October is upon us and the colours of Autumn will soon be more and more evident as the garment of green gives way to glorious gold and rusty red. Then eventually the leaves will fall and trees will stand naked in the morning mist. This brings to my mind the words in a short but loaded song from the 1981 U2 album of the same name, October:
October and the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear.
What do I care?
October and kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on
When asked in an interview in 1982 what the meaning of October was. "October is an image," said its writer Bono.
"We've been through the '60s, we've been through a time where things were in full bloom. We had fridges and cars, and we sent people to the moon. Everybody thought how great mankind was. And now, as you go through the '70s and the '80s, it's a colder time of year; it's after the harvest, the trees are stripped bare and you can see things. We've finally realized, maybe we weren't so smart after all, now that there's millions of unemployed people, now that we've used the technology that we've been blessed with to build bombs for war machines. October is an ominous word."
Now we are 35 years on and Bono and I are 57 years old and have lived through a lot of changes of season, but this October the issues facing the world, its needs and its faults, are essentially the same.
September has seen the catastrophic effects of natural disasters with hurricanes and earthquakes. People of faith believe that this is the world that God made. The forces of nature are His gift but they can be both beautiful and dangerous; awe-inspiring and frightening; wonderful but also fragile. It seems that we cannot have one without the other and so nature is sometimes our enemy and not our friend.
September has seen the rattling of sabres and testing of strength - or more accurately the rattling of ballistic missiles and testing of nuclear devices. Time has shown that kingdoms rise and fall. Fake kingdoms headed by democratically elected presidents and self-appointed dictators face each other in a war of words we hope will not escalate into a war of the world. People of faith believe that this is the world that God made. The freedom of will inherent in human nature is His gift but it can be both beautiful and dangerous; awe-inspiring and frightening; wonderful but also fragile. It seems that we cannot have one without the other and so human nature is sometimes our enemy and not our friend.
God made the world and everything in it and declared it was good. Autumn is a hopeful season despite its place in the cycle of life. There is much beauty in the colours of this season and the morning mists and sunset sky. The story of Ďthe Fallí, the turning away from a relationship with God by humanity, as told in the book of Genesis is the beginning not the end of the story. God does not leave us forever clutching fig leaves. God loves us too much to leave us where we are and in Jesus sends a Saviour to restore that relationship. We believe that God does not remain distant and unfeeling but comes close to share in the pain and the tragedy of all that hurts life on earth. We believe that God weeps with those who weep and suffers with those who suffer, and calls us to do the same. God calls us to rejoice with those who rejoice and work to bring in the true kingdom of justice, joy and peace. October may be a time when itís very easy to be sad and lament about the state of the world, but hold fast to the words of Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Remember that while the evil enemy prowls around and manifests itself in various forms, there are good people and friends doing amazing things in the world.
October is a simple song with a powerful meaning. Basically, seasons change, things happen and God goes on. May the message of hope in the midst of despair, love in place of violence, and faith through times of uncertainty, continue to capture the hearts of a whole new generation of listeners.