A few years back we welcomed into the world our twin sons, Abram and Nolan, and nothing has ever been the same. Preparation ruled the day, but then we were reminded that there are some things that cannot be prepared for, as our boys were born 10 weeks premature.
For the first 7 weeks of their lives we essentially lived in the NICU, as we desperately waited for them to come home. These 7 weeks seemed like an eternity, until the day arrived that they were medically cleared to come home for the first time. The final parting words of the nurses were to “maintain the routine.” I have never received better advice.
We returned home, with twins in tow, and picked up right where the hospital left off. A routine of feeding, changing, and sleeping recurring every three hours for the first few months at home. We found strength, joy, and perhaps most importantly, rest, in the midst of routine.
Routine is part of our lives of faith as well. Our calendar cycles through the major festivals and celebrations every year, and the lectionary of texts every three years. There’s a certain level of expectation in the church calendar that guides us through until the next major event occurs.
During the coming months we will be entering into the “Green Season” of the year, or as I prefer it to be called, “Ordinary Time.” Is there any more dull way to describe time than “ordinary?” No anticipation like Advent or meaningful contemplation like Lent, just “ordinary.” There’s no wonder why church attendance tends to wane a bit during this time, I probably wouldn’t prioritize attending a gathering described as “ordinary” (and this holds true from concerts to sporting events and everything in between).
However, as I’ve already said, there’s something wonderful about the ordinary nature of routines, something that we’ll experience in the next 20+ Sundays. I find strength in the knowledge that God is present in my life, even when things aren’t as exciting as expecting twins. Green Season is a powerful reminder of the truth that our life of discipleship is a daily experience, rooted deeply in the routines of daily life.
It is exceedingly rare that we actually take time during the summer months to “slow down,” instead we overfill our calendars with events that break our daily routines. Ultimately this process leaves us more exhausted than we began. However, the church finds rest this time of year in the routine of gathering, centered around Word and Meal, and sending us back into the world.
This year as our calendars fill up with summer events, I invite you to take the time to find the pure joy and strength that comes in the ordinary places of our faith life, experienced in the routine of that same faith.
Peace and Joy,
Pr. Zak Wagner