HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Oh, I know that I am either 9 months late or 3 months early, but I have always felt that September is the actual beginning of a new year. The languid days of summer are over, and as students return to school and families put routines back into place, September feels like a fresh start. It certainly was a time of new beginnings for the people of the ancient lands of the Bible. The summer harvest was at an end, the crops were stored, and people prepared for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time to begin a new year.
The early church thought so, too. There was an ancient traditionthat believed that the world was created on September 1. The First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, 325), influenced by this tradition,
decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1 - a practice still observed by Orthodox Christians.
This association of September with creation and new beginnings is the inspiration behind the Season of Creation. Christians throughout the world—including the Lutheran World Federation and our own ELCIC—have joined this world-wide movement inviting congregations to set aside September as time to focus onour relationship with Creation. “Through worship and prayer, we are invited to deepen our awareness of God’s presence in all of
creation and are renewed in our calling to promote climate justice through right relationships with the earth.”
At Gloria Dei, we will observe this season with a special worship service on September 29, with the theme, “Water: Gift of God, Gift of Life.” Sunday liturgies throughout September will include a creation-themed affirmation of faith as well as intentional petitions for creation in the intercessory prayers. Watch for elements of creation both symbolic and real beautifying the sanctuary during this time. Thank-you Shelley and Ursula!
The risk in setting aside a special season for creation is that we will think that the call to reflect on our relationship to the earth and take action ends with the singing of the last hymn on September 29. But this special season challenges us to remember and live out our stewardship day to day. The month of October will see the return of more traditional elements in the liturgy with the inclusion of the Apostle’s Creed and rites of confession and forgiveness. Our responsibility to creation will continue to be threaded into our Sunday worship as we celebrate “Thanksgiving Sunday” and prepare to observe Reformation Sunday on October 27.
Sing a New Song! Children, Worship, and Sunday School
At the Sunday School families’ summer BBQ hosted by Kelly, the families’ shared their hopes and priorities for their children’s spiritual formation. One of the children had brought their iPad and shared a couple of songs they had learned at summer camp. A consensus emerged on the need to integrate worship songs into the Sunday School program that speak to the children in idioms and styles they can relate to and that strengthen their sense of connection to God and the truth and freedom of the Gospel.
Towards making this goal a reality, Sonja Koruga will lend a hand to the parent-teachers a couple of times a month to introduce and teach new songs to the children. The children, in turn will take the songs they are learning and share and teach them to the congregation. Each generation creates styles and forms of music that give expression to God’s relationship with them We pass on those songs and traditions to our children and grandchildren. Of equal value is for children to “pass up” their songs to us...for us to learn and sing a new song.
September is also the beginning of a new a new four year emphasis from our National Church on Living our Faith - through prayer, bible reading, our worship life, and loving service. Beginning this September, the focus for 2019-2020 is on deepening our prayer life. Bishop Susan writes, “As a whole church I want us to learn about prayer, grow in our experience of prayer and deepen our regular prayer practice.” Like many of us, I personally find it a challenge to carve out time for prayer. Following the Psalmist who writes, “I commune with my heart in the night...” I often pray lying in bed, after I have turned out the light. I lift up to God those who have asked me to pray for them, as well as my concerns for family and friends. I praysimply, without too many words, often reciting a form of what is known as the Jesus prayer, “Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me/on us.”
What are some of the ways, places and times you pray? I invite you to share your reflections with one another. As we take the risk to become vulnerable and disclose something of our inner spiritual lives, we encourage one another and become church - “a place of conversation and consolation of the faithful.” (Martin Luther).
Yours in Christ,