Saturday, January 18, 2014

Knowing God in Ordinary Time

Rector's Rambling- February 2014

As January turns into February, the year truly turns for me. Waterfowl, upland birds, and small furry things are safe again for another year with the passing of hunting season (If they were ever threatened by me anyway!) Grandson George and spaniel Oscar will both turn one. It is time to buy a new fishing license.  It is time to plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  I will receive my first check as a retiree of the Ohio Army National Guard. And we start seeing more green days on the Church Kalendar (sic).

I've always liked the green seasons of the church. In some places they are called “ordinary time.” That ordinariness is what I like about them. While holidays and special celebrations are nice occasionally, I've always been one of those folks who would generally rather stay at home with a predictable schedule and do what I do. I think it must have been experiences in the Army which convinced me early on that most surprises past the age of 11 or 12 are only occasions for extra work and headache. And so I have remained a pretty boring person who is content to do the job at hand, with some semblance of order and as much predictability as providence allows.

Over the years, experience has taught me that I am most likely to experience God in the mundane and routine things of life, rather than on the mountaintop. I have had one or two mountaintop experiences in the last 60 years, but they were unplanned and unexpected. God came in his way and on his schedule to demand my attention and to grant his grace. There were times when I sought to force his hand, or to orchestrate a wonderful and spiritual time with my Lord, but they almost always failed because I was so focused on myself and my desires instead of on him who made me and reconciled me to himself. I would almost go so far as to say that the times when I have worked the hardest to summon God's presence, be it through wonderful liturgy, or special disciplines, or planned occasions of any sort, my feeble efforts were just attempts to cover for the reality that my selfishness had rendered me incapable of sensing God's presence in my life.

No, it is in the little things that God leads me to sense his presence. It is in the ordinary times. It is in the small everyday chores and responsibilities of life that he most often enables me to know viscerally that he is with me. I suppose this if fitting. It is another proof that indeed the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, thus sanctifying and declaring good forever his creation. Might we all sense the presence of God in the little things around us in these closing days of winter. Bishop Berkeley of of Cloyne in the Church of Ireland argued mightily in his day that God was more than some cosmic watchmaker who designed the world, wound it us, and left it to run. He was fond of saying that if God stopped thinking about us for an instant, we would cease to exist. I find it most comforting that when I am cleaning stalls, or walking in the woods, or doing dishes, or writing sermons, or visiting friends, he is there, actively thinking of me, and smiling on those mundane activities which generally characterize my life. It is good to be thought of, and to be loved; and it is good to walk with the Lord. I pray that all of you, my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ, might know this goodness every hour of every day of your lives. Through Christ our Saviour, AMEN!

No comments: