Ordinary Time – What and Why

The period between Pentecost and Advent is called Ordinary Time.  This season makes up almost half of the church year.  The word “ordinary” used in this context does not mean unremarkable, but rather comes from the word “ordinal” meaning “counted.”  During Ordinary Time, we move from Sunday to Sunday, with each one standing on its own.  The Sundays in Ordinary Time are the called the Sundays after Pentecost.

The first part of the liturgical year, from Advent through Pentecost, sometimes referred to as Extraordinary Time, celebrates the specific historic acts of God that resulted in the salvation of his people and the new creation through Christ’s finished work.  It corresponds to the gospel story.  Ordinary Time, on the other hand, focuses on the continuing story of Jesus’ ministry and his teachings and how we continue to live into them today.  We celebrate what God does to empower us to live out the gospel as we walk with Jesus day by day and week by week within the framework of our ordinary lives – not only in the notable experiences of life, but also in the mundane.  The season of Ordinary Time celebrates the ongoing work of Jesus in and through his people.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. Green is meant to symbolize hope, to be a symbol of life and growth.  As the plants sprout and bring forth new growth during the warmth of summer, so we too, use this time to grow in our faith and discipleship in our ordinary daily life as we follow the teachings of Jesus.

The bookends of Ordinary Time are Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, and Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday after Pentecost and the week before the beginning of Advent.  Trinity Sunday celebrates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the three Persons of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It is one of the few celebrations of the Christian year that commemorates a concept or belief rather than a person or event.  While the word ”trinity” does not appear in the bible, Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’”

On Christ the King Sunday, the focus is the lordship of Jesus.  It celebrates Christ as King and Sovereign of the world and God’s dominion over all creation.  It forms the bridge between the completed year and the celebration of kingship of Christ, and the coming year, as we await with hope and expectation Christ’s coming again in the season of Advent.  The liturgical color for both Trinity Sunday and Christ the King Sunday is white, signifying perfection, joy, and purity.