Faith seeking understanding

Nothing 'ordinary' in bonhoeffer or Bishop Curry

By Mark Lindsay

May 8 2018As we enter into that period the church calls “ordinary time” Mark Lindsay explains why, for the Christian, there can be no ordinary time, and that as the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and more recently in his sermon at the Royal Wedding, Bishop Michael Curry, demonstrated, the life and witness of a Christian should be both radical and subversive.

With Eastertide and the Day of Pentecost now behind us, we have entered into that long six months of so-called “Ordinary Time”. Punctuated only by an occasional feast day, the repetition of liturgical green will be with us from now until the beginning of the new year when, at the start of Advent, green will give way, at last, to anticipatory purple. And it is no accident that this lengthy post-Pentecostal waiting from May through November mirrors the lengthy historical waiting of the church from that very first Pentecost until the present day, through which we continue to watch and wait for Christ’s second Advent.

That daily and weekly sight of green – on stoles and veils, chasubles and frontals – can, by Christ the King, seem interminable, just as our two millennia of watching and hoping for our Lord’s return has also been more drawn-out than the church ever expected. And yet, no matter how impatient we might grow, no matter how dearly we may long for green to turn to purple, no matter how eagerly we might cry “Come, Lord Jesus!”, it nevertheless seems to me that to speak of this period between Pentecost and Advent as “ordinary” is an unfortunate misnomer.

Certainly, I am no liturgist – merely a theologian – and so perhaps the nuance of all this alludes me! But, the rushing wind and the tongues of fire at Pentecost were not gifted to us by God so that we could lapse into ordinariness, or that we might rest content with the humdrum repetition of the work-a-day grind. This interregnum between Pentecost and Advent is far more than simply the ticking-off of the days and weeks of repetitive, “same-old-same-old”, greenness. It is, on the contrary, an extraordinary time in which we are called to lives of authentic discipleship.

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