For everything there is a season, and a time for everything under heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1
During a recent trip to the Centre for Life in Newcastle my family and I saw a show in the Planetarium, a show that told of the journey of our planet around the Sun during the year and how this, along with the tilting of the Earth upon its axis sees the tides rise and fall, sees temperatures do the same for each point on the planet, and how this results in the four different seasons. It must be admitted that I find these things fascinating: the ebb and flow of the Sun in the sky causing our long days of summer and the long nights of winter, but most of all the change that this sees in all of our lives and how we live them; what we wear, what we do, what we eat, how we act all being things that change as our planet swings around the night sky and the year rolls around from January through to December and back once again.
Of course there is a journey to be made around the Church year too, we also live a seasonal life within the Church – one that for us begins with Advent and then goes on to embrace Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and on into Ordinary time, that great long period that we find ourselves in now, when you will always find me wearing green at the altar and when we focus on the life and ministry of Jesus in those three years He wandered around Galilee, as opposed to focusing on any particular part of the story of God and His people as played out in the life of Jesus Christ. So why then if we are not in seasonal time do I mention all this now? Well simply because for me, even though we are not crossing the boundary between one season and another in the Church year as we go from August into September, it very much feels like the season is changing.
As a Father of school age children, August is often the time to down tools and to take holiday, a time when things are put on hold for a few weeks and when perhaps parish life slows a bit and when we can all, at least try, to recharge the batteries. It was in my first year as a curate in Barnard Castle that a colleague from the Methodist Church told me at a minister’s meeting to expect the pace of life to increase in September. As I found, he was certainly correct there, and is also correct for our life here in St James – and for this September especially. For in this month we see the beginning of our new service at Delight Court in Dipton where we will be having a Songs of Praise on the 4th of September; we see our Deeper Prayer Course begin on the 12th of September; we see our Harvest Festival taking place on the 18th of September and finally those who will be confirmed in October will begin to meet to chat about faith and the next step in their journey following Jesus Christ.
These are all exciting things for our parish life, the chance to worship, to experience new ways to speak to God, to celebrate the gifts of God in creation, most clearly by giving to those in need, and also the chance to welcome new sisters and brothers in Christ and celebrate their blossoming relationship with Him. All these things are part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and all these things make this for me, the beginning of a new season of joy and happiness for our parish.
I hope that you like me have had an enjoyable and perhaps most importantly relaxing summer, and that also like me you are looking forward to the rest of the year. The rest of the year that begins in earnest in September with all those things that I have mentioned. All of those things that you can, and hopefully will in many cases join in with, as our parish continues to focus itself on the love of God shown in Jesus Christ and a love that we can then celebrate the whole year around, as the planet that we live on, and that God created, continues to spin around and make its amazing journey through the night sky.
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze