FINDING MEANING IN THE “ORDINARY”

The long stretch of weeks we refer to as “ordinary time,” the period between Pentecost and Advent, makes up half of the liturgical year. It is called “ordinary” not because it is commonplace or routine, nor because it doesn’t contain a major Christian holiday, but because its Sundays are counted by ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, etc.).

Throughout the remainder of the Christian year, the church focuses its attention on waiting (Advent), repentance (Lent), mourning (Holy Week), and celebration (Christmas and Easter). Each season culminates with a major event in the life of Christ.

During ordinary time, there is no main theme or event. The liturgical color is green for growth: growth of the church’s mission, the kingdom of God, and the individual Christian life. Without a major holiday in view, it can seem as if the season is literally “ordinary.” Why not then take a look at the more routine, everyday aspects that comprise ordinary daily life, breaking it into segments and using it to grow?

Ideas:

 

  • Spend a few Sundays focusing on various communities the church is called to serve: the homeless, the hungry, the poor, those struggling with mental health or addiction issues, the elderly. Hold a food or clothing drive; partner with other community groups such as soup kitchens, mental health organizations, employment assistance programs, nursing homes.

 

  • Take a Sunday to consider vocation from a Christian perspective. Ask members to come dressed in their work attire (everything from hospital scrubs to hard hats). Prepare a special litany to dedicate work and livellihoods to God. Remember to include the roles of stay-at-home parents and caretakers.

 

  • Hold an old-fashioned “hymn sing,” taking requests from the congregation. This can be a wonderful time of reminiscing through music, singing some of the “old” songs in the life of the church.

 

  • Organize an “art month” where members can display their creative work (photography, needlework, painting, writing). Give thanks that we are made in the image of the Creator and dedicate our creative efforts to Him.

 

  • Have an ice cream social during the summer and celebrate the fellowship of the congregation.

 

  • Honor the contribution of teachers, nursery workers, custodial staff, committee members, and volunteers who make week-to-week worship possible.

 

What other ways can you think of to give thanks for the ordinary, day-to-day, often-overlooked miracles in the life of the church and its members?

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please enjoy these recent offerings from Pamela Stewart.

Your Church To All

O Savior Open Heaven Wide

More Like You, Lord, May I Be

 

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Pamela Stewart is a lyricist and librettist with over 200 published works. In 2000, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure commissioned her to write a song cycle for chorus and symphony. Twice performed at Carnegie Hall, Sing for the Cure made its European premiere at Royal Festival Hall in London in 2010 and was recorded with Dr. Maya Angelou as narrator. In 2013, her song cycle for piano, solo violin, and men’s chorus entitled Tyler’s Suite debuted, benefitting the Tyler Clementi Foundation. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded the grant for the Suite’s recording. Her choral pieces have received both Editor’s Choice and Merit Series awards from top choral music distributors, and have been honored by Creator Magazine’s “Select 20.” Ms. Stewart lives in Austin, Texas.

 

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