What makes something ordinary? Maybe the fact that its not extra ordinary? Not outside the usual way of things? My granddaughter said the other day ‘wouldn’t it be awful if it was Christmas everyday! You would get presents but you would never have any time to enjoy them before you got another lot!’
Ordinary time is perhaps just that – the opportunity to think about and enjoy the gifts we have been given, before the next round of festivities begins.
In the church the festivities follow the life and ministry of Jesus. The church year begins in Advent when the church looks forward to the coming of Christ – not just as a baby in a manger, but as Lord and judge of all.
Christmas is the culmination of all that waiting, and its followed by epiphany where we think about the revelation of Christ, not just to the Jews of Jesus’s time but to the Gentiles – the non Jews, who have yet to come to an awareness of the living God.
After Epiphany there are one or two weeks of ‘ordinary time’ – an opportunity to savour the gift of Christmas, to think about the love of God, made flesh in the person of Jesus.
Then we are into Lent (preparation for Easter) and within Lent, at the end, Holy Week, when we think about the suffering of Jesus and his death on the cross.
Easter Day is the most significant of the year (along with Christmas Day because neither could happen without the other). The Good News of the resurrection of Christ and his ongoing life in ours is God’s promise to us, that good will always triumph over evil and that, because God’s love never ends, and is always present in our lives, death is no more. The only finality is love.
After Easter we have the weeks after easter, when we think about the meaning of the resurrection for us here and now, and this culminates in Pentecost.
Pentecost is the time we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in Jerusalem – present from the beginning of time but ‘sent’ by Jesus to be an ongoing presence and inspiration for their, and our lives today.
Pentecost is followed by Trinity Sunday where we think about the nature of God – God who is without gender but present to us in three different persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three in One and One in Three.
And there begins the longest period of ordinary time – a chance to reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus, and space and time to reflect on our own life and ministry, both as individuals and as a church.
Ordinary time culminates in what is sometimes called the ‘Kingdom Season‘ where we think about Christ being King over all (not as simple as it sounds because Kings, on the whole, in the bible, were bad news). The two weeks of the Kingdom Season end with the Feast of Christ the King, and then the whole thing starts again.
So there we are, ordinary time- a chance to appreciate, play with, and enjoy the gifts we have received from God. Of course the gifts are ongoing in reality. Every day we are gifted with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge of the gift of the incarnation (Jesus is one of us) and the resurrection (God’s love knows no boundaries – even death cannot contain it). And its in the ordinary times, after the big moments in our lives, that we tend to grow the most. No surprise then that the liturgical colour for ordinary time is green!
I think the Church’s year is one of those things that the church has done well. It gives a shape and a form to our lives, and makes maximum use of the natural symbolism that is part of our everyday lives. For us here the light coming into the world at Christmas is exactly that – in the darkest time of our year the star twinkles and the Christ child is born.
Scattered throughout the year are other feasts and festivals; All Hallows, All Souls, All Saints, Remembrance Sunday, various Saints days, the Annunciation (visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary), Corpus Christi (Thanksgiving for Holy Communion) etc so there’s usually a chance for a change of pace if we want it.
So thank you Izzle for that insight into the joys of ordinary time. It doesn’t have to be boring – the key lies in our willingness to be appreciative I guess. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings……