Ordinary: of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional:
“I’ve been thinking about ordinary time* a lot,” I blurted out to my coworker last week in the church office.
It turns out when you’re a liturgy nerd, ordinary time sneaks up surprisingly quickly after the desolation of Lent and the celebration of Easter. After all, it’s a long season. Starting 50 days after Easter (two weeks ago if you’re keeping count at home), it lasts until the season of Advent kicks off again in late November.
As writers at Perissos have been diving into the wild and crazy stories of the Bible over the last month, I have been consistently struck by the fact that I typically separate the God-of-the-wild-stories from the God-of-quiet-and-faithful.
It’s akin to the feeling I had as a grew-up-in-a-Christian-home teenager listening to the stories of the wild things God had done in the lives of my friends who came to know Jesus later in life. Somehow it feels like there is more legitimacy in the second, more “crazy” testimony. No matter that our God is the same through and through, our lens toward him so often changes depending on the story we’re seeing.
And yet, isn’t there something beautiful in this paradox? In knowing that the God-of-the-wild-stories is the same as the God-of-quiet-and-faithful?
One of my college professors often talked about the story of Daniel. Throughout the book of Daniel, we see several baffling moments: a fiery furnace, dreams, a famine, idols, apocalyptic visions, and more. And yet, these episodic tales only reflect brief moments in a lifetime of quiet and faithful service to God.
Where we are tempted to look at Daniel’s life and see an action movie, we should pause and consider. Daniel’s life was marked by righteous living in the day-to-day rhythms. Yes, he was called and equipped for crazy tales and great service to the Lord, but those came after years upon years of quiet, faithful, exiled living.
Although ordinary time doesn’t receive its name from the Dictionary.com definition, it has come to reflect that. In the time between feasts and fasting, what does it look like to be faithful pilgrims in a strange land? How can we, like Daniel, be equipped with wisdom — not only when called on for miraculous moments, but in the years of quiet living surrounding them?
Through the season of ordinary time, my prayer for all of us is that it would be a time of seeing God’s faithfulness to us in the small, quiet moments as well as the big, blaring ones. May we learn to faithfully sojourn in a strange land — even when that means doing dishes or telling our child no for the hundredth time. May we learn to respond to God’s call when he asks us to love the hard roommate or to do the big, world-changing task. In the large and in the small, in the ordinary, in the feast, and in the famine, the God-of-the-wild-stories and the God-of-the-quiet-and-faithful remain the same — with his steadfast, extraordinary love.
*Ordinary Time, according to the Christian liturgical calendar, occurs twice a year–in the time between the celebration of the baptism of Christ and Ash Wednesday and between Pentecost and Advent.