by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
It’s Ordinary Time according to the greater church calendar. After Easter, after Pentecost comes Ordinary Time, just plain o’ ordinary… time. Here’s the scripture where we find the basis for Ordinary Time…
Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (NASB)
Jesus is gone. The Holy Spirit is here. The disciples are now on mission as “witnesses.” But an angel has to snap them out of standing and staring at the sky. “What do we do now?” Peter and the others do what any group of people do when their charismatic leader is gone: they hold a meeting and choose board members. They think they need to replace Judas Iscariot the betrayer. But the Holy Spirit will have none of this ordinary human blah blah blah – the Spirit comes and lights them all on fire and they go out preaching the gospel and storming the gates of hell. The church is born.
Ordinary Time is the church’s time. Ordinary Time is when the church acts. It is the Spirit’s time. It’s motivation time. It is time for mission. It is time for being the Body of Christ – sharing, caring, coming out of hiding, reconciliation among races and rich and poor. Ordinary Time is “already-but-not-yet time” where the kingdom of heaven has begun on earth but it is not fully consummated or expressed yet. That full kingdom comes with Jesus’ return. What is “ordinary” about Ordinary Time is the mission of the church. Ordinary Christians are a people of purpose and intensity. We have work to do, and we must get on with it. Get busy.
Still, I was a little sad to take apart the family’s Lenten/Easter “Jesus Chia Pet Garden” this morning – Easter is done. I just saved the the little resurrection rocks on an ordinary paper plate. Then, I weeded the garden this morning. I watered the flowers. I did some laundry, collected the recycle materials, emptied the dishwasher. Ordinary living.
Where’s Jesus in ordinary life? Where’s that all-consuming mission and tongues of fire on the brow there in Acts? I propose the Spirit is found in all ordinary life activities if we have spiritual eyes. Perhaps the Spirit’s fire is not so much “out there” as it is first found “in here,” inside the heart of the believer and her church. We keep staring at the sky waiting for something spectacular, when instead we should go ahead and gather together and have our boring predictable business meeting – and then the Spirit crashes in – if we expect it. Stop staring and start seeking the kingdom – and start seeking the kingdom in your heart first. Look for Jesus. Who has spiritual eyes? Who can see Jesus in the present moment? Who “bears the marks of Jesus on his body?” (Galatians 6:17)
Pulling weeds is prayer time. Doing laundry and dishes is seeking time. Watering flowers is heart-preparation time. During Ordinary Time prepare and move. Get your spiritual disciplines organized and enacted. Seek the Lord earnestly, and expect the Holy Ghost to send fire upon you. This is not a time for sloughing off until Christmas. Let’s fire up. Pray first and then mission follows. Seek the gospel before you share the gospel. Be the gospel before you attempt to share the gospel. Pull some weeds as prayer. Use ordinary living as preparation time. The Kingdom is here and in our presence. Who can see it? Who expects it? Let’s allow Jesus to be revealed in our ordinary time.