Alfred Hitchcock said that ‘drama is life with the dull bits cut out’. We’re beginning the very long part of our year known as ordinary time, which starts on Trinity Sunday and goes to Sunday before advent. It is the dull bit of the Church’s year. The beginning of ordinary time is a good opportunity to think about how we live the un-dramatic and sometimes uninteresting parts of our life together.
The Chinese have a curse- ‘may you live in interesting times’, suggesting that stable, and perhaps dull times are preferable to moments of genuine crisis. The counterpoint to this is that interesting, difficult and dramatic times often bring out the best in people, and can often cause us to focus on what is really important to us. My grandma thought that living through the Blitz was the most interesting and exciting time of her life, remembering the camaraderie, excitement and community spirit brought out in people by the war. I have also seen that times of individual crisis can also cause people to re-evaluate their lives and priorities, and grow and change in ways that unexciting daily routine never permits. Sometimes difficult and dramatic times bring out the best in our life together as a church. Our churches are often more full of volunteers, goodwill , generosity and good thinking during interregnums and other crises than they ever are when things are simply plodding on. And our churches are almost always more full and vibrant during our big festivals then they ever are the 3rd, 9th or 12th etc. Sundays of ordinary time. Sometimes it is far harder for us to live through the dull bits of life than the dramatic bits.
We have started our living the dull bit of the year in the best possible way. Our celebration of our new team ministry on Trinity Sunday was a great demonstration of what we can do to make living the dull bits of our lives together good. Everyone brought something to eat; and each of our churches contributed to the service.
The small things that we all can do are what make the big difference to our life together. Our churches are not built on the dramatic and the heroic- the big gestures and important jobs, but on the small, un-dramatic and faithful actions each of us can do. The work of our treasurers and sides people, the visits we make to one another, the groups we run, the maintenance we do, the prayers we offer, and sometimes the letters we write and phone calls we make just to say hello to one another are often far more important than our ‘public’ ministry. And together, our week-in, week-out life and worship together is far more significant than how we celebrate the high points in our year. And in a denomination which is seems perpetually dramatic and crisis-ridden, there is a lot of importance in our grassroots, daily, faithfulness which happens regardless of this. So as we prepare to enter the dull part of our church’s year together know as ordinary time, let’s remember that what we do during ordinary and dull times can be more important than what we do during dramatic times.
Revd. Tom Atfield