May I...


The Merry Month of May is usually associated with renewed strength, fresh vigour and rising saps of all kinds, especially in folk songs. Trees and flowers seem to be exploding into new leaf and blossom, and so is the church. In theory.

This is how it is supposed to work: Coming from the glorious Easter Morning, the liturgical cycle leads us ever onward and upward, to the Day of Ascension, where we pause for a while, before taking the refreshing plunge into Pentecost.

But this is what actually happens: Coming from a Holy Week that's also Busy Week in church, we are not off the hook yet. That's because we start out, as does the church, "like new-born infants", move on to discover that "the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord", then try to "make a joyful noise to God" before we manage to "Sing to the Lord a new song", after which we are finally reminded to ":Pray!". In case you were wondering, this is not the plot for a new Easter pageant (Resurrection II: Judgement May?), just the "names" of the Sunday after Easter, translated into English and merrily strung together like flowers on a thread.

If we take an effort to live up to that, afterwards we may feel much closer to an aviatory interpretation of May Day (usually it implies that a crash is imminent). But do we have to try and do that? In Church, especially in small congregations, the church year is often seen as some kind of work schedule, with fixed due dates that have to be met at all costs.

But there is another way of seeing it. The church year, like the seasons, is a cycle of life, of church life. It is a flow, like the tides, and like a boat riding on the tides, we are supposed to move with the flow, to let ourselves be drawn by it, even carried by it, through narrow passages and over obstacles. And when in May new life pops out all around us, we can for ourselves feel "like new-born infants", and in the abundance of new, fresh, beautiful colours in nature, we can discover that indeed "the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord". Then, and only then, it follows almost naturally to respond to all that, be it with a "new song" or just a "joyful noise", or a deep, heartfelt prayer. This is how I would suggest to try and experience the time ahead of us now.

By: Martin Liebig
Cartoon by: Andrew Bossom, e-mail, website
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