EMBRACING ORDINARY TIME

Pentecost Sunday is always a great day in mainline Protestant churches. If for only that Sunday, we give ourselves permission to let go a little…to embrace our inner charismatic and celebrate the Spirit. Many wonder why we only approach worship this way once a year. I think it has something to do with knowing that Pentecost will be the last liturgical celebration we will get to have for quite a while…

Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost are all behind us now. Since the beginning of Advent, we’ve walked through the story of our faith…through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ and culminating with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We even pulled out all the cool liturgical colors of purple, white, and red to accompany these seasons of the Christian calendar.

Now that we’ve reached the end of that narrative, we enter the long, drawn-out period know as “Ordinary Time”. This season starts this upcoming Sunday (May 30th) and lasts through the third Sunday in November (21st)…a staggering 26 Sundays…before we begin Advent all over again and the cycle repeats. From now until then, each Sunday will be known by its distance from Pentecost and an abundance of the color green.

Although the name “Ordinary Time” doesn’t mean “common” (the name comes from the word “ordinal”, meaning “counted time”), it is tempting to approach this season as mundane and unremarkable.

Yet, this can also be a time to renew our faith. Without the demarcations of high and low points and major holidays, we can rediscover what it means to live ordinary faith in an ordinary world.

I ran across an article, written by Melody Wilson Shobe, which said it best:

The very fact that the church has a time called ‘Ordinary’ is a profound theological statement. It is a reminder of the presence of God in and through the most mundane and ordinary seasons of our lives. God is not only on the mountaintop or in the valley, but walking alongside each of us when the flat road stretches interminably into the horizon…It is a reminder that when God came and lived among us in the person of Jesus Christ, (God) experienced the same ordinary reality that we all experience. And that God, in Christ, offered us the opportunity to transform the most ordinary, mundane experiences into extraordinary events infused with the presence of God. God is there, present in the midst of the ordinary, just waiting for us to recognize it.

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