Living for 5:00pm

Cross-Line-1183098For the past 4-5 weeks, my internal mantra has been “I’m living for 5:00pm on Sunday, October 27th.”

5:00pm yesterday represented the end of a season.  At 4:30pm, our final service of Affirmation of Baptism was complete.  By 5:00pm, most of the photos with kids and parents would be done, and I’d be on my way out to the car.

This season didn’t have a name, but it is real.  This season began at 5:30pm on Saturday, September 7th.  The first worship service of Rally Weekend.   This season, which runs roughly 7 weeks each year in my congregation, begins with Rally Weekend and concludes with Reformation Weekend, when our 3rd graders receive their Bibles and our 10th graders are confirmed.

This is one of our busiest seasons.  In between these two major weekends, it seems like there is something “big” happening almost every week:  retreats, learning festivals, leader and teacher training events…every week it feels like we’re preparing for events that take a lot of time and energy.  I love that, by the way.  I love busy.  I love when our building is full of energy and people.  I love it when the buses roll and retreat groups head out.  I love it when families come to learn how to practice their faith at home.  I love it when there is conversation and laughter within our building.  I love the sounds and sights of faith being formed.

But in my work, I have definitely discovered that there are seasons to ministry; each with is own unique flavor and feel.  Part of what I have needed to do is to recognize these seasons, and to figure out how to work within each one.  The ability to do this is one of the skills that I believe contributes to longevity and continuity.  I wish that I knew this when I started out in ministry.  The amount of time I wasted, trying to cram my ideas into a season that wasn’t appropriate led me to a lot of frustration and close to burn out.

From now through Advent, we move into a regular rhythm, when our focus is on growing our regular, weekly programming.  The end of December and beginning of January gives us a chance to “breathe” a bit.  Then we move into a heavy planning cycle, focusing on plans for summer and next fall.  Then Lent, which is…well, Lent.  Easter through Pentecost, we focus on ending programs well, and then summer is a sprint.

Different congregations and contexts will have different seasons.  Being a student of what season you are in is critical.

I love what each season brings.  There is almost a liturgical rhythm to the programming year.  But I also love when the seasons change, and we move to the next.  And while I’ve loved the last seven weeks, when I climbed into my car at 5:00pm yesterday, I smiled and breathed a sign of relief.  Today for me, a new season begins.  The vibe, feel and rhythm of the time will change.  My focus can shift from events and milestones to community and formation.

I’m glad for the change.  And I’m pretty sure that in a few weeks, I’ll begin looking forward to the next shift of seasons, and to see how God will be at work then.

Networked in Christ,

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