Message from Fr. Michael
I think it ironic each year that about this time, the Church enters a season known as “Ordinary Time”, just as we begin Hurricane season! The five-month 2021 Atlantic hurricane season began yesterday and officially ends November 30.
“Ordinary Time” is the part of the liturgical calendar that falls outside the major seasons such as Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter. It begins following the Day of Pentecost and continues until the First Sunday of Advent. It is the longest season of the church year, for which the liturgical color is green, therefore it is sometimes called “the green season.” Green of course, symbolizes growth.
While the Roman Catholic Church refers to this season as “Ordinary Time”, The Episcopal Church doesn’t typically use that phrase and it is nowhere to be found in The Book of Common Prayer. Rather, these Sundays are named in relation to the previous feast day, for example, “The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.”
The term ordinary is thought to have been derived from “ordinal,” which means “counted”. “Ordinary Time” therefore means “ordered time,” as in “numbered time.” This evokes the Spirit of God bringing form or “order” to the formless void in Genesis 1, which gives rise to all creation. If our souls are gardens, then Ordinary Time is a time of absorbing the Living Water; deepening our roots; stretching towards and absorbing the Light; all with the goal of yielding the Fruit of the Spirit, which Paul says is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
During this season, the church delves deeper into scripture and the life of Jesus. We read his parables and remember how he changed the lives of everyone he interacted with, in ways big and small. This is a time when we explore what it means to live daily in faith; a time of growth as we explore everyday sacredness.
This coming season of “ordinary time” promises to be anything but ordinary at St. Francis Episcopal Church. Our Anglican tradition is steeped Benedictine spirituality and one of my favorite Benedictine adages is “always we begin again.” Before the end of June, we will again return to indoor weekly worship in the sanctuary of Holy Spirit Evangelical Lutheran Church, at least during the hot summer months. The pastor and people of Holy Spirit have been loving and gracious hosts to us for the past several years, as we continue our journey in the wilderness during the uncertainty of yet unresolved schism litigation. They have sacrificed for us, and now we may need to do a bit of sacrificing ourselves, to accommodate the ever changing expansion of our hosts worship and ministry schedules.
Your vestry will be making a final decision about day and time of weekly worship for the coming summer months this week, and while whatever decision is made will not likely please everyone, the decision will be made based on what is best for the Beloved Community, in this time and place. We need remain mindful of Paul’s words to the Corinthians in this coming Sunday’s appointed lesson from his Second Letter to the Corinthians:
So, we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia finds great strength and wisdom in the Benedictine tradition. He once said,
I have a rule of life following the Benedictine of Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life, with Hospitality laden throughout. I like the Benedictine take on the Christian walk, that of doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. In other words, prayer is the act all that we do, not something to be sequestered in a church or closet.
“Doing ordinary things extraordinarily well” is indeed our challenge and our calling at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Ordinary Time. It is how we are Beloved Community.
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