“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Seasons, as they say, come and go. The time changes, the leaves fall, the flowers bud, each marking what has been and foreshadowing what will be.
We have been in an extended season of endings and beginnings at First Baptist, change stretching back as far as I can remember. Ministers moving in, ministers stepping back; new ministries starting, others concluding; buildings falling down, and new vision rising up; members arriving and others departing; new life and the end of life; the list could go on and on.
In some ways, these weeks of our life together epitomize much of this change. Monday, John and I shared that our church’s ministry together will soon draw to a close. This Sunday, we’ll conclude the public phase of our Boundless Home capital campaign and recognize leaders who made possible the recent and comprehensive work we’ve done together on our buildings, mission, vision, and capital campaign. We’ll soon turn from these endings toward new beginnings, a new year, new possibilities in store. And if ever it will stop raining (!), the steady work of restoration will begin and the back of our lot will be filled, enabling us to plant and restore where recently we pruned and tore down.
Within it all, what hasn’t changed of course is our ever-present God: steady and unwavering, beckoning us forward into the next season every step of the way. That promise is the one to which I adhere my life and my days, particularly the days which feel like the landscape shifts as quickly as the seconds pass. Through it all, I’m forever comforted by the reminder of Jesus as he ended his ministry here on this earth: Do not fear! For I will be with you always, even to the end of the age. And it is peace that I leave with you!
I usually am a bit of a purist when it comes to preparing for Advent and Christmas — no tree, no music, no decorations, no shopping until after Thanksgiving! There is a time for every season, I say! But perhaps because of the unique season of change in which we’ve been, I find myself with a real longing for Advent this year. Earlier than ever before, I’m ready to wait for the Christ child, ready to anticipate the ways — timeless and timely — that God will be with us this year, ready to hear again with the familiar cast of characters the promise that precedes our Lord: Do not fear! God is coming to be with you, and Peace will be born anew. I need that reminder; do you?
Until then, these weeks will be marked with thanksgiving and gratitude, giving thanks to God for the gifts in abundance we have received. Sometimes these gifts look like seasons of rest, seasons of beginnings, seasons of endings, and yes, even seasons of change. But in the end, the promise that bookended Jesus season on this earth is the promise that rings out in even the darkest of nights: Do not fear! For I am with you! Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!
Together in the work of Love,