Rector's Blog

Finding God in the Ordinary

The Church year unfolds through its different seasons and is peppered with feast days.  Our year begins with Advent, we have Christmas, closely followed by Epiphany, then on to Lent, the great feast of Easter, then comes Ascension Day, Pentecost and Trinity.  However, we then enter a time the Church calls Ordinary Time – a time which sounds rather dull and not much fun.  Though maybe in these extraordinary times of Covid we might yearn for a bit more ordinary!

Ordinary Time though does not mean ordinary in the way we usually use it meaning commonplace but because the weeks of Ordinary Time are numbered.  It comes from the Latin ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series and from which we get the word order.

Nevertheless, as a child I did find Ordinary Time a bit boring!  I would look down at my Book of Common Prayer and count how many Sundays before we might have a bit of a change and work out the Roman numerals!  The author Barbara Pym in one of her novels refers to the “endless Sundays after Trinity”.

However, we overlook the everyday at our peril.  Our lives cannot and indeed are not one long party.  Every day cannot be a feast day.  I remember for a while attending a church in Canada where every Sunday was something special. If there were not a saint to celebrate it would be Homeless Sunday, or Family Sunday or Sea Sunday.  All those things are worthy to be remembered of course but I feel if we think we have to make every Sunday something special we fail to appreciate the rhythm of our days.

If every day is a special occasion, there is no anticipation of a feast day.  Much of our lives are routine, everyday encounters.  And it is very important too that we learn to recognise God in our everyday lives as well as at festival times.  In fact, if we are always simply waiting for the big occasion, we are surely condemning ourselves to lives of dissatisfaction.  God’s glory is all around – in every conversation, every tree, every flower, every leaf, every sunset, every encounter.  Unless we seek God in the everyday we may miss God altogether.

RS Thomas famous poem The Bright Field speaks of this.  

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once but is the eternity that awaits you.

The poet doesn’t take time to notice and too late realises what he has missed. 

Ordinary Time, most of which takes place through July and August, is a time which often has a slower pace than other times of year. Certainly slower than the run up to Christmas! It is an opportunity to take some time to notice, take some time to see where God might be found and perhaps listen to what God is saying to us.  It is a time to make sure we are not, in the words of Thomas, “hurrying on to a receding future or hankering after an imagined past”.  Rather a time to stop and look around, live in the moment and to develop our capacity to notice where God is at work.  For if Moses had not done so he may never have seen that burning bush!