It may still be summer and nights may be feeling like fall, but according to the church calendar this is Ordinary Time. Admittedly, this time of year can feel ordinary — plain, average, lacking special distinction, rank, or status. The dog days of August?
In this case the “ordinary” in “Ordinary Time” comes from the word ordinal, meaning rank in a series. We can consider Ordinary Time as counted time. Have you ever noticed the “count up” happening on the worship bulletins, “ninth Sunday after Pentecost,” “tenth Sunday after Pentecost,” etc. Next Sunday ask your kids to notice what week we are on!
Ordinary Time occurs from the day after Pentecost until the first Sunday in Advent. This year it lasts from June 13 to November 26, 2011. That’s a long time – it takes up the biggest chunk of the annual pie shown on the right. Incidentally, Pentecost is the smallest slice of the pie – it lasts only one day! (Pentecost, celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, marks the day when the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples.)
It would be easy to consider the days of Ordinary Time not as ordinal time but as, well — ordinary! Other occasions in the church calendar are marked by rich meaning: Christmas, Lent, and Easter — no question, something big is happening in those areas of the church calendar! But there’s nothing special happening in Ordinary Time.
Or is there?
Might I challenge you to change your perception of Ordinary Time by practicing one small, ah, ordinal thing?
Count the extraordinary in the everyday ordinary.
Seek God in the ordinary events of life. Whether it is in the natural world around you or the wonder of people interacting, or something as simple as laughter. Notice the presence of God in the commonplace. Keeping an ordinal list can help you obverse the extraordinary ordinary that is happening all around you!
How will you note ordinary time as extraordinary?
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Kids on a dock photo by anolobb who licensed this photo under: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic. Rest of photos, from my archives. View the chart I created here.