2 Pentecost, Year C
The Rev. R. Bingham Powell
We are now at the halfway point in the church year. Exactly six months ago, on December 2nd, we began the year on the 1st Sunday of Advent. The first half of the year is full of the feasts and fasts. Of course, we have the great feasts of Christmas and Easter, the two celebrations of the two events that are at the foundation of our faith, the two celebrations around which the rest of the church year is structured. But the time in between is full of celebrations and special events. We have Epiphany, The Baptism of our Lord, the Presentation, Transfiguration, and Shrove Tuesday. Then, we have the great solemn events of Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, before celebrating again on Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. We have rapidly moved through the seasons during these six months. We have made it through five of the six seasons in just six months!The altar guild has had to frequently change of the colors from purple to white to green to purple to red to white to red to white to green! The lessons during this time have matched the event we've been remembering - the story of Christ's birth on Christmas, the story of the magi on Epiphany, the story of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness in Lent, and so on. The first six months have been a liturgical roller coaster.
We have now arrived at the second half of the year. In the second half, we only get one season. Think about that for a moment - five seasons in six months, one season for the next six months. This season is great only in length. Otherwise it isn't even deemed worthy enough to get its own name, simply called the Season after Pentecost. We often call it Ordinary Time. Our vestments and church hangings stay green, except for two Sundays. The lessons aren't selected to match a seasonal event, but we simply read books in order. We start with the seventh chapter of Luke, and we will read it straight through to the twenty-third chapter. Our Epistle reading starts at the beginning of Galatians today, and we will read it straight through over the next few weeks, before moving on to Colossians, Hebrews, and so on. We will interrupt this sequential reading of Scripture, this relatively feast-less season, with only two feasts - St. Mary's Day and All Saints Day. Otherwise, we simply work our way through the scripture, week in and week out. We have no great highs nor great lows this season. The roller coaster is done.
At first glance, it might not seem like a vey important time, this nameless season after Pentecost, this Ordinary Time, but in many ways it is the most important time. For most of life isn't lived in the great highs or the great lows. Those periods are important. The great highs and lows - births and deaths, marriages and divorces, illness and healing, graduations and new beginnings - shape our lives just as Christmas and Easter shape the Church year, but we spend most of our lives and most of the church year in the ordinary time, the boring time, the in-between time, the nameless time,the drudgery, the daily routine of sleeping and waking, of cooking meals and washing dishes, of brushing teeth and getting dressed, of commuting to work and pouring a cup of coffee or tea to get through the day. Day in and day out, week in and week out, moving forward, or backwards, one step at a time. That is where most of life is lived.
One of the greatest gifts of this season is the reminder that God is not just found in in the great joy of Christmas and Easter, or in the heavenly in-breaking moment of Jesus' baptism, or up on the mountain-top of the Transfiguration, or in the solemn, earthy, thin-place of Ash Wednesday, or in the pressure-cooker of faith development that we call Lent. But God is found here, in this very ordinary moment, this ordinary season,
even this is holy.
That's one of the greatest things that Jesus did, taking the ordinary and making it holy. Like when he took the ordinary things of bread and wine, grain and grapes, and said that these were holy things: The Body and Blood of Christ. Like when he took ordinary people - fishers, and tax collectors, and sinners, and said that these are holy people: The ongoing Body of Christ in this world.
The challenge put before us this season - the next 6 months, half of the year - is to figure out how to see how the ordinariness of it all is special and holy, how the mundane of life can be sanctified by God, how God breaks into the daily routine of our lives, and how even the ordinary may be a bit extraordinary. For that is a great treasure, the greatest treasure perhaps, when we can see God where we end up spending most of our lives; not just up on the mountain or down in the pit, but in our commute to work, in our washing of the dishes, in listening to music, in spending time with our family and our friends, in the simple acts of breathing, walking, and loving.
My sisters and brothers in Christ: open your eyes to see, open your ears to hear, open your mouth to taste, open your hands to feel the presence of God in your life this moment and every ordinary moment you live.