What is Ordinary Time? – by the Rev. Michael Wallens

On the liturgical calendar, we are in the middle of what is known as “Ordinary Time.” It is the time between two major cycles of seasons: Advent/Christmas/Epiphany and Lent/Easter/Pentecost.

I am constantly inspired and challenged by the human capacity to dance, laugh and sing even in times of deep suffering. So it is no surprise that the Church calendar contains seasons of great celebration. But what happens when the party is over?

Ordinary Time leads us deeper into the slow but strong growth of the hidden, quiet, silent spirit. In Ordinary Time there is no need for dressing up, no special feasts, or particular occasion. Rather, there is a simple invitation to come into the kitchen of our faith and sit at the family table, where sustenance is found in comfortable conversation and the basic nourishment of daily, routine meals.

The temptation is to go looking for the next high; the next experience in order to avoid facing the ordinariness of life. I suspect that the celebrity-focused, adrenalin-fuelled, success-driven culture of western society is a product of this avoidance, and of our addiction to the extra-ordinary; the larger-than-life; the “winning-is-everything” attitude.

Even our worship yields to this temptation. It’s the endless search for the next hit worship song, leader or idea. It’s the constant pressure that preachers and musicians face to create “wow” experiences for fear that if people don’t get a big enough rush, they’ll go somewhere else.

And so, I am immensely grateful for the long season known simply as “Ordinary Time.” In this season, we are reminded that the most significant part of God’s work in us happens not in times of great visible significance, but in the midst of ordinary, everyday living and loving. Ordinary Time calls us back to a celebration of the ordinary, normal routine.

This fall, let us hear again the call of the ordinary. Let us learn the power of the routine and the simple. Let us commit to building, slowly and well, the edifice of worship that is made strong and beautiful through repeated acts of prayer, ritual and music. Let us embrace Ordinary Time as potentially the most ‘extraordinary’ season of the year.

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