Below is a DRAFT text of the homily. It may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please excuse typos and grammatical errors, and do not cite without permission.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined (Isaiah 9:2).
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Like we’ve heard it before…recently.
But something is different. The colors have changed. The last time we heard this (on Xmas Eve) we were awash in red and gold…gold (gold here, in other churches it’s white)…is the color of new beginnings…the color of Christmas and Easter…the color of baptism…but now…we’re in green. Green is the color of “ordinary time”…the color of half the year…25 weeks this year, sometimes more…the color of most of our lives…the “growing time.”
Actually, it’s called “ordinary time” not because there’s nothing special about it, but because these weeks are not associated with a specific holy day…we’re not preparing for something as in Advent or Lent, nor are we celebrating anything as in Christmas, or Easter…these weeks are simply labeled with ordinal numbers…1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. (Hence, “ordinary” time…this is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time).
But the idea of “ordinary time” is richer than that. On one level, there’s a hopefulness to it…because ordinary derives from “order”, “orderly”…so in the midst of the chaos of much of our lives, claiming the “orderliness” of time…insisting that there is a logic and pattern to it (maybe we can’t see it or really appreciate it, but it’s there) is perhaps a sign of profound and prophetic hope. It is “orderly” because God orders it…all of it…the path of the sun, the planets in their courses…and whatever I had to do to get myself here this morning…it is all “ordered” in some cosmic way.
On another level, “ordinary time” is just that…plain, old, ordinary. The simple, complicated, messy place where we live out our lives…filled with meetings, and deadlines, and kids to get ready for school, and an email inbox that never seems to get any smaller, and parents to take care of, and siblings, and partners, and friend relationships to navigate, and community commitments…and a self to improve (don’t forget that…) and the news to obsess over…The ordinary is where we live and move and have our being…It’s where God shows up…amid all of the comings and goings…the quarrels and divisions…the, ”I belong to Cephas,” “I belong to Paul,” “What color are we going to paint the kitchen?” That’s where we live…and where God meets us.
It’s important to pay attention to this…to be clear about how God works…how, and where, the light actually shines…and where and when Jesus calls us…because God never waits until we’re “ready.” Jesus isn’t hanging out until all of the ten thousand things we think are necessary and in order…or certainly not when they’re in an order that makes us comfortable…The Holy Spirit doesn’t delay until the places are set, and the table is ready…until you’ve compiled all the necessary documentation…until you’ve had the conversation you’ve been meaning to have…No. God comes in the midst of all that…Jesus calls….while the fishing net hangs in the air…while you’re bent over a task that might be menial (mending a net for example), but is also meaningful (preparing lunch for the Annual Meeting)…while you’re going about your daily work…tending to business as usual…feet sunk deep in the path of the “ordinary”… that’s when it happens…
Christ doesn’t wait until everything is ready…Isaiah’s light…the light that shines on those in darkness it doesn’t wait for everything to be “in place”…no the ground still trembles with tramping warriors and and the stench of garments bloodied by the demands of daily life still hangs think in the air.
John’s light…the light that comes into the world…and shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it…that light doesn’t wait for the dawn…it becomes the dawn…it is the dawn…the light that shines on saint and sinner alike.
Christ isn’t waiting for all of us to “get it”… to understand, and believe…no…Christ comes into the world where, and when we least expect it… we’re never ready for it…but that’s the beauty and the miracle of it…Christ comes into the messiness of our ordinary lives…God shows up in the topsy-turvy, hurly-burly and says…”follow me… I know the way…”
Christ comes in the midst of the craziness of life and says…”follow me”…but…(and this is important too)…not into anything extraordinary…not out of the world…but into the world…further into the ordinary. Andrew and Peter, and James and John don’t leave their nets to follow him into an extraordinary life of fame, wealth, and endless hugs and puppies…we don’t follow Jesus out of life…we follow Jesus into life…into a very ordinary life of full of turning, learning, praying, worshipping, and going into the world to bless and be a blessing others.
We rightly celebrate the big events…Christmas and Easter…those are absolutely important…but we need to be careful….or we’ll continue to carry around the false believe that being in touch with the Divine….seeing the light…being in Communion with God…is something we have to go somewhere special to get… When did we learn that? Where did we get the idea?…that have to be in the right place…or in the right frame of mind…or with the right people…in order for the Divine to show up? When did we learn that spirituality was something we had to go out of the world to find?
Today, let’s remember and celebrate that Christ comes to us in the ordinary…Jesus meets us in the simplest and most basic elements of life…water…bread…wine…the gathered community…Today, let’s remember and celebrate that God doesn’t wait around for us to be ready…God comes to us in the midst of our unreadiness…God comes into the mess…is present in the daily slog…and let’s pray that we have eyes to see that light…and ears to hear that call.