Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Change Is Coming!

Dear Friends,

Some people believe that Syracuse, New York is one of the most beautiful places on earth when the thousands of trees display the brilliant colors of Autumn. Aunt Helen certainly did. At age 92, she still went bowling every Wednesday and in the Fall, she raked up the red, yellow and orange leaves from her Syracuse front yard. I was reading that a New England mail order company will send you three genuine hand-selected autumn leaves for only $19.95 plus shipping and handling!  If Helen was still alive today, she would have laughed her head off at the thought of selling the leaves on her front lawn to someone living in a “condo” in California!

In Sylmar, I’m seeing a change of color in the deciduous trees and as I breathe in the morning air, there’s a freshness in the breeze that portends the passage of a season and prepares us for the next. Autumn is a time of beauty and peace for contemplatives, photographers, writers and artists. The brilliant tapestry of autumn colors feeds one’s soul and heart with such a dazzling display of God’s handiwork that we just need to go outside and play in it.

One of my favorite places to go this time of year is the picturesque town of Oak Glen nestled in what is called the “Little San Bernardino Mountains.”  Oak Glen is known for its abundant apple orchards and rolling hills covered with vivid autumn reds, oranges, and yellows. It’s as close as you can get to a spectacular New England autumn without getting on a plane.

Seasonal transitions of “nature” in God’s Creation remind us of seasons in our church and in our life. Autumn also signals the arrival of ADVENT – that season of anticipation as we prepare for the birth of the Christ child. ADVENT leads us to the CHRISTMAS celebration which includes Epiphany– the manifestation of the Savior Jesus to the Gentiles. Soon the chill of winter gives way to the warmth of spring and a season of spiritual growth. LENT is a time of reflection and recommitment to a renewed relationship with God. We approach Good Friday with our ineffable gratitude for the ultimate gift of God’s grace and salvation mixed along with a sense of sorrow for the suffering that Jesus endured. Easter– RESURRECTION SUNDAY– is truly a glorious day and the most important of all Christian Holy Days (“holidays”). Fifty days later comes PENTECOST, marking the day that God’s presence became actively working in believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable us to become a witness of His glory and grace to the world. After PENTECOST we enter a season of what the church calls ORDINARY TIME. But the time quickly passes and before long, we sense a freshness in the air and soon the autumn colors are bringing us once again to the season of ADVENT. The journey through our church seasons reveals the mystery of God’s plan as it unfolds for us in the life of the church, and we are reminded that in the Kingdom of God, with each transition, there is something new again. 

In God’s Creation, there is a rhythmic cycle with the organic flow of our four seasons. Every three months, a transition to the next. Depressed by the gray, gloominess of winter? The warmth of spring is right around the corner. Tired of spring showers and eye-burning allergies? The long, hot days of summer are ahead. Worn down by the relentless heat and smog? The cooler glorious world of autumn awaits you. Bored and weary with autumn and those Santa Ana winds? Grab the winter coat, gather the firewood and prepare for those long, frosty winter nights. We are reminded that with each transition from one season to the next, there is something new again.

So it is with the seasons of life. You may be in an exciting springtime season of new birth and growth. You may be feeling as if you are caught in the dry, oppressive days of what seems to be an endless summer. This may be for you a contemplative, peaceful autumn time of thanksgiving. Or you may find yourself in the cold, dark, discouraging loneliness of a long winter season. I've got news for you. Get ready for it. A change is coming!

Seasons of life. Each with its own set of experiences and the passing of each season leaving behind memories of what was. For many of us, our photo albums are the pictorial autobiography of our life. We look back and remember the seasons of life that were filled with great joy and our happy memories bring gladness to our heart. 

But some seasons of life are filled with pain, sorrow and anger and those seasons can embed bitterness, uncertainties, fears and doubts into our soul. We will stay mired in our pain-filled past if we dwell on those memories and relive those circumstances of that season in our mind. And God says: “But forget all that-- it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT Praise God! For He reminds us that with each life transition, God will give us something new again!

Remember that no matter what season of life we’re in, there are three guarantees we can count on:1) This present season will come to an end. 2) God has already begun to do something new for you in the next season. And, 3) The one unchanging constant that we can trust in and count on is this: God is standing with us in this season and He is waiting for us in the next.  Amen?

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