You have probably noticed by now that I am kind of a liturgical geek when it comes to the Book of Common Prayer. I enjoy reviewing the Prayer Book and looking at all the rubrics to see how they are followed during various liturgies. Many places insist that their way of interpreting the rubrics are the “right way”, but there are often many ways to interpret rubrics and many options we can follow during liturgies to make them unique and special to the day. One rubric we are going to exercise as a parish is the permission given to us to celebrate our Patronal Feast Day on a Sunday.
On Page 16, we see a rubric that tells us, “The Feast of the Dedication of a Church, and the feast of its patron or title, may be observed on, or be transferred to, a Sunday, except in the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter. The rubric is written this way because it is not uncommon for parishes take on the patronage of the saint whose feast day falls nearest to their dedication days. Our patron saint is John the Baptist and his feast day is June 24. This means we will transfer his feast day to June 26 so that we can celebrate it together.
Our parish picnic, which took place a couple of months ago, is likely separated from the Patronal Feast Day because it is so hot in June in this part of Arizona. Otherwise, the two would take place on the same day. On our Patronal Feast Day, which is actually called the Nativity of John the Baptist, we will sing hymns about John, read scripture passages about him, and share stories of how we honor his legacy in our parish. In fact, don’t be surprised if we have a sprinkling rite! You know if love a good reason to bring out our aspergillum!
A Patronal Feast Day is a day for celebration in a parish. It is a day we come together and join with our patron saint, and the communion of all the saints, as we worship God, celebrate our joys, and offer up our sorrows. John, as a relative of Jesus, is a wonderful role model from scripture for our parish. It was John who prepared the world for Jesus. As the church that serves, the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist is to be commended for following his example. Every time you serve the people of God in this place, you are preparing the path for those people to have an encounter with Jesus. On Sunday, June 26, we will honor John. John is a guy who reminds us to unapologetically be who we are. After all, he wore camel hair and ate locusts and honey! Be the person you are called to be. Follow John’s example and be unapologetically you. Join us next Sunday as we celebrate this special feast during both services. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!