Dear Family of St John’s

It is no longer summer. The mornings are chilly and evenings cool. Midday is still warm but not ‘summer-warm’. The 22°C predicted feels different, there’s a bite in the air now.

And this presents a predicament for many of us. I suspect, and I know I’m stereotyping here, that the predicament affects women more than men. This judgement is based off my experience of having three men in my household.

A friend expressed the predicament beautifully a few days ago, and so I’m going to share some of her words.

“I’m standing in front of my flung-wide closet doors, and I feel absolutely confused and uninspired. Autumn is here, and I have no idea what to wear.

5 Months ago, every day was chilly, but I stand here now, indecisive, and growing colder by the minute in the early-morning, autumn air. Brain freeze?

I have no clue what to put on to make myself comfy…

…This happens to me every year. It’s like I must relearn how to dress for the current season. And in a few short months, I’ll be standing here re-perplexed by which strappy dresses and shoe pairings are both cute & cool and made me feel awesome.

But back to autumn: I have no idea how last year I managed to look more-or-less put together with these same choices. It may be easier to just chase summer.

Tell me I’m not alone?

*… closes cupboards and decides instead on very holey bike shorts, and equally past-its-prime, in-no-way-matching shirt.

Ja. Nailed it!”

Does anyone, other than me, relate to this predicament? It happens to me with every change of season. I can’t remember what to wear, I can’t put together outfits. The clothes stare back at me, but they aren’t familiar to my recent daily routine so I’m not sure what to do with them.

It’s a similar situation to trying to remember a password on an account that you haven’t logged into for a while. You haven’t checked email for three weeks while you were on holiday and now can’t remember a password that you thought you’d never forget!

Our Christian life can be a little like this. We go through seasons where we feel that we’re on track, we ‘know what to wear’. And then, suddenly something changes, and we feel adrift. We can’t figure out what the right thing to do is in that situation. It could be that we’ve drifted on our own for a while, and have lost the pattern of where we were when our walk with God was going well.

If you’ve participated in our Lenten Bible Study on Peace, you will know that the focus has been on developing a relationship with God. Because, it is in that relationship that we find true peace, even in a world that seems to have gone mad.

Our last session in our Lenten Course looked at how we maintain peace. It’s not something that you attain and then have forever. You need to work at it. You need to practice daily habits and disciplines.

These habits and disciplines are easily lost and forgotten if we don’t practice them regularly. It’s like forgetting what winter outfit looked good on us, because we haven’t put that outfit on in six months.

We can easily fall out of the habit of praying, spending time in God’s Word, being part of a Christian community. We fall out of the habit because it’s easier than maintaining the discipline. Maintaining the habit is hard work and requires constant commitment.

But then we start to notice that life isn’t going so well… maybe the peace is missing? We’re standing in front of our open cupboard saying, ‘I don’t know what to wear!’

So, what do we do? Do we just stay in the situation we’re in… deny the change in season and wear the ‘holey bike shorts’ and comfy mismatching t-shirt because it’s what we’ve become used to?

Or do we do the hard work, again, of reinstating the good practices. Of relearning what God wants from us? I’m not sure about you, but at some point, I have to figure out what to wear for winter, otherwise I’ll freeze. We need to figure out how to get back into that good relationship with God again, if we’ve drifted away.

It involves prayer, time with Him, time with the body of Christ worshipping and serving together. And may I suggest that this wardrobe will help…

“… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3: 12-14 NIVUK)

May we be ‘dressed’ appropriately, whatever the season, as we walk closer with God.

With love

Your friend and rector,