June 6, 2021

“Extra-Ordinary”

From 2Corinthians 4: 1-5:1

    But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.  For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

     The word ordinary is so…well, ordinary.  It carries the connotation of the usual, expected, average, commonplace, and everyday experience of life.  Perhaps, after more than a year of suffering some anxious uncertainty in our lives brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are ready for the return of some calming, familiar and ordinary living.  But, dear Church, the truth is that ordinary can too soon turn into comfortable, and comfortable can become stagnant, and stagnant can lead to being stuck in-place with a failure to make forward progress.  When we fail to make progress down the journey of our life and faith, we fail to grow and become the men and women God intended for us to be.  We also fail to experience the beauty and opportunity that life affords us when we step out of the ordinary.  After all, we are children of God and joint heirs in Christ Jesus to God’s eternal kingdom.  We are meant to be extra-ordinary!

     Today, we begin a new season of our Christian year.  Strangely enough, this season has been given the name “Ordinary Time.”  This season of time, that takes us from the Sunday following Trinity Sunday until Christ the King Sunday in late November, has been given the color green.  Each of the seasons of our Christian year has a color or colors associated with it.  The color of the Advent Season is either royal blue or purple, royal colors symbolizing the coming of our Holy Lord and Royal King, Jesus.  Then, the Christmas Season follows with the color white, which symbolizes the purity and holiness of our Lord.  The color of the Lenten season returns us to purple, as we again celebrate Jesus as the obedient servant king who died to free us from our sin.  Easter morning awakens us to the glory and purity of our risen Lord; and so, we celebrate the Easter Season with the color white.  Pentecost celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit that rained down upon the Disciples to empower their ministry.  The color for Pentecost is red, symbolizing the flame ignited in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Trinity Sunday, which we celebrated last week, celebrates our one Holy and Almighty God revealed to us in the three persons of the Trinity.  The Holiness of the Blessed Trinity is celebrated with the color white.  Finally, we arrive at our current season-Ordinary Time, with its seasonal color green. Yet, I would argue that green is not simply an ordinary color for an ordinary season of our Christian year.  This season is a time for learning, growth and becoming who we are meant to be in God’s eternal kingdom-it is an extra-ordinary time!

     If we look at all of God’s amazing and wonderful creation around us, we see that so much of it is green—grass, trees, and all sorts of edible vegetation like lettuce, beans, broccoli and peas, just to name a few.  Plants are green in color because they contain the chemical chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll not only gives green plants their color, it also helps them to absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into nutrients needed for growth in a process known as photosynthesis. For plants, then, the color green is intimately associated with their nourishment and growth processes.  And, just as chlorophyll is essential to a plant’s life and growth process, the Holy Spirit is essential to our faith-life and its ongoing growth process.  The promised Holy Spirit we receive through faith in the work of salvation Christ Jesus accomplished for us by his cross, is as essential to us as chlorophyll is to a green plant.  The Spirit nourishes our souls, teaches us, and guides all our paths to growth and becoming all that God truly meant for us to be in God’s kingdom.  Therefore, I submit to you that green is the perfectly appropriate color for this new season of our own spiritual growth and development. As our lesson from 2Corinthians reminds us today, “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature [who we are as spiritual people], is being renewed [revived, refreshed and built up] day by day.” That is truly extra-ordinary!

     The understanding of this current season in our Christian life as extra-ordinary time is a wonderful means to segue us into our celebration of Holy Communion this morning. Holy Communion, the Great Thanksgiving, is one of the great and extra-ordinary mysteries of our faith.  We gather around Christ’s table, as invited guests to his holy banquet, and we recall the past and all that he did for us and for our salvation through his life, death and glorious resurrection.  In the present moment, we come to the table confessing our human weakness and our need for the healing and comfort of his unconditional mercy, grace and forgiveness.  As we are gathered together today, we also anticipate the time to come when we will gather with the saints at the heavenly banquet prepared for us in the eternal kingdom to come. 

     We receive the elements of the bread and cup of Holy Communion as strong symbols of the body and blood of Christ which he gave for us.  He is our bread of life, and we acknowledge his presence both with us and for us. We implore his grace to heal and renew us, and through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, to guide us onto the path of our future-toward growing and becoming the people of faith we are truly meant to be.  And so, let us now prepare to gather around the table of our Lord and Savior, Chris Jesus.  May we experience in the celebration of Holy Communion, this very day, the blessed and extra-ordinary mystery of his grace and love.  Amen.

Hymn- “Come to the Table”

words-Claire Cloninger, music-Martin J. Nystrom

Come to the table of mercy, prepared with the wine and the bread.  All who are hungry and thirsty, come and your souls will be fed.  Come at the Lord’s invitation; receive from his nail-scarred hand.  Eat of the bread of salvation; drink of the blood of the Lamb.