“Low Sunday”

May 2010 – Rector’s Ruminations

A significant decrease in attendance to say the least.  “Low Sunday” (Dominica in albis) is a liturgical term that was originally used in contrast to the “high” Feast of Easter Sunday itself.

While “high” and “low” serve as descriptive liturgical terms, a more common place understanding by clergy and laity alike is that “Low Sunday,” practically speaking, refers to the fact that many parishes, I suspect most, experience lower attendance on “low Sunday” than on Easter Day.

Why is this the case?  If Easter Sunday, the Sunday of the Resurrection, is perhaps the most important Sunday of the Church year and marks the beginning of the “Great Fifty Days of Eastertide” culminating with The Pentecost (“The fiftieth day”), the seventh Sunday after Easter and the gift of the Holy Spirit, why the sharp decline in attendance at the beginning of this most important season?

Perhaps it’s the exhaustion following all of those services of Holy Week – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the preparation for Easter Sunday; we are “churched out”?  Or the need to recoup after the family and friends who came to be with us for Easter/Spring break?  Or the many distractions and pleasures that come with the advance of springtime?  Hard to say but there does seem to be a parallel on the first Sunday following Christmas.  Although not having the distinction of being referred to liturgically as “low Sunday,” practically like the second Sunday of Easter, attendance declines the Sunday after Christmas.

Maybe “Low Sunday,” following both Easter and Christmas, has to do with the fact that we have tended to collapse the Resurrection and the Incarnation into one day, one huge liturgical extravaganza complete with all the bells, pomp and circumstance that are appropriate but leave us with a sense of what; completion?  Easter is over, Christmas is over…Eastertide and Christmastide as seasons, important seasons in celebrating, living and understanding the resurrection and incarnation as the key spiritual realities and claims of Christianity seem to fade…

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!!

The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!!

…but I don’t think I’ll go to church next Sunday…

Easter Christians, Christmas Christians, twice-a-year Christians?  My intent is to neither judge nor scold.  Let me say it again – my brief exploration of “Low Sunday” is not to induce guilt or cajole persons to attend on the Sundays following the “big” or “high” Sunday.  Rather my purpose is to invite and to explore the depth of meaning, grace and love that is made known to us in the Seasons of Easter and Christmas by gathering weekly to pray and praise the God who became one of us and has conquered all human limitation including death.

Let’s make the “low” the “high”!  See you in Church,


By Bishop Craig B. Anderson

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