October brings changes that we can see, smell, and feel all around us. On my morning walk from the Parsonage to the Church, I increasingly require a coat, or indulge in the brisk chill of the morning air. I see the trees of Bird Park slowly but inexorably turning from green to yellow, orange, red, and brown. The scent of dry leaves, cinnamon, and cider are in the air. As I write this, the maple tree outside the Pastor’s Study is increasingly clothed in crimson and purple, its leaves seeming to change color right before my eyes. New England autumns certainly live up to their reputation for visual beauty, and for the subtle yet thoroughgoing changes that mark the transition from summer to winter. We are all truly blessed to live in this little corner of God’s creation.
As the trees and the breeze sing along to that old song by The Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” I have a sense that a new season is beginning in the life of Union Congregational Church as well. Last month’s Apple Harvest Fair was the culmination of weeks (nay, months!) of effort and preparation. The day of the fair was bright and sunny in the morning, lit up by smiling volunteers from all around, who came to be a part of this event. And it certainly did not disappoint! As a church, we welcomed hundreds of people onto our property: our neighbors, our friends and extended church family. Our ticket-sellers reported that many people came to the Fair for the very first time, and some from as far away as Rhode Island. Most of all, though, there was an energy on that day, a joy at coming together as a community to have fun and to enjoy the fruit of all the work done by members here at the church: from cooking chowder, to preparing the silent auction items, to running the Midway games, and selling Attic Treasures.
The Fair was a success by every measure (even in spite of a little rain). When dawn broke on Sunday, September 15th, Union Congregational let out a collective sigh of satisfaction and exhaustion. And so, the church began to turn, turn, turn: to send unsold treasures off to Savers and New Life Furniture Bank; to store away the games, signs, and other Fair paraphernalia for next year; and to settle back into the sedate routine of life together. Football season began in earnest. Work demands, delayed by summer vacations, likewise recaptured our attention and energy. The buzzing activity around the church began to fade.
But, as a church, we are entering a new season: a season of renewal, of new programs and ideas, of renewed commitment to worship and faithful community together. This month, we celebrate World Communion Sunday, in which we remember that we are all bound in the Body of Christ, the life in Christ that spans the globe. No matter where we are or what we are doing, God continues to walk with us in every season.
Likewise, we are beginning a new ministry for our youth, one that is inspired by the ideal of Christian unity and driven by the reality that the young people of the wider Walpole community have not had the kind of relational ministry they need and deserve. For that reason, our Multi-Church youth group will pool the resources of our church, along with Epiphany Parish, United Church, and South Walpole Methodist, to create both a critical mass of young people, and opportunities to build up connections, friendships, and community in the context of faith. Here at Union, the younger members of our congregation are also being included in our worship together on Sunday mornings more and more as well.
Without the changing seasons, there is no opportunity to rest, nor to grow, nor to see, smell, and feel the Spirit moving in the world. The changing is really the only constant: as the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus puts it, “Existence rests in changing.” But our faith demands more than simply resting in the changes. The Word of the Lord, the Gospel calling we have in Christ, prompts further action. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “See, I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth: can you not discern it?”
In the midst of changes, we are being called as a church to remain faithful, to discern a way forward together, and to care for one another. By being faithful to our calling in Christ, we can be a force for good in lives of our members, our neighbors, and the world. Even as things change, that vocation, that spirit of commitment, endures.
Grace and Peace,