For many churches, summer means ramping up: Vacation Bible School, picnic events on the front lawn, the annual church garage sale, speakers who are traveling through town.
For my small church made up of many graduate students and teachers, summer means something else: ghost town. For most of July, and a few weeks in June and August, over half of our community flees the hot metroplex and travels elsewhere. It's the time of year when they have free time aplenty, and, as they should, they use it.
So while other, larger churches are hanging weekly banners about camps and barbeques these months, we lay low, hold monthly potlucks, and take everything down a few notches.
When I first arrived here, this made me a bit panicky. I wondered if I shouldn't try to drum up a little summer social activity for fear of total communal evaporation. Over time, I've learned that it is a natural rhythm to the community, and rather than fight against it or fear it, I now try to live into it and even appreciate it. The less hectic schedule gives me much-needed time to prepare for the coming fall, plan for the year ahead, and do some overall house-cleaning (mentally and literally). This summer that has meant, among other things, a complete makeover of our space. We hope to have it finished before all our far-flung Journeyers return in late August.
Our Sunday conversations in the summer usually include at least one series on a book. Those of us who are around often pick up a copy to read on our own, and then come on Sundays to share our thoughts with the rest of the community. This summer we've chosen Brian McLaren's newest book,Naked Spirituality. In it, he outlines four seasons of faith, characterized by a total of twelve words that summarize life during each season. I've found it to be the perfect summer book. It offers plenty of opportunity for personal reflection (and with all this silence around, there's room for it), it provides a glimpse into wider socio-cultural issues to keep it interesting and discussion-worthy, and the feel of the book itself fits what we hope to achieve in the summer: restful reflection, thoughtful looks ahead, and time well-spent with God.
Whatever your summer is bringing you, I pray you're finding those gifts along the way as well.