Out of the Ordinary

Rev. David Gambrell, Ph.D., Associate for Worship, Office of Theology and Worship, PC(U.S.A.)

The first half of the Christian calendar is clothed in color—white and gold, purple and red. It is flocked with festivals—Nativity, Epiphany, Baptism, Transfiguration, Ashes, Palms, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost. It is spangled with seasons—Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.  

But what happens now? We’ve packaged up the Advent candles and the nativity scenes. We’ve swept away the ashes and the palms. We’ve hung up our Easter bonnets and fire-red neckties. What’s next? 

The second half of the Christian year is a long stretch of green—between twenty-three and twenty-eight Sundays, all depending on the date of Easter. It is framed by festivals extolling the nature of God, beginning with Trinity Sunday and ending with the Reign of Christ (or Christ the King).

It’s not a season, really; it’s all about Sunday. Some have said that every Sunday is a little Easter. Indeed, all four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—testify that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Every seven days we flip to the final chapter and celebrate the good news of resurrection. 

Sometimes we call it “ordinary” time—not because there is anything commonplace or mundane about this time of year, but because we are keeping the Sundays “in order.” It’s extraordinary, really—that this weekly celebration of Christ’s resurrection has persisted for more than two millennia. 

But this is how Christ comes to us. Jesus comes in ordinary time … and in extraordinary ways. Bringing light out of darkness, life out of death, love out of fear. Breaking into ordinary lives, taking root in humble soil, making all things new. 

As we enter this “ordinary” time, let this be our prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. Fill our days with your purpose. Order our steps by your word. Lead us out of the ordinary and into eternal and abundant life. In your holy name we pray.