Today, with Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany in the rear-view mirror, the “Christian Year” moves into what is known as “Ordinary Time; ” it lasts until Ash Wednesday, which – this year – falls on February 18.
So why would anyone care? Or, more importantly, why would this be of any interest to my readers? I know that visitors to this site are not exclusively Christian, and I doubt that many of you who are believers give more than a passing thought to a liturgical calendar rooted in the ecclesiastical methodology of the church in Rome.
I have two answers for us to consider:
One, Ordinary Rocks: Speaking for myself, I thrive on the ordinary. Sure, I loved Christmas, and I had fun visiting all the various family groupings over the New Year. But when you include Advent it turns out we’ve been celebrating pretty-much non-stop since the week of Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you but I’m a little tired!
I tend to be more productive when I can count on a full week of ordinary work, a schedule where I know I can get some uninterrupted writing in for several consecutive days, a full week (or three) where I can actually establish a routine. For one thing there’s that new book I’ve been trying to write since last summer!
Two: Sacred rhythms: If you have read my Lenten study, “Reaching Toward Easter,” then you’ll be familiar with my thoughts on this.
There is a beauty and a spiritual economy to the cadence of a faith-based calendar. If all 52 Sundays look exactly the same, we’d be missing so much; if every moment of our spiritual life is much like the previous and the same as the next, that’s a tragically narrow focus; if we don’t take deliberate steps to appreciate and to celebrate the many and varied aspects of God, and the broad reach of the divine into this world, then we will have limited our exposure to and our appreciation of so much of the wonder.
Ordinary time, then, is an essential element of the complete picture in a balanced, well-nourished, spiritual life.
EXTRAORDINARY! This is where we live, this day-in, day-out ebb-and-flow or the ordinary life. We may be ordinary people, living in Ordinary Time, but our Creator – who endowed us with so many good gifts – purposes us to live extraordinary lives through his amazing initiatives of grace.
“As God’s chosen ones,” then, “holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:12-17