Seasons of Life

Y’all, it’s that time of year again. Now, I write that and you might think, “Ah, yes. Football season is upon us!” And that’s true—college and professional football have started their seasons. Or, you might be thinking, “Ah, yes. We’re supposed to start getting cooler temperatures next week, so fall is coming!” And that’s also true—and a little closer to the season I’m thinking of. Truth is, it’s that time of year again—time for pumpkin-everything!

I went to Trader Joe’s last night (Tuesday night) and let me just list off the things I can remember that were pumpkin flavored. You ready? I saw Pumpkin-O’s (pumpkin-flavored Cheerios), pumpkin breakfast bars, pumpkin cornbread mix, pumpkin pancake mix (might have bought that), pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin chili seasoning, pumpkin creamer, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin tortilla chips, pumpkin sandwich cookies (definitely bought those), pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin yogurt-covered cookies, and pumpkin oatmeal, among other things. Funny enough, I saw no canned pumpkin!

I bring that up because it seems like the beginning of “pumpkin-everything” season is the unofficial beginning of fall. It marks the time of the year when the days are growing noticeably shorter and there does begin to be a nip in the air—even though here in North Carolina you cannot truly rule out a 90 degree day till about mid-October. But this is a season of the year when we start to celebrate those around us and those in our community. We are preparing for things like the State Fair, where we will see the accomplishments of some of our neighbors in the various contests. We are preparing for Halloween where we reach out to strangers in the community and of-fer a moment of fellowship through trick-or-treating. We are preparing for All Saints Day when we honor those Christians who came before us. We are preparing for Thanksgiving, where we gather with family to remember the things we’re grateful for and, of course, to eat things like pumpkin pie!

Ultimately, the beginning of “pumpkin-everything” season also reminds me of the fact that we are preparing for the celebration of Advent and Christmas. As I sipped pumpkin spiced coffee from my pumpkin-emblazoned coffee mug this morning, I got a reminder from my phone that the choir will start practicing their Advent music this Saturday (9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the choir room if you’d like to join them). And all of this, together, made me think of the various seasons we all go through in our lives and the myriad experiences that come with those seasons. Sometimes, we’re in a season of celebration and rejoicing, where it seems like everywhere we turn our friends, our family, even ourselves are experiencing joy. Sometimes, it’s a season of loss and mourning, where each day is a struggle and getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Sometimes it’s a season of uncertainty, where decisions are not easy to make and a way forward is not clear. The good news of the gospel, though, is that God is with us in all those seasons. Joy, sorrow, uncertainty—God is there. Fall, football, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—God is there. Even in “pumpkin-everything” season—God is there. Don’t believe me? Google “pumpkin spice communion wafers images” and have a laugh!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben