Summer is often thought of as down-time for many and this is particularly true of the church. We have long run St Bs around the academic year, with the three terms separated by the three great Christian festivals of Christmas, Easter and New Wine. But the summer break is quite different to the snatched gasps of air of the other two holidays. The long school holiday break means that many people go away. On Sunday there are gaps in our community where regular stalwarts of the church have taken off to sunnier climes, while at the same time newcomers and visitors fill their spaces. Weekday programmes are largely put on hold and staff spend their time catching up on all the things that time doesn't allow during the rest of the year. And the pace gradually slows, as balmy evenings are spent lazily with friends inhaling that reassuring barbecue smoke of charcoal grilled sausages.
But this year is different for St Bs. Yes many of the same ingredients of the season are still present: people away, programmes curtailed, congregations shifted. But this year the Go and Grow project has refused to comply with the season's menu of rest, relaxation and regrouping. The requirement to demonstrate the viability of the scheme by the latter part of October, or see the entire project closed down, means that we necessarily have to press ahead at full speed, irrespective of the lazy pace of the world around us. And perhaps this will prove to be to our advantage.
I well remember one year Jane and I doing our Christmas shopping in Eastbourne, where the average shopper is well into his or her dotage. We found that we were able to nip around at twice the speed of the populace around us, overtaking these slothful south coast shoppers, who regarded us with strange bemusement. The result was incredible effectiveness; all our shopping completed in half the time we'd expected. Perhaps the slow pace of the world around will enable a similarly contrasting acceleration of the project.
Whatever the case, we know that right now we cannot afford to hold back, even if our inner annual barometer longs for respite. For Go and Grow, now is the moment of reckoning; now is the time for God's provision to become evident.