August confronts us with change. It’s the month when school is back in session for students and teachers all the way from kindergarten through graduate programs. It’s the month when summer starts to wane with intense heat and shortening daylight. It’s the month when farms and gardens are producing bumper crops—if they survive the sun’s extremes.
There’s another way of looking at change, however, different from the one of lamenting how horrible it is. That way asks us to recognize the reason and purpose behind much change: growth and ripening. As Jesus said, if a seed remains a seed, nothing more will come of it—there’ll be no fruit to harvest (John 12:24). Growth and ripening are easier to see in a garden, or on the branches of fruit trees than in the lives of people. A teacher or coach often sees observable growth in a student’s or athlete’s skill and ability during the course of a year. Yet isn’t it true that we don’t always notice the growth and ripening happening in the people—ourselves included—we’re around day after day and year after year? We often freeze our images and perceptions of self and other in the convenient state of perfection or stunted growth.
Why am I bringing all of this up? Because it directly relates to what our Lord wants to see happen in our lives: Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Christ … so that the whole body grows and is built up in love (Ephesians 4:15-16), and Walk by the Spirit … and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:16,22).
During the Summer months the church year continues to celebrate the Season of Pentecost., but most often we call the Summer-time months the “Time of the Church.” It is marked by growth. Just as the creation grows, so too our faith, and the body of believers that make up the Church-- (you and I included)-- we GROW. This is why all of our church paraments and banners are the color green. If you notice however some of our green church banners, you will notice that they have a lot to do with symbols of the Lords Supper. You can visibly see grapes, and sheaves of wheat, which make up the bread and wine we partake in. This is no mistake. At the altar of God, it is there we do the most growth.
We can give thanks that our Lord comes to our aid and doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. We can give great thanks that wheat and grapes grow to harvest and that Jesus takes the bread and wine made from them, blesses them, and gives them to us for the forgiveness of (or change from) our sins. At Jesus’ table of mercy, we are strengthened to grow and ripen in the love and service toward God and others.
May we remember that the Holy Spirit enables us to live and grow and show the patient love—embodied so perfectly in the life of Christ—in the unfolding and ripening of our days and years as brothers and sisters of each other.
In the growth of Christ,