We have seen the seasons and colours of the church change from Advent to Pentecost, from purple to white to red, a rainbow of color as we pass from one important season to the next. And now all of that is over, and all that we can see stretching ahead of us is a sea of green. What lies ahead is week after week of "the Season after Pentecost" coming in an endless succession until we reach the next year in the church and begin the cycle again.|
It is interesting that this time in the church does not have its own name; it is merely called "the season after Pentecost." The time itself is not given the importance of being named, but instead is marked only in relation to Pentecost, a day of actual importance. This lengthy, unnamed, seemingly unimportant season is often also called "Ordinary Time." Rather than meaning "common" or "mundane," this term comes from the word "ordinal," which simply means "counted time," because we number the Sundays from here on out in order from the First Sunday after Pentecost, all the way up to the Last Sunday after Pentecost, known as Christ the King, twenty eight Sundays from now. That's right; twenty eight weeks of this church year will be spent in Ordinary Time.
We do tend to think that if something is "ordinary" it is unnecessary or of less value. However, Ordinary time reminds us that God is in every aspect of our lives, and our time, even the "ordinary" parts. So just as most of our life is spent doing ordinary things, most of the church year is ordinary time. The ordinary days of life are really, then, just as important as the extraordinary ones.
Think of all the "ordinary" days that Jesus spent with the disciples, in which no teaching or miracle was recorded. Think of the time spent on the road, or resting. Think of the journeys of Paul, and the many days and hours he must have spent just being with people, in which no major event occurred. These times were just as important as the times we read about in the New Testament.
This season in the church is a time to grapple with the nuts and bolts of our faith, not coasting on the joy and elation of Christmas, or wallowing in the penitential feel of Lent, but instead just being exactly where we are, and trying to live our faith in that moment.
Traditionally the color for this has been green, and it is a fitting choice. Green has long been associated with new life and growth. It is a time to feed and water our faith with chances for education and personal study. It is a time to weed and prune our faith, cutting off the parts that may be dead and leaving them behind. And we have a lot of growing to do, so God has given us most of the church year in which to do it.
This "Ordinary Time" is a profound theological statement. It is a reminder of the presence of God in and through the most mundane and ordinary seasons of our lives. It is a reminder that when God came and lived among us in the person of Jesus Christ, he experienced the same ordinary reality that we all experience. And that God, in Christ, offered us the opportunity to transform the most ordinary, mundane experiences into extraordinary events infused with the presence of God. God is there, present in the midst of the ordinary, just waiting for us to recognize it. So when you hear that we are in "ordinary" time, please know that this is not a "throwaway" season, but instead is vital to all of our time being under the Lordship of Christ.
Rev'd Fr. Colin Humes