God, who made the earth and heaven, darkness and light:
you the day for work have given, for rest the night.
(Reginald Heber “God, Who Made the Earth and Heaven”)
The 6am alarm. Morning coffee. Children to school, off to the office. Emails. Meeting. Drive home. Family dinner. Bedtime devotions. Asleep by 10pm.
Does the rhythm of life soothe you? Do you feel at home in your routine? It’s not surprising if your answer is yes. The patterns in our life have been established by God Himself in His creation. We wake, we sleep. We are granted a Sabbath for rest. We can mark time and plan for the future using the seasons. Some seasons in our life are busier, and some more restful.
Advent. Christmas. Epiphany. Lent. Easter. Pentecost.
This rhythm is not seen only in the creation around us, but also the life of the Church. Do you remember getting excited as a child when you saw the Advent wreath show up in the sanctuary? Do you pray and fast as you sing “O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days” during Lent? Martin Luther marked his life according to the liturgical year – even signing his letters based on the season: signed on the Vigil of Saint Luke, Pentecost Eve, or the Wednesday following St Catherine’s Day. Having grown up in the Church and lived through these seasons repeatedly, I tend to mark my life just as much around the Church calendar as I do around the months of the year. This has become an even greater reality since I became a full-time church worker.
The lesson is in learning to read the seasons and allowing yourself to work in the ebb and flow of them. Some seasons are busier. Every parish worker feels the difference between the Third Week in Lent and the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. It’s why I couldn’t write for Kate when she asked me in February – we were preparing for Transfiguration Sunday and I distinctly remember looking at the readings with Pastor and realising the time was flying quickly into Lent. The penitential seasons working up to the high feasts of the Church year are busy for us. Our minds are a flurry of activity and planning and looking forward.
But, ah! I can write now. It’s the week after the 5th Sunday after Pentecost*. Kids have just started back to school for Term 3, and I’m ready to rest in the shade of the long, green season. Sure, there are many things on our church calendar between now and Advent 1 (Sunday, 27 November). It just feels different now. Slower. More restful. I’m at peace in the calmer seasons.
What routines have you established for your life? How do you mark your seasons? God has given us day and night, planting and harvest, days for high praise and great excitement and days for quiet, peaceful gratitude. I pray that each of you will have energy and focus in your busy seasons, and peace and rest in the quiet times.
*Kathleen supplied this some weeks ago