“Ordinary” Time

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

As I looked in my diary the other day I could not help but smile. According to our church calendar we will be entering Ordinary Time at the beginning of June!

Well, from most people’s point of view, there’s nothing very ordinary about the times we live in at the moment.

Ordinary Time is, of course, simply a way of recognising that we have come to the end of the cycle which begins at Advent and then takes us through our annual commemoration of Christ’s life from his birth to his ascension and culminating in the gift of God’s Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Dr. Paula Gooder, a former lecturer at my old theological college and now Canon Chancellor at St. Paul’s Cathedral, wrote a book a few years ago entitled ‘Everyday God’ in which she says:

“Ordinary is out of fashion; so much so, in fact, that calling something ‘ordinary’ suggests that it is somehow substandard, disappointing and certainly lacklustre.”

She then goes on to acknowledge the simple truth that most of us, even those with a perceived ‘glamorous’ lifestyle, have significant periods of ordinariness in our lives. More importantly, Paula then points out that, within these periods of ordinariness, there can be a richness and a deep potential for reflection and encounter.

How right she is! For most of us ‘lockdown’ has provided us with an opportunity to spend a little more ‘quality time’ in which perhaps to read, to be in our garden, to pray and to reflect.

In his sermon last Sunday, Gerard recommended lying flat on our backs and gazing at the sky. Already I’ve had e-mails from several of our congregation who have taken that advice quite literally. But, if getting down on the ground (or, more specifically, getting back up!) is too much of a challenge for you, a comfy chair would work equally well.

Whatever position you adopt, I want to suggest to you that, even within the unprecedented extra-ordinariness of these current times, there is great value in recognising the ordinariness of our daily lives.

As we continue with ‘the trivial round, the common task’ there is a huge opportunity to take stock of (and give thanks for) all that God has done and continues to do for us.

Within the constraints of our current situation let’s use a little of our time to celebrate how fortunate we are to have ordinary yet essential blessings in our lives (whether it be the breath we take, the ‘phone call we receive or the unexpected act of kindness done for us) and, perhaps, to realise how extraordinary each of them are.

With every blessing,

Paul.

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