Although there are still warm days to come, the year has certainly turned to autumn. Interestingly, no one really knows where the word "autumn" came from. It is a very old word. It was used by Chaucer in the 1300's and later by Shakespeare, but its origin is lost in the mists of history. The more common word for the season is the word "fall" - - more descriptive certainly in describing the action of the leaves and the "falling" of nature in general. Meteorological fall begins on September 1, and astronomical fall begins on September 21. In any event, the season of autumn/fall is upon us.
It is exciting to get back into the swing of things after the more leisurely pace of summer, but often we find that in the more hurried pace of September, we have overloaded the days with projects and duties that have been put off until the end of summer; and we can feel tense and anxious with so much to do. Sometimes the overloaded--over hurried feeling is more of a feeling than a fact, and when we are able to stand back and look at our schedule and our life we can see that there is actually plenty of time to do as many things as we really need and want to do.
The beautiful Psalm 23 can help us deal with anxiety at any time. In his lovely book "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" Philip Keller, speaking of the phrase "I shall not want" wrote, "Contentment should be the hallmark of the man or woman who has put his or her affairs in the hands of God... The Shepherd's sheep can say, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. I am completely satisfied with his management of my life." (P.31)
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul also helps those of us who may be victims of a perceived "autumn overload" as he reminds us in his letter to the Philippians, "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me." There is no limit to the strength and power that Christ gives us, but claiming that power depends on remembering that what we do is done by Christ working through us. We don't need to depend on our own strength, our own patience, our own knowledge, or our own wisdom. But we do need to remember to trust in Christ to supply the strength we need. It is the human weakness of faith (which we are all prone to!) that causes us to become anxious and uptight about all the duties and people in our lives that call for our attention.
In the same 4th chapter of Philippians, Paul describes how we can overcome the tendency to become anxious about too much to do. "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things... and the God of peace will be with you."
The autumn was also once called simply "Harvest." It is a season of fulfillment in nature's work of the summer season as the melons, peppers and pumpkins -- and of course the ubiquitous zucchini -- ripen in their blazing colors. The tasseled corn, the blooming chrysanthemums mark the beginning of a new season -- a season in which God provides both nurture and sustenance for both our bodies and our spirits.
Let us all take a breath, step back and notice what God has provided for us to fill our lives with joy and peace.
Blessings and peace,
Pastor Nancy Becker