Fall marks the growing season’s end and nature’s one last splurge before a time of dormancy and waiting. It’s always during this time of the year, that I reflect deeply on the previous season’s and my life’s events. Here at First Congo, fall emerges in beautiful and splendid ways.

On my walk to and from the CYF building over the bridge, I daily encounter fall’s beauty as it unfolds into its height and then disappears. It’s also during this same season that last year’s confirmation group closes out its journey, and a new confirmation group begins. This is what happened these last few weeks. We marked the end of the 2017-2018 Confirmation Experience with Confirmation Sunday on September 30. Then we started the new Confirmation group that Wednesday evening. It’s always bittersweet; we celebrate the year long journey of one group, welcome them into the corporate life of the church, then days later we start all over again with a new group.  The book of Ecclesiastes says:

Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

Ask any teacher and they will say that despite all the similarities, every group expresses its own unique corporate characteristics. Some groups are high energy, some low; some are chatty, some quiet; some are kind, others can be challenging. Whatever the case, it’s easy to get caught up in remembering a particular class that was (or was not) but then we cannot fully receive the next one. It’s something we all do when we talk about “the good old days.” We don’t know where the line between nostalgic reminiscing and embracing a new present exists.

Perhaps the more memories we have, the harder the past pulls us out from the present in such a way that we are increasingly tempted to not receive but rather recollect. This is especially the case in turbulent, traumatic, or frightening times: we return to something more familiar, a landscape we trust, and wish for that time once again.

For others, it’s the exact opposite; the past is a place they no longer wish to recollect and embrace because of the pain it might bring.

In writing about those who presently know riches but must keep their gaze upon God’s goodness, Paul says they are, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

Fear tempts us to hedge our trust and retreat to a safer and sensible past, present, or future. This same set of fears cause us to loosen and let go of the life that really is life. If we let go of today, in a very real way, we let go of not only our personal opportunities but also the living divinity of our Still-Speaking God.

So where are you in these turbulent times? How have you laid down your life to good and generous works sharing Christ’s love? How do you (or don’t you) take hold of the life that really is life so that you might be prepared for what the future brings?”

May every autumn leaf gush forth the Holy Spirit’s fire and beauty.

May today be one where you know God’s living love imminently.

May you grasp this moment by the coattails as if it was your last, because you are a person boldly created by our faithful and enduring God.

Grace and Peace, Pastor Nick

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