End Time

Here’s the weather report: last week’s rain knocked the remaining leaves off the willow and filled the streets with crushed acorns. Days have turned chillier although blue skies have returned. I’m wearing my fleece vest as an everyday occurrence. One of the gifts of living in this middle of the country is that the seasons of the year are so utterly obvious and final. The year is winding down.

The church year is winding down too. Only one Sunday remains on the church calendar for this year and the readings are filled with end-time. Yesterday, Cliff reminded us that each season/day/moment has it’s own end: the end-time repeats itself over and over.

Over the past fifteen years or so, we’ve heard a lot of talk about end-times: remember the hubbub over Y2K and the coming of the new millennium? Now the talk that will crest and roar over the next two years centers on December 21, 2012. The end is coming.

Well, it is.

In fact, in the short time you’ve been reading this, several moments, one by one, have ended in your life.  The nice thing about ends, however, is that they also create new beginnings.

The new beginning created by the end of the church year brings us Advent – adventus – meaning “coming.” The four weeks of the Advent season begin the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

So right now, before the fact sinks in too deeply and you go into panic mode over everything that will need doing, stop. Take a moment for yourself and look back at your year’s spiritual progress and see what you’ve accomplished. We have reached the end-time of one spiritual cycle and we’ll begin another.

What are the recollections you need to make? What questions do you need to ask yourself? Where have you grown in your ability to give or receive love? Have you become more patient? Have you learned to release anger or fear? Have you practiced judging less? What are the spiritual disciplines you’ve set for yourself this year and how much have you accomplished?

It’s very easy to be hard on ourselves and condemn ourselves for not having “done it all” or become “perfect” in a misguided search. Take, instead, this time to consider your growth and where you have succeeded rather than how you have failed. Make your list simple –

Maybe you want to leave your list out over the next week or so and allow your thoughts to wander over the spiritual steps you have taken. We all grow in some way. We all change. What do you see consciously in your growth or suddenly recognize unconsciously that you’ve changed? It’s important to give ourselves credit for the changes we’ve made whether anyone else does so or not.

When you’ve completed your list, take some time to create a new one – write down the ways you want to grow or change spiritually over the next year. Remember, Advent means “coming.” What new way of being wants to come into your life in the next church year?

Take some time and listen to the voice of the season: watch a leaf release its hold; listen to the acorns fall. We are turning a corner into a new birthing. Allow yourself joy in the process.

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