To God’s beloved people at John Wesley:
By the time this Partner arrives in your mailbox, the school year will be beginning, as will the program year at our church. The season of family vacations and long summer days will come to an end, and we will settle back in to our ordinary rhythm as a faith community.
And even though it feels like the start of September marks a return to our ordinary schedule, in fact the liturgical year reminds us that we’ve been in Ordinary Time for a long while now. Ordinary Time is the long season in our church calendar that stretches from the end of Pentecost to the beginning of Advent – this year it will last for 21 weeks, and at the start of September we will be just over halfway through. There’s plenty of Ordinary Time left ahead of us. It’s easy to see “ordinary time” as simply a placeholder season. It’s not nearly as glamorous as the joyous Sundays of Easter, the anticipation of Advent, the celebration of Christmas. Ordinary time can often feel, well, just plain ordinary.
But if we’re honest, it feels as if it’s been anything but ordinary for us this year at John Wesley. This has been a season of change for all of us, as you have bid farewell to a beloved pastor and his family and extended an extraordinary welcome to me. Many extraordinary things have happened here at John Wesley and beyond during this ordinary season. Thirty-five people of all ages gathered for summer Vacation Bible School. Over 70 people – church members and non-members alike – met at a local park for a community picnic, including karaoke and games and delicious food and lots of good old-fashioned fellowship together. We have continued to gather together for ordinary worship, and we have encountered the Living Word again and again. As we look ahead to the start of the school year, the Micah’s Backpack team is preparing to fill 15 backpacks of food for students and their families every week; this food might seem ordinary to us, but it is extraordinary to those families. This long season has surely been extraordinary because God has continued to be present with us in the midst of this Ordinary Time.
I hope that our extraordinary season of Ordinary Time will remind you that God is present in the midst of the extraordinary and in the midst of the ordinary. God meets us in ordinary water and bread and juice, in ordinary meetings and appointments, on ordinary days and in ordinary places and when we feel just plain ordinary. When we take a moment to pause and pay attention, these ordinary moments can become extraordinary, and we encounter again the grace of the God who loves us more than we can know.
As we continue in this season of Ordinary Time, I invite you to join me in paying attention, in looking around for our extraordinary God who is often found in the most ordinary of places.
Grace and peace to you,