- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: June 29 2017 June 29 2017
Our daily lives tend to follow a rhythm of seasons, routines and patterns. The ordinary rhythm of life ebbs and flows between work and rest, day and night, winter and summer, holidays, vacations and ordinary, mundane life. These rhythms would be empty cycles, void of meaning, without being anchored in the One who gives meaning and purpose to our very lives: Christ Jesus.
The seasons of the Church Year, much like our very own lives, follow a rhythm that is anchored in Christ Jesus. The first half of the year (Advent–Easter) is focused on the events of our Lord's life; “His conception and birth, His fasting and temptation, His suffering and death, His resurrection and Ascension, His session at the right hand of the Father, and His pouring out of the Spirit.” 1
Having followed our Lord's life from Christmas to Easter, we have now entered into the second half of the Church Year known as The Sundays after Pentecost or The Time of The Church. After celebrating the festivals of Christmas, Epiphany, Transfiguration, Easter, Pentecost and so on, the second half of the year can seem like going from vacation back to the ordinary, mundane routines of life!
This is, however, one of the main emphases of the Sundays after Pentecost—our everyday, ordinary, lives as Christians. As the season focuses upon our Lord's teaching and our lives as His disciples, the liturgical color is green which bespeaks growth. What exactly does it mean to live by faith? How do we live in the world but not of the world? How do we love our neighbor and witness to the everlasting hope we have in Christ?
Wonderfully capturing and articulating the themes of the Sundays after Pentecost, Pius Parsch writes;
The Sundays during the Pentecost cycle develop three great themes. The first is Baptism and its graces. We are baptized and grounded in the graces of Baptism. Every Sunday is a reminder of baptism and a small Easter. The second theme is preparation for the second advent of the Lord. It is treated in detail in the final Sundays of the season. The remaining theme, the burden of the Sundays midway after Pentecost, may be summarized as the conflict between the two camps. Although we are placed in the kingdom of God, we remain surrounded by the kingdom of the world. Our souls are laboring under Adam's wretched legacy and waver continually to and fro between two allegiances.
By these three great themes the liturgy covers the whole range of Christian life. In Baptism the precious treasure of the Spirit was conferred. Through it we are God’s children and may call God Father. Through it we have become temples of the Holy Spirit, heirs and brothers of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Baptism has not translated us to a paradise without toil or trouble. Rather we are sent out into a troubled world to work and struggle. We must guard the holy land of our souls against hostile attack. We must learn to know and conquer the enemy, and such is the task that will continue until we have taken our final breaths." 2
The Sundays after Pentecost focus on our Lord's teaching for us, His people, as we learn to live out our baptism, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as His people. But there is more! Parch continues,
The Church serves as both the heroine, who teaches us the art of warfare, and our strong fortress and shield in the conflict. Through Holy Communion, she bestows aid that repeatedly frees the soul from the entanglements and temptation. How does she do this? Courage and strength and perseverance flow from the Word of God in the Service of the Word, and they flow in even fuller measure from Holy Communion. Of ourselves we are helpless creatures, wholly unable to withstand the attack, but in Holy Communion another battles for us. The Mightier, Christ, vanquishes the mighty. 3
Rooted in the living waters of God's Word and nourished by the holy food of the Lord's Supper, we are strengthened over these ordinary Sundays after Pentecost to live as God's people in this world, to do His work where He has placed us, as we wait for and anticipate His coming again.
- William Weedon, Celebrating the Saints (Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 280.
- Pius Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace (Liturgical Press, 1964), IV, 94–95.
- Ibid., IV, 95.
Image from Concordia Lutheran Church, Nashville
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.