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We’re All Newcomers!

This week’s blog post comes from our Senior Minister, Dan Smith.

One reason I’m excited about this fall is because it will give us all a chance to be newcomers to First Church. I’ve been hearing a lot of people say lately… “this is the first time since Covid that I’ve (fill in the blank)”.  For many, Regathering Sunday will be the first time since Covid that we have joined together, have worshiped together, have sung together in-person, since Covid.

I’m eager for us all to bring new eyes to church, and to meet each other and our community as if for the first time; and especially to welcome those newcomers who have yet to set foot in our sanctuary.  As we enter into new and hybrid ways of being together, I invite us to take our time with this experience, and to bring a beginner’s mind.  Yes, there will be anxiety and fear, since Covid is still with us, and yet along with that, I trust we can all bring an extra measure of wonder and curiosity.  No doubt, we’ll be limited – by masks, and social distancing, and by virtue of some of us being in-person and some online. But as John O’Donohue has said  “One of the reasons that we wonder is because we are limited, and that limitation is one of the great gateways of wonder.”

The pandemic, and these last 18 months in our wider world, including a deeper reckoning with racial injustice and the impact of climate change, have limited, shaped and reordered our lives in profound ways.  We need to take time to process it and make meaning of it and to walk through the gateway of wonder together. Maybe wonder can be a watchword for our reentry this fall!

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that wonder is the beginning of all true religion. I love that.

As we begin this year in our life together, I wonder…

  • How have you changed over this time, and what have you learned about God, yourself, and church?
  • What feels the same, for better and for worse, and what feels different, about being “back” or about connecting more online?
  • Where is God in the midst of it all?
  • How do you (and I) want to show up? How does God want us to show up, for ourselves, for each other, for our world?
  • How can we be more inclusive and be a place of belonging and becoming for all God’s people?  What needs to change?
  • How can we keep wonder, hope, discovery, whimsy, play, surprise and joy alive in the ongoing wake of so much loss, trauma and crisis?
  • Finally, I wonder: what are you wondering about most?

First Church, YOU continue to be a wonder, to me, and I know to God, as well.  What a gift and a wonder it is to be part of this ever-changing community of grounding, growing and acting, especially since Covid.  I can’t wait to see you all again and for the first time, to have us all be newcomers to church, to have us all be the church for each other and our weary yet wondrous world!