Dear Friends and Family in the Household of Faith at Tabernacle Church,
It occurs to me that there are several very important moments in our life together happening during the month of October, and perhaps we should spend a line or two considering them together.
On the first Sunday of this month, we will gather ‘round the Lord’s Table with Christians “far and near” as we participate in the annual observance of “World Communion Sunday.” It was begun by our Presbyterian kin in the 1930s as the drumbeat and shadows of World War II were beginning to emerge. It was adopted by the Federated (later National) Council of Churches in 1940 as a means of inviting Christians to remember that “the things that bind us together are greater than those that hold us apart.” On that Sunday, in all our worship services, we will be gathering at the Lord’s Table with Christians with whom we share many similarities in faith practice and tradition, and with others whose “norms” are quite unfamiliar. In all cases, though, we gather at the invitation of Jesus. For some, in John Wesley’s description, it is a “confirming sacrament,” warming our hearts and minds by the fire of God’s love and presence, and calling to memory in both locations the wide range of experiences and graces with which we have been formed, and continue to live. For others (again, in Mr. Wesley’s terms) it is a “converting sacrament,” evoking a response of faith in the hearts and lives of those present for the first time, as we kneel together in gratitude for the gifts we are being offered in the morsel of bread and sip from the cup.
That afternoon, you are invited to bring your dogs and cats, birds and reptiles – or photos of them – to the “Side Door” entryway for an observance of the Feast of St. Patrick, in a “Blessing of the Pets,” at 5:00 PM. Bring Fido and Fluffy, Tweetie and “Geico the Gecko,” and everyone else in your household, to celebrate and give thanks for their place in the mystery of Creation and in our families. (You might also want to bring an outdoor chair and a sunshade, too! If it’s rainy, we may consider moving inside.) Through these animals in our lives, we find ourselves blessed and challenged, and on this afternoon, we’ll thank God for them.
On the Sunday before Halloween, the children and youth – and adults, too, if you’d like – are invited to attend worship in their intended costumes for the Celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, aka Halloween. (When there will be an evening’s community-wide party in our yard for “Trunk or Treat!” See Rusty Sackett for details.) The ancient tradition is that on the day of preparation for All Saints’ Day (November 1st), people would put on an article of clothing worn by loved ones who had passed into Glory during the previous year, as a way of invoking and remembering their presence, even still. Maybe you have a jacket or sweater or handkerchief, necktie or lapel pin that you’d consider wearing to worship in your loved one’s honor and memory on October 25th. The same is true for the following Sunday, November 1st, aka, All Saints’ Day, as we gather ‘round the Lord’s Table, and give thanks for the witness that they bore in our life together to the love of God in our world.
Then, there’s Laity Sunday, which is a United Methodist observance, traditionally held on the third Sunday of the coming month each year. The ministry of the laity of our congregation – and of every congregation – is at the heart of our Church’s vitality and mission. If you would like to help lead the worship services on Laity Sunday, including offering prayer, leading liturgical acts, and/or speaking from the pulpit, please share that with Roy Staton, our congregation’s Lay Leader as soon as possible.
I hope that you will take advantage of the many opportunities for worship and discipleship in these coming days and weeks. Nurturing your faith-life frequently is crucial to a living, dynamic, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace.