A season for growth

Published 1:22 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015

by Andrew Book

There are different liturgical seasons in the church year, which mark the times of the year we usually celebrate, fast, anticipate or seek to grow in our faith. I talked about these seasons in this column a few months ago, when we were looking forward to the season of Lent, a time of preparation for Easter.

During Lent, I invited you to be a part of Courtland United Methodist Church’s “Psalms Challenge,” where we read and prayed through the book of Psalms in the Bible (I hope it was meaningful for you). The liturgical seasons are paired with different colors used in the church. Last Sunday was Pentecost, a celebration of the day when God sent the Holy Spirit to fill the early church with God’s power and presence. On Pentecost, the Spirit came upon the church in tongues of fire so, unsurprisingly, the color for Pentecost is red.

The season after Pentecost is, uncreatively, called Ordinary Time, or sometimes Kingdomtide. Ordinary Time stretches throughout the summer and early fall and is the part of the church year where we are not preparing for or celebrating a special day in the life of faith. The color for ordinary time is green, and the green of ordinary time is a reminder that, like the crops, trees, and grass around us in summer, this is a time for growth. Easter, Christmas and Pentecost are times of celebration. Lent and Advent are times of preparation, but the time we are in now — ordinary time — is a time for growth.

Growth in our lives can happen in almost any area of who we are. We can grow in healthy living, grow in education, grow in our relationships with one another or grow in our ability to succeed at our workplace. We can also grow in our faith in many ways. We can grow in our knowledge of the Bible, grow in our understanding and practice of prayer, grow in our commitment to sharing the love of Christ with those around us. Our faith has many different facets, and we can all grow in all of them!

At Courtland United Methodist Church we are starting the season of Ordinary Time with a series of worship services focused on the first invitation that Jesus offered to his disciples: “Follow Me.” These words seem simple enough. However, what it means for each of us to actually follow after Jesus in the decisions of life is a little harder to understand when we realize that Jesus wants to be Lord over all of our decisions: finance, relationships, hobbies, job and more.

Last week, we began our worship at the Nottoway River where we celebrated the baptisms of four of the eight young people who were confirming their faith. As part of celebrating their baptism, those of us who have been incorporated into the family of faith through our own baptism made a commitment to renew our baptismal vows. These vows are about the ways in which we will be followers of Jesus: what we will say “yes” to, what we will say “no” to, the injustices and oppression in the world which we will invest ourselves in saying “stop” to and the ways we are going to be Jesus to the world who often can’t see him. As followers of Jesus, we will be using this season of growth to figure out how we can grow in faithfully living our commitment!

My family has a small garden outside our home. While the seeds were only planted a few weeks ago, the growth is already obvious and it is clear that fruit will be coming. What about us? Is the growth in our lives obvious? As you think about your summer, ask yourself “how am I going to grow?” Make a plan to grow and then do it. I will look forward to hearing about the fruit that your life will bear as you make a commitment to growing in this “green” season!

If you are looking for a community to help you grow, we would love to have you join us at Courtland United Methodist Church. Regardless of what communities you are a part of though, I pray you will grow!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or andrew@courtlandumcva.org.