September is here. The fair is finally over, twenty presidential hopefuls are making the rounds, and kids have to be captured and gotten ready for school. Growth spurts occurred over the summer, meaning new shoes must be bought. The kid is tall as his mom and there is a change in his voice.
There is a hint of things to come, as autumn leaves start to fall and the days trickle down to a precious few. Where did it go, time I mean?
According to the Scriptures, one thing is for sure: Jesus the Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever. One dependable thing — the love revealed in Christ can be shared by all. The Church exists to declare the living presence of God’s love as revealed in Christ.
Autumn also brings a warning— We know that we humans are finite. The poet writes, “I love the autumn, it is the human season.” Falling leaves point to our finitude. As the old hymn reports, “Change and decay in all around I see—oh thou who changes not, abide with me.” The text points to the abiding presence of God in all situations and stations of our lives.
However, this autumn for the first time, I woke up to the reality of how easy it is to lose the dependable things of life. The church that I love is under attack. A member of a shadow group named The Institute on Religion and Democracy in Indiana filed a complaint against one of our members, and our leaders are allowing the complaint to go forward for a church trial. In order to be the church, we are asked/told to persecute our members. During the era of McCarthy, when there was an effort made to remove those labeled “communists,” people were excluded, fired, and persecuted for their beliefs, until our nation’s leader said, “No more!” Now the word is from some groups that unless we “cleanse” the church of gay people, we will lose our church. When our leaders are allowing the current persecutions to happen, haven’t we already lost our church?
I would like to think that this would be the autumn when Church Leaders would simply say, “No more!” The Jesus who we follow has work for us to do—Let us put aside the silly season and get back to our call to open the doors for everyone. This is the way we make visible the Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Dear God, open our minds, our hearts, our doors. Help us to make visible this Jesus who is our hope, our joy, our peace in times of trouble. Amen.
The Rev. Bill Cotton of Des Moines is a retired clergy member of the Iowa Annual Conference. Together with friends and colleagues he produces MEMO for Those Who Preach, which is delivered by email.