Ordinary Time

I grew up a suburban, mainstream, polyester Protestant.

On purpose.

My father soured early on his pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic upbringing and broke away at his first opportunity.

In Wichita, my parents were involved in what they called a “sharing group,” several couples from our potluck casserole/jello salad/free will offering United Methodist Church would rotate weekly among their homes. They had this sort of ‘I’m OK, You’re OK/encounter group/transactional analysis’ thing goin’ on.

It was all very ‘70s.

From the back seat of our harvest gold Chevy station wagon, on the way home after Sunday services, I’d listen as my parents dissected the sermon. Pop would sometimes voice frustration with the minister espousing societal ills from the pulpit.

Our Methodist pastor also took to wearing seasonally-colored clerical collared shirts whilst ministering (purple for Advent, red for Pentecost).  

Sometimes it was too much for Pop.

Just gimme that old time religion.

As a high school senior, I was elected president of the Pleasant Valley United Methodist Youth Fellowship, besting a Bible thumper from North High. There were two distinct voting blocs. Two camps that broke down along clear lines of demarcation as to how the candidates interpreted and defined “youth fellowship.”

We sang a lot. “… and they’ll know we are Christians by our love...”

Because it certainly won’t be by our haircuts.

In 1973, I was turned on to Jesus Christ Superstar in MYF. And for the first time, it started to sort of sink in. He was God’s son, but human.

On purpose.

As a human, in the end, he had second thoughts.

Take this cup away from me.

Today, my father’s oldest son is back in the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve no doubt my father’s mother is smiling as I genuflect and cross myself at St. Isidore’s Catholic Student Center in Manhattan, Kansas.

Love ya, Grandma, but that’s not what brought the family back to Catholicism. I married one. Had Jackie grown up a Presbyterian, I suspect that’s where I’d be today.

My inchoate Catholicism is not gooey, idealistic or touchy-feely. Nor is it strict, dogmatic or hierarchical. I don't get hung up on the human-inspired dysfunction of my church and instead try to focus on the big stuff.

Today’s the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time in my church (OT begins the day after the Baptism of the Lord, signifying the day JC was baptized in the Jordan). Ordinary Time will continue right on through to Advent with the occasional feast thrown in along the way.

What I took from today’s message – all are welcome.

I live my life in ordinary time.

Love your neighbor. Help those less fortunate. Seek grace.

On purpose.