In Praise of Ordinary Times
The months between Pentecost and All Saints Day are called Ordinary Time (or, if you prefer, Trinity) in the Church calendar. That’s five months of Ordinary Time – a substantial part of the year. It’s a period without major festivals and we are about a quarter of the way through it now. Putting it that way sounds as though I am wishing it away, but I am not. Ordinary time in the church calendar is the plain background against which the special days in the year can stand out in glorious contrast. It’s the time when the church settles into a rhythm of daily and weekly worship in which our faith can gradually become embedded into our ordinary lives.
Speaking of ordinary lives, for most of us they too are ordinary time punctuated by festivals. Football and tennis fans will see the past fortnight as festival time and we may still not be mentally ready to return to our ordinary time. But in the end most of us do need to settle back into the rhythm of our ordinary lives because they too are the background against which our festival days can stand out in contrast. If you party every day, each day ceases to be party time and we can no longer see or appreciate the high points which life can bring. As R.S. Thomas put it “I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price…” (The Bright Field).
If you are coming down from the highs of the Euros or Wimbledon, don’t regret or fight your return to ordinary time. Celebrate the refreshment and growth which it brings, to sharpen the pleasure and anticipation of the next festival.
We thank you for the festival times in our lives,
The occasions when life is lived with energy in technicolour,
But we thank you too for the ordinary times in our lives,
For the chance to settle into a rhythm,
For the chance to live a life closer to you,
To shape ourselves closer to your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.