My wife’s favorite time of year is here: FALL. She loves sweaters, the seasonal colors, falling leaves, and of course…PUMPKIN! Pumpkin anything! We did draw the line at pumpkin flavored sausage but besides that, everything seems to be fair game.
I like this season as well. Those who know me are aware of my love of cardigan sweaters. Yes, I do think of Ray’s dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, and all the other older men who wear them, but even while I can still say I am under 50, I love the feeling and look of a good cardigan. Mr. Rogers would be proud.
Some days when it is cooler you have to wear a jacket as well. Venturing into the North Carolina mountains requires many layers to keep warm and combat the elements. Then when winter comes, the layers get heavier and sometimes movement becomes limited. I am reminded of the boy in A Christmas Story that had on the big puffy coat and couldn’t move in the snow.
In our lives as Christian disciples, we put layers and layers of theology or spirituality on top of our primary relationship with Jesus. Initial layers of prayer and Church teaching are necessary to not only cultivate our initial belief or relationship with Jesus, but also to protect it. But as time goes on, we can continue to put on so many layers that it is difficult to move. We put on layers that have nothing to do with faith and more to do with our personal hangups and lack of formation. Worse than that, we forget what is really underneath it all: Jesus.
This is far to common for those who work in the Church. I can say that because over 22 years of pastoral ministry in a parish had shown me it is true. Sometimes we have so many layers of stuff that we lose our desire to pray or grow spiritually. We can no longer move due to all of the stuff that we think is important, but most of it has nothing to do with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This Fall, enjoy your sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes. But be careful as the cold of winter approaches. Don’t cover up too much that which is most important. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. And if you forget and go out with so much on that falling in the snow means you can’t get up, let some of the rest of us push you back up into a standing position. That’s one reason why the Body of Christ exists in the first place.