January 2017
Ordinary Time, Take 2

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

We had a wonderful Epiphany party last night!  (Read more in the Recent Event Review.)  Also take particular note of the Other News section this month – there’s a lot of important information there about various items.

My husband, the preacher, has always been hesitant to repeat a sermon. I’ve always wondered why, but as I was looking through some old Dean’s Columns today for inspiration, I began to understand his hesitation. I had to fight the concern that readers will either consider me either a) too lazy to come up with a new column, or b) egotistical enough to assume that something I wrote in the past is worth repeating. But as I read this January 2014 Dean’s Column, it spoke anew to me, so I decided that maybe it was worth repeating – with a few edits. Besides, I deserve to be a little lazy at this time of year, right?

I LOVE all the Christmas decorations in my house – the trees, the lights, the aromatic candles, all the festive red and green, the Christmas china.  But never fail, even though every year I can’t imagine EVER wanting to take it all down, sure enough, sometime in the first week of January, I start getting antsy to “undecorate” and get it all put away.   Even with the mild sadness that I feel as it all goes back in the boxes for another year, even with the slightly stark and empty look the living room has when it’s all gone, I’m strangely driven to get it done and get back to “normal”.   And it ALWAYS surprises me that there’s a sort of serenity that comes over me as I look at my home afterward.

It surprises me because I have such wonderful memories of choir and staff parties in my home, warm and fuzzy times in front of the fire with my kids all home, and beautiful Christmas music playing all the time.  One would think that it would cause more than mild sadness to see all that go for another year.  And yet, I really do welcome the simplicity, and getting back to the mundane routine of “normal” life.

Could this be what “Ordinary Time” is all about?  We have a short stretch of Ordinary Time now in the Christian calendar, after the Baptism of our Lord and before Lent.  The term “Ordinary Time” has always sounded kind of depressing to me, as if it’s dead time between the really exciting times in the liturgical calendar.  So it surprises me that there’s something in me, and I suspect in all of us, that welcomes it.  I wonder if on some level it’s some part of us knowing what Richard Foster wrote in his book Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home: “The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find Him at all.”  After all, the moment before Mary was confronted by the angel was Ordinary Time, wasn’t it?

And what does it have to say to us as organists?  For me, I know that I’ve always really enjoyed planning and playing for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.  But I can too easily slip into short-changing the time and energy I give to “Ordinary Time” Sundays.  But remembering that my primary purpose is to be help people worship and encounter God in new ways, from now on I hope I will appreciate that in Ordinary Time I’m helping people worship a God who speaks especially “in the daily and the ordinary”.

Andrea Handley



Posted in Past Dean's Columns.