I have recently been thinking and writing about understanding ourselves as Christians, as ordinary people in ordinary settings with ordinary powers, yet called to an extraordinary living—extraordinarily responsible for transforming and redeeming creation. And so, amidst our routines, lies God’s call not to accept things as they are—to live in God’s way to transform and redeem the way things are. And we thus find fulfillment, signficance, and relevance not in dreaming of being other than we are, but in being precisely as we are.
Which sounds good. It sounds like it should be true. It’s exciting. Thing is, there is often no amidst to my routine; there is but my routine. And most days, I’m just glad to get dishes washed after two of three meals, to not get further behind on the laundry, to return library books before they’re due, to get people where they need to be with everything they’re supposed to have when they get there, to cross a few things off the to-do list and a few more off the should-have-already-been-done list. Redeeming creation seems a bit of a stretch.
I was, in fact, thinking just the other day, I want a lot more credit for simply facing the day-to-day responsibilities of any given week and actually getting through them! I want some acknowledgement of the accomplishments of day-to-day life: not so much redeeming creation as redeeming coupons before they expire, not so much appropriately sorting out priorities as appropriately sorting laundry and then amidst already appropriately sorted laundry figuring out what can be dried and what can’t be, not so much changing the way things are as semi-regularly changing sheets and towels.
And what does it mean, anyway, to say that amidst routine lies God’s call not to accept things as they are—to live in God’s way to transform and redeem the way things are? Because if that’s something separate from my routine, how do I make time for it? Or is it an element to routine—within routine?
Hear now the good news of the week after Pentecost, entering into the ordinary time of the church year: part of answering God’s call, part of what it means to live into redemption is simply fostering a normal that values the details of dailiness, that imposes some order on chaos, that works to maintain relationships and health and cleanliness in the face of any given week, that negotiates parenting with enough grace not to hurt anyone.
And so the word for today? In the midst of your routines—in the midst of what you get done and what is left undone, with house and yard and clothes and children clean enough, whether friends and family are happy with you—whether or not you’re happy with them, within your ongoing struggle to maintain some semblance of balance: well done. It is counted to you as righteousness.