Fall: A Season for Inspiration

by the Rev. David Olson

I can always tell when summer is beginning to wind down because my tomato plants, which I plant fairly early in the year, stop producing tomatoes. Yesterday as I stood looking at their empty branches I couldn’t help but think about how fast summer seemed to go by this year.    

But seasons change quickly and with the slow days of summer behind us, it’s time to turn to fall, what is so often for us the busy season.

And for good reason. With the change to September, school starts back, sports practices and music lessons begin again and extracurricular activities seem to multiply. 

And here at St. John’s it is no different, as we begin a new program year full of events, classes, small groups and activities for people of all ages. 

Sunday is the center of our week at St. John’s, and while worship is at the heart of that, that’s not the only reason we gather on Sundays. We gather, yes, to break bread together, to sing together, to be inspired together by scripture and sermon – we also gather to deepen our faith through conversation, through hearing other perspectives and sharing our own stories. The hour between our 8 and 10 a.m. services is important, vibrant, live-giving, just as worship is.

This fall, that 9 a.m. hour is where we’ll explore those aspects of faith that go beyond the sanctuary. How do we address anti-Semitism? How do we nourish our faith online? How do we find healing, and extend healing? How do we read, interpret and live day to day with the Bible?

Our teachers will include John Jackson, director of web communications at Virginia Tech (and our senior warden); Dr. Jennifer Berenson, chair of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College; and Dr. Peter Coogan, a professor at Hollins University who teaches international relations and political history. They, along with others including St. John’s clergy and staff, are crafting opportunities for profound conversations and fellowship with each other, sparking ideas we can take with us into the world beyond the church. 

When I first started in ministry, I was taught that the church needed to compete for people’s time and attention against all of the other things in their lives. But as I’ve gotten older (and hopefully somewhat wiser) I have realized that the church can’t compete with those things, and really, we shouldn’t try. 

Because what we offer here at St. John’s is something we can’t find anywhere else in our lives:  meaningful community where we can learn about the ways of Jesus, grow in our faith, and live out the service we are called to.  

The September issue of The Record includes a schedule of fall classes, and our fall flyer was passed out at church. Put them up on your refrigerator door, mark the dates in your calendar. Plan to be with us for classes this season and discover how you can grow and dig deeper in your faith. 

I look forward to journeying through the busy season with you this year.

Grace and Peace,

David +