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The late Robin Williams once created a top-ten list for reasons to be an Episcopalian. “Pew aerobics” and “No snake handling” always evokes chuckles from clergy and laity alike, but the reason that strikes me this time of year is “the Church year is color-coded.”
December to April or May is a rainbow of colors: purple and blue in Advent, white for Christmas and the Sunday of Epiphany, green for the season of Epiphany (Ordinary Time), purple again for Lent, Passiontide red for Holy Week, white for Easter and finally joyful red for Pentecost Sunday! The color changes so frequently, I’m grateful for liturgical calendars reminding me what color stole to wear before I’ve had my coffee early on a Sunday morning.
This time of year we come again to Ordinary Time, again symbolized with the color green. “Ordinary” kind of makes it sound, well, boring. In fact, Ordinary Time is the longest season in the church year. This second phase of the season lasts from Trinity Sunday until the end of the church year in November. By October, I am definitely ready for any color other than green!
If purple indicates a time of penitence and fasting, white a time of joy and triumph in Christ, red for the Holy Spirit or the blood of Christ and the martyrs, what does all that green mean? Simply put, green means growth. Growth in my relationship with God. Growth as a disciple of Jesus. Growth in the Holy Spirit.
“Ordinary Time” in fact means “ordered time,” as in “numbered time.” This evokes the Spirit of God bringing form or “order” to the formless void in Genesis 1, which gives rise to all creation. If our souls are gardens, then Ordinary Time is a time of absorbing the Living Water; deepening our roots; stretching towards and absorbing the Light; all with the goal of yielding the Fruit of the Spirit, which Paul says is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Roman Catholic Church puts it this way: Ordinary Time is “a time to deepen one’s prayer life, read the scriptures, unite more deeply with the Lord in the Eucharist, and become a more Holy and Whole person.”
After all the dramatic ups and downs of Advent through Pentecost, I invite you to this quiet season for maturing in faith. Tend to your garden, live into the quiet hush of the scriptures and worship, and observe carefully what God grows in you.
Grace and peace,