~ Our Default Position ~
“Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in summer.”
~ Proverbs 20:25
Dear Members and Friends,
Summer life is our default position. An anthropologist told me long ago that human beings are essentially tropical creatures. We’re made to live in balmy climes, where an omnivorous diet of fruit, and grains, and meat is available year round. We lack the thick fur of yaks and timber wolves. And as hard as some of us try, hibernation is out of the question for our species. Our bodies couldn’t bear it. We’re designed to endure high temperatures fairly well—with enough water. But it requires all manner of ingenuity for us to survive the cold. In order to live in colder climates, we’ve had to develop intensive agriculture, methods of food preservation, the spinning and weaving of cloth, all types of building construction and architecture, and a huge industry around fuels and energy. If you think about it, we live almost as exiles in places like Pittsburgh. We spend so much of our life’s resources just seeking the warmth and the abundance of our ancestral home in the tropics. All the seasons are beautiful, and our great human intellect has enabled us to live quite well in far colder places than this. But in the end, we sink into summer each year as if it were our favorite chair. Maybe that’s why most people envision “paradise” as a place with palm trees and pineapple drinks.
Of course, summer is the season when the church grows quieter. With the one joyful exception of vacation Bible school, the church building ceases to hum with daily activity during the summer months. Most classes go on hiatus. The choir takes a break. The only two people on the chancel on Sunday are the pastor and the organist. Summer is like a dear old friend who only visits once a year; we’ve got so much catching up to do, so much living to squeeze into that one brief visit! We were created for a season that we only experience for three months out of twelve. Is it any wonder church attendance dips?
In quiet moments, we know that it’s not just a seasonal summer that we spend three fourths of our days longing for. There’s an inner summer that we desire, too: a summer of the soul. Only occasionally do we experience the deep sense of comfort and relief that we feel we were created for. Scripture speaks of these spiritual seasons in poetic speech. Genesis says of our inner winter: “God cast Adam out of Eden, to till the ground from which he was formed. God drove the man out, and at the east of the Garden of Eden, God placed the cherubim…to guard the way to the tree of life.” And Jesus calls our inner summer “the kingdom of God.” It’s the place where all is as it should be.
Kingdom life is our default position. Just as summer is our body’s real home, so the self-giving way of Christ is our spirit’s true home: hope, faith, love. We yearn for this distant summer in ways both great and small, usually unsure of just what it is we’re longing for. We’ve devised all manner of governments and laws to protect us from life’s cold, all in imitation of the spiritual summer—the love—that is our home. How will you practice summer this year—the summer of the earth, the summer of the heart?
In Christ’s Peace,
P.S: Don’t forget to pray for our summer pilgrims to Malawi: Kemp Carter, Coleman Child, Chloe Snyder, Greta Snyder, and Michelle Snyder. They will be traveling from July 2 until July 18!