Ordinary Time is a season of participation with Jesus in the building of his church.
By Jillian Morrison, Associate Pastor, Glendora, CA
GCI President, Greg Williams recently reminded us that Ordinary Time is the season to be attentive to the call of discipleship and disciple making. He encouraged us to use the season to focus more on what we are called to do and what we are called to be, as we participate with Christ.
Followers of Jesus go through this season with a posture of being sent and joining Jesus in disciple making. Followers of Jesus must also be mindful to honor God and our human limitations through restful rhythms.
Human beings were not made to work 24/7, but I think many of us wish we could. Living in a culture that rewards productivity and accepts workaholism makes the spiritual discipline of rest one of the most difficult to practice. We must learn to view rest not only as a treat, but a necessity.
The first pages of the Bible reveal a God who works and then rests. Since humans are made in God’s image, we therefore honor our God-given image when we honor our God-given limits. Rest reminds us that we are finite beings and that our value is not based on what we accomplish. We are perfectly loved and completely valuable simply when we do nothing but spend time resting, meditating, enjoying hobbies. It’s also a good time to sit and think – about God, about our family, about our blessings, about our congregations.
It is common to feel tired when we push ourselves day in and day out. We tend to be so hard on ourselves, so we need to learn self-care. We need to learn to relax and be gentle with our emotions. Life can be very emotional and demanding, but we should not feel guilty about needing to stop and recharge.
If we offer ourselves a more balanced rhythm of work and rest, there’s a much smaller risk of us burning out. If we take our work seriously, then we must also take rest seriously.
Saint Augustine of Hippo states this famous passage from his autobiographical work Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We cannot give to others what we ourselves are not receiving from the Lord.
- What exhausts you or keeps you working past your limits?
- When and where do you most deeply rest? Who helps you rest?
- What is it like for you to set aside time to play? How regular and inviolable is that time?
- Write down what a perfect day of rest and recreation would look like to you. Is it within the realm of possibility? Plan when you can take this day or a version of it. Schedule it on your calendar.
- Intentionally place yourself in the presence of God, then do something you delight in: go for a walk, take a nap, talk to a friend, have a cup of coffee, play a game. Enjoy yourself in God. Receive the gift of rest and talk with God about what happens in you as you try to rest.
- Consider whether or not your tiredness is about body or soul. What kind of rest would refresh your body: exercise, a nap, going to bed early? What kind of rest would refresh your soul: retreat, sleep, music, reading, centering prayer? Choose two times each week when you will intentionally enter into rest for body and soul.
- Think about your childhood experience of play. What was it like for you? How does your past experience affect your ability to play today? What is fun for you right now? Plan some time for play and fun into your week.
Making disciples is the church’s main role in the world. The church was created by God to be sent into the world to participate in what he is already doing: God’s redemptive mission to renew and restore all things through the transforming power of Jesus. Followers of Jesus (i.e. the church) make disciples and disciple people through our relationships, both old and new.
The words “discipline” and “disciple” come from the Latin root discipulus, meaning “student,” “learner,” or “follower.” Being a disciple of Jesus means learning from Jesus, humbly following his ways, and being teachable. Jesus teaches us to make disciples and disciple others by first learning to live like him. We help people learn to live like Jesus as we model the life and teachings of Jesus and articulate his truth expressed in God’s Word.
Bobby Gross says this on inhabiting Ordinary Time:
In this season, we settle into the spiritual rhythms of living as disciples of Jesus. We gather in our churches and disperse into our neighborhoods. We worship and we witness. We seek to grow as individuals and we serve the needs of others. We rest our bodies and refresh our souls and we set out to do our God-given work. We engage in these rhythms day in and day out, week in and week out.
Every follower of Jesus is already a missionary in their own context. Through healthy rhythms of work and rest, every missionary can confidently join God’s mission of ongoing restoration.
- Talk to God about the desires and fears you have related to being a dedicated disciple of Jesus.
- Who do you want to become? What do you want to be remembered for when you die?
- What is it like for you to share your faith with others?
- What would make it easier and more comfortable for you to talk about what Christ has done for you?
- What is it like for you to interact with people who have different beliefs than you?
- What disciplines resonate with the desires of your heart today? Do you sense God calling you into a new practice, relationship, or experience that can help you grow as a disciple?
- Make a list of people you are praying will respond to God. Beside each name list one intentional way you can embody Christ to them in the next month.
- Write an account of how God has been at work in your life in the past six months. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive and open to an opportunity to share your experience with a friend.
God bless you church, as you participate with Jesus’ extraordinary rest and work in this season of Ordinary Time.
 Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 65.
 Jon Ritner, Positively Irritating: Embracing a Post-Christian World to Form a More Faithful & Innovative Church (100Mpublishing.com: 100 Movements Publishing, 2020), 47.
 Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 234.
 Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, 137, 161.