September has always felt more like the New Year to me than January, so I’m grateful that our first monthly theme for this church year is Renewal. It was also supposed to be our theme last April, but we were three weeks into all-online church when April began, and Adaptation felt like the only relevant theme. Of course, adaptation remains deeply relevant, but I am ready, and I hope you are ready, to consider how we will renew our spirits, renew our connections with one another, renew our courage and creativity and passion in a changed and still-changing world.
I’m excited that we will be joining the many congregations using Soul Matters worship themes this year. We used their curricula for our children’s program last year, and found their materials to be user-friendly and deeply grounded in Unitarian Universalist values. This year we will be using the same themes throughout the church – for worship, for covenant groups, and for religious education for all ages. This aligns with our commitment to sharing wisdom across diverse life stages and experiences by putting us all on the same page, so to speak – encouraging families to consider the theme together. It makes multigenerational worship richer and more inclusive. It feels like – renewal!
When the pandemic hit and we closed the building, children’s religious education suffered. Sunday school went by the wayside as we scrambled to adapt, and Zoom check-ins for families were poorly attended. Of course they were! Families were also scrambling to adapt, and Zoom was suddenly work, school, and social life. No one needed one more Zoom meeting in their lives. The curriculum developers at Soul Matters, however, were scrambling too – working to develop programs that made sense in a physically distanced,
mostly-virtual world. I am looking forward to renewing our children’s programming in ways that meet the needs of families and kids. I’m excited to find creative ways to renew connections across generations, helping children (and adults!) know themselves as members of a community that loves them.
This is not likely to be the year that “things go back to normal.” I invite all of us to lean into the theme of Renewal together – let us renew our commitment to one another, to our own spirits, and to the world that so needs us to demand a deeper justice. In spite of, and because of, all the disruptions to our sense of “normal,” may we dwell together in peace, seek the truth in love, and help one another. See you in church, remembering that church is not the building!