The Dog Days of Pentecost
Many years ago the Rev. William Willimon, a United Methodist pastor and bishop wrote a meditation for the magazine Christian Century entitled, “The Dog Days of Pentecost.” In those days Will was pastoring a church in Greenville, South Carolina, a place I lived before going to seminary. We can both truly attest that the dog days of summer exist in South Carolina for a long time.
But they exist here, too. It’s been hot lately — really hot. And the humidity has been bad enough that it’s hard to breathe some days. We are in the midst of the Dog Days of Summer.
But Willimon was not writing about the weather, at least not directly. He was writing about the Dog Days of Pentecost, that long season of the church’s liturgical calendar that stretches from early June to late November when the countdown to Christmas starts with Advent. It’s the longest season in the church’s year, and it is supposed to be geared toward reminding people of the gifts of God’s Spirit, which energizes our ministries.
In the Dog Days of Pentecost, just like the Dog Days of Summer, it can be difficult to get excited about anything. It just seems like the same old, same old. Doing anything is tough. It seems like our best efforts are wasted. You try to connect with friends and you don’t hear back and you feel like an afterthought, if that. You make plans to do something glorious — like a mission trip — and no one shows up.
The problem with the Dog Days of Pentecost is not that they are oppressively hot, uncomfortable or a time of seeming pointlessness. It is that they can make us look inward too much. We get into pity parties. We feel sorry for ourselves. We think no one cares about us or what we are doing.
This past Sunday I preached on the parable of the sower, Jesus’ story about the person who threw seed out all over the place, mostly on ground that wouldn’t grow a thing. But some seed did land on good ground, and the harvest it produced was far more than the sower, and anyone of that time, could imagine.
The point of the parable is to keep sowing. Keep trying. Keep loving. Keep reaching out beyond yourself. Keep throwing those seeds of faith out there and trust that God will make a great harvest happen. Don’t give up, not even in the Dog Days of Pentecost. Keep following Jesus and showing his love to the world. Great things will happen.
Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.