Introduction to Ordinarytide

 The following it excerpted from Steve Bell’s Pilgrim Year, a multi-modal online collection of reflections on the spirituality of the Christian calendar year. The series, which includes offerings from guest contributors Malcolm Guite, Bob Bennett, Alana Levandoski and Amy Knight,  offers (for all devices) collections of reflections on Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide and Ordinarytide, and can be viewed and purchased at

Finally, we come to the last and longest season of the Christian calendar year called Ordinarytide, which spans from the end of Eastertide around mid-May, to the beginning of Advent in late November.

In many traditions, there are two seasons of Ordinarytide, one shorter season between Epiphany and Lent, and then a longer one, which this collection celebrates. Given the assumption that most readers of these pages are new to the Christian calendar tradition, we’ve chosen to keep it simple. In truth, the Christian calendar tradition has several varieties and complexities we’ve not addressed, but which you will discover if you become a worshiping member of a congregation who attends to the tradition in one of its forms.

Ordinarytide in general offers a bit of a breather. There are certainly significant feasts (Trinity Sunday, Feast of Transfiguration, All Saints, and the Feast of Christ the King) and saints’ days (Francis and Clare of Assisi come to mind) to be celebrated, but it has much less drama than the other seasons. It has a more even keel to it, and offers a chance to slow down and integrate the mysteries we encounter throughout the rest of the year.

Ordinarytide is the season to attend to the holiness of our daily lives.

Having passed through Advent, where we considered the mystery of the human person whose dignity it is to accept the invitation to participate in the drama of salvation as maternal spouse of God, profoundly co-operating to bring Christ’s life to the world, we then celebrated Christmas, where we apprehended the humble incarnation of the cosmos’ Creator and reflected on the astonishing humanity of Jesus. In the season of Epiphany we meditated on the miracles and events that revealed Jesus’ divinity, and we came to understand the two natures (human and divine) of Christ to whom our souls are wed. During Lent, we pondered the devastation wrought by our infidelities and the myriad inordinate attachments and desires which draw our affections away from our Lord. Then, during Holy Week, we walked alongside Jesus to the cross where He assumed and redeemed those devastations, so that we might once again truly and freely love and know we are beloved by God. Eastertide was a sustained reflection on the miracle of resurrection and the eternally evergreen life on offer through Christ’s victory over death. And now we come to Ordinarytide…

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters, 1565

The very sound of “Ordinarytide” seems a bit of a let down after the drama that has preceded it. The word ordinary suggests commonplace, uninteresting and featureless, and describes a person with no special merit or distinction. But if we simply replace what we usually mean by ordinary with “daily,” a new appreciation becomes possible. For Ordinarytide is the season in which we come to realize the astonishingholiness of our daily lives as a consequence of all we have previously considered. Here, we begin to understand with joy that the daily is impregnated with the divine.

The very first Sunday of Ordinarytide is Trinity Sunday. Although it doesn’t get much “press” compared to days like Christmas or Easter, I contend that Trinity Sunday is the highest and most magnificent peak of illumination on the landscape of the Church calendar year. Everything that has preceded is pointing toward, and is a mere foothill relative to, this great revelation. Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection all conspire to bring us to this moment when we see the community (Father, Son, Spirit) that is God’s eternal love and life, for which we have been redeemed, and into which we have been whole-heartily invited. And it is from this dizzying summit that we look down on the plains of daily-ness and see it both bathed and infused with the light of God’s intrinsic mutuality, goodness and love. The whole point of attending to the Christian calendar year is to come to this moment where we awaken to the mystery of a daily-ness which, far from ordinary, radiates back to God’s own being and, ironically, to know in our bones that nothing conceived and sustained under God’s gaze is by any means ordinary.

Gilles-Francois-Joseph Closson, Large butterburr Leaves and Grass, 1825-1829


Novelist Walker Percy, in his essay “The Holiness of the Ordinary,” reflects on how the Judeo-Christian tradition “confer(s) the highest significance upon the ordinary things of this world: bread, wine, water, touch, breath, words, talking, listening.”

Recently, I was asked to contribute a song to a compilation CD. It wasn’t a “Christian” project so the assumption was that I’d submit something that wouldn’t be too Christian, as it were. Producer Murray Pulver and I sat down to write a song that simply celebrated ordinariness (daily-ness) as it comes to us: as the advent-ure that it is, which of course, at the end of this season, leads right back into Advent again.

by Murray Pulver and Steve Bell

Waking to familiar news
Summer’s gone, long gone
Some are nursing winter’s blues
Bring it on, bring it on

Crumble of snow beneath the feet
Shivering fingers, winter’s cheek
True north time is bittersweet
Bring it on, bring it on

Not the youth I used to be
Marvelling how the time has gone
Yet I’ve never felt so free
Bring it on, bring it on

Less to conquer, less to do
Less inclined to suffer fools
Just happy to grow old with you
Bring it on, bring it on

Fumbling forward on the way
Why regret, just journey on
In the end it’s all okay
Bring it on, bring it on
Bring it on, bring it on



4 thoughts on “Introduction to Ordinarytide

  1. Thank you Steve this was a very good view of ordinary time. I also enjoyed the song. What compilation is it to be on.
    Blessings to you and your family

  2. In my own devotional approach to the church year, the mission of the church, Thanksgiving and November as the month to remember, including saints, souls, veterans and suffering church are important highlights. And somehow, Ordinarytime is where we are at in the flow of history, though we seem close to 2nd Advent too.

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