Ordinary Time! The Sundays after Trinity that lead us from Pentecost to Advent – almost half of the church year. I love the phrase ‘ordinary time’, it carries with it a sense of relief – relaxation – after all the festivals. The Oxford dictionary defines ‘ordinary’ as having no distinctive features, normal, not interesting or exceptional. In ecclesiastical usage ‘ordinary’ is the normal state from which we can either dip below in the penitential season (advent & lent) or rise above in the festal seasons (Christmas, epiphany & easter). So, having been through the rollercoaster of the seasons from advent to Pentecost we finally return to normality – no more ups and downs for another six months!
After a year of pandemic there have been many questions about what ‘normal’ means. There is much talk of a ‘new normality’. What seemed strange to us 15 months ago now (wearing facemasks, for example) now seems ordinary. We talk of things returning to normal after the pandemic is over and restrictions are lifted but some things will have changed for ever. We have learned news ways of living and working. Some of what we have learned we will not want to discard for we have discovered the benefits of doing things differently. There are other things which we long to restore because our lives feel diminished without them.
In order think about the new normality post-pandemic it might be worthwhile reflecting a little bit more on ecclesiastical ordinary time. I have included in this edition one of the collects for Trinity Sunday together with the Old Testament reading for that day which marks the beginning of ordinary time. The prophet Isaiah reminds us on Trinity Sunday that the whole earth is full of the glory of God, and we are encouraged to join with the whole host of heaven in singing Holy, Holy, Holy! Our prayer is that through this ‘ordinary time’ we are drawn more deeply into the mystery of God’s love. But as we are drawn more deeply into that mystery become aware of our own unworthiness and so we enter once again into the penitential season of advent and the whole cycle begins again. Because of this learning cycle every ordinary time is different. Year by year we continue to grow in our knowledge and love of God… more aware of the glory of God that fills the whole earth.
As we enter this second ‘ordinary time’ in pandemic lockdown let us not lose sight of the glory of God that fill the earth and surrounds us with his love all our days.