Pentecost 2

The Season of Pentecost continues through June. The themes of the services explore life in Christ, as members of communities committed to sharing faith until we become citizens of heaven. We think about the effect of the Holy Spirit on every aspect of life and living.

St Barnabas the Apostle - June 11th, p774 ASB. This feast day has been celebrated since the fifth century by the Eastern Churches but only since the eleventh by Rome and the West. This is perhaps because much of Barnabas' ministry was among the Greek speaking world - particularly in Antioch. It was here that for the first time the disciples of Christ were named "Christians". It is thought that Barnabas was martyred in AD 61. Because of this the liturgical colour of the day is red.

The Birth of John the Baptist - June 24th, p777 ASB. This is a feast of some prominence - John is the one who prepares the way for the advent of Christ. In the East, John ranks second only to the Virgin Mary in importance. The date of his death is also kept by some Churches as a feast day - August 29th. (Saints are traditionally commemorated and celebrated on a date deemed to be that of their death, and therefore their arrival in heaven.) Cranmer removed the second feast (the death of John the Baptist) from the calendar, it was restored in 1928 but removed again in the ASB - it being considered sufficient to celebrate him only once, and most appropriately on his birthday. The Collect used in the ASB is the one written by Cranmer, and has been only slightly amended down the years. White is the colour of the day as it is not the day commemorating his martyrdom. White also makes a link with baptism as it is the colour associated with this occasion.

St Peter the Apostle - June 29th, p780 ASB. St Peter is of course our patron saint, and on or near his day we celebrate our Patronal Festival. This year we shall begin on St Peter's Eve, Saturday 28th June, with a Festival Music Recital at 11am in church and a barbecue in the evening. The festivities continue and reach a climax with a sung Eucharist on the Sunday morning.

A church is in reality dedicated to God, in honour of a saint (e.g. Peter) or a divine mystery (e.g. the Ascension). So although our church is called St Peter's it is still strictly speaking dedicated not to him but to God. At the patronal festival we honour our patron saint.

Understandably St Peter's Day is the earliest observance in the Church of all saints' days, dating from AD 238. Peter is considered the Patron Saint of the Christian Church, of the papacy, and many other churches. From early times monasteries were dedicated in his honour - Canterbury, Lindisfarne, Glastonbury, Whitby, Malmesbury. So are many of our cathedrals - York, Westminster, Worcester, Lichfield and Peterborough among them. There are also 1129 parish churches sharing our name, and another 283 with the combined dedication of St Peter and St Paul. (There is a set of readings in the ASB if a church chooses to keep these days together, as January 25th is a day celebrating the Conversion of St Paul and not his death.)

Peter was a particularly popular Christian name in England between the Norman Conquest and the 16th century. Presumably it became less widely used in times of suspicion of the papacy. It is quite rightly a much used name today.

Tradition only has it that St Peter was martyred in undignified and humiliating fashion, being crucified upside down. The liturgical colour of the day is therefore red.

Helen Walker, May 1997
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997