Welcome to summer. It’s a strange summer, to be sure, the events of which have already caused us to examine more deeply the wounds and brokenness of our own communities and wider society.
For me, this summer is a strange one because it’s the first summer since I was 5 years old that my livelihood is staying the same during the summer months as it was during the school year. That is to say, this is my first summer as a non-student! I don’t yet miss being a full-time student, but I do miss the rhythms that being a student brought to my life for so many years: rhythms of readying myself for classes in August, reuniting with friends in September, studying for and then resting from exams in December, and celebrating the end of a year in May.
It’s helped me to try and create new rhythms for myself since I graduated from seminary, and I’m grateful to have created even more rhythms and routines since the start of this “work-from-home” season.
This summer, I invite you to add a new rhythm into your weekly life. We are launching a digital summer devotional during these summer months, with three devotions posted per week — on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays — from June 23 until mid-August. Find them on our Digital Formation page and our Facebook page.
Each week will center around a scripture passage from the Gospel of John, some of which will correspond to this summer’s Vespers series on the sayings of Jesus. The first devotion of the week will be a reflection from a staff member; the second will include a piece of visual art (many of which will be original pieces from congregation members!); and the third will include an invitation to a spiritual practice.
The Christian Formation team hopes that you will find this resource a helpful way to engage in a new spiritual rhythm during summer weeks, sharing the scripture around the dinner table with your family, talking about the passages with church friends, and committing to new practices of prayer, contemplation, and action.
Many of the scripture passages we will read together through the summer devotional will be reminders of who Jesus is, particularly as John’s gospel describes him. We hear that Jesus is the bread of life; the good shepherd; the true vine; the way, the truth, and the life.
As we enter into the experience of these scripture passages, I am reminded of the first chapter of Colossians. In this letter, we read that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…For in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15, 19). If ever we wonder what God is all about, what it looks like to actually embody the teachings and life of the Triune God, we need only look to Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God.
This is a timely reminder as we live through this strange summer.
Even in the midst of social isolation, even in the middle of an unveiling of our country’s racism and our complicity in it, even within a time when we may feel weary or sad or discouraged, we can look to the words and actions of Jesus to show us the way forward. In sharing a meal, welcoming a stranger, talking with a child, communing with those on the margins, telling a story, and journeying with friends, we come to know God. This is what Jesus does, and this is what Jesus calls us to do.
I hope you’ll engage with this summer’s devotional, and I hope you’ll find that it helps to form you in the life of faithful discipleship.