Let’s start with a word about liturgical colors. You can see listed here that the official color of the long season of Ordinary Time is green. This makes sense for lots of reasons: Ordinary Time is about growing in our faith, about accepting the gifts that we’ve been given, and producing the fruit not just as individual Christians but as the body of Christ. Green is the color of growth and of fruitfulness. There are other reasons why the season claims the color green. Perhaps you and your team can come up with some more and use them to inform the congregation who may never have given thought to why the green paraments are used throughout this season.
We started here, however, because there are those who get bored with a single color in this long season that runs from Pentecost through Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday at the end of November. There are so many colors, so much beauty in worship art and God’s creation, why use only one color for this long season? Isn’t this the season after Pentecost? Why can’t we use red for at least a part of the season?
The season of Ordinary Time (or the Sundays after Pentecost—there is no “Pentecost Season”) calls for creativity and artistry. Even if you are using green as a foundational color, there is no reason why you can’t bring in a host of other colors over the season. Green represents life, and life is colorful. So, use more colors; use both/and; use a whole palette of colors to bring to life the worship in Ordinary Time. Think ahead for changing series or themes and find ways to enhance the liturgy with visual expressions of color, not just in paraments, but in banners, worship centers, projected or posted images, and colors. There are ways to move beyond the plain green altar or pulpit fall. Call on artists of all sorts to enhance the space.
This week, the theme is redirection. Whether we feature the Gerasene demoniac or the prophet Elijah, there is an invitation to reorient or refocus—from the multi-voiced madness to the single call of Christ, or from the wildness of nature and of personal despair to the silence or stillness of God at work in and through the prophet and through the church. Worship is about sorting through the noises of our world, noises out there and noises inside our own heads, so that we can learn to listen to the voice of God.
Find places to use silence as a way of helping the congregation hear God’s voice. Walk through meditative practices, perhaps, or invite worshipers to come forward and kneel near the table of grace. Invite commitments to pray, to silence, to slow down, and engage in Bible study or personal and family devotions. Encourage the small groups in the church to make it a practice to sort through the madness of their own lives together in an accepting and loving environment.
Underneath all this, there needs to be the cultivation of the belief that God is indeed speaking—that the Spirit has something to say to us. Sometimes this happens to individuals, but other times, the Spirit comes to groups. We aren’t that far from the Pentecost story to remember that they all heard together; they all felt together; they all experienced that grace together. Let’s foster the hope, the assurance that the Spirit has a word for us today as we gather for worship. A word that might move us from madness to stillness.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.