As is not unusual, I have again had email questions about the NZ Anglican lectionary choice of the colour Red as the liturgical colour from after Ascension Day up to and including the Day of Pentecost, and hence including what the lectionary terms the “7th Sunday of Easter”.

Firstly let me reinforce what the lectionary itself says, page 4: โ€œThe colours suggested for each dayโ€ฆ are not mandatory but reflect common practice in most parishes.โ€ Hence, before proceeding, please complete – which colour was used in your community last Sunday?


The lectionary is stating it is not prescriptive but rather descriptive of the use in “most parishes.” Some issues arise in the correspondence I have received in multi-center parishes, where the travelling priest appears to have to go with a whole wardrobe. Remember, the NZ lectionary regularly provides several, even all four options.

Until 2002, the 7th Sunday of Easter has been white. Suddenly without explanation, the 2003 lectionary changed the 7th Sunday of Easter to red. Ascension Day has remained white. From Friday after Ascension Day to the Day of Pentecost has become red. Can someone please explain why? What caused this change to happen in “most parishes” that the lectionary is now reflecting? [If another feast falls within those days, the colour of that feast may be chosen].

It seems to me that the colour for Easter is white, gold, or “best”, and, hence, the colour for the 7th Sunday of Easter is white, gold, or “best”. Certainly all Roman Catholics wore white – so that’s “most parishes” in New Zealand, and disproportionately “most parishes” in the world ๐Ÿ™‚

The danger in this kind of discussion is to degenerate into liturgical rubrical fundamentalism, or accusations of such, on the one hand. The danger on the other, is the complete abandonment of any common prayer. With the diminishing of unity through common prayer comes the search for other ways to find, create, retain, enforce unity.

I understand that the General Synod Eucharist on Thursday May 13 celebrated not Ascension Day but Ihaia Te Ahu. Ascension Day is a Principal Feast of our church. General Synod makes all episcopal units debate and vote and agree to “Ascension Day…should not be displaced by any other celebration.” Again, the issue is not so much enforcing rules for rules’ sake, but how can we move forward creatively and constructively and unitedly in our life and worship together?

Fascinatingly, on May 13 Roman Catholics also did not celebration Ascension Day! They celebrated Our Lady of Fatima. Now there’s another option…

If you are on Facebook there’s no better time to attend “Easter is 50 days”

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