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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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September 18, 2012

Keep the Feast

Recently someone asked me why the word “festival” is used to describe all those “red-letter days” in the Christian year—like Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, but also Baptism, Transfiguration, and Ascension of the Lord, among others.

A teachable moment!* We have nearly forgotten that “festival” originally meant “of or pertaining to a feast” (Oxford English Dictionary). We’ve come to think of “festival” in a more general way, as a grand gala or communal celebration—like a music festival or an arts festival. But a festival, at least in the original sense, is meant to center around a meal. You can’t have a festival without a feast.

That’s true of the church’s festivals too. On each of these great celebrations of pivotal (world-changing!) events in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church is called to gather at the table he prepares for us, where we celebrate the story of salvation and proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. 

If your congregation doesn’t already celebrate the Lord’s Supper on each of these days—and on Ash Wednesday, Passion/Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, and Christ the King as well—consider adding these dates to your communion schedule. The beginning of a new academic term (in September) or liturgical year (in Advent) is a good time to take a fresh look at the church’s calendar.

And if you don’t ordinarily hold services on days like Ash Wednesday, Epiphany, Ascension, or All Saints’ Day, consider organizing these services in your community, as a way to share in the fullness of the story of our salvation. You might even join with another nearby congregation in doing so.

As you plan, don’t forget to set the table! The Book of Common Worship includes Great Thanksgivings for every festival in the Christian year; see pages 133–137 (proper prefaces for Great Thanksgivings B and C) and 165–400 (full eucharistic prayers). Praying these carefully crafted texts is a way to dwell more deeply in the meaning and mystery of each occasion—as well as an opportunity to understand different facets of the meaning of the sacrament. The (aptly titled!) Feasting on the Word Worship Companion—the first volume of which was released just this month—also includes a rich banquet of liturgical resources for every Sunday and festival.

Of course, there is a sense in which every Sunday is a festival—every Lord’s Day, a fitting occasion for the Lord’s Supper, as the church celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. But that’s a topic for another day … Meanwhile, let us keep the feast!

* Part of the genius of Invitation to Christ, the 2006 sacrament study of the PC(USA), is that it is built around such teachable moments, as those five simple practices provoke profound questions. 


Tags: christian year, eucharist, worship