Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ordinary Time

You might have heard the phrase, “Ordinary Time,” referring to the periods, in our liturgical calendar, from the Baptism of the Lord to Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday to the Reign of Christ Sunday. I haven’t counted them, but there are 34 such Sundays in the year. “Ordinary,” in this case, doesn’t mean, “with no special or distinctive features; normal.” Rather, from the Latin, it means, “numbered or in order.” So the reason I didn’t have to count the ordinary Sundays is that someone else already did.

(Okay, before someone catches me, sometimes there are 33 Sundays in Ordinary Time, all because Easter Day is a movable feast.)

Essentially, the Ordinary Times in our Church year are those times that are not Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter. Ordinary Time is by far the longest season in the year.

Now, you’re not going to hear me say, “Welcome to the fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time,” because we call the Sundays “in Epiphany” in the winter, and “after Pentecost” in the summer and fall. Just to add to the confusion, these used to be called Sundays, “after Trinity” in the Book of Common Prayer.

The stories featured in the Gospel readings tend to be ones that tell the stories of Jesus teaching, either through parables or by his actions. It is therefore thought of as a time of growth and the liturgical colour is green (a colour associated with growth).

I encourage everyone to use this season as a time of growth, as a time to hear these extra-ordinary stories from the Bible to help feed our personal growth.

One way to think about the readings from the Gospels during this season is to ask the question, “why did the writer think it was important to tell this particular story?” In other words, “what does the writer want me to know by telling this story?” These questions apply to the stories Jesus told, as well as the stories told about him. It is helpful to think of the whole of Jesus like as parables, short stories telling us something about God. They might be ordered, but there’s nothing ordinary about them.

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