Summer months during the church year are always an interesting time. At UCS not much slows down from June to September, like it promises to in other congregations. Still, there is always the suggestion that it should, or that it might, or that it will. So just as one might dare take a long deep breath, settling, say, into a good book of fiction or a song that doesn’t make you think “this would be good for a Sunday service,” August seems to get lost in the open windows of September.
We all feel it in different ways. There is a readiness in the air: school supply commercials; anxious parents; new college students fighting you in Target for the brightest lampshade; Labor Day weekend plans announce the last hurrah that needs to get snuck in. We are about to start again. I can hear the announcers with the checkered flags, “Start your engines!”
The beginning of the church year for me comes with resolutions like the start of a calendar year. I will drink less coffee. I will have my blood sugar up before staff meetings. I will bring my lunch instead of buying it. I will take those long deep breaths more often. I will not I only come up for air post-Christmas.
This is my invitation to you as well, one of beginning again.
Before we are lost in the shuffle, before we hear ourselves reflect on how we will do it differently next year, let us take this moment to realize– this is last year’s, next year. We need more opportunities to review and refresh that resolution list that is often dusted off in the dark of the winter months and instead see them with the late summer sun in our eyes. We need to be reminded that the days are long but the years are short, and that we need not blink and find ourselves wondering where we have been.
And so I share (some of) my promises to myself with you and hope in the coming weeks you’ll do the same with me. If this is the most shared ministry we do this year – keeping one another accountable to being who we want to be, I’ll do an alter call come next summer. We can take this season by storm: by a gentle, loving, sunshower of a storm that feeds thirsty grass and seeds that have been planted before the wind kicks up. And when Christmas and Hanukah, Thanksgiving and the New Year, rear their glorious holiday heads, we will be ready to inhabit their purposes with glee and gratitude rather than sneer at their exhausting expectations that have been building since October.
And if that doesn’t happen, or at least not this year, or not entirely as we planned, we will write on next year’s resolution to be more forgiving of ourselves, gentler, more inclusive of all the ways we try and fail despite our best intentions. This is the joy of seasons of ingathering like September; like the new church year.
It’s going to be a good year. A good year of hard and sacred work just as it always is. You are invited to be with us in all its fast-paced encouragement to slow down. You are invited to say no – and to say yes. You are invited to offer forgiveness to others, and to yourself. You are invited to come exhausted, invigorated, confused, grounded, ready, hesitant and anything else you’ve been carrying with you.
We are about to start again and isn’t that a wonderful opportunity. Welcome back, friends. Start your engines!