Today is the last day of Ordinary Time for this year. It is Advent tomorrow, and everyone’s excited about that.
I’ve learnt though, to be very happy and take plenty of pleasure in Ordinary Time as well. It started when I first became more serious about understanding our Christian calendar, about 2 years back. I began to see that those ‘funny’ names they gave to certain Sundays in the year were chapter titles of the Great Story God has called Salvation. Expanded my chapter titles beyond Christmas and Easter, and allowed myself to fully take in the meaning of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Ordinary Time, Kingdomtide and Pentecost.
So what does Ordinary Time mean? It doesn’t mean that nothing spectacular happens. It doesn’t mean that God goes on long leave and we are doomed to mundaneness and monotony. It’s also not meant to be a mocking reminder of our Plain-Janeness or Regular-Joeness (or, if you prefer a local flavour, of our inner Lians and Bengs!).
I derive great personal comfort from knowing that Ordinary Time – “ordered” time – is an extended period of remembrance that God has made each one of my days special. Ordinary Time may not seem to carry the significance, fanfare or emotiveness of other special Christian seasons… in fact, Ordinary Time may contain periods of shuffling in the valleys, straining for the mountain tops, or sheer insanity of ‘same old, same old’ issues and responsibilities that appear to go nowhere, or yield nothing…
Every one of those mundane days has also been carefully created and crafted by God as part of my narrative – my story as a thread in His bigger Story. He is still at work, and He calls us to be part of what He is doing, and to be reflections of who He is. In our ordinariness. How cool is that?!
All of us, whether to greater or lesser degree, all wish to be part of a great adventure. To know we are in a compelling story… and to be seized by a purpose greater than ourselves. And we get to do that just by living each day He has ordered?! Couldn’t get easier.
Yet precisely because it’s so simple, it’s also very difficult.
At times when I feel like I might make a wrong move, lag behind, miss out on the best, or in some way fail to be all that I can and ought to be, Ordinary Time reminds me that the anxiety is just a futile activity I’ve chosen to engage in. God has already worked it out – my destiny. And within that broad yet narrow path, the exhibition of His love and sovereignty through the range of free-will choices I DO have.
No random mess. No. Every moment holy in its orderedness and ordinariness. Every moment a breath of God, a deeper sense of His sovereignty, an additional revelation of Him. And to fully realise – if God opens a door, no one can close it. And if God intends to keep a door closed, no one can open it.
I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. – Rev 3:8
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
– Ps 139:16