The Importance of “Ordinary Time”
Okay, so Christmas has just past and some of the songs will NOT get out of my head. I wouldn’t usually mind that, but the songs that are stuck are the ones that have such inane meaning they drive me crazy…Santa Baby, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. One particular ‘ear worm’ that I’ve been “hearing” the last couple of days is We Need a Little Christmas.
It’s not even a song I would select to sing during the holy days of Christmas, but it’s stuck in my head! Why? Because I went in a store the other day and Valentine’s Day is everywhere! As I lamented the seasons all being defined by retailers, I thought, “Man, we need a little Christmas.” BAM!!! Song stuck!
This got me thinking about the Church calendar. You’ve likely heard that the Twelve Days of Christmas was based (largely) on the Church calendar, and that the twelve days START on Dec. 25 rather than ending there. You may have even heard that Epiphany is the official end of the Christmas season (Jan. 6…12 days after Christmas), and that it’s the celebration of the Magi arriving to worship the newborn king.
As I was walking through the unnamed store (begins with a W and ends with al-Mart), I was wondering if there are any ordinary times for retailers anymore? Isn’t there a season of ‘regular’? The Church calendar includes “ordinary” times and I think I’ve probably taken them for granted in the past.
The liturgical calendar is marked by colors and it circles around two times of year; Christmas and Easter. The Church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent (purple), which leads to Christmas (white or gold). Christmas lasts 12 days until Epiphany (white or gold). Then, we hit what some consider the doldrums…Ordinary Time (green), until we hit Ash Wednesday and Lent (purple), which leads to Easter (white or gold) and 50 days later Pentecost (red). The next Sunday is Trinity Sunday (white) and then we return to Ordinary Time (green) until the new year and Advent. (Note: Some churches use white or red for All Saints Day in between.)
The term “Ordinary Time” is a bit of a change from the original term. These times used to be called Ordinal Time. Ordinal means: having to do with numbers. This is the time of year, we ‘count the days’ until the next liturgical season. As we count the days, we’re always reading, studying and serving to continue our faith growth…that’s what Christians are supposed to do “ordinarily”!
Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into that unnamed store and NOT see any holiday decorations for a brief time? Instead of being reminded of the gifts you should be buying, wouldn’t it be nice to walk in and just have an ordinary shopping experience? I’ve heard many people complain that life is too fast and we just rush from one season to the next without really enjoying the moment. Agreed!
As the colors turn green in your local sanctuary, it’s a good time to settle back into “ordinary.” It’s a great time to set new habits, and maybe one of those should be to return to a worshiping, discipling community. That’s what’s ordinary for Christians. Maybe it’s time to change the music on your radio. Hmmm…maybe We Need a Little Ordinary right this very minute!