Seasons

I learn best through metaphor… so bear with me.

I live in Colorado where our lives are governed by seasons. We pray for winter snows to water our desert land where we plant crops in the spring to harvest in the summer and fall. Our crops freeze a lot of the time. Not only is there nothing we can do about it, we have to wait later in the year for the fruits of our labor or “borrow” someone else’s.  We have a dry season, a tourist season, a slow season, a harvest season, an apple season, monsoon season, yard sale season, fire season, color season, hunting season, calving/lambing season, football/basketball/baseball/soccer season, wildflower season… I could go on and on.

Each of these seasons have emotion attached to them. We anticipate the tourist season so we can pay our bills without sweat and tears. We fear fire season and its destructiveness. We wait ever so impatiently for monsoon season where we revel in 12% humidity during the rain storm.  We love calving/ lambing season as we watch the newborn babies learn to play but fear that there is still so much cold left until spring. We turn our tv satellite service on for football season and fiercely proclaim our allegiance to the Broncos. We yell and coach and try to rest up for our kids sports seasons. We love wildflower and color season as the colors are so vibrant and creative. Again, I could go on and on. As with all things natural I try to apply it to my spiritual journey.

As I dread the coming of winter in my physical self I feel myself dread the winter in my spirit too. But as I have learned to see beauty in cute boots and new snow I am training myself to see beauty in spiritual winter too. Learning to breathe with the seasons of the church has helped in this. The ordinary time does not mean God is far away. It means He is in the ordinary just as actively as He is in the celebrations. In my winter season I use more of the contemplative disciplines to practice his presence. I read. I meditate. I am quiet (yes during winter basketball season when I am the crazy coaching parent in the stands it is hard to visualize this…haha). It is this season where I love “Yard sale” season of the soul. I take something of someone else’s and make it my treasure. During the “monsoon” season of the soul I take in the rain from heaven and store it away. For me this looks like worship services or retreats etc. Where I am immersed in God for a period of time.

There are some seasons I am in now and I keep thinking “will this ever change?” or “I hope this never changes!”. I remind myself that God is always faithful to bring the next season. Winter always follows fall. But spring ALWAYS follows winter. This season too will pass. I will soon look back and say “that wasn’t so bad and went so quickly”. I take great solace in Ecclesiastes 3… There is a season for everything under the sun.  I recently saw a quote that read “The difference between a good [season] and a bad [season] is your attitude.” I am praying that my seasonal attitude will be to see Jesus in all seasons!

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The Journey of the Church Calendar

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Some of my most vivid memories from childhood are of the weeks preceding Christmas. Under the guidance of my mother, our household holiday regimen was elaborate and anticipated. Early on the morning after Thanksgiving, we were up pulling out boxes of decorations and wondering how the lights got so tangled up again. We assembled the Dickens village (whose residents colonized more of the living room each year until they had expanded into a booming metropolis). We drove up into the mountains to cut down a fresh tree. We swapped out every piece of decor in the house for its Christmas alternative. We hung garland along every available banister and counter. We put apple cider on the grill over the fireplace. The results were dazzling.

And, each Sunday night, we’d gather around the dinner table and light the next Advent candle. We’d sing a song, listen to Scripture, and remember the story.

As a young child, I didn’t really know what all this meant. But I knew it was special. And so I paid attention. Even though I didn’t really understand what it meant, I knew that Jesus was worth the extravagance of lights and cider and candles and Dickens figurines and nativity sets and trees hung with ornaments.

The Church Seasons are a way of living your life by the rhythm of Jesus’ life. We all set our calendar by something. For some it’s the academic year—9 months of toil and 3 of blessed (or chaotic) freedom! For other’s it’s the financial year, or the cycle of Hallmark holidays. We order our lives by these times of remembering, of taking stock, of traditions.

As Christians, it makes sense to set our rhythm to Jesus’ life. We remember his coming and long for his return in Advent. We rejoice that he came among us and wonder at his humble Incarnation for twelve days at Christmastide. We ponder how this God-with-us life is the light of the world during the weeks of Epiphany. Then we hear his call to discipleship and remember our need for God’s help during LentHoly Week is a special time focused on the love of God that led Jesus to die for us—and then the joy of Eastertide begins, “He is risen indeed!” And then we enter into the long slog of Kingdomtide (also called Ordinary Time) when we turn to ask how we can live out the Kingdom here and now.

This journey, round after round, takes the stories we know and the things we believe and puts them front and center. This is what we choose to set our minds on, whether we feel like it today or not. And we trust God that, year in, year out, the stories are sinking in, doing their work, making us more like Jesus.

The activities and ideas in Good Dirt are ways to make the with-God journey visible, tangible, kid-friendly. (And it turns out that what is kid-friendly is usually adult-friendly, too.) Whether your family jumps into Advent Extravaganza like mine did, or chooses a simple Advent Wreath to put on the kitchen table, you are saying, “This is special. This is what we’re going to pay attention to. This deserves celebration!”

We’re so excited to take this journey with you and share stories, memories, ups and downs. As you prepare for Advent this week, may God bless you with hope: the settled, soul-deep certainty of good things to come from Him.