Easter? Yes, we’ve heard of that.
Christmas? Of course, we know about that. Everyone knows about that.
Lent? Isn’t that the time when we are getting ready for Easter?
Advent? I recall hearing a preacher say it’s the four Sundays before Christmas where we prepare and anticipate the coming of baby Jesus.
Common Time? What? Huh? I don’t know much about that. When is it?
Common Time, also known as Ordinary Time, is located at two different places in the year of the Church’s worship calendar. Don’t worry too much if it is not a season you recognize because it was only recently introduced in 1969. The Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s brought about sweeping changes to the way Roman Catholics interacted with the rest of the Christian world, how they organized themselves, and even how they patterned their worship. One of the most significant changes was to the way they designated the Sundays after Epiphany in January - when we mark the visit of the wise-men bringing gifts to Jesus - and the Sundays after Pentecost in May or June - when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to birth the church. Starting in 1969, Catholics and most Protestant churches refer to these two seasons as Common Time.
Christians have been thinking about the time since the early days after Jesus departed the first disciples and ascended into heaven. But, what value is there to time? Fifteen years ago in seminary, I highlighted these words of James White,
The calendar of the early church centered upon what God had done and continued to do through the Holy Spirit. The point of the Christian year is that all is done for us. All we have to do is accept what God has done. Then we really are free to act. The church’s liturgical year both underscores the futility of our efforts and exults in God’s victories for us. In short, the church year is a constant reminder of gifts that we cannot create but can only accept.
- Introduction to Christian Worship, p. 67
I like to think that our worship helps us to recite the marvelous works of God in history and in our stories. For me, Common Time is the reminder that even though every day is not a major holiday or date to celebrate a certain event in history, every day and week is a gift to be used. We can use ordinary days and common moments to praise God for the constant grace we have been given in the living of our lives.
Grace and Peace to you, Scott