“Everything that’s old is new again.”
(quote variously cited as originating with Ovid, Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, or as a Chinese proverb and borrowed by many writers and artists such as Stephen King and songwriters Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager)
Can it be. Can it be that summer is ending and September is here again. UFFDA* (oops, that’s my Minnesota self coming out), I didn’t get my fill of sweet corn, summer peaches, and dips in the water.
Yes, September is here. The time of gathering in harvests and homecoming, returning to work and returning to school. And returning to our spiritual home on West Chestnut Street.
The 11th of September will be our first Sunday of UUCL’s congregational year. Our ingathering, our homecoming. But, it will be a return like no other.
Lenore Bajare-Dukes (Director of Lifespan Faith Development) and I, as we have started to map out plans for the year, keep repeating the refrain to each other, “Everything that’s old is new again.”
Just think of it. Yes, we will be returning to the same sanctuary and spaces, but for many this is the first time in the sanctuary after a long while. For some who have gathered with us recently, it will be their first time in the building ever.
When you enter the building and sanctuary on the 11th, you may feel the urge to rush in and do what you always did “before,” as you were accustomed to, or first timers may wander in not knowing where to go. Either way, give yourself a moment to take it in as you enter. To get to know for the first time or re-aquaint yourself with the space, take a breath, take it in, find your bearings. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t quite feel the same. On the other hand, you may be surprised with how good it feels to finally be back. “Everything that’s old is new again.”
Many will join together again, live and in person. You may see familiar faces, but also some new faces. And some of those you hoped you would see in person, won’t be there in person. Some will be experiencing the Sunday Service in the Sanctuary and some from home. And one of my favorite parts of the first Sundays of the congregational year is to notice how much the little ones and youth have grown and changed. “Everything that’s old is new again.”
You’ll have a minister, but instead of a young bearded man, before you, I’ll be with you, a minister with she/her pronouns who likes to take advantage of senior discounts that I now qualify for, whenever I can. You have a new minister, but because we can now and as a sign of the times, I will be with you remotely during the week and in person with you for most Sundays. Our first Sunday together, we will celebrate UUCL’s Annual Water Ceremony as many UU congregations will on their first Sunday of the church year. Where anyone who wishes may bring a little bit of water from their summer journeys or from a special place to the bowl in the sanctuary and take some home with them again if they wish. But, Lenore and I will lead this ceremony in a new way. Some familiar parts of the Sunday Service that went missing during COVID times will be back again and throughout the year new elements and ways of spending the Sunday Service time together will be incorporated from lessons learned at UUCL in the last couple of years in addition to the new that Lenore and I will bring. Sometimes we will be together in the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings, sometimes in an outdoor space. Sometimes we will join together as all ages in our hour together. Sometimes the children and youth will be in the sanctuary for just the first part of the Service, than recess for Faith Development activities or a full hour of their own programming. And as with Worship, there will be familiar Faith Development groups, programs, and activities, but some new and innovative programming and experiences as well. “Everything that’s old is new again.”
You may be wondering, well, what about the committees, teams and other groups, are we meeting again? In other words – – now what? Some groups have never stopped meeting, some are starting up again, some are refreshing their statements of purpose, some are no longer active. In many ways, with regard to “organizational structure,” this is a time of possibilities and opportunities. Will UUCL decide to go back to “before”? Before when? To the 1960s, the 1990s, to just before March 2020? Or will this be a time to prepare and equip ourselves for 2022 and beyond? What good and helpful structures, policies, ways of being together do we want to bring forward from the past? Of those, which ones need some tweaking? How is the greater Lancaster community and Pennsylvania calling to us for social witness and action in these times? What is the new to try out for the purpose of bringing clarity and renewed support to UUCL’s mission and pathways to belonging, wisdom, spirituality, engagement, and action, in other words – – transforming love. May you find your joy and passion, and bring your gifts to this adventure together.
“Nothing retains it’s form; new shapes from old Nature, the great inventor,
ceaselessly contrives. In all creation, be assured, there is no death – – no
death, but only change. And innovation. . .is but a different new beginning;
death is but to cease to be the same. Yet, still the sum of things remains the
same. Nothing can last, I do believe for long in the same image.”
– Ovid, Roman poet (b. 43 BCE, d. 17 CE)
I am so happy to be with you all in this hybrid way we will be in relationship together. I hope to continue each month sharing a message from me to you. And I look forward to meeting you all and sharing this journey together whether in person or on the electric highway.