WELCOME BACK EVERYONE!
Maybe you are thinking, “Sarah dear, we have BEEN back…” and you are correct, of course. Perhaps we can think of mid-August and Mission Trip Report Sunday on August 27 as our “soft start” while we all recalibrated to our post-summer rhythms.
And now it’s seriously Fall, y’all. So: WELCOME BACK!
Welcome Back to what, exactly?
Great question. I love it.
Journalist Jake Meador wrote a widely shared piece for the Atlantic Magazine at the end of last July entitled, The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church. His tag line after the title was “the defining problem driving people out is…just how American life works in the 21st century.” Meador explained that “the problem in front of us is not that we have a healthy, sustainable society that doesn’t have room for church. The problem is that many Americans have adopted a way of life that has left us lonely, anxious, and uncertain of how to live in community with other people.”
“What can churches do in such a context?” asks Meador. “In theory, the Christian Church could be an antidote to all that. What is more needed in our time than a community marked by sincere love, sharing what they have from each according to their ability and to each according to their need, eating together regularly, generously serving neighbors, and living lives of quiet virtue and prayer?
“We could be a witness to another way of life outside conventionally American measures of success. Churches could model better, truer sorts of communities, ones in which the hungry are fed, the weak are lifted up, and the proud are cast down…and look more like the sorts of communities Jesus expected his followers to create.”
WOWZA. How ‘bout them apples? Who wants to talk about this at coffee hour? Me! I do.
Dear Grace Church and Curious Folks:
Welcome back to a community marked by sincere and radical love, to a place of quiet virtue and prayer, to striving to be a part of a community that is more than just an antidote to anxiety, more than another “thing to do”, more than a difficult choice to make when you could just stay in your pajamas and have more coffee (I’m talking to you, exhausted parents my age), more than a place to park your children but rather tenderly hear their questions and respectfully hold their hearts.
WELCOME BACK to more than a habit but rather a tried and true relationship.
WELCOME BACK to more than an obligation but an actual road to joy.
Because we are not just another group or club. The “following Jesus” bit makes all the difference. Pay close attention to the Gospel of Matthew proclaimed this Sunday: it is part of our brand as Christians in very practical ways to never give up on anyone, to have the courage and patience to understand that no one is outside of the circumference of forgiveness and repair, to deeply believe because Jesus lived, and loved so fearlessly, and died and it was not the end. And we can do it too. This is how beloved he was, this is how beloved YOU are…and that will never change. “For you and precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you,” says the Lord God through the prophet Isaiah. Precious and honored and beloved says the life and words of Jesus the Christ in the stories we read to each other around the table. Guaranteed. Forever and ever.
So Come on Back!
Youth Group is happening at 10 am in the basement,
Children’s Ministry is happening in all levels of our Atrium,
Child Care is available for the littles in the nursery,
The Garden is open for exploration and nourishment,
Worship Services are at 8 and 10 just like you expect them to be,
and there will be coffee and snacks with the most excellent people in town.
See You There!
Sarah Christopher (formerly Neidhoefer)
Director of Youth, Children, Family and Adult Formation Programs
And a Bunch of Other Stuff Too.