Volume 34, No. 17
An Extraordinary, Ordinary Time
My friend, Rev. John Ballenger, the pastor of Woodbrook Baptist Church in Towson, Maryland, follows the liturgical calendar and creatively says that we are in extraordinary, ordinary time. As you know, the Summer and Fall months of the calendar are considered Ordinary Time in the Christian Year. The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green, which is why you will see our ministers serve communion wearing a green stole.
If this were a “normal” summer, we would be in that long and boring part of the year, the space between Lent and Advent, Easter and Christmas, when not much is going on and when we lean into the soothing rhythm of Summer and the crisp excitement of Fall. But we aren’t in ordinary days, are we? This is indeed an extraordinary, ordinary time.
In the midst of staying away from people, worries about sending our children to school, loneliness of being quarantined, and frustrations about working from home, we’ve had to find a rhythm to this odd way of existing. We’ve had to adapt to long stretches of isolation. We’ve had to cancel vacations. We’ve had to find new jobs. We’ve had to reduce expenses. We’ve had to recalibrate the futures we had planned. And, in the midst of these extraordinary events, life has felt rather ordinary and tedious. In this tediousness and depression, we long for extraordinary moments to break in and remind us that we are still loved and remembered.
The journey Amanda and I have been on for most of this year has been both extraordinary and ordinary. Amanda, whether being in the hospital on bedrest or visiting Ford in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), has been at Baylor University Medical Center every day for nearly 140 days. The rhythm of the NICU feels like extraordinary, ordinary time. The NICU is a rhythm rather similar to the stress and loneliness brought about by COVID as Amanda and I have many long, frustrating, and tiring days… days that are ordinary.
Yet, in the midst of this ordinary time are some bright and hopeful moments. The Baby Shower that the church threw for us was a moment of extraordinary time. We were able to see faces (masked though they were) and receive the gifts of love and meaningful words. The drive-thru back to school blessing organized by Rev. Laura and the Children’s Ministry was also one of those extraordinary times, as we saw children and their parents, caught up with loved ones, and vented our fears about the upcoming school year.
As we move forward as a church family in this difficult season, it’s ok to feel as if we are in an extraordinary, ordinary time. We are exploring uncharted territory. The terrain ahead of us is unknown and we don’t have the luxury of relaxing into the ordinary rhythm of life. So, where might we find extraordinary moments in the tedious and tiring time of COVID? Do we appreciate signs of hope on our morning walks? Do we see love in the masked faces of our friends and family? Do we find peace in the ritual of online worship and Zoom meetings? I hope we do. And I also hope you know, even in the midst of your ordinary life, that you are prayed for by an extraordinary ministerial staff, held close by an extraordinary church family, and loved by an extraordinary God. This is a new season for the church and for you. But, we are in this together. We are in an extraordinary, ordinary time.