In these last weeks of summer before the beginning of school for our children, youth, and college students, we are probably not counting down the days like we were before the end of school and the beginning of summer. We are not daydreaming about the first day of school or the end of this season of summer. We want to remain immersed in these days of less homework and more vacation.
If we glance down at the calendar, though, the days of August will come whether we are counting down or not. Whether we will be starting another year of school or simply watching from the sidelines, it will be a time of transition. The temperature outside will not change anytime soon, but the routines and rhythms around us will shift, beginning another season of the year.
Around the church, weekly Sunday evening activities will begin, committees will meet and initiate new work, energy will gather around certain ministries, which do not meet in the summer. There will be planning to schedule, tasks at hand, and work to be done. It is a time of vitality for the ministry of the church.
It might remind us of Harry Emerson Fosdick, the preacher at the Riverside Church in New York City, who said, “We Christians need to keep ever more in our minds the fact that Christianity began in a carpenter’s shop, surrounded by the common tools of daily life . . . .” Our faith mirrors the activity of the carpenter’s shop. The grace of God is hands on, like the daily tasks of life, where we can join our hands with it.
As these last weeks of summer come to a close, we can be mindful of the opportunities before us. There are various ways to join our hands with the grace of God at work. We can minister to others through providing meals for Loaves and Fishes on Tuesday mornings, volunteering with the Conversational English Class on Wednesday mornings, or supporting the Jail Ministry on Thursday mornings. We can offer our help to the children ministry, youth ministry, or college ministry of the church. We can participate in caregiving through Caring Hands or serve the hungry through the Community Market. We can swing a hammer on a Habitat for Humanity site, help others through the Christian Women Job Corp, or care for others through the REACH respite ministry.
We can also practice our faith by forming relationships with those around us in worship, renewing our study of scripture through Sunday School, or gathering with others around the table on Thursday evenings. In simple, practical ways, we can join our hands with the grace of God at work. We are just now counting down the days.