It made me think, though, about how we talk about the presence of God. God may not come at our beck and call (although sometimes he does answer prayer), but God is always there at the right time, it seems. If the parallel with our being in the area at the right time for the fall colors holds true, then it should follow that God chooses to be close enough to his creation that he is present already for whatever is happening.
Whatever, rain or shine, flood or drought, evil in the heart of someone, or heroism, hatred or compassion…even small personal events, money or relationships, grace or rudeness, Jesus, God’s Son made a promise, “I am with you always.” He lives as constantly with us as we live constantly in the Green Mountains of Vermont. In this time in the history of things, that is a promise that will serve as a comfort.
I’ve just been on a retreat with some friends from 20 years ago. Unbelievably we were just as much in love with each other as we were then! And the words of a song we sang are as important now as when I first learned them: “Know that the God who sent his son to die that you might live, will never leave you lost or alone in this beloved world. Let us go in peace.”
You and I wait sometimes impatiently for the colors of autumn, but we know we’ll get to see them because we’re already here. Sometimes we wait impatiently to feel and understand God’s presence in our midst, but we know that will come because he is already here. We often want to get things going, but God is faithful and patient and chooses the right time. Martin Luther once wrote and preached that God is always on time and never breaks a promise. You and I have difficulty waiting “in peace” but God through Jesus has offered the “peace that passes understanding” to every person on this earth.
The human world we see is certainly not at peace right now, and we recognize from current events of shootings and stabbings, fire and floods, that all around us un-peaceful things are happening, but for people of faith we also heed the instructions to lift our hands and our hearts in prayer, and call on the inner peace which has been promised.
So, as we enjoy the beauty of the fall colors in this place where we live, it is good to remember that Jesus, God’s son, has promised to be here in this place with us always. In the world he tells us that we will encounter dreadful things, but he says to be at peace because “I have overcome the world.”
Enjoy this autumn, and be filled with the peace of God in your life.
Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey is pastor of the Halifax Union Society in Halifax Center.