Sunday’s Scripture ~ Romans 8:12-17
This Sunday we will celebrate Trinity Sunday, which kicks off the longest season in the Christian year known as Ordinary Time or Kingdomtide. Ordinary Time refers to the part of the Christian year that lays outside of the seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas. It is an in-between time where the Church celebrates the mystery of Christ not in one particular aspect but in all its aspects. For example, in Advent we focus on the particular aspect of Christ’s incarnation and in Lent we focus on the particular aspect of Christ’s coming Passion and Resurrection from the dead. In Ordinary Time our focus is Kingdom-minded, which is why some refer to this season as the Kingdomtide. During this season Christians consider texts that invite us to apply in our lives what we have learned from the example of Christ and help further bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.
Bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth is anything but ordinary…so do not let that name fool you. It is extraordinary work and, even more amazing, God invites us to be part of this work.
My childhood best friend Laura and I are the kind of friends that may not speak to one another face to face for a length of time, but when we finally do, we pick up right where we were last. This past Saturday Laura contacted me to share that her Pop had passed away; she and her family wanted me to know. She also invited me to her Pop’s graveside service and her Memaw wanted to be sure I knew that “Sarah Beth-Ann was invited to lunch afterwards.”
To that family I will always and forevermore be Sarah Beth-Ann.
The family planned a very small graveside service because that is what Pop always wanted. Pop was a very strong and sensible man. He made sound investments throughout his life; to him it did not matter that the latest and greatest gadget was just released because his version that he purchased in the 1950s was still working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it” was his policy. His contentment with his material possessions freed him up to really invest in immaterial possessions, specifically his relationship with God and with his family and friends. The fruit of his investment in relationships was evident at his graveside as the quaint corner of Oak Hill Cemetery was overcome by people who loved Pop – family members, friends, folks he mentored, business colleagues, and more. The small graveside service became a large graveside service. We were there for Pop and his family. I was there for Laura.
After the service Laura and I connected, first, by eye contact and second, by embrace.
“How are you doing?” “I’m okay…actually I’m not okay.” “And that’s okay.” “I’m glad you’re here.” “Me, too.”
Laura and I say that we have been friends from the womb. Our mothers were pregnant during the same time and we met in daycare as toddlers. We went to the same elementary school…and our parents quickly learned that we should not be in the same class together because while we had a great time together it was not always the great time that the teachers wanted us to be having. All our lives we have been family to one another and family comes a-running when a member is in need.
Laura and I share this understand of being family to one another because of our relationship with Christ. Individually we know that we are God’s children and because we are God’s children we understand our call to be our sister’s keeper. Jesus teaches that we serve him and build and reveal the Kingdom before our own eyes each time we provide food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, care to the sick, companionship to the imprisoned, and clothes to the naked. This work may at times seem mundane or ordinary but in fact it is the extraordinary work of the Kingdom! It is work that God desires us to attend to and participate in daily.
I find in my own experience that I receive so much care for my soul as a product – and gift – of caring for another’s soul. This is the lesson I was reminded of as I attended Pop’s service with Laura on Wednesday. Jesus participated in this work and he is an heir to God’s Kingdom. Our participation in this work joins and extends the work of Christ and, as his sisters and brothers, we become heirs to God’s Kingdom.
During this Ordinary Time may God lead us in Extraordinary Work!
Prayer: “Everlasting God: you have revealed yourself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and ever live and reign in the perfect unity of love. Grant that we may always hold firmly and joyfully to this faith, and, living in praise of your divine majesty, may finally be one in you; who are three persons in one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”*
*”Prayer for Trinity Sunday,” The United Methodist Book of Worship 412.