A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN:
RUNNING THE NEXT RACE
This week we’re starting a new sermon series in worship that will take us through the remaining Sundays of the season, sometimes called “Ordinary Time” in the Christian calendar.
“Ordinary Time” is called that because that’s what it is: the long stretch of time between Pentecost and the beginning of Advent in which there are no special Christian seasons or holidays aside from the Sunday before Advent, which celebrates the reign of Christ over all creation (we’ll talk about that another time!). Ordinary Time is, well…ordinary, when nothing special or unusual is happening.
When we celebrated Pentecost back in May, it looked like Ordinary Time was going to be both extraordinary and a new kind of ordinary: we were headed towards a resumption of in-person worship and ministry for the first time in 15 months, and had a sense that the worst of the pandemic might be behind us. We began gathering for worship in person as well as online in late June with great excitement and relief, and the summer beckoned with new opportunities for community, service, and rest.
Sadly, the sudden rise of the Delta variant scrambled many of those hope and plans. One article I read around that time said that it felt like we had all just completed a marathon, but at the finish line, instead of being handed water and blankets, we were handed new numbers and told to start the next race right there.
So far, this race is not quite as arduous in itself as the first one: those who are vaccinated are far less likely to get infected, and far less likely to require hospitalization if they are. But it is still another race to run when we thought we had just finished one. And we are tired, and uncertain of what lies ahead and how long it will take us. But it seems like “ordinary” is going to elude us for a while yet.
With all that in mind, then, our sermon series this fall is entitled, “On the Way.” Before Christianity was called “Christianity,” it was known as “The Way.” This Sunday, October 17, we’ll be exploring what that means and how it is good news for us here and now in this time of uncertainty and fatigue.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring how, even and especially in the midst of our current uncertainty, being “on the way” gives us strength, guidance, energy, and hope, and invites us to help others on the way, as well.
I’m grateful for each and all of you as companions on the way, and look forward to exploring this journey together!
Grace and Peace,