As the end of July approaches, we find ourselves in the “dog days of summer,” those hot days when even the dogs don’t have the energy to do much more than lie around on the ground, panting from the heat.
Here we are, in the middle of the church year. Pentecost is behind us and Christmas is still a long way off. “Ordinary time” is what the liturgical calendar calls this long stretch between now and Advent.
Whether you think of these days as the “dog days of summer” or as “ordinary time,” this time of year can be challenging for the church. It is easy to grow weary and exhausted – the excitement of the summer holidays has worn off, our daily demands and obligations grow each day, there is little to break our familiar routine, and it’s hot outside! Add on the unusual amount of grief and loss our congregation has experienced in the past eight months, and it is no wonder that we are worn out.
Although written thousands of years ago to the Jewish people in exile, the words of Isaiah 40:28-31 still speak to us today.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
It is good to be reminded that although we are weary and exhausted, God does not faint or grow weary. God knows us, God understands our exhaustion and even our grief. We can trust God to renew us and to lift us up.
Being renewed and lifted up doesn’t always look flashy or exciting, but it is in the common and ordinary that we often experience God most deeply. I experience God’s renewal and encouragement every week in the hugs and smiles you give me, in the prayers and songs we share, and in the play of the light filtering through our stained-glass windows in the sanctuary.
Every person’s experience is different, but as a congregation, we continue to affirm our faith that God is with us and God is for us. May each of us experience God’s loving renewal and strength, lifting us up to continue our journey of faith together!