In our last letter, we reflected on how rhythms of exile and return, diaspora and homecoming, have always been a part of Christian life. And that’s true.
It’s also true, though, that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a season of separation like no other we’ve ever known. As we look ahead to United Christian Church’s next chapter, we may never appreciate the power of gathering together in person more than we do today.
The beauty of worship — gathering together in the midst of a world full of distance. The wonder of music — singing together in the midst of a world full of silence and loneliness. The sweetness of sacraments — sharing of one common loaf of bread in the midst of a world full of division and hunger. And the joy of service — working together in the midst of a world full of broken systems and broken hearts.
In short, if the world is full of exile, United Christian Church is a community of return. A place to come home to, again and again. A congregation in which we can tangibly experience God’s ancient promise to “bring you back to this place,” and “give you a future with hope.”
And here’s one more thing that’s true: even when this pandemic is a distant memory, the world will still be full of need. Still longing for home, for community, for reunion, for return.
That’s why we’re here. That’s who we are: a waystation of hope along life’s way. It’s the same reason God chose to be born with us as Jesus of Nazareth, to help us build bridges of connection and companionship — so that everyone might experience a homecoming to God’s new world of joy, justice, and love.
So we hope you come home to church in-person or online on Giving Sunday, October 10th, when we will dedicate our pledges (9 and 11 AM), welcome new members (11 AM), and celebrate our “future with hope.” We invite you to bring your pledge card (if you are not pledging at uccaustin.org/pledge) and/or something to place on our communion table in worship that represents a ministry of our church. (For example, you could bring a book for Christian Education, Animal Crackers for Children’s Ministries, a prayer shawl for Caring Ministries, canned goods for Social Justice, a youth mission trip T-shirt for our Youth Ministries, a piece of music for our Music Ministry, a loaf of bread for Worship, etc.)
In the meantime, keep praying and giving thanks for all the ways things like our progressive faith, our community garden, our hybrid worship, our Christmas pageant, our social justice work, and our life together help bridge the gaps in Austin and the world, longing for connection and mending.
Rebecca Molis (Treasurer), Jan Keeling (Financial Secretary), Andrea Larson (Council Chair), and Rev. Anna Kreisle