This edition of ” From the Pastor’s Desk” comes a little later in the week, but I hope you will forgive me for that.
Throughout this pandemic, I’ve found myself returning to comfortable and familiar things. This is a very natural and sometimes a very helpful response to so much loss in our lives. I find myself re-reading beloved books, re-watching the same shows and movies, re-wearing my sweats as much as possible. So I picked up the Harry Potter book series again last week because (controversy around the author notwithstanding) this series brings me a lot of happiness. It ignites my imagination and my hope. The story of a raggedy band of friends, with the empowering gift of being witches and wizards, come together in love and hope to overcome evil and darkness in their world. Wonder why I felt drawn to it!!
This read-through has reminded me that one of the things that I’ve mourned the most through these past 18 months is the capacity to dream. Maybe you have experienced this too. A lot of my awe of God’s good creation used to bleed into the sorts of dreams that only God can weave–hopes for the future, creative outlets. But through this season, I more often find myself numbing instead of being awed.
But autumn, every year it awakens within me hope and expectation. It reminds me yet again, that I am not the deity of this planet. The world will continue to turn whether I mark everything off my list or do none of it. For me, Fall is like a season of Sabbath. It forces me to pause long enough to see the first leaves turning brilliant shades of fire; it calls upon me to feel the first chills in the air; it whispers in my ears in the rustling leaves and brisk winds–God is still here. There is magic in the autumn unlike any other season, which is perhaps why I felt drawn toward Harry Potter again.
Our students and teachers are returning to school this week. The season of Fall comes back around, and backpacks are filled. Lockers aren’t yet full of dirty gym clothes in need of a wash (or to just be burned, really). The school year is starting anew, and this one is unlike any before it. And God can be found in it.
Fall reminds us that new starts don’t always look like springtime and new growth bursting from the ground. The trees remind us that there is a great grace of God found in letting things go. God is in the midst of the new starts that only come at something else’s end. With every change comes an ending, and with an ending comes grief. But with every ending, there is also the promise of a new beginning. That is the promise of the Gospel of Jesus. Even with the ending of death, God has opened a new life on its other side. Autumn reminds us of this truth by blending together death and life, ending and beginning, darkness and hope.
May we all learn to hear the Lord’s voice in crunching leaves and in the halls of schools. May we learn to see the Lord’s face on each naked tree branch and in the faces of our neighbors. May we be a people who point toward the hope of a fresh start, especially when we need that reminder too.
– Pastor Megan