Who knew that in the heat of July we’d be experiencing what we always anticipate and plan for during the high holy days of the Christian faith: the waiting of Advent and the darkness of Lent. We’re familiar with “Christmas in July,” but now Easter too?
We currently are in a period the church universal calls “ordinary time.” The phrase actually refers to the ordinal numbers that mark the weeks between Easter and Advent, but it is easy to look at the calendar and believe that “ordinary” means plain, simple, without consequence or excitement. It’s as if somewhere way back in time the clergy who planned the calendar knew we would need a break. As such, while the work of the church continues, there is no “pomp and circumstances,” for lack of a better description, during the summer months.
And that’s true this year as always, but there is nothing ordinary about the ordinary times this year. These are truly extraordinary days we are living in. We’re seemingly sitting in the darkness of the pandemic and waiting for it to clear so that we can return to the ordinary life we crave. But when the “all clear” is sounded and we return to our ordinary lives, most likely they will not resemble the ordinary lives we once knew.
But this time of darkness and waiting for an uncertain and undefined future doesn’t have to be a time of despair and anxiety. There can be joy or at least hopefulness in the anticipation of what our lives will be like when we change back — or most likely change forward — to a new ordinary time. We can make preparations for that new day by focusing our spirit and sharpening our resolve. Like Jacob, we can put our heads down and keep working in anticipation of God’s promised blessing — God’s amazing grace. And we can trust the power of the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us from darkness to light and from waiting to knowing.