September. New start, new pencil case, new resolutions. New year all over again. Those resolutions built in January and forgotten in February are dusted off to look at afresh, to see if there is any way we can make the sun-soaked, super-relaxed August version of ourselves a reality for the final push of 2013.
My church has just had its Annual General Meeting and announced with vigour its plans for the new school year. They are exciting, faithful, full of vision and longing to honour Jesus and make him known to the people in our little south London suburb. But on first hearing all that we are striving for, I didn’t feel joy and excitement. I felt exhausted, overwhelmed and tired. The endless rotas, pressure to spread the gospel at all costs and be a ‘good’ Christian – whatever that means – bore down as a crushing weight of tasks on the already too-long to-do list.
My selfish heart trapped in my earthly self is useless at delegating. Awful at giving up control. Imperfect at realising it will always be imperfect. And so I left humbled and upset – aware of a desire to win my salvation through works and point scoring, because I don’t trust that Jesus is enough.
Matthew 11 v 28- 30 says: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
Autumn is the chance to turn over a new leaf and realise that church doesn’t rise or fall on whether I arrive early to put the kettle on. That Jesus doesn’t need me to grow his kingdom, but graciously chooses me instead. He’s done the work and my efforts can’t do any better.
Instead I act, I try, I attend, I pray, I love – because Jesus first loved. Because Jesus gives me rest, not tasks – and all my actions should simply say thank you. The new start starts here.