It’s September again. I’m sure I’m not alone when I acknowledge the variety of feelings that accompany fall’s arrival. We move from a season that is relatively free from structure into one where schedules and activities shape the rhythm of each day for the next eight to 10 months.
Some enter this period of transition with great anticipation, while others are more apprehensive about the road ahead. As parents of three school-aged children, my husband and I find that September is a time where five schedules fill up and collide. Piano. Sunday school. Volunteer commitments. Hockey. After we decide on our activities, we must figure out how we can possibly manage the details and sheer logistics of getting everyone where they need to be, when they need to be there.
If it’s not on the schedule, it won’t happen.
Church life is similar. At the end of August, we begin searching for volunteers to assist in our programs and recruit others to enrol in those programs. Board rooms and fellowship halls are booked to capacity and it becomes tough to schedule meetings and events. Tension builds between personal schedules and the church calendar. We stress, we question each other’s priorities, and we worry about the health of our programs or our burned-out volunteers.
Without a doubt, September can be tough. But the pain of September is really the pain of change, of giving birth to a new year rich with potential and possibility. Although we may hope to just survive September, if we look deeper we’ll find that it offers us an opportunity to encounter God.
Making space for God and hearing God’s voice in the chaotic and hectic pace of the month is something that each of us can deliberately choose to do. Begin simply. Start each day by asking for God’s presence and direction in your life. End each day by reflecting on where you noticed God’s presence. At church, surround each meeting in prayer.
September gives us the opportunity to once again reorder our lives, reserving a place for God that allows us to develop an ever-deepening relationship with God and with others.
Creating a new rhythm can absorb all of our attention and we often tune out God’s still small voice. Embrace the unexpected. Be open to the opportunity you never anticipated and welcome the invitation to participate in something new. Be willing to hear and see in new ways. Many of us think we don’t have the luxury of being able to drop everything and pursue new aspirations or opportunities, but this season of re-ordering provides a chance to create time for the new things we are called to do.
It’s not really about piano, Sunday school or hockey. We need to embrace the fact that we are beloved children of God. And in doing so, we consciously attune ourselves to the nudges of God’s Spirit, prioritizing our formation into Christ’s likeness.
Lisa Carr-Pries chairs the Mennonite Church Canada Christian Formation Council.