Tag Archives: Ordinary Time

Holy Ordinary

20 May
Photo via Flickr user daBinsi

Photo via Flickr user daBinsi

Your morning coffee ritual.

The sound of birds singing outside your window.

When, reading the same book for the fifth time straight, your little child leans into you and takes a deep breath.

The meditative swish of soapy water over our hands while washing dishes.

A welcome home hug from the person who has seen all sides of who you are.

I’m reminded this time of year of the holiness of ordinary time. The season of the church year following Easter and Pentecost may not be extraordinary, but it is sacred. There are no flames or doves, speaking in tongues or empty tombs. But we continue to gather, sing, prayer, read, discuss, share peace and a meal. The beauty is in the repetition, the mundane, the calm.

Jesus used ordinary things like water and dirt to do extraordinary ministry. Today, we are called to find the sacredness in a morning shower or in planting a seed at just the right depth. In this season we call Ordinary Time, may we be open to the holiness we are swimming in, and take a moment to let our hearts be filled with a sense of the sacred.

Seeing Possibility

16 Jun

A guest post from Claire Bischoff

After the fasting, prayer, and almsgiving of Lent and the joyous celebration of the Easter season, we return this Sunday to Ordinary Time. While our “regular” calendar is divided into twelve months beginning in January, the liturgical year is divided into liturgical seasons beginning with Advent. Each season has a distinctive liturgical color that is seen on the vestments worn by clergy and possibly in church decorations. Each season also has a distinctive feel and theological focus and may incorporate specific practices, like the abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent.

Ordinary Time, marked by the color green, is the part of the church calendar that falls between the distinctive church seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. The stretch of Ordinary Time we begin this Sunday continues until Advent—which feels like a long time from now! Ordinary Time surely is at a disadvantage in the liturgical calendar—it is long; it is not tied to central and specific events, as Christmas is tied to the birth of Jesus and Easter is tied to his resurrection; and there are not special practices or celebrations tied to it since it is just plain ordinary. Put slightly differently, it is more challenging to get excited about celebrating Ordinary Time!

Last week I suggested that we celebrate Ordinary Time by focusing on how we can live as Christ’s body in the world. Ellie Roscher’s blog post this week talks about an important aspect of living as Christ’s body in the world—taking care of our own bodies. Taking care of our bodies even includes pampering them at times, as we have been told that our bodies are the “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Taking care of our own bodies includes such various activities as eating nourishing food, exercising our body and brain, and resting and sleeping. If we do not take care of our own bodies, then we will not be in a position to act on our calling to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

This week’s Gospel (Mark 4:26-34) suggests one way that we can live as Christ’s eyes in the world—to see possibility. In this passage, Jesus tells the crowd a parable about a farmer planting seeds. The farmer plants seeds, and then the farmer trusts that seeds will sprout, even if the farmer cannot explain how this happens. Jesus goes on to compare the reign of God to a mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds that when planted grows into a large shrub that can house and shade countless birds.

The images Jesus uses in his parables are drawn from the lives of his followers. Images of farmers and seeds, harvest and birds would have been familiar to those who sat on the beach to hear Jesus speak from a boat rocking gently on the waves. Yet Jesus challenges his followers to see these images in new ways—in this case, to identify the lowly mustard seed with the reign of God. Jesus challenges us in this parable to see the potential—the harvest that eventually comes from the seed, the reign of God as it will be in all its fullness. As Sister Joan has written, “When we no longer think that everything is exactly as it seems or that our way of seeing is all there is, then we can experience the mystery of God’s presence within, around, between, beside, among, and beyond us.”*

To be Christ’s eyes in the world means to see the world as Christ saw it—to see potential in that which may seem to have little potential; to identify the capacity for life in a world where doom and death may seem to reign; and to trust in a future in which God’s kingdom will be at hand. In a word, seeing with Christ’s eyes involves seeing with hope, a hope born from our belief in God.

Here are some simple ideas for the practice of seeing potential:

• Before you throw something away, think about whether it could be reused or recycled.

• If you are tempted to write off a movie, book, song, restaurant, political idea, way of praying, etc., give it a chance first.

• When you become frustrated by a person, place, idea, situation, or yourself, take the time to recognize the good in that person, place, idea, situation, or yourself.

What other ideas do you have to practice seeing potential in the world?

What other ideas do you have about how to act as Christ’s eyes in the world?


*Joan Mitchell, Sunday by Sunday, June 17, 2012.
Photo courtesy of arichards63 via Creative Commons License

2012 is the Year of St. Mark

15 Feb

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Mark is the focus of 2012.

The year 2012 is the year of Mark, Cycle B, in the Church’s cycles of scripture readings. The first to be written and the closest to oral traditions, Mark’s gospel originates in the watershed year A.D. 70, the year the Roman 10th Legion destroys the temple in Jerusalem, leaving not one stone upon another, the clue to the time of its writing (Mark 13.2).

Forty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, many eyewitness disciples have grown old, died, or been martyred—Peter and Paul in Rome in the mid 60s, James in the 50s. These disciples can no longer proclaim Jesus’ good news face to face orally. To hand on these traditions about Jesus’ teachings and actions, Mark writes them down so they can travel through time and call new generations to faith in Jesus.

When Jesus receives the baptism of John the Baptist, the heavens split, the Spirit comes upon Jesus and drives him into the wilderness for 40 days of closeness to God. When Jesus hears Herod has arrested the Baptist, he goes to Galilee and begins preaching, “God’s kingdom is at hand.”

On the 3rd to the 7th Sundays of Ordinary Time, the gospels describe the first dynamic days of Jesus’ ministry. On a Friday Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him and fish for people. On Sabbath he teaches at the Capernaum synagogue, calms a man with a disruptive spirit, and raises up Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. She becomes his first woman disciple. In the evening Jesus heals all the sick that gather at his door and on Sunday morning leaves to preach and heal in other villages.

Jesus’ reputation spreads widely when a leper who begs for healing can’t keep secret that Jesus touched him and made him clean. This is the first of many times Jesus asks those he heals to keep secret who he is, a theme scholars call the messianic secret.

By the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time we expect Jesus to heal those who seek him, but instead he forgives the sins of a paralyzed man. With this shift controversy enters the narrative. Scribes hear blasphemy in Jesus’ words. Who can forgive sins but God?

Who continues Jesus’ dynamic ministry in our world?

The dynamic Jesus in Mark’s gospel, from author Joan Mitchell, CSJ is readily available in Mark’s Gospel, the Whole Story.

In worship, Christians read and hear the gospel narratives in small bits and bites rather than the whole story. In experiencing the gospel in bits and bites, we seldom reflect on themes across the whole narrative or notice the strands of oral storytelling Mark’s gospel uniquely preserves.

Sister Joan’s new book, Mark’s Gospel, the Whole Story is for individuals, bible study groups, and small Christian communities that want to use its simple tools, become active bible readers and explore the revealing patterns of the whole. Jesus becomes written word in Mark’s gospel and travels through time as story to us.

Read a sample chapter from Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story for a fuller picture of the dynamic Jesus.

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