December is ‘Fallow Month’ or at least it is at the Village Church in Tucson. We discontinue all regular meetings and do not schedule any church wide events. There are no leadership meetings, no Bible studies, no meetings of our Pilgrim Groups (small discipleship gatherings), or our ‘Monastic Community’ gatherings. We ask our people to give up the huge Christmas Eve extravaganza and instead have a simple evening of enjoying hymns, carols, and Scripture readings. The invitation is to turn away from the hectic demands of the Christmas season and to use the time to rest, to pursue God, and to enjoy family and friends. It is a time to invite others into our homes and celebrate the beauty of what God has done in giving us Jesus. It is a time to enjoy parties with co-workers, neighbors, and friends, especially with those who do not yet know Jesus. It is a time to open our hearts and hands to serve and delight in others.
In the early years of our church plant, when we first implemented Fallow Month, it was because we sensed that the stresses of the season had worn our people to a frazzle and that, instead of being a time of joy and grace, it had become something to get through and survive. I had been talking about growing up as a kid on the farm and being told that from time to time the land needed to rest and lay fallow. I had discovered from Scripture that the Israelites were commanded that every seventh year the land was not to be plowed, but instead allowed to lay fallow and rest and that whatever the land produced in that fallow time was to feed the poor and also to be savored by the creatures inhabiting the land. God provided in the time of fallowness that which was needed without the help of the people. It seemed, in those early days of our church, that what people in our community needed most was a time to rest and a time to trust in the goodness of God. So, we declared the month of December to be ‘Fallow Month.’
At first, there was a good amount of push back. We love our busyness; many of us thrive on the adrenaline rush of running from event to event. It allows us to feel important and needed and necessary. We are uncomfortable with silence and just sitting quietly with an open Bible and hearing God speak to us. Busyness can make us feel needed and loved. It can be a hard thing to give up. We heard about how huge Christmas Eve events were a great way to connect with church neighbors and that we shouldn’t waste an opportunity to entice people to come to the church building and hear the gospel. There were those who wanted to watch their costumed children portray the Christmas story in a Christmas day pageant. It was a bit hard to lay it all down and to sit in the beauty of fallowness.
Over the years people have come to greatly appreciate Fallow Month. December has become a month of richness and peace. We have learned to more fully enjoy times of reflection and rest against the backdrop of exasperated shoppers and harried party goers. We have discovered the gladdening that comes from singing simple carols with people we love and of having time to give of ourselves to others. We have discovered the joy of sitting with family and reading again and again the story of what God has done for us. We have found the pleasure of resting in the gentle, caring arms of a God who loves and pursues us and the simple pleasure of being with him, a pleasure that far surpasses any other. We have found the time to throw parties for our friends and to gather into our homes those who do not yet know the God we love. We have had time to speak to the lonely and the broken; to those for whom Christmas is a time of pain and loss. We have found the time to recognize the sheer joy of being dependent on the grace of our God and to depend on him for all that we need.
I love Fallow Month.