A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Hello Summer! Hello World!

The winter months retreat from us, the frosty grip of cold weather relents. We flirted with spring in May as our brothers and sisters farther south did in April, the flowering trees, shrubs & plants bursting forth. The world has come awake around us and the weather has rolled around once again to the caresses of balmy summer days lingering on into lazy twilight. In the Song of Solomon, the lover calls his beloved to come away and enjoy the glories of God’s summertime creation. We now get to answer that invitation. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

Please, please, please, do not be like the cartoon I saw a while back. In it a frowning man was toiling away in his home, working on a computer. A bright light streams in from the window, and outside in the world Jesus descends in his second coming in radiant, heavenly light. The worker squints in irritation, scowls harder, closes his blinds, and turns back to the computer and his toil, ignoring the transformation of the world outside his walls. It may not be the second coming, but it is the annual, glorious return of summer to our northern climes. Let us not ignore it, but get out and enjoy it. Let us put aside our computers, tablets, and phones, our papers, reports, legal briefs, and 24/7 news coverage. Leave those things behind like our winter coats, assuring ourselves they’ll still be there when we get back and head out to explore our little slice of God’s creation at its most heavenly. May we revel in the warm sun on skin, bare toes in grass, taste the summer fruit … and delight in summer sweet corn. Find your nearest farmer’s market and indulge in the many sweet tastes of summer.

It’s time to pull out and dust off our sense of childish wonder. It’s time to marvel at God’s creation, which is far more amazing than we often give it credit for. On this revolving cradle of life circling the closest blazing celestial object, that fiery inferno, at just the right place to warm and not scorch us, our fellow travelers are far more interesting, far smarter and far more aware of us than we’ve given them credit for. When barefoot we watch for thistles and bees, not wanting to get stung on our tender soles. Turns out the bees at least are far smarter, more emotional, and entirely capable of figuring out what objects in the dark are just by feeling them. Bumble bees will play. This discovery makes me wonder about all those times as a kid when bumble bees kept moving in front of me. As a child, I thought like a child, and wrote it off as them being too dumb to know I wasn’t some massive, moving flower. Now, I have to wonder if they weren’t messing with me in a playful way, and I was too ignorant to accept the invitation for an epic summer dance off. Crows recognize people, hold grudges against those who are rude to them, and reward human friends with shiny tokens of affection in response to kindness. So mind your p’s and q’s around them. The skeleton-free octopus has a large brain in its head and a small one in each limb. With their only solid part being their beaks, they are amazing escape artists who can exit by any opening their beak will fit into. Boston’s New England Aquarium in the 1980s had a mystery on their hands. Rare fish under study were disappearing without a trace from their tanks at night. The mystery was solved when the employees arrived early one morning to discover their octopus out of the tank, sitting on the edge of another rare fish’s tank, ready to grab an extra meal. God’s creation reflects the amazing diversity God loves and seems to be filled with a strong sense of humor as well.

If you need something to occupy some time on August 1, join us for National Night Out. It takes place on the school grounds right behind our church. We plan to introduce ourselves to our community there this summer and would love to have you come along and help represent how wonderful, varied, and welcoming we American Baptists here in North Andover really are. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get you some details.

That’s enough for now. Enjoy the summer. Let our souls be refreshed and our bodies restored. Go out and enjoy the summer by day and by night. Once the sun goes down and the moon rises, can you find lightning bugs dancing in your back yard, winking at you with their enchanting lights? Can you catch glimpses of the nocturnal aerial acrobats, the only mammals who fly, out catching bugs for us? Let’s go exploring.

~ Pastor Jeff