How do you count? Does that seem like an odd question? Maybe it is, but it is still valid. We are entering the longest season on the Christian calendar. Some call it Ordinary Time, and some call it the Season after Pentecost. So, this week is either the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time or the Second Sunday after Pentecost. It’s the second because last week was the first, but we focused on Trinity Sunday instead. So, how do you count?
Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it is just June 14 or Flag Day. (Tune in later for July 4 suggestions.) How do you count? Count what? Count the days; mark the passing of time. One of the things that “season after Pentecost” can do is remind us that we are walking in the power of the Spirit. We are the church empowered, equipped, and sent by the God we worship and the Christ we offer. By counting the days, or the weeks, all season long, from spring through summer into fall, we are saying we have a mission, we have a purpose. We don’t just gather to worship for ourselves. We aren’t just about taking care of our own souls. We are being shaped; we are practicing how to offer Christ to the world. The songs we sing with one another to God in worship are the songs we sing to the world. The prayers we pray to God with one another are the prayers we pray on behalf of the world. The testimonies we rehearse in worship together are the stories we tell in our communities and neighborhoods and world.
By counting the days, we are reminded that this matters. It is a part of God’s purpose in the world. We are part of God’s purpose in the world. So, our worship task this series is to bring the world into worship, to be reminded that we are preparing to be a part of what God is doing, already doing, in the world around us. This week’s theme is “See All The People.” So how might we see our neighborhood, our community?
What if we commissioned all the photographers in the community (and with cell phone technology, who isn’t a photographer?) to capture the community around them and to send in pictures of what they see, where they live, and whom they encounter. These should be honest pictures that aren’t trying to put things in a bad light, or a good light, but just a real light. And let these pictures cover the walls of the church or be projected during worship. Are we still online? (We hope not! Or not exclusively anyway.) But let the feed be more pictures of outside than inside this week. Yes, we love to see our beautiful churches and sanctuaries, but in this series, we’re looking beyond the walls. What do you see next door to the church? Next door to the parsonage? Next door to the members? Who are the people around us? Do they all look like us? Do they all live like us?
This isn’t about putting down the community, making us feel sorry for them, or secretly glad for us. This is about seeing what is really there. We are sometimes so wrapped up in our church bubble that we don’t even see what is all around us. We don’t see what God is doing in the lives of those who don’t know God’s name. God sees them; we can too.
Sing the songs of the world, not just the church. “Christ for the World, We Sing.” Remind ourselves that we are looking outward, not just inward. This isn’t a call to neglect the body of the church, because we’re a part of the world too. But it is a call to remember that we aren’t the whole world. And it’s the whole world that God has in hand, not just our part of it.
So, how do you count? The point is the days count. Let’s make them count by paying attention to the world around us, the world in which God is at work. But what if we use Ordinary Time as our counter? Doesn’t that say these days aren’t as important? These are ordinary; the others are special? No! It doesn’t mean that at all. Ordinary Time isn’t about being ordinary. It’s about being counted. The “ordinal” consists of the days we count. It means these days matter. Let’s make them matter by practicing seeing the world in which we live, the world God loves enough to die for. How will we count?
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.