Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time

By. Rev. Christian Just "(Thanks to Scott P. Richert)"

Today’s guest blogger, Rev. Christian Just, explains that “Ordinary Time” isn’t necessarily ordinary! “Ordinary Time” was originally published in the monthly newsletters of Epiphany Lutheran Church, Northfield OH, and St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church, Streetsboro, OH.

Now that we have passed through what is called The Festival Season of the Church Year (began with Advent, into Christmastide, then Epiphany, followed by Lent, finishes with Eastertide and the Day of Pentecost), we move into what is called Ordinary Time (sometimes also referred to as The Pentecost Season; on the Lutheran calendar, we tend to go with Sundays after Pentecost).

I’d like to focus on that word, “ordinary.” We tend to use it in an almost derogatory way, implying that if something isn’t “special” its value is diminished to “ordinary.” Such is not the case here.

Ordinary Time is called "ordinary" because the weeks are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order. Thus, Ordinary Time is in fact the ordered life of the Church — the period in which we live our lives neither in feasting (as in the Christmas and Easter seasons) or in more severe penance (as in Advent and Lent), but in watchfulness and expectation of the Second Coming of Christ.

This turns “ordinary” into something quite special. We are not invited to journey through life with a hum-drum faith, but one that is vibrant, alive, and constantly seeking more of God.

The color used for paraments in this season are green — the color of growth. While we commonly find great joy in the celebrations of festivals, we may lose some of that joy when times of trouble, tension, or disappointment come. That joy is bolstered when we realize how close God is to us. That realization comes as we immerse ourselves in God Word, as we pray ardently, and as we seek His presence daily. This is what should be “ordinary” for us.

Alas, for many of us this not the norm. We allow the busy-ness of life to short-change our time with the Lord. We fall into bad habits, allowing vast stretches of time between prayers. We find excuses for why we cannot seem to find the time or place to be quiet in God’s presence.

There is another part of this sense of ordinary. We need to stay alert to see God present in our ordinary, daily activities. Could washing dishes, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the carpets, taking out the trash be seen as spiritual activities? Yes, if you allow the wetness of the dishwater to remind you of your baptism; take in the fresh scent of newly-mown grass to provide a deep appreciation of God’s creative power; think of the power of the vacuum cleaner as a token of the indwelling Spirit; and deep-six the rubbish as a token of forgiveness.

In every moment — not just in spectacular sunsets or mass-choir concerts — God is present, if we were just in the habit of paying attention to looking for the signs He is near us. What we would otherwise regard as ordinary would become filled with deeper meaning and blessing.

As we move through this Ordinary Time, this Season of Pentecost, take advantage of what God would provide for our spiritual benefit. Open your eyes and (to use a Biblical metaphor) open the eyes of your heart to what many have called “the sacrament of the present moment.”

We could say that the Festival half of the Church Year reminds us of who God is and what He has done in Christ. This Ordinary Time reminds us of who we are, and how we can respond.

Rev. Christian Just serves the congregations of Epiphany Lutheran Church, Northfield OH, and St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church, Streetsboro, OH. Do you have a ministry moment you’d like to share on the English District blog? Please send article submissions to Lynne at lcobb@englishdistrict.org