After the festivals of Pentecost and the Holy Trinity, the Church begins its longest yet perhaps least-celebrated season of the Church Year: the season after Pentecost. What comes at the end of the post-Pentecost calendar is not one of the Church’s grand festivals, but rather, a reminder that the end times are near. In this way, the season after Pentecost reflects the Church’s life as faithful members in Christ.
That “Other Half” of the Church Year
The season after Pentecost presents a degree of normalcy in the Church Year. Whereas the first half of the calendar began with the exhilaration of Advent and Christmas, continued through Epiphany and Lent, and culminated in the high point of the Church Year—the death and resurrection of Christ—the second half of the Church Year is that “season after” the joyous feasts and festivals.
After Pentecost, the red garments are tucked away with the palate of blue, white, purple, black, and gold, and the altar, pulpit, and pastor’s vestments are adorned with a familiar green that will stay in the sanctuary throughout the second half of the Church calendar. Festival days are few and far between, and the Church settles into a faithful rhythm of hearing God’s Word, receiving forgiveness from Christ, and partaking of His Sacraments.
After celebrating Jesus’ nativity, Baptism, transfiguration, death, and resurrection, the season after Pentecost allows the Church to experience the life of Jesus in a different way. The Church steps directly into the story of Jesus, patiently walking alongside Him as He teaches, preaches, gives, and forgives. In walking with Christ, the Church is conformed to His image.
Rooted in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
This conforming is a process; the season after Pentecost requires patience and faithfulness. Every week, the Church hears of how prophets pointed to the Messiah in the Old Testament, how the Church faithfully continued Christ’s teachings in the Epistles, and how Jesus Himself taught and lived in the Gospels.
The long season after Pentecost clings to the life and teachings of Christ and nurtures the Church with rich gifts for Christian living. Day by day, week after week, and from year to year, the Church lives the season after Pentecost, praising the risen Jesus and immersing itself in His saving grace.
This season after Pentecost is a chance for the Church to reflect on what it has celebrated in the first half of the Church Year, but also to step into the story it has just heard—a story of God’s love for His people marked by the incarnation of His Son, and His life, death, and resurrection in human flesh as a member of our human, broken world.
Growing toward Unity in Christ
Though no Christmas celebration or Easter festival arrives as the high point of the season after Pentecost, the Church looks forward to the Last Day on the final Sunday of the Church Year, before beginning anew with Advent.
The Last Sunday of the Church Year is known as “End Times Sunday,” but the entire season after Pentecost is a faithful clinging to Christ’s promise of His second coming, where we will experience the resurrection and renewal of our earthly bodies that He accomplished for us on Easter morning. We will ascend to heaven as He ascended; we will be changed as He was changed on the Mount of Transfiguration.
All of this we look forward to and ponder as we mark the season after Pentecost. But we do not only look forward to what awaits us—again, we also see in Christ a perfect example of Christian living and service. As we live out our lives as fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors, we learn what it means to be faithful to our calling and live in love to one another.
In faith, the Church’s patient observation of the season after Pentecost unites it to Christ, where He delivers the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation to His people.
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