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Ordinary Time

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Most of us describe our lives in terms of their biggest moments: births and deaths, weddings and graduations, diagnoses and promotions. Similarly, the church calendar gives us a liturgy to follow in order to celebrate and be present in each season. Most of us are familiar with the seasonal celebrations: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Epiphany, and Pentecost. However, between these seasons of celebration, the majority of the church year, and therefore the majority of our lives, is spent in what’s known as “Ordinary Time.”

There is some debate about the meaning of the word “ordinary” when used in reference to the church calendar. One view is that it means ordinal: “of or relating to an order”. The other is that it means just what it says, ordinary: “of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional”. I prefer the second definition, because, if we’re honest, most of our lives are pretty unexceptional. They aren’t just a highlight reel of large celebrations or huge moments, but everyday rhythms in the ordinary things of life.

As the seasons of the church year each coordinate with an event in the life of Christ - his birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and promise of return, Ordinary Time is when we study the everyday faithfulness shown in the life of Jesus while he was here on Earth. And just like the the church calendar and our own lives, the majority of Christ’s life was spent in the in-between. In order to know how we should be living in Ordinary Time, we can (and should!) look to the life of Christ. Jesus lived his life on Earth as a faithful servant, teacher, and friend continuously submitting himself in humble obedience to the will of the Father.

The church calendar also correlates colors with each of the seasons for decorum, and the color for Ordinary Time is green: the color of growth. It’s in these in-between seasons that our growth takes place. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day: in the appointments, the never-ending to-do lists, and the regular, everyday stuff of life. But it is in these mundane things that we grow. There we put in the work to live our lives more like Christ - submitting all of our days, as ordinary as they may be, faithfully to our Father.

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