As we say “Hello October” we feel the change of season and even when the sun is out there is a chill wind in the air. Summer seems to be a fading memory. As another new October unfolds are we back on the treadmill of the usual routine or will something new develop in our lives, perhaps an opportunity or a challenge? Last month I signed up to a 12-song challenge with a worship song writing community that I am a part of. The task is to write a completely new song on a new theme each month over a year of 12 months. The lyrics and music files of the songs are then shared on a social media platform and people in the group offer a critique of our work and we offer a critique of others work as part the song writing process. We are encouraged just to write something and share it even if it’s not fully completed to get the creative juices flowing. As I write, I have just posted my effort for September on the theme of Intercession entitled “Open our lives (Ready to Pray)” and received some helpful feedback. What we pray about can reveal our self-centredness. Here are a few lines to you to taste with the risk that you may spit them out!
Lord more ready to hear than we to pray
Make us ready to pray
Open our ears to the cries of your world
Open our hearts to the wounds on your heart
Open our lives to the rhythm of your grace.
It is not the most wonderful song I have ever written or crafted, it’s not perfect and like me, it’s a work in progress. Some people will recognise in the first line a phrase from the Prayer Book collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity “Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray”. Others may recognise in the last line a phrase from The Message translation of the Matthew chapter 11:28-29 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Being open to criticism can be a sensitive experience but allowing others to criticise our creative masterpiece can be constructive rather than destructive. However, it can feel like a chilly breeze on a sunny day. I know from previous experience on a song writing retreat, one can get a little bit defensive when our cherished child is challenged. Apparently, our capacity to receive tough feedback changes throughout the day.
As Autumn gathers pace, as they lose their leaves the trees will begin to look barer. In the church calendar we will celebrate the Harvest Festival, thanking God for the fruits of creation. It is all part of the usual routine as the year rushes by. In terms of our spiritual maturity we are all a work in progress so, let me set you a challenge for October that is meant to be constructive rather than destructive. Why not take time to reflect on your own spiritual maturity and even allow yourself to be open to feedback? What do you pray for and what does that reveal about you? Take time to reflect on what spiritual fruits are ready to be harvested in your life. Or are we all burdened by just doing the stuff we usually do and stuck in a routine that bears no fruit?
As we move into the autumn of life, let the priority be to get away with Jesus, walk with him week by week and month by month and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Having said “Hello October” at the beginning let me point you to words by a much more experienced songwriter than myself, (Adrian Snell) “Goodbye October”
Have the leaves already fallen
I don’t mind the whistling wind around my door
Am I happy just to touch the snow
Or watch the meadows changing
Rearranging all the things we did before
Did we see the colours change
Are we all too busy rushing through the year
Are we making time for Jesus
And the things He wants to teach us
Can He reach us, do we really want to hear
Let me rest in Jesus’ arms
With His love around me I can reach the skies
Well I wonder as the seasons turn
And autumn slowly breaking
Are we waking with His summer in our eyes
With His summer in our eyes
“As another new October unfolds are we back on the treadmill of the usual routine ...