I don’t know if you’ve noticed that summer is different. It’s something I’ve noticed. I know, the weather is warmer and school is out, which make for some big differences. But summer is also different in that many of us have the opportunity to do some things we ordinarily don’t do in the other seasons. We may go on vacation or visit relatives or go to special events and conferences or have a schedule that is out of the routine. One characteristic of summer is that it involves, for many people, a going out—going out to other places, other experiences, other opportunities.
Then, about this time in August, we begin to sense a change. Some school systems begin classes. Back-to-school items appear in the stores. For that matter, Halloween candy appears in the aisles. The days have grown perceptibly shorter, and nighttime temperatures cooler. We can feel a change coming.
Just as summer means a going out, this time of year involves a gathering in. Families return to a regular schedule, and events are more routine. We are more settled and closed in. In a sense, we come home.
I would suggest to you that this going out and gathering in is characteristic of our faith experience as well. As disciples, we are sent out to a world in sore need of the Gospel. We go and tell. But then, we also gather in the harvest—the souls that God has won and grown to full fruition. The Lord of the Harvest send workers to reap the harvest and all will be safely gathered in. We, too, are set on our way until we reach our journey’s end and God gathers us in. Our Creator and Comforter walks with us every step of the way and when that way comes to an end, gathers us up in his everlasting arms. Praise and thanks be to God for the sending out and for the gathering in!