Watchers of the church calendar will have noticed that we have now left the Christmas period and are now in the interestingly named 'Ordinary Time'... I am grateful for this period which continues until Lent and then resumes after Pentecost until next Advent.
It reminds us that the majority of our life is lived between the celebrations of our two major festivals: Christmas and Easter. It reminds us that our faith is mostly lived out in the routine of daily life with its joys and its sorrows; its successes and its challenges. The book of Jonah, that we studied last year reminded us of the way in which the story of God's people is a very human one and gives us hope that God continues to 'make use of our ineptness' (Eugene Peterson). It is a story of forgiveness that speaks directly into our contemporary society.
For even in this 'ordinary time', the news reports are anything but ordinary!! There are seemingly daily changes of policy regarding Brexit; breath is held waiting for the next Presidential statement to come from the United States and the iniquity that is Universal Credit continues to cause pain and distress amongst many. What should the Church be saying into all this? To those who maintain that we should never mix religion and politics, I would argue that Jesus did precisely that. He challenged the status quo, not just politically but among the religious authorities as well. He spoke out for those who felt they had no voice and showed a way of living that was able to be understood and then followed by 'ordinary' people in community together. How do we follow this part of his teaching and example?
Sadly, in our developed society, we seem too often to be more concerned with how to 'get even' or 'one up' with the focus on 'self'; whether this is in our international, national and local lives or, sometimes, even amongst our families and friends. Perhaps the Church's gift to the world is this current period of 'ordinary time'; time in which we can explore God's big themes of forgiveness and grace, whilst there are no major festivals to distract us from some reflection on our models of discipleship and how our spirituality may be nurtured.