Last week I had in my mind to write something about “Epiphany”. It was rolling around in my brain… a moment of great revelation!
The church celebrates Epiphany on January 6th. It is traditionally, the day that Christ made himself known to the Gentiles, demonstrating the deep truth that Christ has come for everyone.
The true light “that gives light to everyone” has come into the world. And “… to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (1 John 1:9-12)
And as I thought these poetic thoughts, a riot broke out at the Capitol Building in the U.S.
And a pandemic.
And a lockdown.
And then on Monday, a Report from the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes.
And I didn’t write anything at all.
I am a U.S. citizen. And I am an Irish citizen. And for a week I’ve had no words.
I’m sad. I’m horrified. I’m scared. I’m angry. I’m hopeful. And I’m not. I am feeling all of the emotions.
And I’m tired.
And I have to remind myself that this is January in Ireland. This means short (often dark) days, and wet. I always find it harder to be glad in January, to have hope. The grey skies match my grey spirit.
And I try to remember that February always feels better.
I opened an app on my phone yesterday and I heard these words, “Today is Wednesday, the 13th of January, in the first week of Ordinary Time.”
… the first week of Ordinary Time.
I received these words like a cup of water to a thirsty soul.
I want some ordinary time, times, moments, days…
I’ve heard other words to describe this time that we are living – unprecedented, incomprehensible, extraordinary, unimaginable.
Ordinary time sounds rhythmic and manageable. It sounds a little dull and anticlimactic – in a good way.
Ordinary time sounds restful.
Ordinary time sounds like a series of days that are “much of a muchness.”
Is that what Ordinary Time really is?
I read this week that, “Ordinary Time is the part of the year in which Christ, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives.”1 In the days between Christmas and Easter/Pentecost and Christmas again… we find Ordinary Time.
Ordinary time is when we seek the rhythms of the life of Christ – “growing in wisdom and stature and favour with God and humans”, walking and serving, teaching and sitting with friends, breaking bread at the end of the day, or celebrating a wedding.
In the book, The Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan, he gives this description of the life of Jesus…
that Jesus was driven by the clearest and highest purpose, yet “…his days, as far as we can figure, were a series of zigzags and detours, apparent whims and second thoughts, interruptions and delays, off-the-cuff plans, spur-of-the-moment decisions, leisurely meals, serendipitous rounds of story-telling.”
This sounds like an ordinary life. This sounds like my life. And in these rhythms that are often interrupted by spur-of-the-moment decisions, and off-the-cuff plans, we live out the every day life of Christ.
I find this very reassuring.
I was raised in a tradition that did not follow liturgical calendars, or use physical symbols for spiritual things. I love the simplicity and depth of my Quaker heritage.
I’m learning these practices as an adult, and I find in these traditions beautiful metaphors that speak to my soul.
There are two symbols that represent Ordinary Time. One is the colour green, and the other is a picture of two fish and a loaf of bread.
Green is the colour of living, growing things. It is the colour of the world awakening after a cold, dark winter.
The days are growing longer. New life appears in the garden. My grey spirit looks for light and life.
Sometimes life is about celebrations and epiphanies. Sometimes we hold special church services and plan special meals, and we remember important events with gratitude and joy.
And sometimes we live through ordinary times, day after day. We move with the rhythm of a stream in time, and we walk on the earth looking for green and growing things.
Where did you see growth and life today? God is in it.
Where did you see God today?
The picture of two fish and a loaf of bread calls to mind the story of Jesus feeding the crowd with the small offering of a boy. Jesus blesses the food, and breaks it up and feeds the multitude, and there are baskets left over.
That is more than enough.
Whether we gather at the table with friends and family, or share what we have with someone in need, it is an image of community gathered. I like that.
Bread and fish become a feast. And a shared meal becomes a time of communion… and the field is holy… and the fare is holy… and the ordinary day is holy.
I didn’t write about Epiphany. But the message of Epiphany is that Christ has come for everyone. That is the extraordinary, ordinary, good news that we can live out every day.
Let the mystery and generosity and rhythms of the life of Christ penetrate more deeply into your every day, interrupted life.
That is ordinary time.
Inhale: This ordinary day is holy.
Exhale: Open my eyes to Your presence.
That’s what I would have said…