Psychologically mimicking the cultural calendar emphasis on "startup" in the fall, we begin giving the celebrations of the Liturgical Year attention in September. (Ever notice how poorly we promote the August 15 celebration of the Assumption as if we expect no one to show up?) We work hard through October and November on music, environment, and other elements of the celebration to make Advent and Christmas "big", and then we sigh with relief in January. We rev up again to prepare liturgically and catechetically for Lent, then the Easter Triduum. Entering the 50 Days, filled with those initiation sacrament celebrations, ministers can feel like we have been working hard for months and just want to "cruise" through until the traditional summer "shut down" of rehearsals and liturgical ministry meetings and preparations.
The energy needed to sustain the 9-month blitz of the school year model can be increasingly missing. Too few people doing too many tasks: too few and aging volunteers, often serving in multiple ministries; too few staff members asked to do more because the economy has meant reduced ability to provide support staff. The solution? Perhaps in part, it is to re-evaluate and re-focus on why we are here in the first place.
The Church was created for both celebration ("Do this in memory of me.") and mission ("Go forth and preach and teach..."). We are here not merely to be comforted and to sustain the services we provide to our existing membership, but to be "sent forth" to love and serve - and to tell others the Good News. If this were better understood, we would see the importance of Pentecost - as the day to re-commission all the baptized, to affirm the staff and volunteers, and everyone who lives the faith.
Rather than seeing this weekend as the liturgical afterthought that ends the Easter Season and (almost) kicks off the summer break, we should see Pentecost as time to re-commit the entire Assembly to our core identity and mission. There is no "vacation" period in the Liturgical Year. Pentecost calls ALL of us to continue to be who we are: 24-7, 365 days a year. To do that, we need everyone in the Church to serve in the work needed to celebrate and go forth. There should be no watchers and pew-sitters, only workers. Many hands make light work, as my grandmother used to say! Come holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love... and the energy needed to spread it!