You’ve most likely noticed that the colors inside the church change on occasion. For the past few weeks, the altars and pulpits throughout are draped in green, while in the sanctuary the pastors and choir members don green stoles on their robes. And as you’ve probably assumed, these aren’t arbitrary “fashion” choices; these colors map to an age-old tradition that spans many centuries.
We are currently in the season that the Church calls “Ordinary Time,” a period marked by green. Two segments of the Christian calendar are labeled Ordinary Time: six weeks sandwiched between Epiphany and Lent, and another twenty-plus weeks that separate Pentecost and Advent. All told, almost 60% of the year is Ordinary Time. Given this amount of time, this season—and its affiliated color green—signifies an important aspect of our faith journey.
Green calls to mind a sense of expansion. It speaks to a moment of renewal, of freshness, of growth. It marks a time in which things are alive, a life that flourishes vividly and openly. Since most of the calendar is Ordinary Time, it follows that these days are meant to remind us that that’s what our lives are all about—showing the world what the love of God looks like, “vividly and openly.”
Each of us as persons and as a collective community is invited into God’s mission in the world. It’s not our mission; it’s God’s work. But we are graced and loved through an invitation to participate in this sacred task! For clarity on this point, two authors point out that “mission is not something the church does as an activity; it’s what the church is through the mystery of its formation and memory of its calling.” We are a missional people whose sole purpose is to glorify God through the lives we live. We are living signposts to the world, pointing back to the very source of life and love itself, and inviting all to “taste and see” (Ps 34.8). The same writers go on to state that the “church is more than an organization providing spiritual goods and services in order to be successful,” but instead, “all the church does and is should live out God’s life…before a watching world.”
The green of Ordinary Time is a sign for us to remember our own renewal, freshness, and growth as a People of God. It is an opportunity to make the day to day something more than mundane, and it provides a timely reminder to let God’s light shine through us in all that we do. When we live with this intent, we become more. And our Ordinary time becomes extraordinary.