To Everything there is a Season
Well, here we are – it’s September again and I often feel it’s a slightly unsettling month. Students return to schools and universities as the new academic year gets underway and most people have had their main annual holiday. At the back of our minds, we know the inexorable march of time is quite quickly going to drag us into autumn with all its changes. Harvest time, then shorter days, longer nights, Bonfire Night and then it’s not long until Christmas, is it? But we don’t want to hasten our time away. While we have September there is always the possibility of a late summer spell to bring back holiday memories or to encourage those of us planning late holidays.
This year, of course, the main summer holiday period has already been rather unsettling as we again encountered some of the extremes of climate change. Most people like some warm weather in the summer – but many of us don’t really appreciate long periods over 30°C. Most of us like a good spell of dry weather for our holiday – but not a drought with all its implications for water supplies, crop yields and wildfires.
If ever we needed another wake-up call about climate change we’ve had it this year. Psalms 24:1 tells us that ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ and God created mankind (Genesis Chapter 1) to look after and care for His creation. We have so much to learn and there is so much that we could do to stop the worst predictions for climate change becoming reality. However, each of us can only do our best in this regard and then trust to the fact that God is in control.
As I said earlier, we don’t want to wish our time away, but we have been eagerly looking forward to the arrival of our new Vicar – some of us because we look forward to a bit of relief from some of the additional responsibilities we’ve had during the vacancy. But I hope we’ve all been looking forward to entering a fresh season in the life of Otley Parish Church. Perhaps there are people who will hope that Church things will largely remain the same under new leadership – and, who knows, that may well be the case.
But as we look back over the years, I think that it’s reasonable to ask the question, ‘the same as what?’
Historically there have been massive changes in the life of Otley Parish Church but even if we just look at the last few years, we’ve had to embrace some significant differences – in the use of the church building after re-ordering, the developing use of technology and coping with Covid and lockdowns. In the past 10 months we’ve had a vacancy following the departure of Graham, our Vicar, and this has led to a massive team effort by many members of the congregation who have got involved in leading worship, preaching, taking Sunday Club, being a member of a house group taking the whole service and many other things beside.
One notable thing during all the changes that have happened in the last few years is that there has been a steady flow of new people joining in the worship and life of Otley Parish Church – many of them not previously from a Church of England background. The common reason given for joining us is the warmth of welcome they received when they first visited our church – and this reason has been similarly given by people over many years.
So, as we look to the changing seasons ahead, let us pray that Otley Parish Church remains a place with a warm welcome – and a place for everyone with Christ at the centre.
We also need to pray for God’s blessing on Aaron as he settles in and gets to know us and discerns the way that God would have him lead us. And we should all continue to be open to God speaking to us and leading us by His Holy Spirit as we enter this new season for God’s Kingdom in Otley.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 43:19 NIV