Saturday, December 27, 2014

Liturgical Schizophrenia

In my area (and I suspect in many areas of the country) people are working longer hours, which makes attending midweek services and Bible studies difficult. The traffic in my area around DC compounds the problem. So the question is: what to do with those festivals of the church year that fall during the week? If they are important festivals I want my people to commemorate, is it better to observe them on the nearest Sunday or stick to my liturgical guns and keep them on a weeknight?

Hi, my name is Pastor Peasant, and I am a "liturgical schizophrenic."

What I mean is that I do both. Some festivals (like Epiphany) I observe on the nearest Sunday, but some (like Ascension) I thus far have resisted moving and continue to celebrate on either Wednesday or Thursday night. As I think about it, I have no set of criteria I use to determine this - just some I do and some I don't. I know churches and pastors of many denominations wrestle with this also. So if you are reading this, what do you think? What should be done? And why? What criteria should be used?

I have spoken to some pastors who will stick to their guns - no. matter. what. A festival is a festival that is to be celebrated on. that. day. and will be - even if no one comes. I am sympathetic to them, but also ask why? Yes, we are teaching our people the importance of the church year and liturgical celebrations and the proper rhythm of Sundays and festivals, but if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it . . .

I am also sympathetic to those who observe festivals on the nearest Sundays. The people are then there to celebrations these, though it does displace the Sunday, which robs the people of those part of the church year.

So what to do? I don't have a good answer and will probably continue in my schizophrenic state. But it is on my mind . . .

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do exactly what you are doing. JGE+ @ St. Luke's Anglican, Fredericksburg VA

John Babbitts said...

I observe the festivals on the actual day when possible (our congregation currently meets at a assisted living facility) but the time of observance changes based on the schedule of the lives of those we hope will attend. Our Christmas eve and Good Friday Services are in the morning so that more people are able to come. The nice thing about this schedule is that I am able to attend services on these days at another congregation at night and be ministered to by the word as well. Perhaps there are opportunities for you to reach and instruct others by finding an alternate worship or study time and still keep the festivals on their intended dates. God's blessings on your ministry.