Nothing is ‘Ordinary’
We are once again coming to the end of the Easter season in our Church calendar, and after celebrating the ‘birth of the Church’ at Pentecost, we enter that long Church season termed ‘Ordinary Time’. But nothing is ordinary in the dealings of God with humankind, or in the life of the Church, or in the lives of you or me as Christian believers.
The triumph of the resurrection on Easter Sunday was certainly no ‘ordinary’ event. The powers of darkness may well have thought they had the victory when our Lord Jesus, the incarnate God who had become man, was crucified and died on Calvary’s tree. But no, Jesus burst forth from the grave to give to you and me not just the hope of eternal life, but also the promise that we shall be changed and share in the everlasting joys of heaven.
And what did the bystanders at the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem in the year AD30 make of the diverse languages coming from the lips of the disciples after the descent of the Holy Spirit had come upon them? In Acts 2v4 we read “the crowd was bewildered, amazed and astonished as they heard all these Galileans speaking in their own native language”. That was no ‘ordinary’ event either for the bystanders to hear, or for the disciples who suddenly found they had been given the ‘gift of tongues’.
And is it any different in this twenty first century for you or for me as Christians? We have become followers and disciples of the one true and living God, Yahweh, who spoke and the universe came into being (Gen 1v3). Yet God is like a Father to us, for He loves us with a love that accepts each one of us just as we are, and that is no ‘ordinary’ relationship.
Joy and I have just returned from following ‘the way of Saint James’, the Camino, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Some of you may remember we looked at ‘The Way’, a DVD featuring Martin Sheen, for our Lent course some three years ago, and if you have not yet seen the DVD it is well worth viewing. I hasten to add that we did not walk the 790km in twelve days but took the SAGA coach!
The culmination was the pilgrims’ Mass in the Cathedral in Santiago with the swinging of the thurible, the metal censer for incense, and that was no ‘ordinary’ event either! It was as exciting as in the DVD!
So, I wonder, what is your perspective on God? Is He just ‘ordinary’ and so small in order to fit your imagination? Do you hold a distorted view of what true faith in God should be? I am sure we all hold some distortions that only eternity will finally dispel, for now we “see through a glass darkly” (1Cor13v12).
Saint John relates how Jesus tried to give us a picture of a God free from distortions, a God who imparts to us eternal life, not just a supplier of our material needs, for the life God intended for us all is much fuller than that. Do our prayers reflect such a distortion, becoming just a mere list of requests, or are they more profound and outward looking? Jesus said “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life”. The crowd around Jesus then asked a most pertinent and relevant question, a question we also should constantly ask ourselves: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (Jn6v27).
And the answer that Jesus gave is not an ‘ordinary’ expectation or experience for most people: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (Jn6v29). That should be our prayer, both for ourselves and for all those whom we love and all whom we meet.
But, like the crowd around Jesus, people today demand a ‘sign’, “that we may see, and believe” (Jn6v30). But this is just another distortion. God is not in the business of supplying miracles on demand. We do know that as a God of grace and mercy He may well work miraculously in some situations, so let us not give up asking him for healings, and let us in expectation bring friends along to our monthly service for healing and wholeness. We may be surprised at what God can and will do.
Our faith as Christians is not merely a response to outward signs, even though these may be most significant at times, but it is a commitment and relationship to Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the gift of God to us that far outshines any material blessing we may desire or receive.
So as we move through the coming months of ‘Ordinary Time’ let us look forward in faith for the ‘extra ordinary’ to be seen from the God we serve, for we have the promise from Jesus that “he who comes to me I will not cast out” (Jn6v37). And Jesus does not end there but gives us that great hope and promise that “everyone who believes in the Son should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn6v40).
Now if that is not something ‘out of the ordinary’ I don’t know what is.
Every blessing to you all, Mike.