As I ponder the lectionary readings today I see a common theme between them (which isn’t always the case).
They are all talking about beginnings.
Today in the lectionary, the week is denoted as Ordinary 1. The Christmas season is officially over. Yet Andy and I commented yesterday about how many people have Christmas trees and lights still up. Perhaps people are a little reluctant to enter “ordinary” time wanting to prolong the Christmas season. It can feel a little flat, a little empty when the excitement and joy of Christmas and Epiphany are over. We took down our tree and decorations midweek on the traditional twelfth night. The house always looks a little bare for the first couple of days until we re-adjust to the new norm.
So maybe the readings are timely. It is not a time to think about what has ended but a time to think about what is beginning.
The Old Testament reading is the story of creation in Genesis 1. It is a familiar story, a myth to try and explain how humanity came into existence: the beginning of humanity. As I read the text, three things stood out to me.
The first was that the story started with light. At the very beginning there was light. Light is so amazing. We still have a few white lights outside around our deck. It is too cold and they are too frozen to do anything about them at the moment. We love the light they give, a few little bulbs and it transforms the darkness. There is something very spiritual about light. Can we in our homes, places of work and daily lives be tiny lights that transform the darkness?
The second thing that I noticed was how in this story of creation there was no hierarchy. Both male and female were created in the image of God together. Today, I am not going to say any more about this. However, if you have not read it I would recommend reading Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Trible is an expert in feminist theology. This book includes a wonderful commentary on creation.
The third thing that stood out to me was that in creation people were only given plants and trees to eat. (Killing animals only came in with the fall). Interestingly I noted that animals too were only given plants to eat. Again, I am not going to expound this thought, today. Sufficient to say that the Biblical mandate in Genesis is to protect and care for the animals.
The New Testament readings, in Mark and Acts respectively, talk about the baptism of Jesus and the spread of Christianity. They were both new beginnings in the story of the Christian church. It was the official start of the ministry of Jesus and the message of inclusion for all. Something different, something new was happening. They were exciting times.
So this week let’s not think about the fact something has ended but that something new has begun. We are eleven days into 2015, the first week of “ordinary” time.
For most of us ordinary time is quite mundane. Maybe even a little drab. There is not the special festivals or decorations. Many of us do the same thing every day. Yet, it is a new beginning. Each day brings new challenges.
We get quite a lot of snow in Ithaca. One of the things I like to do is be first out to step on the snow. It is fun to see my footprints standing out clearly. Of course, they soon get merged with the footprints of others and together make a path through the snow.
Ordinary time is really important. Without ordinary time the special would no longer be special. Yet, perhaps more importantly, ordinary time is where we live most of our time. It is where our day-to -day spirituality is lived out. It is where we can live out Christ incarnate in the world. Today, Ordinary 1, is a new beginning. Let us rush into it with excitement and expectation. Here is our new beginning, our new opportunity to be as Christ to those we meet and to see Christ in all those we meet.