19 August 2005

thoughts on ordinary time

I've been wanting to write about what the title of this space signifies to me. I've been thinking this through for the last week while I've been too busy to really sit and write. My summer course is over, so now I have a chance to try and put the swirling thoughts into coherent sentences.

I'll begin with what "ordinary time" technically refers to, because that was and is my starting point. Ordinary time is the season after Pentecost. The time after Pentecost is counted time, measured within our knowledge of the liturgical year.

This is the core of what ordinary time means: we are living with the knowledge of the resurrection, in the shadow of Easter. In the same moment, we are living in expectation of the advent of Christ, the incarnation of the Word. We are caught between times of great moment, marking the Sundays as we travel simultaneously away and toward something extraordinary.

But we are also learning to live out the Gospel in the world that surrounds us. We are revisiting the life and teachings of Jesus and assimilating those into the framework of a crucified, buried, and resurrected Messiah. We re-examine the miracles, the parables, the teachings in expectation of Christ the incarnate, the God in man made manifest in midwinter.

Ordinary time is about living and being the extraordinary in the regularity of life, about seeing the extraordinary in the smallest, the simplest, the most commonplace. It is bracketed by two extraordinary events, the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and lives in tension between the two. But the center of ordinary time is the message of Christ and how to live out that message in the midst of life: the everyday, the high points, the moments of despair. How can we live the Good News in every day? How can we manifest the teachings of Jesus? How can we be the extraordinary people God call us to be in the seemingly most ordinary moments?

That is what ordinary time is to me: living with the knowledge of the Resurrection, living in expectation of the Incarnation, and living out the good news of Christ in the world as it finds us.