion in the implications of what it means to be a Christian, to live a Christian life.” (171) and “We come to know during these great fifty days not only who Jesus is but who we are meant to be, as a result.” (175)

How did you spend the season? Or did you know it was a season?

A story to finish…

I had a friend visit another church on May 6th where they made a royal fuss about how you simply would not want to miss Mother’s Day at their church. There were promises of gifts and celebration and all kinds of special things. She immediately wondered, if this is what they do for Mother’s Day, I wonder what they’ll do for Pentecost? The answer? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Their calendar based more on what the Hallmark store has in their special section… There was a time when this would have seemed quite normal to me. But not now. And I don’t want to go back. Bring on the seasons!

4 Comments

  1. I’ve been loving these extended seasons – what a way to fight the rush and bother that most holidays stir up! This long-Eastertide celebration has been especially meaningful to me this year, as I struggle to find joy in the midst of a pretty dark season of life.

    We’ve been using an Easter liturgy from the “Celtic Book of Daily Prayer,” lighting the “Christ candle” each week, and beginning our service with the exclaimations: “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” I’m not sure about the rest of the congregation, but this has been a good extended reminder for me that, while I live according to the cross, its shadow is light rather than darkness. Light has won over darkness, and the world will never be the same. I will never be the same.

    During Eastertide, Andrew has been preaching on “meals with Christ,” moving through different meals that Christ has with his disciples and others in the gospel of Luke – this means we have also been taking communion together each week (in different ways). It has been an absolutely beautiful way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and his continued presence with us.

    Reply

  2. Have either of you come across the Stations of the Resurrection? Kinda like the Stations of the Cross used in Lent, obviously. Our house group used these 20-odd readings and accompanying liturgy during this season, reflecting on each reading (the post-resurrection encounters) as we went along. It took 3 weeks, which in addition to the lectionary readings has given this Easter a very extended, relaxed feel.
    Also, the old but simple practice of using liturgical colours in one’s place of communal worship is one I find very helpful, since the colours remain throughout the whole season, and act as a clear visual reminder (just as the liturgical responses you described give an audible reminder) that we haven’t moved on just yet!
    I’m even thinking in terms of church seasons now. It’s one calendar year since I returned to the UK. But in more significant ways, it’s almost a year since I moved to my new home and entered the fold of the CofE, in that it was Ordinary Time when I arrived, and after all the major fasts and feasts we’ll return to Ordinary Time next week: full circle, in a way.

    I’m looking forward to reflecting with you both on OT during the next few months – how do we give this longest of ‘seasons’ definition, without overloading it with marginal feasts or succumbing to Hallmark celebrations as a way of marking time?

    Reply

    1. I haven’t Ian – I love the idea, though, and will look them up. I’ve found liturgical colours very helpful this year, we’ve been paying close attention to our decore throughout the year – and I’ve also tried to have one thing that remains the same for each service within a given season (Advent was the lighting of the Advent candles, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel; Ordinary Time was a children’s story from the life of Jesus; Lent was the lighting of Lenten candles and Lenten readings; Easter was the lighting of the Christ candles and the same call to worship each Sunday…). I’ve found it incredibly helpful to move through the seasons this way.

      You leave us with a good question – especially when you add in summer holidays… how do we maintain focus and, as you say, “give this longest of ‘seasons’ definition” when attendence is scattered and time passes in a blur of sunscreen and back-to-school shopping? I look forward to exploring that idea with you.

      Reply

  3. Thank you for your review of Joan Chittister’s book. Because of this book and the reviews that the three of you have so thoughtfully contributed; I have looked at Advent and Eastertide in a very different way this year. They have indeed been seasons for me… peaceful , rich seasons. The actual days of Christmas and Easter blended into, rather than jarred. I like to read in a daily “devotional” book each day. This year I began on January 1st,as usual, only to realize it would end with Eastertide. So now I am returning to the Advent readings… it will be a wonderful way to start the day as everything in nature is starting all over again.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s