As the calendars turn, we find ourselves moving into a new rhythm. It is harvest season. It is a return to school, the end of summer schedules. In the life of the church, some patterns are returning: youth group, the lecture series, the idea of the “program year.” And like so much of the world today, some of those patterns are disrupted. Choir and Sunday school are not returning to the way things were before Covid-19. And once again homecoming is becoming HOPEcoming.
As a university district church, we can think about the ways that homecomings happen at schools. Alumni come back to their alma mater, reconnecting with a place that held, nourished, and formed them. It is a celebration with dancing, games, traditions, and most of all re-connections with dear friends.
Churches (especially Southern Black congregations) that host homecoming celebrations carry a similar spirit. Worship and fellowship and sharing a meal take on an almost revival-like spirit. Folks who have moved away return home for the celebration. Remembering ancestors, celebrating founders, and other traditions become part of the gathering.
We have this legacy of holding space for folks to return, a reminder of the way this community shapes us and sends us forth. These traditions carry us forward.
When some traditions starting looking different, we expanded our annual celebration to become a Hopecoming. We look not only for the re-connections but also to imagine what the future will be. Very specifically, we’re looking to a time when our lives and our gatherings aren’t dramatically affected by the pandemic. We’re also naming that our God is a God of Hope. Hope is Coming to us at UCUCC. Hope is Coming to a weary world. Hope is coming in our own fears and doubts. AND how we show up is another way of bringing hope. When we show up to pray for each other, hope comes with us. When we check in with each other, hope comes with us. When we move to the streets, build relationships with movements for justice, connect deeply with creation, hope comes with us. We are a people shaped and sent by hope. This weekend we celebrate all of it. With ponies. And games. And free food. And music. And most of all re-connections with dear friends.
Important details about Sunday:
9:00 am, Youth Group returns for Middle School and High School students, online and in-person.
10:00 am, UCUCC worship watch parties – in the sanctuary, library, and a family-friendly viewing in the lounge. Livestream worship on Facebook and YouTube from home, starting at 10:00 am
11:30 am – 1:00 pm, Hopecoming festivities, outside the church building
We know that outdoor actives are the safest ways to gather as groups. We expect everyone to be masked, except when eating, and to observe social distancing by family groups.