Ordinary Time?

In the GCI Worship calendar, we are now under what is called “Ordinary Time”the time between Pentecost and Christ the King Sunday. It’s a time that celebrates the mystery of the church and the mystery of Christ living in us.

The word ordinary can sound boring, simple, and non-energetic, yet most of our days would fall under the category of ordinary time. We don’t celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special events every day; most of our year is spent living a rather ordinary life—however that looks to each person. This doesn’t imply the rest of the year is less important, less effective, or less essential. It is during this “ordinary time” that our work is done, our projects are completed, our day-to-day life is lived. This is the key to our Christian walk during Ordinary Time.

Let me back up a bit, and then explore “Ordinary Time” in the GCI Worship Calendar.

Ordinary time begins with the beginning of the church at Pentecost and ends with celebrating the anticipation of Christ’s return on Christ the King Sunday. Both of these events would be considered far from ordinary. During Pentecost God showed up in a powerful way through wind and fire and the miracle of tongues. We can only imagine the powerful return of Christ. Other events during this time include Trinity Sunday—where the church gives special attention to the doctrine of the triune God, and All Saints Day—a special day some congregations hold honoring those who have been called home the previous year. Ordinary Time takes up more than half the year—a long time between the major events in Christ’s life and the church. But ordinary doesn’t mean less meaningful. Ordinary time reminds us that God doesn’t just show up in extraordinary ways. God is always present, always working in and through us. And though we may call it ordinary time, with Christ, nothing is ever ordinary. But imagine if it was.

What would the church be like if we really were 24/7 365 day participants with Jesus? What if “ordinary” for a church would consist of that church being a light of Jesus’ love for others all the time, and well known for doing so? What if it would be viewed as unnatural (not ordinary) for a congregation to not have an open door policy, or for a congregation to not have provisions for the poor, or for a church building to not be the gathering place for a community? How cool would it be if we changed what ordinary looks like for the church? How amazing will it be when a GCI healthy church is considered the norm—a new ordinary? Too high an aspiration? I don’t believe so.

I think we also need to look at ordinary time on a personal level. How would my life change if I was so in tune with Jesus’ heart that I wasn’t surprised every time God did something miraculous. Perhaps I wouldn’t call something a miracle because seeing God’s involvement was normal—ordinary? What if my day-to-day life, my work, my projects were all centered around my relationship with Jesus—or more importantly—his relationship with me? What if sharing the love and life of Jesus with others was my ordinary? And this, I believe, is one of our aspirations for Ordinary Time in our GCI Worship Calendar.

The heart of ordinary time is sharing the love and life of Christ with others—it is participating in the mission and ministry of God. It is the time “we reveal his light, we exhibit his life and we embody his love.”[1] This can be said in many ways—it is walking the walk, putting ministry and mission to practice, being the church, being deployed, being the hands and feet of Jesus, being Christ to others, living and sharing the gospel.

At Pentecost, the disciples received the Holy Spirit and were sent out. This was not a one-time event. Jesus lives in us through the Holy Spirit and sends us out to “lose our life for his sake.” He calls us to walk with him to the point it is ordinary. “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).

He calls us to be his ambassadors of reconciliation. Every believer is called to love others as Jesus loves us—to give ourselves to others, to enter their place, to share God’s love and life and make disciples. “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:5). Ordinary Time is given to us to reflect on all that Jesus does, is doing, and will do and how being in relationship with him impacts us and others. This is a time of discipleship—focusing on who we are called to be and what we are called to do. It is a time of focusing on the mystery of Christ in us, our hope of glory.

Jesus poured himself out in love, and we know what it is like to be a recipient of that love. We know what it is like to live in the good news! We know what it is like to be forgiven, adopted, loved and included. We are reminded of who Jesus is, what he has done and what he is doing through the rest of the worship year. During Ordinary Time, we focus on how to share the truth of his love with others every day. We want others to be in relationship with Jesus to the point that knowing Jesus’ love becomes ordinary—and yet always extraordinary.

Looking forward to a new ordinary,

Rick Shallenberger

 

[1] Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 227.

9 thoughts on “Ordinary Time?”

  1. Thanks Rick. I work part-time for a grocery store. The store’s top core value is to treat customers, working peers and suppliers the way we want to be treated. The corporation may not know this is Jesus’ golden rule but they value it and uphold it. It attracts increasing numbers of loyal customers, They express gratitude for this “ordinary” commitment to them. Thanks to God’s grace alone, my awareness of Jesus’ presence compels me to forget “self”, consider other’s needs and help them.Our pastor Leonard leads Abundant Grace Church to do the ordinary by living and sharing the gospel.

  2. Thank you Rick, you made it clear that this Ordinary time is really an Extraordinary time in line with the fact that the way up is down, to be exalted you have to be humble, to be great, you have to be a servant, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Sylva, GCI Nigeria

  3. Thanks so much, Rick, for that detailed explanation of what “Ordinary” Time means. It’s rather new to my walk with Christ since it wasn’t a part of our church teachings most of my life. But what a great way to think of our normal, ordinary days to be partnering with one another in participation with the Holy Spirit in simply being the Church.

  4. Thank you for the information, Rick. I have to be honest and admit that I was not aware of the Christ the King Sunday. This is not a “complain” but simply I am admitting my “ignorance” about the “subject.”

    In Christ love,

    Iris Hill
    Portugal

  5. Yes!! Love this – thank you, Rick! Definitely looking for a new ordinary & grateful for every step towards Jesus!

  6. Thank you Rick for this extraordinary article that has changed how I view of the extraordinary works of God and tells my heart that I can view the doings of our extraordinary Savior as an ordinary happening in our lives. That alone is extraordinary!

    I guess for me, witnessing the interaction of God in our lives in tangible ways that can only be explained as his influence through the Holy Spirit’s involvement in humanity’s daily happenings just wows me to no end. I can’t help but find it extraordinary that the creator of all things cares about even the smallest things we experience in this life we’ve been given.

    Looking forward to walking in this “ordinary” way of thinking about my king’s love for us all.

  7. Rick, WOW WOW! What a wonderful perspective on ordinary time. Simple and relevant to our personal and collective calling to participate with the Father, Jesus and Spirit in drawing all people to Him. Now, may I “not let the crisis of the times go to waste” but humbly live out Colossians 3:1-17 with the wisdom from above, James 3:17-18. This seems to dove tail with Greg’s update on healthy members making a healthy church.Thank you so much. So be it.

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