Ordinary Time – the Days that Matter the Most

People who follow the “Christian Year” know that the Bible readings from December through Pentecost are designed to cover the story of God’s restorative plan for the cosmos revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Today begins the long stretch in that same calendar called “Ordinary Time”.

Ordinary is a word we don’t use much at all, and nearly never in a flattering way.  “It was an ordinary day” means that nothing exciting happened.  “Just another day…” we say, to describe the days that aren’t holidays, marriages, funerals, promotions, graduations, births, deaths, automobile accidents, or winning the lottery.  For many, life is lived mostly in the waiting room of the ordinary, as we anticipate vacation, a party, a promotion, whatever. “As soon as…” becomes our mantra, our means of injecting hope into our lives, and the result is that we spend most of our days in anticipation of living rather than actually living.

A new price tag for the ordinary.

What if, instead of viewing the ordinary as mundane, we could learn how to view ordinary time and ordinary days as sacred?  When that happens, everything changes, because now every day is shot through with glory, beauty, and revelation of the divine all around us. When that happens:

1. We’ll hear the birds singing in the morning, and offer thanks for their gift of song.

2. We’ll see the person sitting with us at the breakfast table, and wonder at her beauty and wisdom, giving thanks that the mercy of God has sustained our marriage for 33 years.

3. We’ll taste our oatmeal, and bacon, and coffee, and pray that our bodies will be strengthened, as we recognize that in the wealth of our fulness, we’re called to bless and serve others.

4. We’ll marvel at the clouds and the way the sunlight penetrates them, painting shafts of light across the backdrop of blue, and we’ll give thanks for beauty.

5. We’ll ask that God grant us the ability to listen today.  That we’ll be spared from the ordinary sins of fear and presumption that cause us to consistently move either too quickly or too slowly.

I don’t think this is starry eyed romanticism, because I have about a hundred e-mails I need to clear out of my box today, plus four meetings, plus several important leadership projects that need attention.  You might have three children at home, and a sleepless night, or a long commute in a mess of Monday traffic.  It’s all very ordinary stuff, and all of us live in it, and most of the time.

The point, though, is that the ordinary is also filled with the glorious if we can learn to see it, and give thanks for it.  Jesus talked about having eyes but not seeing; ears but not hearing.  Paul spoke of the necessity for us to “wake up and arise from the dead” which was, I believe, a way of challenging us to see what Christ is offering us: beauty, hope, joy, instruction, challenge, EVERY ORDINARY DAY of the year.

It’s tempting to think that life is shaped by the big moments, both tragic and glorious.  They surely contribute to our shaping, but nothing shapes us more than ordinary days, like this Monday in May – it’s the only day you have for joy, service, gratitude, generosity, service.  May you live it to the full.

O God of the ordinary days

Grant that our eyes and ears would be attuned to see and hear You today

In creation’s glory 

In every conversation

With each bite of food

In every annoyance and challenge

In weariness and strength

In laughter and tears

In the quiet and loud

And most of all, in the gloriously ordinary.  

May we find You, and rejoice. 

Amen

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.


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