In each step of our year-long Stewards of Creation journey together, we are learning and growing along the way. While you may have noticed there are certainly some messages of ecological justice that have risen out of this year-long congregational theme, our worship seasons are more richly textured than simply a focus on faith and ecology alone. In the Soil Season (for instance), we used soil as a metaphor to engage in theological reflection together. Conveniently, Jesus used soil quite frequently when it came to inviting his followers into theological reflection (prime example: the parable of the sower / good soil – Matthew 13), but you may have also noticed that we have used soil as a theological lens through which to peer and reflect as we did in our words of confession and forgiveness and in other ways. How’s the soil condition of our hearts? Polluted by sin. Perhaps instead of asking God to wash away the soil of sin in our lives, we should instead be asking God (the soil farming father) to restore our hearts to good soil open to the seed of God’s word. I hope you’ve had as wonderful a time as I have getting your spiritual hands dirty in the soil this season, but either way, it’s time for our season of soil to come to an end and for us to invite in a new season of our journey together.
As Advent swiftly approaches, I suspect along with it, the cool winter winds will soon arrive (despite this beautiful unseasonably warm November), and we will welcome in the Season of Wind & Weather. Following Jesus’ lead, the church has always utilized metaphors to more deeply engage God’s people in the Christian narrative: Jesus the Good Shepherd / Christ the King / Lamb of God. That said, how many actual shepherds, kings, and sheep do you know? [crickets chirping] Don’t get me wrong, the Biblical metaphors are beautiful and precious, poetic Word of God, but perhaps these metaphors have gone stale for God’s people; perhaps they no longer resonate with our cultural frame of reference as well as they used to or are too well-worn to ring truth anew in our ears. The new seasonal sub-themes for Stewards of Creation were selected with care to give us a new lens to more richly enter into theological reflection around these well-worn seasons of the liturgical calendar. So, please allow me to paint a picture (with words) of how Wind and Weather may guide our Advent reflections and prayers together.
I will begin by going straight to the heart of what I suspect some of you might be wondering. Will we be talking about Climate Change? Yes. Will you have to study up on recent research of climate science to fully engage in worship at Cross of Hope or even believe that climate change is a thing? No, not at all. While the phrase “climate change” will indeed come up, we’re certainly not intending to spend the entire season of Advent talking about it. Remember that these seasons are metaphors for engaging in theological reflection together. As an example of how we may use this metaphorically: I think we can all agree that the advent and subsequent widespread use of smartphones and social media has (for better or worse) caused a significant social climate change in modern culture. Likewise, as we delve more deeply into the scriptural advent narrative, we hear the familiar words of a well-known prophet, minister, and preacher who called out from the wilderness: there is one coming after me who is greater than I. These prophetic words prepared God’s people for the world-altering spiritual climate change that was coming ahead.
That said, there is WAY more to the upcoming season of Wind & Weather than simply boiling it down to one theological metaphor of climate change. We may spend time together in reflection of the breath of life, Ruah (wind/spirit), that was breathed into Adam and all human-kind. We may get caught in a storm out on the sea of Galilee with Jesus and the disciples. What I do know for sure is that the winds are shifting, and Advent is at our doorstep once again. It will certainly whistle, rustle, and rumble in our hearts anew as we prepare the way for the Lord in the changing world that lies ahead.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.