Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ordinary Time

There is great anticipation here in Oregon, and across the country, of this coming Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of Summer. Summer brings to mind images of rest, relaxation, warm days and (in Oregon, at least) cooler nights. In the church there is the inevitable Summer slowdown as people take off for vacation, or sometimes just take a vacation from church!

Liturgically, we have just finished the season of Pentecost, dipped briefly into Trinity Sunday, and have now embarked on the long time period known as "Ordinary Time." I just ran across a great devotional piece on Episcopal Cafe, a portion of which reads:
Ordinary Time [the Seasons after Epiphany and Pentecost] is the time of the Church, of the daily life of every Christian community, and of each one of us. It is the time not of a brief effort during which one hurries or even runs in order to progress on the way, but the time when one goes at a measured pace in order to cover a long distance.

As a rule, it is not the time for great conversations, for decisive choices made at one time or another in one's life. But it is the time for a painstaking, though at times wavering, faithfulness; the time for an obscure faith that sustains daily life; the time for a self-effacing hope that holds us steadfast and keeps us from stopping at the first difficulty; the time for charity writ small.

At St. Alban's, the months of June and July will be a time of prayer and discernment leading up to our Program Planning Retreat in August. Perhaps for everyone, though, the arrival of Summer is a reminder that so-called "ordinary time" can be an extraordinary time to relax, re-focus, and re-create. As I mentioned in my sermon of last Sunday, the church is the ultimate re-creational vehicle!

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