Dear Grace Church Family,
We have entered Ordinary Time. That’s what this Church season we’ve just started is called in our liturgical calendars. How extraordinary that it should happen right now. If we’ve ever wanted a season of time that was just ordinary, it’s now. For 15 long months we’ve had anything but ordinary. For at least that long we’ve been praying and hoping for ordinary.
Virginia Bishop, Susan Goff, is caught up in the same feelings, and finds herself quite extraordinarily thankful for ordinary. In her message this week she finds 15 things she is personally mentioning in thanks. One good thing for each one of the past 15 months.
I think it’s a great idea, and I recommend this spiritually reviving activity to you. This week, take a little time to give thanks for Ordinary. See if you can create a list of 15 “Thank You‘s”.
Thanksgiving for Ordinary Time
How we have been longing for it through the long fast and separation of the pandemic!
When things slow a bit into a more predictable rhythm so that we can catch up with ourselves.
When we can begin to settle down and recover from the dizziness of constant pivoting.
Ordinary Time begins on the Church calendar on the day after Pentecost (today!). This year it also begins as we are released from most of the restrictions of pandemic time and begin to live post-pandemic life.
I celebrate Ordinary Time as we emerge from 15 months in pandemic by sharing 15 things for which I am thankful.
1. For the power and love of God that is always stronger than the powers of death, illness and fear that threaten to break us.
2. For the unshakable presence of Jesus who shows up even when the bread and wine of Eucharist are not present or consumed.
3. For the fresh breath of the Holy Spirit of God who breaks in whenever we are tempted simply to go back to what was or to seek easy comfort in familiar old ways that no longer work.
4. For the Holy Trinity, one God, who shows us how to be community whether we are distanced or together.
5. For all of the food pantries and other outreach ministries that congregations continued during the pandemic. For the creativity of congregations in figuring out how to reach others safely. We’ll never know how many lives were saved and how many aching needs were met. May our commitment to service increase.
6. For the energy, hard work and compassion of the clergy throughout the pandemic, even when they were exhausted. For their continued leadership in this time of daily readjustments and recalibration. May we give them time and space for refreshment, restoration and healing so that they may continue to serve and love God’s people as post-pandemic life begins.
7. For all the new Deacons and Priests who were ordained during the pandemic, and for the clergy and lay leaders who began ministries in new settings during the pandemic. May they have continued courage and hope as they come to know in person the people they are called to lead and serve.
8. For the clergy and lay leaders who completed ministries during the pandemic. May they experience joy in their new positions or their retirement.
9. For the creativity of musicians who found marvelous ways to make and share music when the ordinary ways were not possible. May they continue to be creative as they share the praise of God in song.
10. For everyone who learned new platforms for communication to keep worship alive, relevant and meaningful throughout the pandemic. May they keep on learning with joy and hope through changes yet to come.
11. For people who “came” to Church for the first time, or who reconnected with the Church after a long absence, because of virtual worship and activities. May we continue to know them as friends and include them in our communities.
12. For our increasing awareness in the Church of a long legacy of racial injustice that has revealed new vistas of compassion and possibility. May we continue to commit to action and hold on to hope.
13. For our conference centers which have survived the pandemic. May they welcome us as warmly as ever and may we enjoy the blessings of hospitality, good food and wonderful settings that they offer. For our camping program, schools, campus ministries, diocesan homes, committees and commissions which were faithful in their missions and found ways to thrive even during the hardest challenges. May God bless the many thousands of people who are touched by them.
14. For faithful, loving, encouraging and truth-telling colleagues with whom we have shared the journey. May our relationships grow through all of the chapters yet ahead.
15. For the resumption of in-person worship, activities and visitations, and for growing opportunities to be together as we love and serve the world in Jesus’ name.
I wonder what your list of 15 things for which you are grateful would look like. As we continue to emerge from pandemic into a changed and changing landscape, may God bless us all with resilience, hope, faith, and abiding love for God and all God’s children.