RT Rev Dr David Bruce: Be sure that you will be missed if you don’t get involved this autumn

In Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator, Presbyterian Church in Ireland explores the changing season in this month's column.

Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator, Presbyterian Church
Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator, Presbyterian Church

While walking the dog the other evening, I stopped to pick a few blackberries. They were beautiful to look at, and sweet to taste.

Shiny, jet black and full of promise. Our hedgerows will soon be laden with them – a sure sign that autumn is on the way, so get picking!

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The change from summer to autumn, and this wonderful shifting pallet of colour across the countryside, as nature segues effortlessly into this season of golden and reddy hues, is one of my favourite times of year.

Rested after the break, there is also the promise of things getting started again in church.

This sense of change is perhaps amplified this year, because so much of what we have been used to doing has been temporarily suspended. And here’s the puzzle. How temporary is temporary?

I wonder if you feel the usual sense of anticipation this year? What was once so familiar, is now feeling a little, well, unfamiliar. Perhaps the disruption to our lives has meant that you won’t actually welcome the return to what seems like a more normal rhythm to life?

The truth is that we are all finding our way back towards some sort of ‘regular’ and a familiar pattern and pace.

In fact as a Church centrally we are supporting our congregations in their work towards getting back to ‘normal’, be it worship, or organising activities during the week.

We felt that it was important to look at this during this particular moment when some restrictions remain, but are also being gradually relaxed.

The initiative is aptly named ‘Rehabilitation’ and as the authors point out, ‘habit’ is at the heart of re-hab-ilitation.

The Bible says that the Church is like a body – with each part doing its work. Arms, legs, toes and fingers are all needed.

Under the direction and control of the head, they do their work, so that the different parts of the body function in harmony.

The Apostle Paul says that the head of the Church is Christ, “From him, the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16.)

I wonder which part of the body you resemble? Whatever it is, you are important.

He also tells us in Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Be sure that you will be missed if you don’t get involved this autumn.

No-one told the blackberries to stay away this year.

Lockdown or not, they keep coming, just as assuredly the leaves will soon begin to fall. Perhaps there is an attitude for us to learn here?

We need to keep at it, persevere, and not step away from the really useful and fruitful things we have been doing each day.

So keep volunteering, keep keeping on - and keep showing up!