Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary
- CS Lewis
In the Christian liturgical year, we have times for all things. Advent is anticipation, Christmas is celebrating the birth of Our Lord, Lent is for inner reflection, Easter is for rejoicing in the promise brought by the Resurrection, Pentecost for consecrating the birth of the Church, and then we have Ordinary Time where we celebrate our everyday life in Christ.
Ordinary Time is split over two periods: the first period begins on Epiphany and ends on the day before Ash Wednesday; the second period begins at the end of the Easter season, the Monday after Pentecost, and continues until the first Sunday of Advent. The start of this second part of Ordinary Time . . . is known to many as “Summer”!
We know we have entered this season because the days are warmer, it is sunnier, the pickleball courts are busier and St. Michael’s Christian Formation for all ages is on a brief respite. We may feel nothing is really happening, but this season symbolizes growth with green stoles, paraments, and banners. Jesus’ teaching ministry is shared in the scripture and Gospel readings.
But what is it prompting this growth?
Jesus reveals to his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” then revealed Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).
In carrying out this commission the disciples needed the power of Christ working through them and the Holy Spirit in their hearts to spread the Word and build a church of believers. The chronology of this history is shared in the Book of Acts.
Some posit the start of Christianity was at Christ’s incarnation, others say it was his birth, some say it was at the crucifixion and resurrection or at the ascension, but most agree the start of the church was on the day of Pentecost.
The disciples were together in the upper room, breaking bread, praying, worshiping and waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon them, inhabiting them with a rush of wind and tongues of fire. Outside the rush of wind had gathered together a crowd who wondered what on earth was happening. At this point the “spirit-filled” disciples came out of the upper room and began to preach God’s word.
Christ had returned to start His church, filling the disciples’ hearts with the cleansing, enlightening power of the Holy Spirit.
This power was shown at Pentecost as St. Peter stepped up as the leader he was purposed to be, preaching with an insight into the prophecies and their fulfillment such as he had never had before. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I say also to you, that you are Peter (which means Rock), and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
The power of the Spirit allowed Peter to stand in front of the crowd, defend the disciples against non-believers, remind them of Joel’s prophesy, and preach his well-known sermon (Acts 2:22-41). St. Peter’s message started the church as a community comprised of different countries, languages, cultures, and experiences.
In the time after Pentecost, the apostles planted and built the church across the world through missions and discipleship. This was the first-ever season that “ordinary time in Christ” was celebrated. The church was conceived on personal and historical accounts of Jesus teachings. This is the very same narrative we celebrate during Ordinary Time at St. Michael’s by-the-Sea.
So what can we do to mirror the apostles’ acts in building up the church?
During this time, St. Michael’s hosts several events such as the men’s fellowship Sizzle & Stein, a week of joy-filled Vacation Bible School, a family spiritual retreat to Mount Hermon, stewardship of our physical bodies and physical space on the pickleball courts, a regional event centered on creativity that is the Carlsbad Music Festival, baptisms and weddings and funerals, etc.
In their various forms, all of these activities build up Christ’s church! Like the apostles and early church builders, these are all opportunities to answer God’s call to build up the church. These everyday, ordinary actions ARE our lives in Christ.
May each one of us open ourselves as a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, that we may spread the Good News and build up his church as a vital, energetic entity relevant to both Christ’s message and to this community of Carlsbad.
This article was written by Assistant for Pastoral Care, Chris Craig-Jones.