It is exciting seeing so many of you as we come back to church for worship! I have heard many of you say, “It’s wonderful to be doing activities that feel normal.” Yet we know that “things” will never be the normal they were before March 2020. We are all irrevocably changed by the events of the past 17 months. Definitely by the pandemic which is better, but not over; by the highly contentious political turmoil; by the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath that has finally re-awakened an imperative to deal with the 400-year-old pandemic of racism in our country; by the biggest wildfire in Colorado history last summer; by this summer’s pandemic of heat telling us that if we hadn’t noticed, climate change is real! No wonder we still feel deep anxiety, even at a subconscious level!
We are still discerning how to re-open and to participate in our programming at Plymouth. Perhaps, you wonder,
I am also finding Joy in the rebuilding! Speaking just from the standpoint of the Christian Formation Board…..the candidates we are interviewing for our Director of Christian Formation are invigorating the search team with new ideas for ministry! We are going to be discovering new ways to be church, to be formed in our faith, for children, youth and adults, with the guidance of a CF Board that is energized and the guidance of a new director. During the pandemic, we discovered new ways to have Adult Formation through Zoom book studies and the joy of discussions that could be longer and richer than the 45-50 minute discussions we used to have in our Sunday education hour. Our Adult Forum team is raring to go with innovative new programming which we hope to present in person and through livestream. AND in October, we will be hosting, the Rev. Traci Blackmon, as our fall visiting scholar! Traci is part of our UCC national staff and is at the forefront nationally of the anti-racism movement. We are partnering in the community for this event with the World Wisdoms Project and are making in-roads to invite community folks to join us, in person and by live-stream, via connections with the Interfaith Council and Fort Collins BIPOC Alliance and their White Solidarity allies.
Finally, we have many new people visiting our church! People to whom we want to extend a warm welcome! Some of them found us and joined us online. Some of them discovered in the lock-down that they need something new in their faith life and are looking for a progressive, social justice, faith-filled community. They are all ages – from college students to families with young children to families with older children to single adults of every age. Be on the look-out for new faces!! And wear your name tags so it is easier for us to get re-acquainted and to get to know those among us that are visiting.
I invite and encourage us all to be very gentle with ourselves and with one another in this exciting, but still uncertain time! Let’s not hesitate to extend extra kindness to one another knowing everyone is anxious. There is a Mary Oliver poem I have been reading and re-reading, “Don’t Hesitate” from her collection of poetry titled Devotions. Click on the title and read the entire poem. She writes in brief, “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. … We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. … Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
With you on the journey to Joy,
*As you come into the sanctuary from the narthex or Fellowship Hall, the section of pews on your left (the wall side) is for fully vaccinated people who do not need to mask or social distance. The section of pews on your right (the window side) is for people who have not been vaccinated and who are masked — this includes families with young children. We have blocked every other pew for social distancing. I know your favorite regular place to sit may be on the window side, but if you are fully vaccinated, we ask you to leave the right side to those who need to social distance indoors for their safety. Of course, you may mask even if you are fully vaccinated. We fervently pray this is a temporary situation and we hope for the day when we do not have to sit in designated sides. Let’s all hang in there together.
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Read more