When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy. Psalm 126:1-2
It feels like a homecoming! It really does. For waaaay too long we have done our best to create a church community through a combination of technology, creativity, and God’s spirit. And we have done admirably! We have learned new things and have become very good at streaming church services. We have made events to keep people connected and remind them they are cared for by their church and God. But, just like fat-free salad dressing is just not the same as the real thing, we have missed the pitter-patter of little feet in the sanctuary. Everyone has been wondering what will the church be like after all this? Will we still have a Sunday school? Will we be reunited with our friends in worship? Will we ever share coffee and conversation again after church?! When we come back, will we be able to keep the best of what we know and add to it parts that are stronger, healthier, and more caring? These are just some of the questions that we have been asking.
Well, I am happy to say that all of that is changing back again! Sunday school started with a roar on Sept 11! We met at the Purple park for games, snacks, and especially to get reacquainted with each other. People turned out en masse! I may never have felt so relieved. We saw the old faces that we expected. The big surprise was how many new faces we have been meeting. Our preschool to kindergarten class has historically been a few families. But, now that we are coming home again, we are finding families with young children may be our fastest growing segment of the church! That is exciting!
Families with young children have specific needs. Parents want to have their children in church, but they also want to be able to pay attention themselves. So, we are bringing back the old and building on it a bit more strong and more caring. The nursery has been here and gone from time to time in our church’s history. We are working to bring it back! We are inviting Northland College students to help staff our nursery with some volunteer parents. The Session and Personnel Committee are working on a job description so that children will have a safe and happy place to get the wiggles out, while the parents focus on worship. This is developing as I write this, so stay tuned for more information.
Worship, not passing plates, passing peace-welcome is even more important. We need ushers! The old adage is, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” This is where ushers are so very vital! The usher is generally the first face a person sees as they enter the sanctuary. A smiling, welcoming face is ever so important because it communicates a vital message to those who attend worship. It says loud and clear, “We are glad that you are here!” If you have returned to worship in-person, please prayerfully consider volunteering to serve as an usher. In years past, our ushers were volen-told! We scheduled ushers from the rank and file of our membership list. In the interim, we don’t want to ask someone to do something that they are not ready for, so we are waiting for volunteers.
We are also back to fellowship hour! You know what fellowship hour is, though I usually call it “Hug and Howdy” time. It is that time after church when we gather for conversation and coffee. It is a time to care for each other by sharing the stories of the meanful or mudane. This is where we remember that it’s the people that make it a church. As we start fellowship again, we are noticing something. We seem to be able to find bakers rather readily, but coffee hosts are far more difficult to round up. I ask you to prayerfully consider volunteering as a coffee host. The good news in this church is no one works alone. There is always help close at hand.
Our passage above describes what it was like for the people who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. It was like a good dream, they said! There was joy, laughter and song! It sounds a whole lot like the stories people tell as they come back to church. We are gathering again and picking up speed. God is good.
Grace and peace,