A sermon by Rev. Chris Jorgensen
September 24, 2017
Hanscom Park United Methodist Church
Scripture: Genesis 1: 14-18
Our scripture for today is an excerpt from the long creation story we sometimes hear. The one that starts on the first day with the spirit of God, the ruach (in Hebrew), sweeping over the waters and God declaring, “Let there be light”… all the way to the sixth day when human beings are created in God’s image to the seventh day when God rests.
I just selected the fourth day for our reading today – probably one of the days we tend to sort of skip over, thinking yep on days 2-5 God created everything. Moving on. Or maybe just I do that.
I picked it though because the word “season” in it captured me. This autumn, this fall season seems to have such a cultural presence anymore. I don’t know if it’s the football or the drama of the leaves turning or the Pumpkin Spice Everything that you can get in the store nowadays – even pumpkin spice deodorant, I learned recently on the radio. I’m not even going to comment on that. But fall seems to really draw our focus to the seasons – or at least my focus.
Because I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m not a huge fall fan. I’ve always been a spring kinda gal. All new life and flowers on the trees and that wonderful smell of a spring rain just past or just about to arrive. That’s my jam. Because for me the fall is often an ominous reminder that winter is just around the corner. Amidst the crisp sweater-weather days and hayrack rides and pumpkin carving, there’s always a bit of dread for me that the stark cold is almost upon us.
I just prefer spring. I like it better. I long for the days of hope and newness.
But our scripture today reminds us that God’s created order means that we don’t get to live in endless spring. God set the sun and moon and stars in our great creation poem – which we now know scientifically is more about the tilt of the earth – but it’s all to order the seasons of our world. No matter how much I want it to be any other way, I just have to put up with the fall season and the winter season. And I think one of the challenges of our lives is learning to love the season we are in, learning to observe the beauty and possibility of it, even if it is not what we prefer.
This is a notion easily applicable to our own individual lives. It is easy to look back and prefer the spring – those years when we had more energy, when life seemed more open with possibility, when we conformed more closely to the standards of beauty our culture holds up as an ideal. (Which I will as a sidebar say, I think is wrong. We are beautiful in all of our various seasons of life.) Or if we are very young, it’s easy to long for a summer or fall season: when we have our career firmly established, when we are in that comfortable place with a home and children, maybe we even look forward to retirement – that’s when we will really start living.
We probably all have either nostalgia for seasons we have been in or dreams for the future. And those things are all good – as long as they don’t prevent us from seeing the beauty and possibility that God is continually creating in the season that is currently before us. This seems to be part of God’s design: that there are seasons to everything, in nature, in our individual lives, and in our community life as well.
And in every moment, in whatever season, God is creating and re-creating. And in those very same moments, we have the opportunity to embrace what God is doing in our lives and participate in it, whether that is in the full-on fecundity of spring or the abundant harvest of fall or even the dormant rest of winter. God is creating in all of it, and we are called to be a part of that creativity in due season.
Of course, creation is cyclical. Winter is not really an end. This is true of nature. This is true of our lives. This is one of the most fundamental hopes of our Christian faith: that our individual lives are part of God’s great mystery of renewal and resurrection. We are born, we live, we die, and at the end of our winter when we encounter death, we are born again into God’s eternal presence. The seasons of nature remind us of and reflect our resurrection faith of new life in Christ.
And our community experiences these seasons as well. When one of our members die, we experience the stark loss of winter. And when a new member joins our community, or a new member is baptized, our community is also reborn and recreated. We are no longer the same. We enter with the new members into a season of new beginnings and new hope. Now, there may be times when we experience more fall and winter as a community, where we might be tempted to look back at the heyday of the Methodist church or this particular Methodist church and wish we could go back there.
But that is not the direction we are going. With the ebb and flow of the seasons, our community has ebbed and flowed. And maybe it’s because I am a spring gal at heart, and because I am caught up in our resurrection faith. But I see every opportunity for us to welcome new members into this place as a sign of God’s new life happening right here, right now.
And I will dare to speak out loud that we have moved as a community through spring and summer and fall and maybe even experienced a touch of winter. But as we welcome our new members today, I sense that spring is here again.
May it be so.
Questions for Reflection / Small Group Discussion:
- What are some aspects of God’s beautiful creation that you have observed in this season of the year?
- Do you ever find yourself longing for a different season (of the year, of your life, or of our community life)? What do you miss or hope for?
- How is God calling you to be a part of God’s work in this world in this particular season of your life?