January 20 – The Green Stole of Defiance


I’ve decided to wear my green stole on Sunday. It seems to me like a pretty good act of defiance.

At LPC we don’t pay much attention to vestments and paraments; you know, the decorative stoles a pastor might wear with his robe and the variously colored runners on the communion table or pulpit. In fact, we use no paraments and the pastor can’t seem to decide whether he likes vestments or not.

In the high churches vestments and paraments are very important and for good reason. They serve as reminders of the mighty acts of God, though sometimes the parishioners fret about them as if they should be subject to the tastes of an interior decorator.  Among the reasons paraments are not so important at LPC are the architecture and chancel furnishings that discourage their use. And my vestments, modest as they are? Sometimes a plain black preaching gown says all I want it to say.

But this Sunday I’ll be wearing my green stole, and I hope it says all I want it do say.

By tradition, purple is the color of the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent. Red is for Pentecost Sunday.  White reminds us of Christ and it is used on, Christmas, Easter, Transfiguration, Trinity and  Christ the King Sundays. Green is the color of what they call Ordinary Time, thirty or more weeks of year, in other words, most of the time.

Ordinary Time. That’s why I am wearing my green stole on Sunday.

Ordinary Time is made of those days that fall one after the other in the order God has given them. They are ordinary; they have no particular names. This coming Sunday will be the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is the third Sunday since the named day of Epiphany.  In the current order of days, there will be seven Ordinary weeks until Transfiguration Sunday and then the weeks in Lent.  We’ll get back to a long stretch of Ordinary Time after Pentecost Sunday.

LPC is not a high church and we tend not to pay much attention to colors and days. But this Sunday I will wear my green stole, a reminder that we are in Ordinary Time.  I hope what it says is a reminder that God orders our times. Today is Friday, January 20, 2017. By any other name, the Second Friday in Ordinary Time. Sunday will be the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Ordinary does not mean plain, meaningless, or forgettable. Ordinary means that this day, this time, is unfolding according to God’s ordering of things. Whatever evidential data seemingly to the contrary, this is not an out of order day. Our times are neither unordinary nor extraordinary; they are ordinary, ordered by God.

Ordinary Time is filled by God’s order with weddings and baptisms, deaths and discouraging diagnoses, births and promotions, dinners out with friends and the tossing and turning of sleepless nights.  Ordinary Time is marked by getting up and going to work, putting in the time you’re paid put in – sometimes more – and coming home to play with the kids even when you’re tired.  Ordinary time sings to the rhythm of teaching Sunday School and going to choir practice, joining mission teams and volunteering to serve on committees.

Most of the church’s work for justice and peace, care and compassion, of sharing the Good News of the Gospel and calling men and women, children and youth, to place their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is done in Ordinary Time.

The order of Ordinary Time begins to make sense in the light of Bible study and devotions, disciplined giving, and diligent prayer.

Maybe we need to be reminded that Americans went to the polls last year on the 32nd Tuesday in Ordinary Time. The new president will have taken the oath of office on the Second Friday in Ordinary time in a new year that began on the First Sunday of Advent, that Sunday we lit the Hope Candle.

I will wear my green stole on Sunday, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. It will be an act of defiance against those who say there is no hope or place their hope in unworhty places, a reminder of the One who orders all our days.

See you Sunday