Early last week, our family took down all of our Christmas decorations. We took the lights off the tree, carefully wrapped up our ever-expanding ornament collection and packed away the nativity set for another year. Each year I love putting up our decorations. I love the vibe they give to our house and the expectancy they bring to the Christmas season. Each year when it comes time to put them away I find myself not wanting to say goodbye. After just having been through a month filled with anticipation and excitement, putting away the decorations is like stepping back into reality. Everything goes back to the way that it was.
As a church, over the last few years, we have tried to embrace the different seasons of the liturgical calendar. The two most notable season are, Advent, which prepare us for Christmas, and Lent, which prepares us for Easter. After a few years of observing these rhythms, I thought to myself, “There has got to be more to the church calendar than just Christmas and Easter.” So I decided to do a little research. And while I found some other important dates and days, I also came across this image.
Notice how each season is marked and has a color associated with it. Also notice which season is the longest and what it is called, “Ordinary Time.” I was fully expecting the liturgical calendar to be a whole lot more complicated and exciting than this. We say that the story of Jesus is the greatest story ever told and I thought, for sure, there would be a lot of excitement and pizzaz in the yearly calendar rhythm. When I stumbled upon this I was shocked. “Ordinary Time? Really? There has got to be a better name to call it than that?”
But the truth of the matter is, most of our lives are lived in ordinary moments. Aren’t they? We get up. Brush our teeth. Go about our day. Most likely we see the same handful of people every day. Get to the gym. Come home and do it all over again.
I think the reason why I hate to say goodbye to Christmas and put the decorations away, is because it moves us back into “ordinary time.” And deep in my heart I believe that God doesn’t meet me in the ordinary space of life, in the mundane, the day-in and day-out routines. I’m always looking for God in the extraordinary, the burning bush, the lightning from heaven. And at the heart of it, I am afraid of being ordinary. I want my life to be glamorous and fabulous. And what this exposes about my deepest beliefs, is that I believe abundant living is found in the extraordinary, not the ordinary.
But perhaps, the simplicity of the liturgical calendar is what makes it so radical. It stands as a tangible reminder that God is equally present in the ordinary as He is in the extraordinary. Therefore, we don’t need to fear the ordinary because that’s exactly where God lives. And while there may not be a whole lot to “celebrate” during Ordinary Time, God is still at work and on the move. Therefore, we should move into ordinary time with the same expectancy we have when we enter into Advent, Christmas and Easter.
Where are you finding God in the ordinary moments of life?