The Two Seasons of Ordinary Time

Following Epiphany, on January 6, we enter into the first of two seasons in the church year called Ordinary Time. Lectionary readings during this first season of Ordinary Time focus on the life and ministry of Jesus and invite us into the maturation of our faith.

The season after Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after Easter, is both the longest and last season in the liturgical year and is the second of the two seasons known as Ordinary Time. In this second season of Ordinary Time, we celebrate our role as the church in the ongoing life of Christ in the world, guided by the companionship and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The word ordinary here has two meanings. First, it connects to the word ordinal, which has to do with counted time. During both seasons of Ordinary Time, we are marking out the weeks between the high seasons of the church year. During the second season of Ordinary Time, in particular, the Sunday lectionary texts serve as more prominent guides for our week-by-week devotional growth than they do in the focused seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter.

The second meaning of ordinary relates to the contrast between the ordinary flavor of this season with the extraordinary life of the other seasons in the church year—seasons that are pinned to the lived experience of Jesus coming into and living through his time on earth before his return to heaven. Here in Ordinary Time, the life of Christ is lived through us, the church, as we give faithful attention to our formation, devotion, ministry, and mission on a daily basis.

—Jenn Giles Kemper 


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