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  • Writer's pictureRev. Joel L. Tolbert

Seasons of Prayer (Life)

The change of seasons is upon us. The greens of summer are spinning through yellows and oranges of fall and toward the browns and whites of winter. Some people love this time of year. The shift feels inviting and exhilarating. Others do not enjoy this season. It chills their bones and they brace for less time outside and more time locked away trying to stay warm.

I've often found the season analogy to apply to humans as their mature in faith. There are seasons of discovery and growth, like spring. Their are seasons of warmth and stability, like summer. Then, there are seasons in our faith where old things retreat and fall away. There are even seasons of our faith where it feels like nothing is growing, and we are simply huddled up and waiting.

If you had to choose, which season best represents you lately in your faith?

Are you in spring, bursting with new growth and revelations?

Are you in summer, bearing the fruit on the other side of recent growth?

Are you in fall, finding previous thoughts, feelings, and beliefs falling away?

Are you in winter, quietly dormant, patiently (or impatiently) waiting?

The life of a church community also goes through seasons. There are seasons in a congregation when new things are popping and growth is obvious. There are seasons when a congregation is riding the wave of former efforts and busily producing fruit. Then there are congregational seasons when programs shift, staff move on or retire, old traditions fade away. And yes, there are seasons of congregational life when things feel fallow and dim, less warmth, less light.

Much like creation itself needs seasons, so do individuals and congregations. Much like seasons cannot be avoided or accelerated, neither can seasons in the faith walk of individuals or congregations. Every season has its time and purpose. Every season is a reflection of what was, and an anticipation of what will be.

Today, as you pause and pray, ask God to help you see and accept the season of your faith journey. Are you in the spring, enjoying new ideas and change? Are you in the summer, stable and consistent in bearing fruit? Are you in the fall, letting former things fall away? Are you in the winter, hunkered down, holding on, waiting for the next spring?

Then, ask God for God's opinion on where this congregation is in our seasons of faith? Are we bursting and popping with exciting new things? Are we abundantly bearing good fruit for our community? Are our vines and stalks drooping and needing to lay down and rest? Are we in the midwinter, a time of huddling together for warmth and waiting for the dawn of spring growth?

If you are willing, I love for you to complete this survey:

You'll also get to see where others feel they are, and where this church is, in our journey.

Wherever you are, God is there. The great gardener is with you, moving you onward.

Blessing, Laughter, and Loving be yours!

Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

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