|Call to Prayer in Ordinary Time|
|Written by Deborah Hollifield|
"Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own...God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open..." Ephesians 6:13-18 (The Message)
Following the sweet fellowship of Advent and Christmas, the intimacies and mysteries of Lent, the joys of the Easter season and the promise of Pentecost, the summer months present us with a bit of a disconnect. The liturgical among us call it "Ordinary Time" – there is no special spiritual focus, no particular ecclesial celebrations to anticipate or prepare for. Without the "white noise" of church activities to draw our attention away from the cares of the world, Ordinary Time allows The Troubles of the World to grow louder in the background and disturb our peace.
Ordinary Time is its own kind of revelation: not the revelation of Incarnation or Resurrection or new birth, but the revelation of why we need such things at all from the hand of God. Ordinary Time emerges out of the mists that mark the borders of Easter and shows itself on the other side of Pentecost's flames, spanning the days to the next Advent.
There are people and institutions for whom Ordinary Time is a metaphor for existence plagued by confusion, fraught with suffering, littered with the lonely, the weak and the cast off. In a single Ordinary Day the ships of nations shudder in rough waters with no steady hand at the helm; their people wander homeless and often unwelcome in strange lands; the treasure of their youth are caught in the briar patch of cultural chaos; nascent persons are threatened in the womb; the weak are pushed aside; the wisdom of gray heads is laughed off.
It is into this world of Ordinary Time that God's Holy People are launched by the winds of Pentecost to undertake extraordinary work: to establish a bridgehead – a defensible foothold - to be expanded as more troops join the force to push back the darkness. In the world of Ordinary Time we are called to stand – on our knees by our beds, in our prayer closets, on our morning walks, at the dinner table, in our cars at stop lights, in our churches – and speak short prayers, long prayers, desperate prayers and breath prayers of the promises of God's grace, mercy and deliverance into the lives of those whose only and all-sufficient Advocate is God. Thank you for standing with us.
Deborah Hollifield is a teaching elder in the PC(USA) serving as Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Newton, KS. She is a member of PPL's Board of Directors.