Though it is difficult to tell it, fall/autumn has officially arrived. The problem is that it is still hot—summer-ish, even—for this time of year. The fact that it has not rained for weeks does mean that I don’t have to worry about mowing the grass as it has already turned a dried-up brown. Guess I can put the mower away for another year. A joke from yesterday’s meeting illustrates the point: How can you tell when it is fall in the south? People put out pumpkins for decoration. (Nothing else has changed! Thank you, Anne.)
We cannot say that about the church, though. Fall brings with it a flurry of preparations for the last quarter of the year. Charge Conferences, trunk or treat, fall festivals, Christmas cantata rehearsals, Thanksgiving, and Advent preparations for Christmas fill our calendars. In no time at all, we turn from lazy days of vacation to franticly arranging our calendars in hope of being able to fit it all in. (Didn’t we do this last year and say that we weren’t going to do this again? I seem to remember that.)
That being said, what is the most important item on your calendar or checklist? Most of us have the usual items—decorations to put up, presents to buy and wrap, holiday greetings to family and friends, special events to attend—but all of these should fall in line behind spending time with family and enjoying being together.
Think about it. Gifts, decorations, and activities mean nothing if there is no one to share them with. That is why regular gatherings—worship, Bible study, Sunday school, covered dish dinners, and seasonal events (to name but a few) leave us feeling joyful. Every life has its moments of celebration and sorrow (this season can leave us missing someone). There are more than enough worries and troubles to go around. Yet, somehow, being with friends and family leaves us with the feeling that there is a great source of love all around us waiting to fill us and remind us that we are beloved.
So, I am offering a prayer for each one of you as we enter this season. Take time to be with those you love even if it means allowing something else to go unfinished. At the end, what will matter most is that you took time to be with family and friends. Running a deficit in either of those areas? Try being a friend to someone who you know is also missing their friends and family. It doesn’t have to be much, just taking time to spend together and share your stories will do so much to change lonely hearts into joyful hearts.
Jesus came to help us know his father and our father better. If there is one thing that we can agree on about creation, it is that we were created to be in relationships. Start this holy-day season by setting aside time for being with family and friends, and be joyful.
In the love of God,
Pastor Braxton ><>