More Thriving in “Ordinary Time”

The Christian vocal group Casting Crowns recent hit song “Thrive” includes these lyrics:

Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire

Just to know You and to make You known

~ ~ ~

We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Click here for a link to Thrive music video.

In my last blog post … Thriving in “Ordinary Time” … we discovered the origins of this season on the church calendar.  One misconception is that Ordinary Time has no theme.  But as we discovered, this season celebrates “the Story of Jesus” fleshed–out into the everyday, ordinary lives of “the People of God.”  This fact makes it a truly “extra–ordinary” season!

Ordinary Time is at the core of what this blog, StrongStakes, is all about … “equipping & mobilizing men to follow Jesus” … so let’s focus now on some practical ideas.

One of the clearest ways to discover what fleshing–out “the Story of Jesus” might look like is to remember how Jesus launched His public ministry career.  The Gospel writer Luke records the scene in chapter four:

  • “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.  As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.  The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:
  • ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to set free those who are oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
  • “He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.  And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  He began by saying to them, ‘Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.’” (Luke 4:16–21)

By reading the first couple verses from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (ch. 61), Jesus quickly and succinctly outlined the primary tenets of His mission.  If He was a politician today (thankfully, no), we would call this His “platform.”

Jesus is introducing what He will later call the “Kingdom of God” … the reign or rule of God over creation and human hearts.  His life, teachings and actions over the next three-and-a-half years expounded these primary themes.

In addition to modeling the Kingdom of God, Jesus invites us to “Come…Follow” … to not only experience this same Kingdom–life, but to also mimic His actions.  These are the activities of Ordinary Time.

The apostle Paul put it this way, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

But this begs the question … What are “good works” we can be doing during Ordinary Time to spread the Good News about the Kingdom of God, while at the same time continue growing stronger in our daily lives of faith?  Following Jesus’ outline, here are some suggestions.

  • “preach Good News to the poor” … Meet with a homeless person.  Offer to purchase a meal for them, then stay for a conversation.  Listen to their story.  Let your actions do the “preaching.”

 

  • “proclaim release to the captives” … Visit someone in jail or prison.  Listen to their story.

 

  • “recovery of sight to the blind” … Visit someone in a hospital – maybe even a stranger.  Ask a hospital administrator if there are patients who have had no visitors.

 

  • “set free those who are oppressed” … Visit someone in a nursing home – again, maybe even a stranger who has no one visiting them.  Or offer to accompany your pastor or priest to serve Communion to a person confined to their home.

 

  • “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” … Experiment by setting aside a whole day to demonstrate God’s grace (favor) to everyone with whom you come into contact.  Maybe a smile is all that’s necessary; or pay for the Starbucks drink for the person in line behind you; or personally deliver a more–than–generous tip (with a smile) to a restaurant server who’s provided decent service.

When it comes to personal, spiritual growth, how about reading daily, lengthy portions from the Gospels in a Bible translation or paraphrase that you’ve not used before?  Or join a small group from your church that meets weekly or bi–weekly?  Or schedule an appointment with an older, wiser man or woman of God.  The American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once said,

  • “A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.”

What specific, practical ideas do you have for fleshing–out “the Story of Jesus” during this season of Ordinary Time?  Leave a comment on this blog with your suggestion(s).

I want to suggest a resource for further reflection.  Nearly four decades ago, my wife and I moved to Mississippi to serve alongside a man who has become legendary in Christian community development circles … Dr. John M. Perkins.  Of the many books that he has written, the one that’s made the most impact on me is A Quiet Revolution.  With the subtitle, “The Christian response to human need, a strategy for today,” John maps out a clear and compelling approach for living in this season called Ordinary Time.  It can still be purchased via third–party sellers on Amazon … which I strongly recommend … click on the title for the link.

One final observation … the Christian symbol often linked to Ordinary Time is the “Chi–Rho” … derived from the first two letters in the Greek word [Χριστός] translated Christ.  In turn this derives from the Hebrew word [מָשִׁיחַ] translated Messiah.  Both words literally mean “anointed One.”  This abbreviation became a symbol used by early Christians to indicate that they were followers of Jesus.  The graphic at the top of this article also includes the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet … Alpha and Omega.  From eternity past to eternity future, Jesus truly is at the center of Ordinary Time!

Peace & Joy!

~ tr

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