In Japan the changing of the seasons marked by the glorious Autumn colours are a special event. The viewing of these colours is a popular activity as people travel to different parts of the country to view the spectacular scenery only improved by these array of reds, oranges and yellows. All Japan watches carefully in anticipation as the ‘Koyo Front’ (colour front) moves slowly from the most Northern Island and makes it’s way down to the south. It even has it’s own special feature on the weather report, identifying where the colours are currently changing and where the best views can be found. This is not just an individual pursuit but a communal one as families and communities enjoy these together.
Despite the fact that with the approach of Autumn also comes colder weather, I love this season so visible in creation around us. It’s good to watch and embrace the changing of seasons each with their own special beauty as well as their own unique challenges.
Towards the end of November we begin the season of Advent. This is the particular time in the church year when we not only look forward to, and prepare for celebrating, Christmas, the time when God came to live among people in the human form of Jesus in a totally unique way. But more importantly, Advent is the season when we look expectantly for His second coming, when He will return and bring in His Kingdom reign in all its fullness. In our waiting for this return, it’s good to colour-watch like the Japanese with the Autumn colours. It’s good to look for the signs of His Kingdom already breaking into our lives and into our communities. What will those colours be? What might some of those signs look like? Isaiah 61 gives us some clues: signs of justice, freedom for captives, healing for the broken, comfort for the mourning. We can look for these signs in the places we live our lives, work, home, community and join in with what God is doing. Furthermore, as we spend time with God and allow Him to continue to transform us into His likeness we can become signs of His kingdom for others. Where people see the fruits of God’s Spirit working in our lives, those of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol (Galatians 5: 22-23 NRSV), then we become like those signs of the Kingdom. We can be for others like the changing Autumn colours, those signs that the season is changing. We can be signs for others that God’s kingdom is on the move.
Obviously we don’t need to restrict this to the season of Advent, the signs of God’s kingdom are all around us all year round, but it is good to put time aside at specific seasons to focus on certain things. So as we look towards remembering Jesus’ first coming at Christmas, let’s not get carried away with the frantic worldly preparations of the season, but put some time aside to look for the spiritual signs of the season, that of God’s kingdom working among us.
But also, like the Japanese chasing the Autumn colours, how about we let this become a communal activity, how about we share this with others? Where we see signs of the kingdom at work, at home or in our community how about we share our stories as an encouragement to each other? Share stories in our families, with our friends, in our life groups and in our congregations so that together we are able to enjoy and celebrate the signs of the changing seasons and the signs of God’s kingdom at work.
Lesley Currie (Curate)