Last week I started a reflection on an article I recently read entitled Ten Seasons of the local Church written by Joseph Mattera, an interfaith church leader who has a column for several newspapers. I found some of his insights in the article thought provoking, not that I agree with them all, but they were good for reflection as we continue the journey. Last week I reflected on his first five and today on share my reflection the other five seasons.
Like most believers, there are various seasons every parish experiences (highs, lows, growth, renewal, decrease, testing and so on). Here are some of those seasons that Mattera has observed and I have as well, as a priest and leader of a parish.
We should take these seasons or we may run from church to church looking for the church that is absolutely perfect all the time. Understanding these seasons may keep us from becoming confused as we continue the journey of discovering God’s purpose for us as individuals and as a parish.
6- The seasons of refreshing and renewal are my favorite season for a local church. This is when, after the difficult dealings of God we receive blessings of rest, renewal and revival. Revival and renewal do not last forever, they may last until the church is properly built up and encouraged. But we cannot stand in a constant state of revival; if we do we run the risk of becoming discouraged and disillusioned, because it can’t last forever.
7- Seasons of the miraculous, yes there are seasons in the life of a church when there are extraordinary moves of God’s great love. We should always expect the miraculous, because we cannot limit God’s signs and wonders. This has been true from the very earliest days of our church; as evidenced by Peter’s and Paul’s healings stories.
8- Seasons of testing as lived out in the early churches experienced prolonged seasons of testing and persecution. I believe God allows these tests to try our hearts to see if we will follow in spite of great challenges and tests to our faith.
9- Seasons of transition are not easy, all of us have face transition in our personal lives, at work and in our church. As in the early Church God continues to transition, in and out, key leaders. As church leaders change it hopefully makes room for other leaders to emerge and take their place.
10- Seasons of theological paradigm shifts especially as we open ourselves up to a deeper understanding of our theology and the scriptures. Think back to Peter, God had to teach him that the Gospel was also for the Gentiles. It all began there and we hopefully embrace change and shifts as long as they are for the good of the Church. The challenge, for all of us, is discerning what is good and proper for our Church. If we refuse to adjust and shift we can easily become the new dinosaur and will eventually be extinct, which has not happened in the first 2000 years and hopefully it will not happen in the future.
I hope you have found these reflections on the season of the church useful, as I said earlier I do not necessarily agree with all of them, but I found them fun to reflect on as we continue the journey.
Let us continue to pray for peace and for the end of terrorism in our world!
In peace and courage,