Easter is a movable Feast, that is to say, unlike Christmas that is December 25th every year, Easter doesn’t fall on the same date each year. It follows the lunar cycles so that Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. Because Easter is a movable feast many others are as well: Ascension coming 40 days after Easter, Pentecost 10 days after that, and Trinity Sunday the Sunday following Pentecost. All of this means that so-called ordinary time, that long stretch of green Sundays after Pentecost can begin anywhere from Proper 1 in early-mid-May or as is the case this year, Proper 7 in late-mid-June (I think even a Proper 8 start is possible, but I’m not that good at math).
All of that to say this, after a season of repentance and renewal in Lent, a season of celebration in Easter, and the always confusing Trinity Sunday, we crash land into Ordinary Time (I know, we don’t actually use that term in The Episcopal Church but “The Season After Pentecost” is just too long to type) with a bumpy Gospel Lesson. All those Rectors who let their Curates commit heresy on Trinity Sunday are now selling them on the good exercise of preaching back to back Sundays.
“Whoever denies me, I will deny.”
“I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.”
“One’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”
“Whoever loves father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me…”
Thanks be to God that TKT and I are both away this week, though I feel sorry of AOM who will be guest preaching in our stead. These are hard words from Jesus, words that I’m guessing most of us wish he’d never said, but the fact of the matter is that he said them and we need to deal with them out in the open. In this week’s lesson, Jesus lays down the gauntlet for radical discipleship. He desires a full commitment to the Kingdom of God: above one’s own desires, one’s own family, even one’s own life. Jesus never promised that life in the Kingdom would be easy, in fact he calls us to take up our cross and follow him – to carry the instrument of our own death in order that we might have abundant life. It is a bumpy landing into Ordinary Time this year, but perhaps it will set the tone for a summer of thinking about what it means to really follow Jesus.