The Fall season is officially here! The changing of the seasons is evident. The evenings and mornings are cooler. Leaves will begin to change colors. The sounds of leaf blowers can be heard in the neighborhood. Football games become the focus of sports talk. And our church homecoming is the first Sunday in October.
In 1879, an evangelist and a small group of people from the First Baptist Church of Durham conducted a “brush arbor” revival in a clearing in Northern Durham. The purpose was to plant a church in the community to reach out to the farmers, farm workers, and their families in the area. From that first autumn season, a church called Rose of Sharon began.
Since that time, RoS has experienced 137 falls, 137 winters, 137 springs, and 137 summers. Think about that for a moment, RoS has experienced 548 changing seasons since she was birthed 137 years ago. That’s a lot of changing seasons.
Churches go through seasons of change. Neighborhoods change, demographics change, and communities change. As a result, churches must change in order to reach out to the people around them. In RoS’s case, the people are no longer farmers and farm workers.
Our models for ministry, our methods, our programming, must adapt and change. The thing that doesn’t change is God’s word, the gospel, and the original vision of the church to reach the people that live in the community.
The writer of Ecclesiastes pens a timeless phrase in chapter 3 verse 1: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” He goes on to illustrate what this phrase means in the following seven verses. Those words were adapted into a song, called “Turn, Turn, Turn, There is a Season” written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950’s. That song was recorded by the BYRDS in 1965 and reached #1 on the Billboard Chart.
Since Seeger took the words, (except for the title, refrain, and the last two verses), straight from Ecclesiastes, he donated 45% of the royalties to an Israeli charity. This song holds the distinction as the #1 hit pop song with the oldest lyrics.
Now think about that. The original words and lyrics were written around 977BC. That is 2993 years ago. That means that there have been 11,972 seasons that have come and gone since Solomon penned those words. Think about all the changes that have happened to the world since that time. The two constants are the four seasons and the truth of those words.
I believe God is preparing us for a changing season at RoS. As we commit ourselves to faithfully preaching and teaching God’s word and recommit ourselves to reaching out to the younger generations and their families, we will fulfill the purpose for our church in this time we live in.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor,