Wednesday Word: Ordinary Time
We have moved out of liturgical time and into Ordinary Time; that time of the Church year when Sundays are simply counted sequentially. It is during this time that, instead of the season shaping the readings, the readings shape the season. In other words, instead of the events of Jesus' life being the focus, the life of Jesus becomes the focus. This long season is really where we learn about daily discipleship. It is here, in this long season, where our discipleship roots grow deep.
Christmas and Easter cast wide nets. Those are the two seasons, well . . . days, actually, where we see the most people in attendance. Those two days are the high holy days of the year, and people from far and wide come to be part of the celebrations. And that's okay. In fact, that's good. It's good to see the church full of people worshiping. It's good to hear the sound of a full church as people raise their voices in song and praise.
But not every day is a celebration. Not every day can grab peoples attention. By trying to do that, by trying to cast our nets wide, we end up focusing on the shallow. We end up focusing on what looks good.
Ordinary Time, however, allows us to focus on daily discipleship. It allows us to focus on strengthening our relationship with God. It allows us to, as Jesus told Peter, put out into the deep water. It allows us to develop holy roots.
Every Lent we are asked to develop a Lenten discipline that helps us fast from what draws us away from God. We spend this time in prayer, fasting, and self-denial, as we confront our sinful nature and look to repent and return to God.
This is always a good thing to do, but it is often short-lived since we tend to follow this discipline only through the 40 days of Lent.
In this upcoming Ordinary Time, I invite you to develop an ordinary discipline. I invite you to develop a discipline, habit, rule of life, that isn't so much focused on reminding you of your sinful nature as it is focused on developing a deep-rooted discipleship. Read scripture daily. Pray at set times. Find a time to listen to God. Participate in a new activity at church. Attend Evening Prayer. The list is close to endless.
And remember that you've got a long time to figure this out. A spiritual discipline shouldn't cause stress or additional problems in your life. As a monk said at my conference last week, “A spiritual discipline is only helpful if it's helpful.”
My prayer for all of us as we move into Ordinary Time is that we will all develop ordinary disciplines that will grow deep discipleship roots in all of us.