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Once upon a time the Sundays after Pentecost were referred to as ‘Ordinary Sundays’. The point was that the Christian calendar which began with Advent in November and a fervent hope for the coming kingdom of God, had now come to fruition in the life of Jesus, his ministry and mission, death, resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Spirit. Hence following Pentecost Sunday, we celebrated Trinity Sunday. A kind of ‘rounding out of God’ in the drama of salvation.

Henceforth, the world-wide Church of God was called to live in the fullness of God’s presence in Christ through the power of the Spirit. And this was ‘ordinary time’ ie life in the ordinary, under the extraordinary providence of a good and loving God. It reminded me of George Herbert’s poem on prayer in which he unfurls a cascading series of images and phrases to depict the nature of prayer: ‘the church’s banquet’; ‘the soul in paraphrase’; ‘heart in pilgrimage’; ‘heaven in ordinary’.

The colour green was the colour of ordinary time – and remains so today. Green for growth, for new things, for surprises in the cut and thrust of everyday life. My own green stole tells the story of a burnt stump, of smoke ascending like a prayer, of new shoots sprouting, of contoured gum leaves, and the healing oil of the leaf falling upon people reviving and evoking fresh praise and gratitude to God.

In truth we are in the green time season of the Church. We seek new shoots. We hope and work for new things. It’s a time for Green policies, protocols and procedures: for the environment (certainly); for the way we engage with others with respect and courtesy (of course); for mission and outreach to those downtrodden, trapped in cycles of despair, the homeless and those without hope who know little of green shoots in their lives (why yes it’s a gospel imperative)!

And here’s the rub. It’s not easy being green (to coin a phrase from Kermit the Frog of Muppet fame). It’s not easy living in green time. For a start, in the southern hemisphere winter has come, growth is slow, some things lie dormant waiting for the warmth of another season. And it’s not just the season that jars; there are many challenges and difficulties that are costly to negotiate; conflicts to be faced and harnessed for the good so that something new, fresh and surprising might sprout.

Ordinary time is hardly dreary time; it’s darn hard work. Which is why we call upon the Pentecostal Spirit to come to our aid, to strengthen us to divest ourselves of the sin which clings so closely, to stir us up to new heights, to transcend our tribal instincts just like Christ. This is the way of the cross and it reminds me that the struggle to live in ordinary time is splattered all through the Anglican Lectionary. I say splattered because there are so many Red days for martyrs (Ugandan martyrs June 3, and apostles; Barnabas many others); White days for missionaries (Columba of Iona June 9), spiritual writers (Evelyn Underhill), pioneer ministry in the outback (Sydney Kirkby BCA), the Coming of the Light and first missionaries to the Torres Strait 1871).

As I write we are in the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation. Here is a challenge for everyone and especially in Australia as we learn to walk hand in hand with the First Peoples of this ancient country.

The colour green is flanked by red and white. This reminds me that growth and new initiatives for the kingdom require something of us. The way of Christ is the way of humility and kenosis (emptying). We are called to be a humble church in ordinary time. Martyn Percy’s recent book, The Humble Church: renewing the body of Christ, is well worth a read.

May this season of discipleship bring new surprises and joy in God and a newfound Samaritan love for our neighbour, whoever and wherever they may be.

Once upon a time the Sundays after Pentecost were referred to as ‘Ordinary Sundays’. The point was that the Christian calendar which began with Advent in November and a fervent hope for the coming kingdom of God, had now come to fruition in the life of Jesus, his ministry and mission, death, resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Spirit. Hence following Pentecost Sunday, we celebrated Trinity Sunday. A kind of ‘rounding out of God’ in the drama of salvation.

Henceforth, the world-wide Church of God was called to live in the fullness of God’s presence in Christ through the power of the Spirit. And this was ‘ordinary time’ ie life in the ordinary, under the extraordinary providence of a good and loving God. It reminded me of George Herbert’s poem on prayer in which he unfurls a cascading series of images and phrases to depict the nature of prayer: ‘the church’s banquet’; ‘the soul in paraphrase’; ‘heart in pilgrimage’; ‘heaven in ordinary’.

The colour green was the colour of ordinary time – and remains so today. Green for growth, for new things, for surprises in the cut and thrust of everyday life. My own green stole tells the story of a burnt stump, of smoke ascending like a prayer, of new shoots sprouting, of contoured gum leaves, and the healing oil of the leaf falling upon people reviving and evoking fresh praise and gratitude to God.

In truth we are in the green time season of the Church. We seek new shoots. We hope and work for new things. It’s a time for Green policies, protocols and procedures: for the environment (certainly); for the way we engage with others with respect and courtesy (of course); for mission and outreach to those downtrodden, trapped in cycles of despair, the homeless and those without hope who know little of green shoots in their lives (why yes it’s a gospel imperative)!

And here’s the rub. It’s not easy being green (to coin a phrase from Kermit the Frog of Muppet fame). It’s not easy living in green time. For a start, in the southern hemisphere winter has come, growth is slow, some things lie dormant waiting for the warmth of another season. And it’s not just the season that jars; there are many challenges and difficulties that are costly to negotiate; conflicts to be faced and harnessed for the good so that something new, fresh and surprising might sprout.

Ordinary time is hardly dreary time; it’s darn hard work. Which is why we call upon the Pentecostal Spirit to come to our aid, to strengthen us to divest ourselves of the sin which clings so closely, to stir us up to new heights, to transcend our tribal instincts just like Christ. This is the way of the cross and it reminds me that the struggle to live in ordinary time is splattered all through the Anglican Lectionary. I say splattered because there are so many Red days for martyrs (Ugandan martyrs June 3, and apostles; Barnabas many others); White days for missionaries (Columba of Iona June 9), spiritual writers (Evelyn Underhill), pioneer ministry in the outback (Sydney Kirkby BCA), the Coming of the Light and first missionaries to the Torres Strait 1871).

As I write we are in the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation. Here is a challenge for everyone and especially in Australia as we learn to walk hand in hand with the First Peoples of this ancient country.

The colour green is flanked by red and white. This reminds me that growth and new initiatives for the kingdom require something of us. The way of Christ is the way of humility and kenosis (emptying). We are called to be a humble church in ordinary time. Martyn Percy’s recent book, The Humble Church: renewing the body of Christ, is well worth a read.

May this season of discipleship bring new surprises and joy in God and a newfound Samaritan love for our neighbour, whoever and wherever they may be.

PRAYER (I)
BY GEORGE HERBERT

Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

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