"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:25
We are entering a season of the church year called Ordinary Time that stretches through summer and fall all the way to Advent. In the children's Atrium, we also call this season Growing Time. The linens in the church switch to green, the color of growing things. The Sunday readings follow the life and words of Jesus. While other church seasons focus our attention on big, cosmic events — incarnation, death, resurrection, Pentecost — Ordinary Time attends to the everyday stuff of living and growing as a disciple of Jesus. This is the longest season of the church year, helping us remember that most of our growth as disciples happens in the everyday stuff of ordinary life, not through big cosmic events.
I've been praying about this summer ever since I was called as rector last fall. I knew this season would come on the heels of Liz's retirement, offering us time as a church to rest and process. I knew it would bring summer's relaxed rhythms, quieter Sundays, and predictable liturgies after so many energetic weeks of celebratory feasts (Easter! Good Shepherd! Pentecost! Trinity!). I wondered what we would need as a congregation during this time and how God might want to lead and grow us.
As I prayed, the word "fallow" kept coming to mind. A fallow field has been intentionally left unplanted for a season, allowing the soil to rest. Though a fallow field looks empty and unproductive, deep underground the soil is being prepared for future harvest. Leached nutrients are restored. Buried nutrients slowly rise to the surface. Organic matter and microorganisms abound. The soil's capacity to hold water expands. Fallow soil becomes richer, more fertile, more alive even as it looks barren.
A fallow field is a place of slow and hidden transformation, a place of waiting and preparing for what will grow next. The kingdom of God is so often like this — waiting, preparing, slow, hidden. Consider the savior of the world gestating for nine months in the dark womb of a poor teenager. Consider that savior's three days in the tomb, absent from the world while overturning the powers of death. Consider his teachings about praying and fasting and serving in secret, his parables of seeds and soil, his steadfast insistence that the kingdom will be revealed in humble, ordinary people and places.
We cannot grow ourselves. We cannot create life, send rain, or make the sun shine. Whatever our hopes for our lives or for our church, they are not ours to produce, only God's. We can only prepare our soil (see Matthew 13:1-23). And so in this season, let's embrace the kingdom invitation to simply lie fallow. To rest. To wait. To tend the ordinary. To trust the unseen work of God beneath the surface, preparing each of us and our community for what might grow next. Let's embrace the paradox of the kingdom that Ordinary Time — fallow time — is also Growing Time,
Juliet and Phil Sheridan will host a summer book discussion of Invitations to Abundance exploring the biblical feasts. These discussions will happen on Friday nights around the dinner table at 7:30pm on June 24, July 15, July 29, and August 12 (including, hopefully, one evening with the author herself). Mark your calendars, buy the book (the church will have a few copies to give away Sunday), and stay tuned for details!
Wild Wonder, our summer kids' program, takes place each Sunday at 9:30am outside. Parents, come early to wonder with your kids (or send them outside and enjoy a bit of adult conversation before the service!). Are you interested in leading a messy art project, nature exploration, or simple prayer time for one week of Wild Wonder? Email Josie: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily is working on the July-August volunteer schedule, so please go update your blockout dates NOW! Instructions here, or email Emily for help: email@example.com.
This Sunday is our first summer "picnic in the park" - bring a picnic lunch and linger!
How does the soil of your life need restoration? Are there nutrients — things that nurture growth — that have become depleted and need replenishing? And how might the soil of our church need rest and replenishment? What might God be preparing to grow here? I'd love to talk and pray about any of these things with you, and I'm always just a call/text/email away.