The last two Sundays Jay has talked to us about the season of ordinary time. As he has said ordinary time is a season of growth, a time when the values of the kingdom seep deeper and deeper into our bones. This Sunday I will continue this theme as I talk about the kingdom value of grace.
In many ways grace is the foundational kingdom value. Without grace the castle crumbles because the kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace, so it may not seem like the word ordinary would ever go with the word grace. We use such lavish adjectives to describe grace. It is amazing. It is unmerited. It is unbelievable, indescribable. And grace truly is all of these things, but one of the most extraordinary things about grace is the way in which it comes to us in ordinary ways. It comes to us in conversation, in the small kindnesses of a friend or a spouse. It comes to us in a quiet moment on a busy day. And as Christians every Sunday we are reminded as we hear the word of God and as we celebrate the sacraments that grace can come to us through the ordinary. What could be more ordinary than water, more common than bread and wine, and yet Christ promises to be with us in and through those very ordinary things.
This week I have the privilege of attending a writing conference dedicated to the work Frederick Buechner. In my own life books have been a particular place where I have learned to pay attention to the ordinary and to learn to experience grace in the everyday, and Buechner has been one my greatest teachers in that respect. As he says, "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
I believe that reading writers like Buechner can help us be the kind of people who pay attention to the ordinary and to become the kind of people who experience grace in the everyday. If we believe in a creator God who spoke this world into being and called it good, then we should expect that we might experience his goodness, his grace through the things that he has made. But this is something I forget all the time, and I suspect it might be something that you forget too. Writers like Buechner can help us remember.
Another such writer is Kathleen Norris, who I will hear from this week, and I want to leave you with a quote from her book Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women’s Work. What could be more ordinary than doing laundry, and yet Norris tells us:
“The Bible is full of evidence that God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us–loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is ”renewed in the morning“ or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, ”our inner nature is being renewed everyday“. Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous details in Leviticus involving God in the minutiae of daily life might be revisioned as the very love of God.”
My prayer for myself this week and for you is that you would experience God “even in the meaningless workings of daily life,” for it is in the ordinary that his grace comes to us.
Associate Executive Pastor