Visitors to Dove of Peace worship may walk into a room filled with people wearing red shirts, or red dresses, red ties, or even red tennies and wonder “What’s up?” It could be Pentecost Sunday, or maybe Reformation Sunday. And the jazz band in the center aisle? Well, that would be Mardi Gras Sunday. (We know that particular celebration should be on a Tuesday, but Sunday with a band and a big jambalaya lunch afterwards is just too tempting.)
Festival services in our worship life follow the seasons of the Church year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and then some breathing space Sundays known as Ordinary Time. (Those roughly correspond to December, January, February/March, April, May, and then the months till December comes around again.)
Each of these has its own flavor, if you will. Each is marked with a different color in the adornments of the altar and participants: blue for Advent, white for Christmas and Epiphany, purple for Lent, white for Easter, red for Pentecost and green for Ordinary Time. Most Christians who use the Church year as a way to mark time have a favorite season; even Lent, a season for reflection and penitence, has its fans.
The start of a season means a festival or special service, and that means special music. (Or wearing a red tie if it’s Pentecost Sunday.) For us, special means more instruments, professional singers, dramatic readings, processions, and even releasing doves. Whatever the music, we join with the long procession of Christians across the ages who have celebrated these festival days in their own centuries. We’ll sing with fervor whether it’s the Swedish favorite “I am so glad each Christmas Eve,” or the German chorale that starts Advent, “Wake, awake, for night is flying,” or the great American spiritual at the wondrous moment when Lent rolls into Easter: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
The special music associated with the seasons of the Church year gives us, as the saying goes, “both roots and wings.”