Ordinary Times?

Ordinary Times?

In the Church of England liturgical calendar, we have just entered into what is called ‘Ordinary Time’. It stretches out before us for 23 weeks until the Sunday before Advent at the end of November. Having had the celebrations of Easter and Pentecost you could be forgiven for thinking that this period of time is a bit of an anti-climax where church becomes rather ordinary and every day –  even boring! We do like our high days and holy days and crave the special events where we can pull out all the stops. In her brilliant bible study book ‘Everyday God – The Spirit of the Ordinary’ eminent theologian Paula Gooder writes: “Ordinariness is not exhilarating; it does not imply stimulation or interest [but] in these periods is a richness, a depth of potential experience which we need to encounter”.

 

In what appears to be the ordinariness of life we can continue to glimpse the extraordinariness of God involved in our everyday life, especially if we care to keep on seeking and connecting. I love the Celtic invocation of the Holy Spirit to come to us from “where ordinary is made glorious and glory seems but ordinary”. It kind of makes the point I’m trying to make here.

 

God is an everyday God! We can know God to be among us in the ordinary rhythm of life not just on Sundays, special events or festivals.  We can know God while cutting the grass, cleaning the pots, doing the shopping because God is not apart from us. The Incarnation ‘God with us’ is not just for Christmas, it’s for life! The early Christian church learnt this as they began to reach out into their communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Studying together, praying together, eating together, worshipping together and doing evangelism together they learnt that God was among them always in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Their spiritual lives became established in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary times of life and the church grew because of this. Faith strengthens when little and weak faith is put into practice. Even when persecuted and tormented or facing death by those who sought to put an end to Christianity, faith grew during the ordinariness of life.

 

So instead of seeing ‘Ordinary Time’ as a period of spiritual wilderness or treading water it should be a time of growth while prayerfully seeking God in all areas of life, both as individuals and as the church.

 

To this end, our day together as a benefice on 15th July is an important day and I would encourage you to make it a priority as we seek to be an ordinary church serving an extraordinary Lord. It is a day of exploring where God may be leading us in the coming months and years. Let us continue always to Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

 

Nigel Chapman

Vicar