What a summer it has been! We have enjoyed – for some, endured – unprecedented sunshine over many weeks. There have been unusually high temperatures: unbearably hot for some, but delightfully warm for others. The church camp had a wonderful week of weather. However, there has not been enough rain to satisfy most gardeners, but it has been delightfully dry for holiday makers and people who like the outdoors, including myself. My wife and I had nearly three weeks of unbroken sun and some very high temperatures under canvas in rural France in late July/early August, and it was a gloriously relaxing time on quiet and well-shaded camp-sites with swimming pools to cool off in. Others in the congregation, I know, have found the heat a bit too much for too long.
Whatever any summer weather brings, hot or cool, wet or dry, not everyone will be pleased. The British weather is always a source of complaint or at least mild disappointment. However, we can all agree that it is a blessing that we have not experienced the forest fires, floods or extended droughts that some places have had. For many, the long hot summer has been a direct cause of anxiety and suffering. We must pray for those aversely affected, but remain thankful that our own weather ‘extremes’ are as nothing in comparison to some other places,
Our perennial moaning about the weather is something of a national pastime. I suppose it is related to the fact that it is so highly variable from year to year, if not from day to day. We really do not know what to expect, and so can be disappointed or pleased when whatever weather we do get comes along, knowing that we cannot change it, but can only learn to adjust to it and live with it.
On the other hand, where the climate is more predictable, it becomes much less of a conversation topic. The Bible lands, with their Mediterranean climate, have a clearer pattern to the seasons than we experience. Summers are hot and dry for the most part, and rain comes mostly in the cooler, but not cold, winter months. The typical Mediterranean crops – wheat, olives, vines, citrus fruit – can withstand the long dry summers with warm ripening sun, but may need irrigation to bring them to their best.
It is not surprising, therefore, that there is very little directly about weather and climate in the Bible. We hear about the crops that are grown and how people live, lives, and we know from the Old Testament that there can be serious droughts, but there is very little comment on whether it is cold or hot, raining, showery or dry when particular incidents occurred. The Gospels make very little comment on the weather, whether in Jesus’ own life and witness, or in his parables. They are more concerned with the health or social status of the people that Jesus encountered than with how warm or cold they felt. These concerns for people’s lives rather than the weather they experience must be our contemporary priorities too.
Now that it is September, we are entering the season when our weather will be colder and probably wetter, and the days drawing in, though we can also hope for a spell of fine autumn weather too. Rightly, we will have a concern for those who will find the colder weather a bit of a challenge, either because their health is adversely affected by cold, or else they have problems meeting the costs of increased heating bills.
However, as we begin the yearly cycle of activity for all our organisations and users of our hall, our larger concern as a congregation will be to ensure they set off on a successful year, with enthusiastic members and committed leadership. St David’s provides for its members, as for all in the community, a rich range of activities to feed the mind, exercise the body, and support the vulnerable and needy.
We should all take full advantage of what is available, and participate in the social and community activities as well as in our essential spiritual life: in worship, in prayer and in bible study. Have an active and enjoyable year, regardless of the weather!