What a wonderful celebration of the Holy Spirit we had last Sunday! The Feast of Pentecost never disappoints. It is the perfect exclamation point on the first half of the church year (when we celebrate the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and Easter). We’ve raced through the stories of Jesus’ life and ministry and the beginning of the life and ministry of the Body of Christ. And now we enter into the season we call “ordinary time.”
It is not called ordinary because it is boring or unremarkable, but because we simply count the Sundays after Pentecost. This year there are 26. The fourth week after Pentecost. The 20th week after Pentecost. It occurs to me how important these words “after Pentecost” are to our understanding of the season. They remind us that we have received the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers us in all the seasons of our lives.
If you were at St. Mary’s on Pentecost, you were anointed with oil as a mark of receiving the Spirit, and you were commissioned for ministry – to do your part of God’s mission of healing, liberation, and joy for the sake of the world. This season our Sunday lectionary gives us a chance to consider and shape our personal and corporate ministries through two lenses. First, we will hear the stories of Jesus’ life and ministry as detailed in the Gospel of Matthew. We will walk alongside Jesus, his friends, and those who oppose him. We will learn from Jesus the joys and challenges of living a life dedicated to loving God and our neighbors. Second, we will hear the stories of our ancestors in the faith as told in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua.
These stories, both in the Hebrew scriptures and in the Gospel, remind us that God’s mission does not depend on our perfection; God’s mission depends on our willing hearts. To what is God inviting you in this season? How will you respond? If we keep these questions in mind, this season of ordinary time will be anything but ordinary.