When I was on a regular pattern of the academic year (which has been the case for more years of my life than not!), the mid-point of August would be the point at which it was time to start preparing for the new year ahead. It was time to restock the pencil case with necessary pens and pencils. It was chance to get a new school bag or new shoes. It was chance to see what clothes still fitted and which ones had become a bit worn. The end part of August was the point at which the pause button between the end of one year and the start of the next was released and the new school year was to begin.
As we reach that point of the calendar, we can again begin to get our school bags ready. For some of our Church community, this is literal. School begins in early September after a summer of holidays and activities. We’ve offered activity lunches for 5-12 year olds as a joint venture with St Peter’s, and these have been well supported and attended through the six weeks. We’ve also had some exam results over the summer, showing encouragement for work carried out and offering a new set of challenges. And for some the school bags get packed away and its time to get new clothes for work, stepping into a new career and into new opportunities. There are many in our fellowship that are getting ready for a new start and we should be sure to encourage and support them.
But for those of us not starting back at school, or into a new job, it seems like one month is quite similar to the last. We may have had a few days away over the summer, or been able to spend more time with family and friends, but the beginning of September doesn’t have the same excitement (or anticipation) as it once did. The transformation from one season to the next seems to happen without doing anything, without even the need to release the pause button. Through the changing seasons, we find that we are offered a variety of different experiences and opportunities and a number of new challenges await.
The changing of the seasons show us how the year progresses. It isn’t always a time for large changes, for throwing out old shoes or clothes and replacing with shiny, new ones. It isn’t always about restocking the pencil case with new pens or with a new rubber that isn’t scuffed yet. But it might be about getting some new tools that can help – a new pencil sharpener that can turn that broken pencil into something useable – or get some things that are more suited to our needs – a better calculator or protractor or a ruler where you can read the measurements. While we don’t feel the need to throw out the old, we can certainly benefit from picking up a few additional tools and aids that can transform how we work.
Among the similarity of one month to the next, one year to the next, we rely upon the slow transformation of the seasons to help us to change from one set of clothes to another and from one set of activities to another. We change our pattern to suit the climate outside, just as we pack our school bag for a new year ahead. But in the Church we’ve not always been especially quick to react to changes in weather – to fit ourselves to the climate around. As we think about what it means to be a Church in Monkseaton, we need to think about what tools or aids we need to get for ourselves to help us step into the new year prepared for the work we need to do. We don’t need to sweep the old or traditional ways aside, but we do need to think about what our school bag needs to have to help us transform how we relate to each other, to the community and to God.
As we reach a new school year, perhaps it’s time for us to have a think about what new things we need for our school bag as we seek to be excited and enthusiastic learners in the gospel of God.