“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
Andy Warhol’s wise words
There is a season in the liturgical church calendar called Pentecost or Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time runs through the summer until Thanksgiving. I love the seasons of the church, especially Advent in December while we anticipate Jesus, both in remembrance of his birth and in waiting for his return. I also don’t mind Lent, the period of self-examination before the celebration of Easter. But Ordinary Time- no. I’ve always found it too long, too dull and too boring. I’ve changed my mind this summer. As a church, we are reading two short but impactful books: A Theology of the Ordinary by Julie Canlis and The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. Both books take the Ordinary and expand it into healthy relational living for all time.
Canlis’s book is only 68 pages because it was originally part of a lecture series at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Canlis regularly quotes Michael Horton, author of Ordinary. One of the best quotes is, “My concern is that the activist impulse at the heart of evangelicalism can put an enormous burden on people to do big things when what we need most right now is to do the ordinary things better. We can miss God in the daily stuff, looking for the extraordinary Moment…” Canlis connects the work of the Trinity to our living of our ordinary lives. For example, God’s creation connects us to our physicality, Jesus’s birth blesses and sanctifies our humanity because he became fully human. His baptism teaches us to hear that we are beloved. She is especially gifted in making these aspects of theology easy to understand for us non theologians.
Warren’s subtitle is “sacred practices in everyday life” which is a great way to describe her thesis. In the forward, Andy Couch writes that Warren “connects the moments of an ordinary day with the extraordinary pattern of classical Christian worship.” Our lives are not really divided into secular everyday time and spiritual Sunday time. She talks about looking “for God in the cracks of my day…[W]e live in a brutal world. But in the life of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit we glimpse redemption and participate in it.” We need a way that is “neither frantic activity or escape from the workaday world…marked by freedom from compulsion and anxiety because it is rooted in benediction- God’s blessing and love.”
These two books alongside God’s healing in my life have helped me wrap my head around this Ordinary Time living. God’s been using my circumstances to restrict my life long striving and has made me learn to be and not just do. I’ve finally learned to honor my introspective self by giving myself time for reflection and meditation. I’ve enjoyed my simpler living. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, says, “The useless days will add up to something. These days are your becoming.” Useless here could translate as the ordinary simple days of living.
The church calendar with its seasons and the liturgy of worship gives my intellectual side a structure which frees my creative side to relax and worship in heart and spirit. There’s space that I don’t have to manufacture from within. Canlis and Warren have helped deepen my appreciation of these structures. Though the books are very different from each other, they serve as great companion pieces. I highly recommend both to someone looking to deepen and enrich their “ordinary” life.
#juliecanlis #atheologyoftheordinary #tishharrisonwarren #liturgyoftheordinary