- Written by Tom Miles Tom Miles
- Created: 25 July 2010 25 July 2010
The longest season of the church begins after Pentecost and runs through the summer and autumn until Advent brings a new church year. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call this time a “season.” Rather, it is the time falling outside of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and Lent, the church’s true liturgical seasons. This is the Tempus per Annum, the “time throughout the year,” which is known in liturgical circles as “Ordinary Time.” The 33 or 34 Sundays, including those between Epiphany and the beginning of Lent and those between Pentecost Sunday and the beginning of Advent, make up Ordinary Time.
We commonly name these Sundays by their distance from the festivals of Epiphany or Pentecost, talking about the “Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost” or the “Second Sunday after Epiphany.” They also bear the names of the lectionary, the set of Bible readings that define the Bible lessons for each Sunday. Lectionary 19 is used on Sunday, August 8, and is therefore called the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. (There is no “First Sunday in Ordinary Time” because the first week of Ordinary Time, the week after Epiphany, begins on a Monday.)
There’s no consensus on how these Sundays came to be known by the term “ordinary.” It comes either from the ordinal numbering of the Sundays in the season (first, second, last) or—more simply and more likely—from the ordinary English word ordinary, meaning common, usual or customary. Unfortunately, the definition of ordinary also carries the connotations “unexceptional,” “uninteresting” or “unsurprising.” This time is no break from the splendor of the church year. Instead, it is a celebration of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the church. Through the Word and the Sacrament, we explore the themes of justification, sin, grace, love, obedience, endurance and hope. This is truly the “Time of the Church.”