This coming Sunday will be a day of great celebration as we kick off a new program year and enjoy our annual Rally Day picnic on the front lawn following the 10 a.m. service. After summertime comings and goings it will be a joy to be together in greater numbers again, to share a meal and fellowship, and to learn about many programmatic offerings and service opportunities planned for fall. Children and youth will have the opportunity to greet one another and meet their church school teachers, and the picnic will include all kinds of fun activities for all ages, as well as good food and fellowship. Rally Day is the celebration of being called into the community of the church together.
In recent weeks we have seen communities under great stress – from the eruption of violence in Charlottesville, Va., to the devastation in Texas and Louisiana by Hurricane Harvey. As I write these words an even more powerful storm Irma is raging through the Caribbean and heading toward Florida. Moments of crisis and unrest bring to the fore the importance of community life when some people must depend on neighbors and strangers for their lives, and other people are called to reach out and lend a helping hand.
Worship in the coming weeks of September will focus on what it means to be called into the community of the church. Based on selections from the Letter to the Romans and the Gospel of Matthew, we will focus on Life in Community with a three-part series and consider what it means to be Gathered in Love and Forbearance, Blessed to Forgive, and Called to Generosity.
My hope is this biblical consideration of what it means to live in the community of the church will help us better understand our Christian calling amid the tough issues of community life around us – amid so many cultural divisions and in the wake of natural disasters. We need one another, and both Jesus and the Apostle Paul are clear that the church can model community in transformative, hopeful, graceful and transcendent ways.
I really look forward to seeing you on Sunday!