As we reach June we enter, what in Church circles is often referred to as “Ordinary Time”.
Wouldn’t that be nice?!
Nothing seems to be ordinary anymore and we seem to have exhausted our supply of words to describe the “unprecedented” circumstances under which we have been living.
Nevertheless, all being well, this month should see a further lifting of restrictions and some sense that we can ‘breathe’ again; meet, gather and simply be human with one another once more. There are no grounds for complacency of course and after a year of false dawns and misplaced optimism, it’s important that we take small, measured, incremental steps on the path to ‘normality’.
… And for all that we are impatient to recover lost ground, rebuild our congregations, re-engage with our communities, nevertheless we should beware of simply seeking to recreate life before the pandemic. It would be easy to return willy-nilly to the “known” ways, the (allegedly) comfortable certainties of the past. Many of them were perhaps not as life giving or fruitful as we may have persuaded ourselves they were.
There is surely a need as well as an opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities.
Hence this “ordinary” month is actually scattered with the celebration of some extraordinary people who invite us, in their different ways, to consider how the transforming power of Christ is at work in the world.
There is John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrate on 24th June. John called the people of his own day to examine their hearts and minds and lives in the light of the one who was coming after him – soldiers, tax gatherers, the religious leaders were all called to repent, to turn around to face in a different direction and walk in the Way of the Messiah.
There is the Apostle Barnabas, “son of encouragement” who sold his field and gave the proceeds to enable the work of the church; generous in spirit as well as in material matters who sought to reconcile Jewish and Gentile Christians, affirming that whatever your background we all find our true identity in Christ. What an important message in an age of fragmentation and uncertain identity.
Then on the 28th June we remember Peter, the Cathedral’s principal patron saint, who so wanted to please his Lord and Teacher and promised the earth, but who, when the chips were down and his own life at stake, denied he even knew him, ….and yet, and yet found in Christ such forgiveness and such grace that he would be empowered to boldly proclaim the resurrection, lead the nascent church and ultimately find the courage to die a martyr’s death.
Ordinary people made extraordinary by God’s grace, who didn’t cling to the past but prepared the way of the Lord and sought to live it out in ways of self-sacrificial generosity, simplicity of life and radical forgiveness. Can it ever really be ordinary time with the amazing God we serve?
The Very Revd Christopher Dalliston
Dean of Peterborough