From Salvationist 28 April 2018
NO ORDINARY TIME
THIS week’s Salvationist continues to carry news of Easter events from around the territory. That might seem strange, because we celebrated Easter four weeks ago. But, as with Christmas, we receive so many reports that it takes a while to publish them – and we’re happy to do so.
It’s appropriate that Easter continues to feature because, according to the traditional Church calendar, we are still in the season of Eastertide, which runs from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. So, there may well be some Easter reports next week as well – but I can promise that they’ll be over well before Pentecost!
The Monday after Pentecost Sunday is the beginning of what’s referred to in the Church calendar as ‘ordinary time’. This runs until Advent, then starts again the day after Epiphany and takes us through to Lent. But I’m not so sure about this distinction between special seasons and ordinary time. Can we really say that one time of the year is any more special than another?
In one sense we can. Time taken to celebrate the landmark events of our faith and their meaning for us should be special. These seasons can deepen our understanding and help us grow in our relationship with God. But, in another sense, no time of the year is any more significant than another. Every day is important – a day to love God and our neighbour.
That’s also true of the distinction between Sunday and the rest of the week. While Sunday is a special day, many Christians believe that we should be free to participate in (good) things that were frowned on in years gone by so that we can be salt and light in the world.
I noticed some comments on Facebook last week that were critical of Team Sally Army’s participation in the London Marathon. One objection was to the name of the team, which was felt to be inappropriate; another was to the fact that they were running on a Sunday. A lot of people responded to the comments, pointing out that it was a great witness and it was for a good cause. The issue isn’t new. It existed in New Testament times, as Paul recognised: ‘One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike’ (Romans 14:5). He also said: ‘Do not let anyone judge you… with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath’ (Colossians 2:16).
Sunday is hugely significant – a weekly reminder of the resurrection of Jesus, the event that caused Christians in the early centuries of the Church to change their day of worship from the Jewish Sabbath to Sunday. But while Sunday is a day of worship, weekdays can be too. We should seek to worship and serve God through all that we do. As our territorial emphasis for the year suggests, we are to live as disciples ‘every day, in everything and everywhere’.
We shouldn’t blur the distinction completely, because keeping Sunday special and marking significant seasons are important. But it’s also right to recognise that every day is special. There really is no such thing as ordinary time.
From the Editor,
LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
Check out our Article of the Week here.
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