Thriving in “Ordinary Time”

“Ordinary Time” is a new concept for me … unfortunately.  As I wrote in an earlier post … What happens when an Evangelical practices Lent?  …  I was raised as a “Protestant – Evangelical – Fundamentalist” … so all I ever heard about liturgical holidays were that they were a little too “Roman Catholic” and therefore, off limits.  You can see on the attached graphic that Ordinary Time begins on the Monday after Pentecost, and continues until the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent.

Sometimes called “Trinitytide”  this season includes the entire months of July, August, September and October, plus most or all of June and November.  Put simply, Ordinary Time encompasses half of the Christian year that does not fall within the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter.

Ordinary Time derives from the Latin, Tempus per annum, or “time throughout the year.”  It may also derive from the term “ordinal” meaning “counted time.”  Ordinary Time need not be viewed as “ordinary, average, or mundane” … a “break” from the important days in the church’s liturgical year.  The opposite is actually true … as the graphic depicts, Ordinary Time celebrates “the Story of Jesus” fleshed–out into the everyday, ordinary lives of “the People of God.”  It is truly an “extra–ordinary” season!

Lots of information has been written about the many aspects of Ordinary Time … the length of the season, the representative color for the season (green), the symbol used to depict the season, etc.  In terms of disciple–building, what we will focus on here is what the apostle Paul taught Christians in the Roman city–state of Philippi.  Shortly after stating his life’s purpose in Philippians 1:21, Paul then exhorts his audience to live worthy of the Gospel.

*Pastor Pro–Tip: This will preach!

  • “Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mindcontending together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents.  This is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you – and this is from God.  For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same struggle which you saw in me, and now hear that I have.”  (Philippians 1:27–30)

Paul uses a significant Greek word [πολιτεύομαι] to grab his audience’s attention.  It means “to behave as a citizen” which held special meaning for the residents of this outpost of the Roman empire.  It shows up again in noun form in Philippians 3:20 – “For our citizenship is in heaven …”

But Paul’s challenge begs the question … How do we live our life worthy of the Gospel?


Fortunately, Paul continues in the final four verses of chapter one by identifying six factors that will ensure thriving during “Ordinary Time” (highlighted in the text above).

(1) v. 27standing firm” [στήκω] means to persevere, to persist, to keep one’s standing.  Paul uses this strong term in his letter to Corinthian Christians … “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13–14).

We thrive in Ordinary Time by “standing firm” for the Gospel.

 

(2) v. 27one spirit” [πνεῦμα] indicates a unity as deep as the soul.

We thrive in Ordinary Time deeply united with “one spirit” for the Gospel.

 

(3) v. 27one mind” [ψυχή] includes the seat of ones feelings, desires and affections; variously translated as soul, heart, life, or mind.

We thrive in Ordinary Time with “like–minded” people for the Gospel.

 

(4) v. 27striving together” [συναθλέω] means to engage together in a contest; to wrestle in company with another; to contend together for a prize in the public games.  The term implies “working side–by–side.”  We get our English word “athletics” from this term!

A former pastor of mine makes this observation: “Spiritual formation occurs best within the context of community.” Dr. Ken Baugh

Stated metaphorically, “The fabric God is weaving is far bigger than our own thread.” – Kevin Bennie

We thrive in Ordinary Time by “striving together” within the context of community for the Gospel.

 

(5) v. 28no way alarmed” … The Greek word [πτύρω] is used only once in the New Testament, but in other literature it was a term used to describe an uncontrollable stampede of wild horses.  The root word means “to spit” and was also used of military horses who got “spooked” and would snort or spit, but would not flinch.

When we are “standing firm” for the Gospel, “striving together” in community with a unity of spirit and mind, then fear of opposition is minimized and we thrive in Ordinary Time.

 

(6) vv. 29–30suffer for His sake” … Here the apostle uses [πάσχω] which translated means “to suffer a sad plight,”  then adds that they will experience similar conflicts to what he had.  Amazingly, he states that this suffering is actually a gift … “it has been granted” [χαρίζομαι] … rooted in God’s grace!

This theme of necessary suffering for the sake of the Gospel is repeated throughout Paul’s writings (cf., 2 Corinthians 1:6–10 & 2 Thessalonians 1:4–5), Peter’s letters (1 Peter 4:12–19), plus the classic passage in James 1: 2–4 …

  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

We thrive in Ordinary Time even when we “suffer for His sake”  experiencing similar conflicts for the Gospel.

 

A final question:  What steps will you take to practically thrive during this extra–ordinary season called Ordinary Time? … this season for fleshing–out the reality of the story of Jesus through the people of God. Leave a comment suggesting one!

Peace & Joy!

~ tr

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