Pentecost Sunday and the approximately six months of Sundays after Pentecost presently underway are considered the non-festival or Church half of the Church year (compared to the festival or Christ’s half of the Church year), although some festivals occur and other commemorations and occasions are observed during these months. We might say that this is a season of parables and miracles, for the somewhat continuous reading of St. Matthew’s Divinely-inspired Gospel account has us hear of Jesus’s telling a number of parables and performing a number of miracles, even as our hearing those becomes a part of His telling those parables to us and performing miracles in our time.

Jesus’s saying and doing things for us can be a short summary of His life and continued work through the Church today (Acts 1:1-2). While parables and miracles were not new to Jesus and are not the extent of His Words and deeds, one-third of Jesus’s teaching is said to be in parable form, and, by one count, He performed a representative sample of some 35 miracles (see John 20:30-31): healing, command over the forces of nature, and bringing back to life the dead (most told in more than one if not all four Gospel accounts). Parables and miracles are part of Jesus’s teaching and revealing Himself as the one-time mystery of God’s Kingdom, with the intention that faith will result in those who hear and see, although sadly such was not always the case then, nor is it always the case now. Ultimately, such words and deeds relate to summaries of the Church’s practice (Acts 2:42-43, 46-47), to how the Small Catechism divides the six chief parts of Christian doctrine, and to the two parts of the Divine Service (that is, the Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament).

If not explicitly parables and miracles, words and deeds certainly were a part of both the Old Testament festival of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-21), and the New Testament festival of Pentecost, fifty days after The Resurrection of Our Lord (Acts 2:1-41). Pentecost in a sense bridges the two halves of the Church Year, technically the last day of the Easter Season but also giving its name to the season that follows. In the appointed Gospel Reading for Pentecost this year (John 7:37-39), we hear Jesus speak of His giving as water the Holy Spirit to those thirsty believers who come to and drink of Him.

Water and the Holy Spirit are also part of the appointed Gospel Reading for the First Sunday after Pentecost, called Trinity Sunday, which celebrates the richness of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three Persons of one divine substance (Matthew 28:16-20). Within the Trinity, the Father begets the Son, the Son is begotten, and the Holy Spirit proceeds at least from the Father. Outside the Trinity, God’s works generally can be ascribed to any of the three Persons, although only the Son was sent by the Father to take on human flesh and so die and rise in order to save us from our sins by grace through faith that the Holy Spirit creates.

For the rest of the Sundays after Pentecost, the dates and Gospel Readings (according to Lutheran Service Book 3-year Series A) are listed below. In this particular Church Year, you may note that one Sunday after Pentecost yields to the Feast of All Saints’ Day.

  • Second Sunday (06/18): Jesus provides shepherds for His sheep (Matthew 9:35-10:8)
  • Third Sunday (06/25): Jesus means not fearing persecution (Matthew 10:5a, 21-33)
  • Fourth Sunday (07/02): faith in Jesus divides people (Matthew 10:34-42)
  • Fifth Sunday (07/09): Jesus invites all to Him for rest (Matthew 11:25-30)
  • Sixth Sunday (07/16): Jesus sows different spiritual soils (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)
  • Seventh Sunday (07/23): Jesus tells a parable about weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
  • Eighth Sunday (07/30): Jesus speaks of His giving all for us (Matthew 13:44-52)
  • Ninth Sunday (08/06): Jesus feeds 5,000 (Mathew 14:13-21)
  • Tenth Sunday (08/13): Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14:22-33)
  • Eleventh Sunday (08/20): Jesus answers a plea for mercy (Matthew 15:21-28)
  • Twelfth Sunday (08/27): Jesus builds His Church (Matthew 16:13-20)
  • Thirteenth Sunday (09/03): Jesus calls all to take up their crosses (Matthew 16:21-28)
  • Fourteenth Sunday (09/10): Jesus speaks of forgiving one another (Matthew 18:1-20)
  • Fifteenth Sunday (09/17): Jesus warns the unforgiving (Matthew 18:21-35)
  • Sixteenth Sunday (09/24): Jesus tells a parable about grace (Matthew 20:1-16)
  • Seventeenth Sunday (10/01): Jesus’s authority is challenged (Matthew 21:23-27)
  • Eighteenth Sunday (10/08): Jesus speaks of His being rejected (Matthew 21:33-46)
  • Nineteenth Sunday (10/15): Jesus tells a parable of a wedding (Matthew 22:1-14)
  • Twentieth Sunday (10/22): Jesus says to give God what is His (Matthew 22:15-22)
  • Twenty-first Sunday (10/29): Jesus stumps His challengers (Matthew 22:34-46)
  • All Saints’ Day (11/05): Jesus speaks about the blessed ones (Matthew 5:1-12)
  • Twenty-third Sunday (11/12): Watch for Jesus’s Kingdom (Matthew 25:1-13)
  • Twenty-fourth Sunday (11/19): Judgment is coming (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • Last Sunday of the Church Year (11/26): Faith produces works (Matthew 25:31-46)

Non-Sunday morning observances during the period include the June 25th Commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession (for which the appointed Gospel Reading is John 15:1-11), the October 31st observance of Reformation Day (for which the appointed Gospel Reading is John 8:31-36 or Matthew 11:12-19), and the November 22nd observance of the Eve of a Day of Thanksgiving (for which the appointed Gospel Reading is Luke 17:11-19). Services will be held at 7:00 p.m. on each date (the Reformation service will be at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1300 Judson Road, Longview).

Red, white, and green may bring secular Christmas decorations to mind, but, respectively, they are the colors the Church uses for Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and the Sundays after Pentecost. Red brings to mind the fire of the Holy Spirit and the blood of the martyrs who died bearing His message. White brings to mind joy and glad celebrations, light and purity, and the innocence that is ours by Holy Baptism through which we receive Christ’s righteousness. And, green brings to mind the life and growth evident in foliage and fruit. (The observance of Reformation Day is red, and the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession and All Saints’ Day use white.)

Regardless of the day or season, everyone is always invited and welcome in person at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, and you can read and hear any of the sermons preached at Pilgrim here.

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