Good morning and welcome to Grace.
Here at Grace we follow what’s called the “church year,” or “liturgical year” or “liturgical calendar.” Just as some organizations have a fiscal year that’s different from the calendar year, we have a spiritual year that’s different from the calendar year.
The American calendar year has its seasons: New Year’s, Valentines, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. This is how our culture orients its year and marks time.
The way that we mark time around here is different though. The Christian year (or Liturgical Year) is oriented not around national holidays, but around significant events in the life of faith. It’s a way to journey through the year, beginning with Advent and then Christmas, and then Epiphany, and then Lent and Easter and so on. This is island hopping across the Atlantic instead of a non-stop from JFK to Heathrow, or we might say, Christmas to Easter with a non-stop return flight.
In other words, here at Grace, we don’t just jump into the carols of Christmas, we wait for over a month in anticipation and then finally the crescendo comes. We don’t just grab the Easter bells and ring; we journey through the minor chords of Lent.
These are some of the extraordinary times in the liturgical year. You might call these seasons “extraordinary time.” When we’re not in one of those seasons, though, we’re in the other kind of time, what’s called, “ordinary time.” We’re in a really long stretch of ordinary time right now; it runs from Pentecost all the way to Advent.
The challenge of ordinary time is that there are no special holidays or seasons or events to draw our attention to God – no miraculous birth or ascension or descension or anything. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!”
Half of our year is like this, like a prolonged game of hide-and-seek with God. But, you know, I’m finding that we’ve got a mystical streak in us here at Grace. We like this hide and seek, we like being surprised at where God might show up next.
The poet Rumi said that God is often like a friend that you think has gone away on a long trip, and then all of sudden peeks his or her head round the corner at you. Pascal said that if you’ve begun to seek God, you’ve found God.
That’s the blessing of ordinary time. It’s a reminder that God is not far off, that God might show up anywhere, even in the ordinary. While you’re getting your weekly groceries at H-E-B. Maybe – of all the unexpected places – in a Bible story you’ve heard a thousand times, like our parable in Matthew today. Maybe, in the person sitting next to you right now. Yes, even that one.
As we journey through the mundane and commonplace activities of ordinary time, I’d invite you into this game of hide-and-seek with God, in our worship this morning and in all of life, and I believe you’ll find God’s already peeking around the corner at you.