Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I remember growing up in North Carolina. My maternal grandparents owned a farm. Understanding the tasks required for the changing seasons was essential to healthy crop growth.
At the beginning of each growing season, seedlings growing into new plants were kept in a plant bed for several weeks. The weather was near freezing or below freezing at night during this time. Each afternoon/evening the plant bed was covered by sheets to protect their crops from frost. When the weather warmed up, the once-frozen ground could be plowed and fallowed. Only then were the plants transplanted from the plant beds to the prepared fields.
The most difficult part of the job (and hardest work) had to be done in the field. It is in the field that the long term cultivating and nurturing of the plants took place. Those were long, hot days, moving from field to field, tending to various crops, taking time to check each plant for health, pulling away the weeds, removing any plants that were not healthy so they didn’t use up precious nutrients and water.
Those sweltering hot days also hold some of my fondest memories. In the afternoons, we would go to a field next to the creek. After tending to that field, we would take the path through the trees to the creek and go for a swim in the cool, shaded water. We would take off our shoes and gather round a small boulder that was strategically placed at one edge of the creek, and a rope dropped over the rock from a large tree branch. I remember watching as the others took their turn swinging out and over the creek, then they’d let go and splash into the refreshing waters. When I took my turn, I always wished that we could spend the entire day in that little piece of paradise. Alas, we had to return to the crops as a matter of our survival.
As a little boy, I was taught the value of hard work in the fields and the importance of enjoying the beauty of life through the summer. It always came down to making sure we had the proper mix between work and play; between sweat and sweet; between contributing and using what was available to us.
The Christian year is a lot like farming and gardening. We have come through the bursting forth of spring into the ongoing growth of summer. Easter came late, and this winter was particularly hard. Pentecost is the second Sunday in June and summer is almost here. Now we get down to the business of hard work that will produce the harvest for which we are preparing. The Common Time (or Season after Pentecost) is a long season, filled with beauty and all types of growth. Church, like the fields, requires the hard work of nurture and care; the church must be properly nourished as we grow toward the desired harvest.
The season is lengthy and the work is hard; however, there are also many ways to refresh and relax as we work our way through this longest season of the Christian Year. It’s important to play and to rest. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by. Simultaneously, don’t forget that there is still more work to do. If we don’t tend to the task at hand, if we don’t contribute and use what God makes available for growing his church, we will not gather the harvest we hope to receive.
Grace and peace,