I am receiving a lot of questions: why is this the 8th week in Ordinary Time? Why is my church using Proper 3 for the office? (from someone in TEC USA). The answer is not simple.

There are 52 or 53 Sundays in a year, depending on the year. 4 are for Advent, 1 or 2 for Christmas (depending on the year), 6 for Lent, 8 for Easter = a total of at least 19 Sundays. In a year of 53 Sundays we would need another 34 Sundays – that’s the maximum number we need. Sometimes we won’t need 34 – where do we drop a Sunday not needed? The contemporary lectionary system has decided to drop such a Sunday in the moving Lent-Easter period, so that the Church Year always ends on the 34th Sunday. Do the maths and you’ll find the Sunday before Advent, the Last Sunday of the Church Year (#34), is always between November 20 and 26. It is also the Sunday closest to November 23. Counting backwards #33 is always between November 13 and 19. It is also the Sunday closest to November 16. And so on backwards.

Ordinary Time numbering:

(used, for example by the Roman Catholic Church. The Canadian BAS calls them “propers” ie. the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time BAS calls “Proper 7”)

There is nothing “ordinary” about “Ordinary Time”. Ordinary Time is not about common, regular, mundane, or run of the mill. Ordinary Time comes from the word “ordinal” as in “ordinal numbers”. Remember your Maths: Cardinal numbers answer “how many?” “Ordinal Numbers” tell the rank, they answer “what position?” Ordinal Numbers are first, second, third, fourth, etc.

Ordinary weeks count forward from The Baptism of the Lord. After the Day of Pentecost, however, they are checked backwards from the last week of the Church’s Year which is always the 34th week of Ordinary Time. So sometimes a week is dropped out – as in 2010. In 2010 the week prior to Lent was the 6th week in Ordinary Time. The week following the Day of Pentecost is the 8th week in Ordinary Time. Next week (following Trinity Sunday) is the 9th week in Ordinary Time. Hence, one can see why Sunday 13 June is the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (actually technically the Sunday in the 11th week of Ordinary Time).

The Episcopal Church:

has decided not to title the earlier Sundays in Ordinary Time like that. They are numbering the earlier ones Sundays after Epiphany. They realize that the earliest the Day of Pentecost can be is May 10. So they number “Propers” from the Sunday “closest to May 11”. But the readings are actually the same as above. ie. you either use the readings before Lent, or after Pentecost. Hence for TEC the readings for Proper 1 are just the same as the readings set for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany; Proper 2 is identical with the seventh Sunday after Epiphany. This continues to the ninth Sunday after Epiphany, the greatest number of Sundays possible after Epiphany. (TEC has a “Last Sunday after Epiphany). [TEC’s proper number plus 5 = the Ordinary Sunday number which is the same as BAS proper number].

Common Worship CofE:

essentially follows the same lectionary system as the above two. But whereas the above two systems link a collect/opening prayer to the readings, Common Worship acknowledges that there is no theme to the readings and so the collect is independent of the readings. The collect for Common Worship is found by counting Sundays after Trinity Sunday.

The New Zealand Lectionary (of the Anglican Church of Or)

won’t make its mind up. Sunday 6 June is given as “Te Pouhere Sunday” (“Designated by General Synod to celebrate our life as a three Tikanga Church.” complete with its own set of readings including four options for a gospel reading, and two options each for other readings. It calls the Acts of the Apostles an “epistle”). The lectionary also calls this the Second Sunday after Pentecost, the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Te Ratapu Tekau ma tahi o He wa ano, and Proper 5 with its own RCL readings. No one will be told off if they call it the First Sunday after Trinity. And there will be a number of communities that will celebrate Corpus Christi on this Sunday with its own readings and collect. Of course if you have a particular thing about St Boniface and want to celebrate him this day, or this year you have a family service on the first Sunday of the month focusing on each of the twelve apostles in turn – no one will be at all surprised…

Further to our current week, the suggestion in the New Zealand Lectionary that the collect for the Day of Pentecost be used during the week following is confused and confusing. I cannot locate the formulary that would have this as advised by the lectionary. Nor can I see any logic in this. Nor can I understand the liturgical purpose of following its suggestion to have two collects.

The Day of Pentecost ends the fifty day season of Easter (that’s what the Greek word “Pentecost” means!) It does not begin a “Pentecost Season”. In the Nicene canons we are forbidden to kneel on Sundays and the Bishops at the Council of Nicaea were horrified to hear of people kneeling during Pentecost – by which they meant the fifty days of what we now call the Easter Season (Council of Nicaea, Canon 20).

During the week following the Day of Pentecost, the collect is that of the eigth week in Ordinary Time. During the week following Trinity Sunday the collect is that of the ninth week in Ordinary Time. Trinity Sunday also is a feast, not the start of a season (except possibly in the Church of England).

Have an extraordinary Ordinary Time.

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