For more than two decades, August has meant only one thing to me: school. When August came, I knew that school was right around the corner with only a couple more weeks to squeeze in that summertime relaxation. Come August, the store aisles become lined with pencils, notebooks, calculators, and binders. Those items used to make me cringe as my last few weeks of freedom began to fade away. The beginning of August was a dreaded time, but soon enough school would start back up and the normal rhythms of life would resume. School was not so bad once it got going, but those first few days of it proved a difficult change. So now for the first time in two decades, I find myself heading into August and not heading back to school. This is an odd feeling.
In some ways I miss the regularity and normality. After a spontaneous summer of trips, conferences, vacations, and VBS, the more familiar rhythms of school life sound nice. Yet it seems to me that Church life has a similar rhythm when the school year starts up. Church programming that has been on hiatus picks back up; attendance stabilizes as folks cease their vacationing; and the congregation puts on listening ears to hear a word from God in their communal study. So while August begins the season of back to school, it is also really a season of coming back to church.
So come on back to church. Invite your family and friends back to church too. Find a new rhythm with which to engage your spirit. In honor of this back to church season, Pastor Audrey and I will begin a sermon series on August 31 entitled “Being the Church 101” which will last eight Sundays. This series will look to the early church in the book of Acts as a model of what the church is to look like. We will consider this model as we learn how to be the church that Christ is calling us to be today. We will learn lessons like “How to grow disciples,” “How to live in community,” and “How to witness.” Together we will enter into the rhythms of church life and learn how to be the church together. Unlike school, which sometimes felt like a chore, church for the people of God should be our expression of joy.
As you walk the store aisles filled with school supplies, remember that this is also a season of back to church. We do not prepare for back to church season by buying pencils and erasers, but I urge you to pray for your church, consider your own spiritual life, take seriously your commitment to discipleship in community, and discern where God might be calling you to participate. Together let’s take the first few steps back into the rhythms of church life.
-- Pastor Tim