Here we are, in the season after Pentecost that we sometimes refer to simply as “ordinary time.” It’s a long season, welcomed by the long days of summer. We might have preferred to settle into this liturgical season with a more relaxed approach, but the Gospel texts from Luke in the coming months will have none of that. In the weeks ahead we will hear:

Jesus interrupts a funeral procession to raise the dead. Everyone is understandably shocked (Luke 7:11-17).

Jesus has dinner and dishes out forgiveness to an uninvited woman who knew all too well of her sinfulness. The other dinner guests are left with more questions than before her interruption (Luke 7:36-50).

On the way to Galilee, Jesus and his followers are interrupted by a man who lived naked among the tombs (among the dead). That encounter results in an incredible conversion (Luke 8:26-39).

After being turned away from a Samaritan village, the disciples suggest what sounds like divine genocide. Unsurprisingly, Jesus rejects that idea. Instead he reminds his followers of the interrupting cost of discipleship (Luke 9:51-62).

Whatever is “ordinary” about this season is surely overshadowed by these narratives of interruption, by the sudden plot turns and by the incredible character conversions along the way. We may call it ordinary time because of its regular numbering within the liturgical calendar, but these stories invite us to wonder about our lives of faith between the ordinary and the extraordinary, between what we expect of Jesus and his ministry of interruptions.

As we settle into summer and into this long season of Pentecost, perhaps we should take stock of our expectations, of what it is we consider the “ordinary” work of the church. After all, Jesus may very well have something else in mind.

God of the (extra) ordinary, send now your interrupting Spirit upon our ordinary lives, our ordinary stories and our ordinary churches. Raise us from the dead. Forgive us. Convert us and invite us again into costly discipleship. Amen.

Timothy K. Snyder
Timothy K. Snyder is an instructor of practical theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.  

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