BY REV. DAVID MERRITT |
The Sundays following Epiphany are often referred to as Ordinary Time in the church year cycle. At first glance, one might think that this might mean: “Nothing special, nothing going on here, just routine…” And for most of the world, that might be the case. Years ago one of my co-workers referred to some worship attendees at church as “C and E People.” In other words, they came at Christmas and at Easter for worship.
But Ordinary Time in the church year refers to the numbered days after Epiphany. The Sundays after Epiphany are merely numbered as we make our way to the next major cycle in church life (Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter). As we have experienced in church, these Sundays focus on the work of evangelism and mission, as God’s Light shines across the globe.
Such talk often raises a question in my mind that you may have had as well. Do we treat Sunday worship or worship in general as ordinary in our 24/7, 365 day cycle, or is worship about being in relationship with God in a special way? I offer these thoughts because such discussions are part of the North American Church in the 21st century.
Sabbath worship is not observed in the way it was in North America by a majority of religious folks. Either it is tacitly approved of as a general concept or seen as a non-essential part of life for many. For those who profess some type of religious understanding, worship participation is not a routine occurrence in their lives. Worship for those of us who are baby boomers was a hallmark of our weekly routine. But today, most of the world is not listening.
Think of worship as an extraordinary invitation to be in relationship with a God who is revealing God’s presence in human form. If Jesus is truly Immanuel, then worship is our response to such an extravagant gift. Worship on these ordinary Sundays is a way to express our collective “Thank you , O God.” It is an opportunity to offer to God our praise and thanksgiving for the life giving love we experience every day.
Even if our worship is digital or virtual, these Sundays should be our time to connect to the God, who saves, who heals, who forgives and sustains us by the Spirit’s power. It is not merely about going or doing, but about being in relationship with God, with Jesus. If these dismal days have taught us anything, nothing ever can separate us from God’s truly amazing love. Saying to God, “I Love You,” is at the heart of true worship regardless of our location.
So, worship is never ORDINARY is it? No…worship is what defines a follower of Jesus Christ throughout the church year and beyond. Make worship a part of your resolutions this year. God’s invitation is never ordinary – it is a feast!
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
-John, Chapter 4 (NIV)
About the author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grand-kids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.
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