Friends in Christ, as the summer nears its end and we approach the fall season (surely far too soon for many), I am excited for all of the new life in our community together: new life in worship/music/liturgical, mission, faith formation, and stewardship, even new life for our shared space/God’s house as we replace windows and siding in the sanctuary and education wing. As I reflect on our life together, the seasons of the natural world don’t always mesh well when lined up our liturgical calendar and/or the calendars of the lives (school/work/time off up North). In many ways, the church (whether we like it or not) seems to hibernate during the summer months, and so here we are coming out of hibernation, as we stretch, yawn, and rub the sleep from our eyes I’d like to point out some signs of new life around us that I’m excited to watch grow over the year to come.
As we enter the fall season, I’d like to point out that a few artistic seeds will be planted; yes, they’ll grow unseasonably quickly, but we have some catching up to do. In the fall we will begin a year long art installation in the gathering hall which will grow as it is added to each month. This art installation will bring us from seed to tree as we enter into our 2016/17 year-long theme we’ve been preparing for over the last 6 months called Stewards of Creation.
In the past couple of years, we have engaged in a richer theming of our life together. At first it started with a simple a theme for Lent (From Rubbish to Resurrection: A Journey of Restoration) that began at the Worship and Music Table, but we quickly realized that this worship theme for the season of Lent would mean much more if it were connected out our broader life together in a deeper way, it grew beyond simply being a worship theme, as it quickly became connected to a Mission to restore a bicycle life in worship that we donated to local homeless youth outreach – Hope for Youth, and later we continued to engage in this theme of restoring journeys, through a project called Sole Hope where we used recycled products to help make shoes for people in Africa. This theme served as a means for us to connect our worship and faith-lives to our actions, work, and meaning-making outside of worship as well. As we look back at the success of that journey together we used this idea of a congregational theme as a template for future collaborative ministries. Illumination the following Advent/Christmas; Water the following Lent/Easter seasons… Again, we saw fruit that grew from the process of intentionally rooting ourselves in these broader congregational themes, but as we continued forward, we realized that while Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter are amazing seasons in the life of the church, we don’t necessarily have to wait until these times of year to engage in this kind of broader collaborative ministry together… what if we engaged in this kind of intentional experiment of thematically rooting our life together through the course of an entire year? Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to embark upon together as we enter into a year of focus on our role as Stewards of Creation.
We have already fleshed out the broad strokes of the year which will include 5 week sub-themes in worship beginning this fall with: Earth, continuing with Soil, Wind & Weather, Plants/Flora, Cosmos, Watershed, Rock, Fire, and will conclude by the end of next summer with Animals/Fauna. While these themes have a definitive creation/ecology flavor to them, we will also be taking the year to think more deeply about our role as stewards of the world around us. Thinking more broadly about this word “stewardship” involves realizing that it’s not just about money, it’s about caretaking. In that broader sense of the word, hopefully we will see that in all ways, stewardship is not a one way exchange, but a cycle. We take care of the world around us, and the world takes care of us, continuing to provide produce, water, energy, clean air… Similarly if we think about that same notion of stewardship in a more local/familiar sense, we take care of the health of our church community and that church/community takes care of us in our spiritual health; even stewardship of the within a church context is a cycle.
Our highest hope for the next year of our life together at Cross of Hope is that we, as Christians, might not only be rooted in the gospel, but that the gospel might help us to also root ourselves in the beauty, balance, and fragility of God’s created world around us, seeing ourselves as part of the balance of creation, called to be stewards in the cycle of care for this beautiful planet that, in turn, cares for us.
More coming soon to a church near you this fall…