The graduation party season is upon us, and it is always a fun time to gather for picnics, barbecue, and celebrations lauding this accomplishment. Perhaps the most asked question at graduation parties is, “So what are you going to do now?” We assume that earning a diploma or degree is the catalyst that will enable someone to pursue new opportunities. Once the celebrations end, what new reality will begin to unfold?
We’re entering a similar period in the Church year. From Advent to Pentecost we gathered to retell and celebrate God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. We marveled at Christ’s birth, gave thanks for his ministry, prepared for his sacrifice, wept at his death, rejoiced at his resurrection, exulted in his ascension, and celebrated the sending of his Spirit. Now what?
What are we to do now? Is Christ’s triumph the catalyst that will enable us to pursue new opportunities? Now that the celebrations of Advent, Easter, and Pentecost are over, will a new reality begin to unfold?
It should. The second “half” of the Church year into which we’ve just entered is a long stretch of time that we call “Ordinary Time”. Here’s how Philip Reinders put it:
With all the big holidays and celebrations over, Ordinary Time offers us the space to find our place in God’s story. We’ve celebrated and taken in the momentous life of Jesus; now we need a long stretch of days to absorb and assimilate it. In Ordinary Time, we fully take in the gospel, allowing it to take shape in our daily living, making connections between Jesus’ story and our lives.
‘Ordinary’ doesn’t mean boring or second-rate, but simply ‘everyday’. The Christian faith is not an otherworldly faith; it’s about this creation, your life, these days. Ordinary Time gives us the space to consider all the implications of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ for our day by day, week-in, week-out lives.
Many people view summer as a chance to catch your breath, relax, and disentangle from the cares and worries of the world. It becomes a time of vacations and projects, of entertainment and play. We settle into new rhythms and patterns, only to be shocked out of them more quickly than we’d like.
Though Ordinary Time is a time that “offers us space to find our place in God’s story”, that doesn’t mean that we are to disengage from our discipleship or ‘take a vacation’ from the faith. On the contrary, this is a season for us to pursue Christ’s call more diligently, having been reminded once again of who he is and what he has done for his people. It is a season for us to live into the new reality brought about by the resurrection of the King.
Viewed this way, Ordinary Time cannot be boring or pedantic. It means being invested in the worship and fellowship of the covenant community and in the lives of those around you. Some things may slow down for you this summer. That can be a good thing. But don’t let your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ be one of those things. Take some ‘ordinary’ time to rejoice in our extraordinary God and pursue the new opportunities that you’ve been given in him.