Do you have a favourite season? In Ireland we enjoy the variety and colour of changing seasons – the crispy gold and auburn of autumn, the frosty mornings and dark nights of winter, the vibrant colour and new life of spring and the longer and (hopefully) sunny days of summer. Sometimes in Ireland we even joke about having all four seasons in one day or as I once read on Instagram; “Ireland, the only country in the world where you can get frostbitten and sunburned on the same day!”
Personally I love all four seasons, I enjoy the variety of weather and colour. I love the changeableness and unpredictability of the Irish weather. However when it comes to seasons of life and ministry I have to admit I’m not as big a fan of changing seasons. I’d rather stay in a bright and fruitful season than move into a more dark or barren season. Yet as we read Scripture we quickly learn that living in a constant easy season has never been the reality for God’s people corporately or individually. Seasons of testing, trial and even discipline have always played a part in the journey of faith.
When I reflect on the seasons of my own life and ministry I’m also confronted with the reality that in the more uncomfortable seasons God has often done his deepest and most fruitful work in my heart. Ironically it’s been in times that have looked less fruitful outwardly that God has done his most fruitful work within me. For example it has been in times of seeming ministry barrenness that God has most deeply challenged my motives for serving him; teaching me to root my identity in who I am in him, rather than in what I can do or produce for him. In our Christian journey, sometimes it takes a tough season without to produce good fruit within. God is at work in every season and with him tough seasons can change us for the better.
When we look at the changing seasons of nature each one declares the glory of God. If this is so then why would seasons of life and ministry be any different? God can be glorified by faithfulness in a barren season and he can be glorified by the fruitfulness in a harvest season! He can be glorified in any season. The truth is no matter what kind of seasonwe’re in today we are still found in God’s story, a story that overarches every season. A story guaranteed to end well for all who trust in him through every season.
For since we have a glorious Lord to look to in faith no season we go through has the final say on our story and each season is an opportunity for an upgrade in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says; “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another.”
We can behold his glory in any season! Therefore we can also know his transformation from glory to glory in every season.
How do we behold his glory then? Well for over 1500 years one way Christians have beheld the glory of Jesus is by following the seasons of the Church Calendar. Which when done well is really just a way of keeping the biblical story of Jesus central to Christian worship. For most of my Christian life I’ve never really paid much attention to the Church Calendar.
I guess I viewed it as something that more liturgical churches do. However recently it’s become attractive to me, simply because it takes us through the key seasons of the story of Jesus. In a season when the Christian narrative is no longer the dominant one believed in society, I believe it can really help us keep centred in Christ’s story and therefore help keep us beholding his glory. The glory of his incarnation, life, mission, death, resurrection, accession, sending the Spirit and promised return!
In fact when you look at the Church Calendar we actually already do follow key parts of it – Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. This year the Church Calendar started on Sunday the 3rd December with the season of Advent. Advent is a season of preparation & longing, hope & expectation. It leads us to Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ while at the same time pointing us to the reality and hope of his second coming, encouraging us to prepare & long for his promised return.
It’s designed to slow us down, refocus us and prepare our hearts for the coming Messiah-King. It’s ironic then that it’s become one of the busiest and most stressful seasons in our culture and even in church life. Surely allowing the Church Calendar to help set the rhythm of our lives can only serve to protect us from following the pattern of the world. A pattern which would have us running around like headless chickens during a season that is meant to be about waiting and expectation. What’s the better way to end and begin a year?
Why not give it a go as we enter a new Advent season? Simply view it as one way to help you behold the glory of the Lord, know his transformation and keep in step with the rhythm of his story in and through all the changing seasons of society, life and ministry.