Eucharist – 1st Sunday after Trinity Sun 14th June
Sunday 14 June 2020 – First after Trinity
Well, here we are again: back in “ordinary” time. The great Red Letter Days and Big Ideas of Easter, Pentecost, and Trinity are behind us, the colour-scheme (if used) turns green, and we all settle down into getting on with everyday life as best we can as it comes. Phew! Like the lion in the IKEA advert, we can put our feet up, and enjoy the “wonderful everyday”.
Some people, though, don’t like calling these “green” times “ordinary”: I suppose because they think “ordinary” means nothing special, and isn’t worth bothering about. Some people prefer to call them “common” (as in ” shared”) but to others that sounds insulting – too mean and lowly for any attention. Yet to musicians, “common time” is something very specific indeed, and not universal at all: and “normal” (whether it’s old or new) is a bit of a problem for anyone different to most, who feel pressed to conform, when they needn’t. Just at the moment, in lockdown, some folks feel free to do things or go places that others mustn’t, or won’t: and I’ve heard there have been occasions when people who can’t see as far as two metres have been abused for not keeping their distance, and (wait for it!) “treated like lepers”. It all feels very unfair.
Jesus, of course, healed lepers, and all sorts of others whose diseases, in those days, meant they had sinned. It’s hard for us nowadays to realise that illness and pain were seen that way, all one very bad thing, so long as we realise that, to them, sin, like disease, was “catching”, and came from someone breaking the Law (which sounds a bit too close for comfort, these days). It just so happened that the other day we read again the story of the Good Samaritan, who helped an injured (or dead) traveller whom religious folks wouldn’t go near in case they picked up anything nasty that stopped them doing their close-to-God job. The Samaritan (like all Samaritans not able to access Temple worship, nor the healing it provided) is as bad as a leper to them. Whatever he does, he has very little to lose, and his position before God and only change for the better. Paradoxically, he (like Jesus) obeys and fulfils the Law he is not subject to, which those who have excluded him from its benefits do not, in an act of brotherly love.
That’s (I think) always the way with rules: fearful people think they are the only way to keep us all safe. But “law and order” isn’t all one thing, the way “sin-and-disease” were in the days of the Good Samaritan, but two ideas. Rules only go so far – however many there are, they can’t cover everything – so change gets harder, not easier, and we are forever trapped in the past. But “order” is what God gave the world at creation: a place for everything, and everything in its place, including you and me (although that place may not be easy to find). Being “ordinary”, that way, isn’t banal, but basic: rock-bottom, solid, honest-to-God , truthfulness, unique to each, and very, very special, simply because it’s what God ordained. So don’t be afraid: God is with you, and his love will cast out your fear. Rules may well support you in weakness: but as your trust grows, so will your strength.