An Autumn of Great Potential
I love autumn. For some reason, this season shakes me from the oppressiveness of summer, the heat drenched days that make everything seem slow and cumbersome and marks an end to that strange liminal time between summer break and back to school.
Back in Chicago autumn did not last nearly as long as it does here in Delaware - I enjoy the crisp air and bursting colors of the leaves. We cannot forget the gourds and mums - and yes the pumpkin spice anything! It shows us that things change, seasons, days, lives.
It shows us that the Creator God makes a season for everything - a time and purpose under heaven.
This October greeted us with a full Harvest Moon and will depart with a Hunter’s Blue Moon (on Halloween) giving us a beautiful celestial sky show that also brought Mars closer to us. Autumn also signifies the beginning of the end of the year. Advent (the New Year of the church calendar) is around the corner, then Christmas, then 2021. Perhaps I am just also anxious to ‘get on with it.’ Get the election over. Get 2020 over.
But I am reminded that as the year end nears and a new beginning is on the horizon, it is not a bad idea for us to reflect on where we have been - or on the journey that brought us to this beautiful Autumn day. Jesus, knowing the end was near, gathered his disciples together one last time; for one last meal. A time to reflect and to be still with the Lord.
In my reflection I see how the quarantine, the social distancing and isolation have wreaked havoc on me spiritually and how they gave me time to journey inward and grow. It was joyous watching a world momentarily recover from the destructive human race with dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice and the seismic activity from our hustle and bustle settle down a bit. All this was abruptly halted when once again the sinful stain of racism ended another life and brought scores of people to the streets in protest. We were challenged to see how the legacy pre-dating the European arrival to the shores of the Americas set the world on course to what we are witnessing today (if you want a good historical and theological overview I invite you to read the book Unsettling Truths).
When Jesus retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed. He prayed "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42). We all know how the story unfolds - the cup was not taken and Jesus experienced the utter darkness of what humanity is capable of doing. Yet, God never failed to love us.
We too can pray that this cup of difficulties be taken from us in our current time. Though I believe it will not. In my reflection over these past months we have seen some of the greatest and also some of the most awful expressions of the human condition. I believe that as the seasons change, as the weather brings in a crisp breeze and we prepare for the beginning of the end of this year we will be faced with some very tough choices. I would like to believe that the brightness of humanity will triumph, but I also know that is not possible without the hard work of kingdom building (yes we can be part of building the beloved kingdom of God here by the way in which we live and love and stand for the poor and oppressed of God’s people). I said that I was both spiritually wrecked and renewed by the mark of COVID on our year. In that renewal I understand an undeniable truth. If we wish to be people of a God that loved us even when we unleashed the most awful assaults on an innocent man we have to stand on the side of justice in this world at this moment. Jesus gave us the command to love one another and I believe we will be faced with the question - what does it look like to love as Jesus loved?
The air is changing, the oppressive heat is coming to an end and we are invited into an Autumn of great potential. Creator God makes all seasons and all days, and we are invited to live fully into them. I am reminded of a prayer from an unknown author:
In the fading of the summer sun,
the shortening of days, cooling breeze,
swallows' flight and moonlight rays
we see the Creator’s hand
In the browning of leaves once green,
morning mists, autumn chill,
fruit that falls frost's first kiss
we see the Creator’s hand.
Yours in Christ,