Originally posted July 15, 2012, at Skating in the Garden in High Heels Under My Alb. Republished with permission of the author.
It seems that with Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day (July 22) being on a Sunday, many on the famed ELCA clergy Facebook are just now noticing that she’s been pushed out of Sunday to Monday. I noticed this pushing of saints off onto Monday quite a while ago and ranted about it.
The old rule used to be that biblical saints and commemorations could take precedence over the lectionary for a Green Sunday. Now they all just get shoved off to Monday.
Well, no, not everyone it seems. The Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24) remained as an option on Sunday. So it all seems rather arbitrary. Well, it seems someone actually asked the folks who make these decisions what the deal was.
The explanation is that those festivals which are more “Christocentric” and “Catholic” like Holy Cross day and John the Baptist, and Peter and Paul get to stay on Sunday. Saints who are less Christocentric, like Mary Magdalene get shoved off of Sunday.
Huh? Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the Resurrection is less Christocentric than John the Baptist? Really?
And what is with making a hierarchy of witnesses and saints? Oh, right. We are following Rome’s lead on this. They are all about hierarchy. Naturally a woman like Mary Magdalene is less important than Peter and Paul.
What rubbish. I’m all for ecumenism and making nice with Rome. To a point. But I don’t think they should get to make the rules for us about the calendar. For them saints are all about merits and who do we know for sure is in heaven.
For us, (well, for me anyway) the calendar of saints and commemorations is all about the riches of the verities of ways God uses all kinds of people to further the mission. Nobody is more “Christocentric” than anybody else.
I know for some people this is just all so very irrelevant. But I think the calendar is so very relevant. When it is not hierarchical. When it has a wide variety of people from all times, places, cultures and churches. (I wanted to include the pagan Hypatia, a philosopher who was murdered by a bunch of Christian zealots, but perhaps that’s a bit too inclusive.)
The calendar is a rich resource that shows how across time different people responded to the call of God, sometimes in very challenging times to enrich the church and keep the church “relevant.” We need the calendar. We need to be preaching on these folks even on non-Green Sundays.
Fortunately, I don’t have a subscription to Augsburg Fortress’s bulletins so I can do that. I’ve complained before about the lack of consistency when it comes to liturgical practices in the Lutheran church but this is one time when I am apologetically going to do what I accuse most other Lutheran pastors of doing — “whatever I like.” And what I like is to preach on Mary Magdalene next Sunday.
Find a link to Joelle Hanson’s entry on the blog Skating in the Garden in High Heels Under My Alb at Lutheran Blogs.