This past month has been a time of sharing stories; a time of good reflection; and a time of imagining what the coming days might look like. For what will this church year hold? Of course, this is only a beginning. I have not met many of you. We are only at the start of this our ministry together. And there is plenty of time. I plan to move slow Dear Ones.
For now, we ready ourselves for returning to church–we begin here. And we will begin as we always do, with a Water Communion Service on September 12th. UU congregations across the country are readying themselves for this ingathering service as well. We share in this ritual to mark our coming home to one another, and a time to bless water that is lovingly saved and used in rituals throughout the church year–from child dedications to memorials, we look to this water in rites of passage that mark the comings and goings of our lives. Water that represents the power and healing strength of us. I so look forward to this service.
And this will be a service that worship leaders and participants will offer you virtually from the sanctuary. You will see in this month’s Arbella a message from Parish Committee about the latest plans for gathering in September, which I hope you will take some time with. Leaders and staff have been reflecting thoughtfully over the past few weeks–engaging in good and open conversation, looking to CDC recommendations, local data, and taking seriously the recent recommendations from the UUA around regathering. I have been buoyed by the thoughtfulness and care everyone has taken during this time of difficult discernment. The safety and care of this community, and staff, is our highest priority. And I feel we have a good and spacious plan for beginning our church year, with the hope that we will slowly allow for more worship attendance over the coming months. We will get there. Of this, I am sure.
I want to acknowledge that this is not what many of us had hoped for earlier in the summer. What a blow the Delta variant has been. I pray that you and your loved ones are okay. These are uneasy, difficult times. Grief abounds–for we cannot count the losses we have endured these past 18 months. All this set against a backdrop of collective suffering and oppression, a climate crisis, and global unrest. Know that feelings of disappointment, discouragement, loneliness, exhaustion, maybe even hopelessness, are valid. Yes, there is much to celebrate together, and there is much to grieve as well. In this place, in this church, all of this has a place. I hope you know that.
One of my favorite benedictions has been in my mind a lot lately. Wayne Arnason writes:
Take courage friends.
The way is often hard, the path is never clear,
And the stakes are very high.
For deep down, there is another truth:
You are not alone.
I pray these words hold you and sustain you these days. Reach out. Stay connected. Hold on. For you are not alone.
In faith and with love,