A few days ago I heard someone at the drug store say, "You know, there are only 111 days until Christmas." What?!? For a moment, I felt a stir of panic. Thoughts of 'what is my Christmas Budget, who's on my Christmas list, where am I going to shop on Black Friday,' swirled around for a few minutes until I came to my senses. It is only September; I have three more months of Pentecost to live into.
I have long lamented that the Christmas shopping season starts earlier and earlier every year. This year, a friend told me she saw hints of Christmas in the "Back to School" sales. And while part of me was shocked, the rest of me just sighed in resignation. With web sites likewww.xmasclock.com around (which will give you the exact days, hours, minutes and seconds until Christmas Day), there is no limit to how crazy the "Christmas Crazies" will get.
As our world pushes the Christmas season closer and closer to July, I am even more grateful for the seasonal rhythms of the Church Year. We church people have a way of telling time that is not about counting the number of days until Christmas. The hands of our clock point to colors and they move us into re-experiencing, re-imagining, re-entering the mystery of Christ.
For St. Margaret's (and for most churches) the green season (the season after Pentecost often referred to as "Ordinary Time") coincides with the summer slump (in attendance, giving, etc.). Still, September calls us back to our purpose. The green garments we see on Sunday symbolize life and hope and growth. The Scripture readings for this season emphasize the mission of the Church in the world and the challenge of living the gospel. This is our time of renewal; this is our time of increase; this is our time of taking on the challenge and hope of the gospel we proclaim (which is pretty exciting stuff, as far as I'm concerned).
The Christmas season will come in its own time. And when it does, the Church will enter that aspect of the Christ-mystery fully, richly, and joyfully. For the next 11 weeks or so, however, St. Margaret's clock is on green. And green means, "GO!" Kym+