Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A life more ordinary…

… isn’t quite the name of a film I half-remember watching. But this is the time of year when we move into the period the Church calls “Ordinary Time.” It’s all those times when we’re not celebrating Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter. So it starts the day after Pentecost, Whit Sunday - and will continue for the best part of the next six months.

Each season has its own liturgical colour - the colour of the vestments worn by the priest and any hangings in church. For Easter it’s been white or gold and Pentecost brings us a final flourish of red depicting the colour of those flames of fire which signified the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles. For Ordinary Time it’s green. I think that’s intentional. As I write, my already overgrown garden is an overwhelmingly lush green. It’s the colour of life - the stuff that grows whether we help it to or not. In church, the colour green is symbolic of God’s life enriching our lives, filling us with grace and power.

That word “ordinary” is one we need to get right. It doesn’t mean boring or uneventful. It’s about all the things we need to keep happening so we can grow and so that God’s purposes for us may be fulfilled. As we move into this season, I find my diary changing its character: not marked so much by the unfolding of the Church’s year as we follow Christ’s life from birth and infancy to his death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit - as by the implications for how we live our lives in response. So I’m now into the round of Baptisms and Marriages which are so much a staple of church life but also so significant and special for individuals, couples and families. We find the specialness of God speaking to us in the ordinariness of life.

We go on marking that with the round of church services and events. “Messy Church” is becoming well-established and is huge fun - it’s having an effect not merely on the children and their parents who come but on leaders and helpers who make it happen. But don’t forget those quieter occasions. Our monthly “Open for Prayer” - prayer is at the heart of our lives as Christians; to be intentionally silent for this time is a deep reminder of this. “Tea and Sympathy” in its response to bereavement tells of our calling to service and pastoral care. And there are the many other opportunities simply to come together to recognise that God speaks to us day by day - and not always where we expect.

We haven’t yet worked out everything we might be doing this month - keep an eye open for more, and ask “how is God working for me?”

Martin Jackson
(taken from the June 2014 issue of St. Cuthbert's Parish Magazine)

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