Welcome back, for those returning!
Welcome in, for those seeking!
Welcome to all!
Our spiritual theme for September is Welcome.
Every year when the church's program year begins again, the energy shifts. This year is no different, although the energy is different. On the other side of sinkholes and the worst parts of the pandemic, this congregation is digging into who it is and what it loves. It's a kind of blossoming and a delight to witness.
These are anxious times. With the pandemic transformed into an endemic, continued inflation, the particular challenges of living in Tampa Bay, laws passed to criminalize and prevent care for many (including trans folx and women) -- not to mention the assaults on education and other parts of public life, there is a lot going on in the world, to say nothing of our own personal challenges.
As a congregation, we're also experiencing the challenges of living in late-stage capitalism, post-emergency of a pandemic, when the implications for church life have been accelerated dramatically. Trends of declining membership, volunteerism, and others became much more significant in the last 3.5 years. We are confronted with the need to question, What will we do? What comes next?
These are hard questions. My work as a hospital chaplain had me present with many people in many circumstances, but the waiting was a hard one. Not knowing. All the "what ifs" going through one's mind. Multiply that by the number of members of this congregation. It's a lot of what-ifs.
The curse is the blessing: there are no answers, other than the ones we make together. Take some deep breaths, center yourself, and think and feel what's important to you. Bring it with you. Bring it all. We're all in this together. Welcome to our covenantal community. Welcome to the unknowing. Welcome to the work. And remember: Love is always at the center.
In faith and service, Rev. Kristina Spaude (She/her)
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