Much of what we do, how we dress, where we go, what we eat and what we celebrate is built around or at least partly dependent upon seasons. A season is a period of time during which certain conditions exist or prevail which facilitate, encourage or discourage particular behaviours. Some seasons are designed to fit within a calendar year whilst other seasons can exist for much longer or shorter periods of time.
The most obvious seasons of the calendar year are spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each brings expectations of particular weather, of specific plant growth, of falling leaves or hayfever or frost or going to the beach. There are anomalies, of course - cool days in summer, or warm days in winter. Heat or cold or rain at unusual times can cause trees or flowers to bud or bloom early and get caught out when the normal weather returns. But there is a particular normality or expectation to the seasons and to what they bring.
But there are also seasons in our lives - some things cease, new opportunities arise. Particular interests or activities come to the forefront and other things that once held our attention no longer do so. These seasons may be built around our place of residence or place of employment. They may be centred on what children are doing at school or tertiary study or beyond. Other seasons are built upon events such as marriage, the birth of children, schooling, empty-nests, retirement. Whilst there is a certain progression through some of these, clearly not everyone experiences all of these seasons, and not necessarily in a particular order. Suffice to say things change, priorities change, circumstances change and we need to understand if not embrace these changes. Sometimes we initiate the change, and other times change is foisted upon us.
But Christianity is also celebrated and remembered in seasons. The calendar year is divided into seasons in which certain aspects of faith are emphasised or preached on or meditated on. I spoke about these seasons in a sermon a little over a year ago. Without requoting the entire sermon, in part of the introduction I said:
these liturgical seasons can serve a useful purpose because they help us focus on God’s unfolding plan of redemption. The seasons follow the sending of His Son through to Jesus’ death and resurrection through to the giving or availability of the Holy Spirit and then the churches mission to make disciples of all nations.
Very broadly (and quite inexactly), the month of December is all about Advent - adventus - arrival - appearance. It is a reminder, celebration and recognition of Jesus first appearing around 2,000 years ago; and a reminder that his second appearance is imminent. Much of this advent season for me and my family living at home has been preparing for and undertaking a relocation of some 350km. So my thoughts this year have not so much been focussed on the season of advent, but on a personal season of some new beginnings. I recognise that many people around the world have had new beginnings during 2020 as a result of Covid-19 and other circumstances.
For me one aspect I need to ponder is my new season in the light of the advent season - of how a relocation, a new old house, a new church (next year), a new job (next year) are to be viewed and shaped by the advent season.