In some way, it seems like any other September. The sky is that brilliant September blue. The sunflowers arch high in the garden and sway in the wind. There are too many tomatoes to count, and the zinnias are having their last hurrah. My garden, after weeks of benign neglect, is its usual late-summer luxuriant tangle.
And yet. So many things seem to have changed and be changing. Once again, we stand at the beginning of another church year, checking the news, watching the Delta variant, task forces gathering to make plans for a safe re-opening. We’ll see you all on September 19 for our first service (on Zoom) and then in person, outside, on September 26 for “Rally Sunday,” families and kids, all ages and stages welcome. We’ll gather to sit in chairs right next to the sanctuary (where the rainbow chairs sit).
And then, on October 3, at long last, we’ll walk into the sanctuary for the first time in a long time. In order to include unvaccinated kids and families, every worship service in October will start outside in the chairs and then after 15 minutes, kids will head up the hill for outdoor RE and others (pre-registered, 60 max) will go inside for the rest of the worship service. I’m grateful to the deacons and our tech crew for the yeoman’s work it will take to make this all happen.
The “Transient and the Permanent (in Christianity).” That was the name of a sermon that Theodore Parker (Unitarian minister and abolitionist, author of the now-famous words “the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice”) preached in 1842. He was a young hothead Unitarian minister setting the staid Unitarian minister establishment on its ears. To our eyes now, it would look anything but radical. But back then, the sermon made a stir. Parker was searching for what about the very early Christian church (before dogma and creeds) and Jesus’ message, might still be relevant, might be in his words “permanent,” and what other things about religion had to go the way of the world.
I’m going to pull out that old sermon and take another look at it in the weeks to come, perhaps invite you to do the same, as we search for what is transient and what is permanent in our world, in our lives. This pandemic I think has forced us all to do that in one measure or another, hasn’t it?
For me, this community has been one that has gathered and regathered for generations around your core values of reverence for the sacred, commitment to service and justice, a place to come and renew one’s spirit, touch down again into things like moral courage, humility, and gratitude.
To me, you are a community of fervent and hoping hearts. You have a desire for something of reverence in a gritty secular world. Its commitment to be of use. And to follow in the way of one who, whatever you believe about Jesus, was unequivocal that God was on the side of the least, the little and the lost. The ones who were left out. The refugee, prisoner, addict, prisoner, elderly, child, who ever is put to the side, whoever is left out.
I know these times can be discouraging. Frankly, it isn’t easy to think of how to lead or how to be a “community” during times of distress and exile. When there are so many limits on how we can gather, how we can celebrate/worship/support each other.
But I know that I’m not in this alone. There is so much ingenuity, experience, and wisdom in this congregation. We’re going to need your creativity, and I invite you to share it so that we can stay connected, vibrant, fully alive in the year to come.
Thank you for your presence and participation. I look forward to seeing you on September 19 (Zoom) and September 26 (in person!).