Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ordinary Time

Ordinary - commonplace, unexceptional, usual, normal

The church year has several seasons, the two most familiar being Advent, the four Sundays preceding Christmas, and Lent the forty days before Easter.

Ordinary Time this year is from January 10 to February 7, and continues from May 15 to November 27.

There are practices noted to observe Advent and Lent, but there are no guidelines to honor Ordinary Time other than to recognize God at work in everyday life.

Jesus ministry occurred in the ordinary time of going from towns and villages, teaching and meeting people as they traveled and completed their normal tasks of daily living - shopping for food in the marketplace, tending sheep, planting crops and baking bread.

Encounters with Jesus long ago gave extraordinary meaning to ordinary days. The woman who found herself close enough in a crowed to touch the hem of Jesus' cloak experienced relief from twelve years of bleeding. The people who came to hear Jesus teach by the lake witnessed  five loaves of barley bread and two fish changed to feed five thousand people. When the disciples were in the middle of the lake rowing against the wind, Jesus appeared walking on water offering comfort.

Walking in a crowd, sitting by a lake, rowing a boat -all ordinary occurrences made extraordinary by seeing Jesus.

How can our ordinary, commonplace days become extraordinary as we encounter Jesus "in between" major holidays? I am suggesting three ways - reflection, service, prayer.

Reflection: Take few minutes at the end of your day. Imagine you and God are sitting side by side watching a video of everything that happened and every encounter you experienced. Consider these questions:

          When did I feel closest to God?
          Where did God bless me?
          How was I challenged?
         What word can I take from my day that speaks of God's presence?

Service: Simple acts of kindness wherever you go can bless others and honor Jesus' life of service and care of others. Here are a few suggestions:

          -- Look behind you when exiting a building. If someone is coming, hold the door open as they pass through.

          --Ask the cashier when you pay for purchases how he/she is doing or how the day is going.

          --Buy a card or write a note of encouragement to someone who is sick, lives alone, is lonely or struggling in some way.

Prayer: Praying for others brings you to God. New ways to pray may include the following"
          --Take your church directory and pray for those families under a different letter of the alphabet each day.

          --If you are stopped at a light, pray for the person beside, behind and in front of you.

          --When you walk or drive through your neighborhood, pray for those who surround you. Even if you do not know the person, you can make a general prayer to God for "those who live in this house."

          --Before you throw out your Christmas cards, pray for each individual or family. Taking this practice one step further: mail the sender a note that they were remembered in prayer.

These simple tasks of everyday living - reflection, acts of service, and prayer - can bring us to God, making each day holy and extraordinary.

What else can you think of to make Ordinary Time extraordinary? Let me know by sending an email to jreed46038 [@] hotmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Prayer: God, in whose presence we live and move, guide us to make "ordinary days" with you extraordinary by increasing our awareness of your presence through reflection, acts of service and prayer. Amen.

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