Friday, August 31, 2012

dog days of summer.

 The dog days of summer are here...

I've been finding myself anxious for the Fall- both excited and nervous.  I'm excited for the weather to change, for Fall colors, crisp air, and, let's face it, the option of wearing pants!  It's too hot for pants right now.  I'm also excited for everyone to come back to church in full force.  It'll be fun to see choirs, kids, Sunday school, mid-week programming all back in action!  But, I'm nervous, too.  From September to June, it is just plain busy.  Evening meetings are a source of dread for me, though I'm fine once I get there.  I know I can get it all done, and I trust that it will be fruitful for me and for the people I work with, but man, the post-Labor Day rush is looming over my head.

I took both of these pictures in the last week.  A reminder to enjoy these last few slow days.  The thick, humidity-filled heat actually helps you slow down, sometimes.

This week got me to thinking about time- either wishing it away, or not wanting the next day to come.  I'm experiencing both right now, and while it might be an inevitable feeling, I may need to be better about enjoying each day as it comes- cliche, but true.

I also started considering what God might think about my concept of time.  I don't know that God feels bad for me with my ramped up schedule, but there's something to be said about interpreting our busy-ness.  Do we see our vocations, our busy lives, our responsibilities as a gift? as a call?  Or, are they simply days filled with work until a sabbath day when we can relax and "really" do what we want?

Don't get me wrong, sabbath is important- it's good to do nothing, to worship, etc.  Everyone needs a day off.

But, more often than not, we're always thinking ahead, planning for the next thing, organizing our lives with calendars, alarms on our phone, bulletin boards and elaborate file systems (okay, I don't file).  And because none of this is going away any time soon, maybe I need to reframe.

This text from John surprised me in a way I wasn't expecting.  It's sort of a scary passage, actually, because Jesus had to be careful for fear of being killed.  In it he talks about time, though time for Jesus was based on one thing- when he was going to die, and what he could do between the present, and that future day, to tell people about God.  This part from John 7 reads:

His brothers said, "Why don't you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do?  No one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes. If you're serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world."  His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn't believe in him either.  Jesus came back at them, "Don't crowd me. This isn't my time. It's your time - it's always your time; you have nothing to lose." 

The disciples were pressuring Jesus, trying to get him to do things to convince them, and others, that he was the Son of God.  They even threatened him a bit by telling him that no one who wants to get things done does it in secret!  But, Jesus told them, look, it's not my time to be the center of attention, it's your time and you have nothing to lose.

I think I need to remember not to put so much pressure on myself to be ready, or on Jesus to show up.  The church year will begin whether I get everything done in time, or not.  And Summer will turn into Fall whether I want it to, or not.  And, Jesus will be present throughout it all whether I trust him to, or not.  It's always time for me to love what I do, to enjoy the people around me, to see emails and meetings and busyness as a gift, because if I do it that way, then I have nothing to lose.    

I'm sure there's going to be crazy days ahead, as there were for the disciples, and Jesus, too.  But, if I think about the precious short time they got to spend together, and think about my own life that way, I gain a whole new perspective.

The words below are from Psalm 90, in the paraphrase of The Message.  I'll use them as my prayer for the next few weeks, and maybe you will, too:

We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.  Who can make sense of such rage, such anger against the very ones who fear you?  Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!  Come back, God - how long do we have to wait? - and treat your servants with kindness for a change.  Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we'll skip and dance all the day long.  Make up for the bad times with some good times; we've seen enough evil to last a lifetime.  Let your servants see what you're best at - the ways you rule and bless your children.  And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

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