Ordinary Time: Settling In

As we’re coming to the end of this year’s season of ordinary time, I wanted to write a second installment. If you missed the first, read it here.

brothers having a chat

This past Sunday was the last one (for a bit) where we had the green cloth covering the communion table. Green: growth + life + cultivation + flourishing, all themes of ordinary time. On the northern hemisphere, ordinary time begins with Spring and ends a few weeks into Winter. It’s easy for us to think of metaphors of new life and growth when we’ve got SPRING in our gardens! This year on the southern hemisphere, it’s the opposite! We are ending ordinary time just a few days into Summer. Instead of starting out green, we’re ending it green. All the Spring blossoms have gone and given way to bold summer hues and a hot hot sun. This gives me a whole new set of metaphors as I think about growth. Do we grow more/stronger/faster/significantly at the beginning of our endeavors or at the end? Is it better to start out strong or finish strong? Hmmm… I’ll be rolling those around in my head for a wee while…

a beautiful Spring hike to a nearby waterfall

Ordinary time is a green growing time, and nothing about it has been “ordinary” for us per say, but we’ve seen growth in a variety of ways. This second half of ordinary time has found us settling into our home in a new country, a new city, and learning a new culture by jumping in head first. Part of the idea of “growth”, they say ordinary time is a season of discerning your vocation and shaping your ministry. That part is true. We are discerning what our role is as pastors in Christchurch, and shaping what the ministry of our church will look like. (Although we will be doing that for years! Constantly reevaluating what our role looks like.) One thing we’ve noticed is that people are longing for community.

Moses is so confident on his balance bike these days

How can our role at the church foster a connected community? How can we show people what a loving community of faith looks like? What does it mean to be part of an intimate community that spurs each other on in faith and love? And how can we guide our church congregation to do the same? These are all questions we’ve been asking ourselves these last four months as we seek to grow our community.

one of our local beaches (about 15 minutes away)

We are establishing rhythms and routines and getting a better feel for our city. We are making friends, joining various community groups, and putting ourselves out there every day (hard work for this introvert!). We are cultivating something new. We’re being “grown”, you could say 🙂
So, ordinary time, we’ll see you again. But now we continue our journey through the liturgical year. Next stop: Advent (my favorite)!!

Not So Ordinary

I find myself in the middle of ordinary time, a season in the church calendar celebrated as a green, growing time. A time to cultivate new rhythms, establish rituals of growth, wholeness, and flourishing. It’s also a time of discipleship, attention, vocation, ministry, and creativity.

It’s not a season meant to be “ordinary” or “boring”, simply a season of everyday, presence, and intention. This year, ordinary time started at the beginning of June and will lead us all the way to the season of advent in November.It takes up half the year, and rightly so, as we are gifted this time and space to cultivate, create, and flourish. On the northern hemisphere, this season starts during Springtime, when we are anxious to close the door on Winter and watch new flowers blossom. We move through Summertime, when we cultivate gardens, harvest produce, and take vacations, creating space for rest and rejuvenation. It takes us through Autumn, when children begin school and we notice their growth, when we establish daily rhythms of “getting back into the swing of things”.
 
In just over a week we’ll be on the southern hemisphere, moving from Summer in the U.S. to Winter in New Zealand. Though these seasons will change, the seasons in the church calendar are the same. Summer and Winter are completely opposite each other, but it will be ordinary time in both the U.S. and New Zealand. This is encouraging to me during our huge transition!
This ordinary time has brought us new classes in our Master’s degrees, weekly playdates with friends, constant travel to different churches as we fundraise, and a vacation on the beach in Alabama. We’ve had three successful fundraising events, eaten countless meals with friends (old and new!), logged many hours in the car, spent much-needed time with familyand recently packed up 9+ bags for our move.
Nothing about this season has seemed “ordinary”, and I notice in my heart a craving for rhythm, routine, and daily rituals. Some themes for our family’s season of ordinary time are relationship, presence, and ministry. As excited as we are to officially ARRIVE and begin our ministry, we realize that this time of preparation is part of the ministry and we are striving to stay in the present moment and soak it all in. Intentionally staying present has made this season all the more enjoyable!
Stay tuned for more blog posts as we get settled <3

BOOM, space. (A Lenten Theme)

Lent has been over for a couple weeks now, and we’ve since moved into the glorious season of Easter. Because our blog was down during most of that time, I wanted to share a bit about my Lenten theme of creating space. Across the board, this is a pretty general theme and one I think we should all embrace during the season of Lent. As we’ve been preparing to move to New Zealand, this Lenten season seemed busier than ever. Full of our regular weekly/daily/monthly activities + trying to add coffee catch-ups or dinners with friends + speaking engagements at churches, slowing down didn’t seem feasible. I decided to put forth conscious and intentional effort to create space.
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1) First, I looked at my calendar to see where and how I spent most of my time. I noticed a large chunk of it was spent preparing for, teaching, and driving to and from yoga classes. I decided to continue teaching Holy Yoga twice a week, and quit the other three prenatal classes + breastfeeding support group I was leading. Being a part of this particular studio family has been such a blessing to me over the last couple years, but I felt like a new chapter was unfolding for me. As bittersweet as it was, I ended my time there. BOOM, space.
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2) Second, I examined how I was spending all those free minutes waiting in line somewhere, waiting for someone to text me back, or just killing five minutes before a meeting or event started. The result? I found I was spending a lot of time on social media. I’m certain I’m not the only one who has noticed what a time-sucker (“space-destroyer”, if you will) social media is! Five minutes several times a day can really add up, and instead of spending those minutes mindlessly scrolling through other people’s “news”, comparing myself to others, or just “checking out” of what I should be doing in that present moment, I decided to transform those minutes by reading through the daily office prayer app, or simply engaging with my dear children. BOOM, space.
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3) This third area where space was created was unintentional on my part. (Shoutout to my Creator for closing doors that need to be closed!) I had enrolled in another seminary course for the Spring quarter but as the first week began, I quickly realized I was enrolled in the on-campus version instead of online. On-campus classes are held in Pasadena, CA so there was no way I could continue in this class and, according to the registrar, there was no way to get switched over to the online version. No longer would I spend Monday afternoons doing homework and evenings reading textbooks. I will say this creation of space was harder for me to deal with because my husband was still spending long hours writing papers, responding to forum posts, and reading textbooks. Honestly, I haven’t found a great alternative for “homework time” and seem to have filled this time simply, by sitting on the couch and resting. What began as a disappointment has turned into a blessing. BOOM, space.
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4) My yoga practice always helps to make space in my body. Creating length in side bends, releasing the lower back in a forward fold, or opening the heart/chest in cow pose all help create space. Moving from teaching 5 classes per week to only 2 has made me be more intentional in my practice. BOOM, space. I’m reminded me of the importance of sequencing postures to open up the body; it helps give me an image of the Holy Spirit LITERALLY inhabiting the space I’ve created. Not inward-focused, but outward-oriented. Filled with the Spirit, so we can love others better.
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Here’s to moving forward through Eastertide with an openness for redemption, resurrection, celebration, renewal, and freedom.
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Peace,
Abigail