At the start of this season in the Church, we celebrated the Day of Pentecost, marking the descent of the Holy Spirit and signaling God’s presence – alive and always with us – stirring us to enliven God’s mission in the world.
In these late summer to fall months, it is officially the Season After the Pentecost – also known as “Ordinary Time.” The “ordinary” is evident in the ordinal numbers to mark each week, “Proper 16” and so on. We may also find it useful to think of this time as getting back into the routines of our “ordinary,” common life, as a community of faith. Travel schedules seem to be slowing down and some are returning to the routines of school. Our life together in Christ is anything but ordinary, however.
In this season, we have made some simple changes to the worship space and the liturgy, to reflect our desire to experience one another in community and, most of all, to come into deeper awareness of the Living God in our midst and the knowledge that we live in the “already-not-yet” of holy space and time. God is both immanent and transcendent, and we are invited to experience this divine reality in the space we know as Grace.
At the entrance (from the 5th and Linden corner doors), the baptismal font stands as a reminder of the church’s rite of initiation, and its waters call us into our baptismal vows. Dip your fingers in the water and, as you desire, make the sign of the cross to ask for God’s blessing and renew your commitment to live the Good News, seeking and serving Christ in all persons. As you stand at this entrance, you may note the small table beyond the font with the elements of bread and wine – a sign that of the table will gather around and the grace we receive there.
At Grace, we strive to live into our baptismal covenant as we explore our call to mission in this downtown community. We’ve had a busy summer out in the community and this fall will be inviting neighbors in for films and conversation to give us fresh insight for social justice and mission.
The “Nave,” our main worship area, is arranged so that we can see one another, with rows of chairs facing one another. This is often called a “quire” style and is especially suited for us to listen to one another. This is most noticeable when we read the Psalm antiphonally, alternating sides with each verse. The lectern (where the Word of God is read) is at the end of the Nave closest to the altar, facing the people so that the Word of God may be heard; it is set slightly to the side, so that the altar and cross are visible at all times.
During the gospel procession, the Word is brought to the center of the gathered community for proclamation, a reminder that the Word of God is among us and that we take it in, to be fed, nourished, and transformed by it.
At the time of communion, gather around the altar as a sign of our unity. Those who need to remain seated are fully included and others stand, filling in spaces in the circle. There is room for all. After the prayers and consecration, the priest distributes the bread around the circle, followed by two Eucharistic Ministers, who offer wine from chalices. As desired, you may receive both bread and wine or communion of one kind (bread or wine); either option you choose is appropriate. To signal your desire to receive a blessing instead, you may cross your arms over your chest.
The Season After Pentecost continues until the first Sunday in Advent, December 3.
To assist our observance of holy days, the commemoration of saints, and lesser feasts and fasts, Forward Movement offers three liturgical calendars, as well as daily meditations and a variety of devotional resources. The image above is from “Calling the Disciples” by Qi He, accessed under the Creative Commons, through the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Art in the Christian Tradition.