I find that autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons. The colours that come from the leaves as they turn from green to orange and red and eventually to all shades of brown is quite a wonder to watch. The green seemed to cling on for much longer this year, and then in the past few weeks the colours have begun to turn. Travelling through Yorkshire in mid-October it was clear that autumn had really begun to set in.
I think there are probably a number of reasons why autumn is a favourite season. It’s time to start settling back in at home after the summer time of exciting outdoor pursuits and holidays. It’s also a time to dig out the jumpers and feel the comfort of a nice warm coat. Hot drinks become more part of the day – and the night – and there is a real sense of feeling warm and comfortable. Autumn seems the time when we can make that transition towards what will be much harder to bear through the cold of the winter.
The Christian seasons tend to do something quite similar through the year. We’ve been through the long summer of the calendar, enjoying the period since Pentecost, where the week-by-week flow of our Christian lives has been through the warmth and the sun of Luke’s gospel. As our attention begins to turn, we begin to look towards the seasons of Advent and Christmas, and then Lent and Easter. There is a change in the tone of the season as Advent begins to loom, and we begin to make preparations. The season of remembrance, starting around Halloween and All Saints, is chance for us to think back over the year that has passed, and remember those who have touched our lives, both individually and as a community. It is chance for the green leaves of the current year to turn to reds and yellows and for us to bring to an end the year that has passed.
The turning point in our seasons, as in our Christian calendar, helps us to prepare ourselves for the year that comes. It is through the loss of leaves that new ones can grow and by losing flowers that new flowers can pop up in the spring. It is through the beauty of the trees ending their year in red and yellow and orange that we get chance to see something truly spectacular and are given chance to watch the seasons change before our eyes. As one year comes to an end through a technicolour display, we begin to turn our attention towards what the next and new things might be.
In our life as a community we have had a busy year together – with many events and activities, with plenty of opportunities to worship together in familiar and less familiar ways, with plenty of things continued and a number of new and exciting plans coming into being — and there is much that we can do to consolidate on the year. It is right that we should remember what we’ve accomplished during the year and look back over the bright display of colours that remind us of the year that has past.
But autumn is preparation for winter and for a new year. It’s right that while we should take stock we should also look ahead to what may come. It’s the time to think about what the springtime buds might look like and contemplate what growth and flowers we might produce in the coming year. It’s a time to remember, but it’s also a time to look ahead. As the bright colours of autumn remind us of the colours of the year we’ve experienced, they remind us too of the colours we can bring about in the next year. Whether that starts with the white dusting of snow, or a clear blue sky, we know that rich colours will come as the year progresses. What shades would we like to see in the year ahead?