“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." - John 15:12
It's weird to think about the idea of a "Comeback Sunday" or a "Homecoming" or "Kickoff" Sunday right now. We're still meeting on Zoom for worship. Choir and Sunday School look totally different. When we can't meet together in person in our building, what "home" are we coming back to?
I have good news for us.
The good news is that we can home this year the same as ever.
The "home" that each of us comes home to again and again every year, or truthfully again and again every week - even every day! - is Jesus. Jesus is our true home. He is the dwelling place created for us in God to find rest for our souls. And we are invited to return to him again and again as our hearts wander away, chasing after the vanities of this world.
This year our annual theme is more important than ever. We can't meet in person right now, but we can come home again to following and obeying our Lord, and abiding in him.
And our theme for this year is a commandment at the heart of the Gospel and so poignant for this moment in history:
"Love one another as I have loved you."
The world is still reeling from a global pandemic. In our country alone nearly 200,000 of us have died this year from COVID-19. Many people are out of jobs or underemployed. The most vulnerable in our society and around the world are being hit the hardest. The streets and our news feeds continue to be full of protestors demanding justice for black Americans and people of color while also violent riots break out in several of our cities. There is tremendous need for racial reconciliation and healing from the sin of racism. We're less than sixty days from one of the most divided and volatile elections in our country's history and we are more divided from each other than ever.
The world needs love. The world needs us to obey this command of Jesus: "love one another as I have loved you."
So instead of a normal "kickoff" or "homecoming" Sunday, I call on all of us to come home to God's love. Whatever way YOU can connect again to the love of God, I invite you to draw deeper and abide again in that love. That might be coming to church online even though you haven't been yet, or bringing your kids back to online Sunday School, or coming to our online adult forum. It might mean taking time for personal prayer, or Bible devotion, or finding God in the beauty of Creation on a hike or in the stars.
I'm calling on us to return home to God's love because the world needs OUR love, God's reconciling love through our actions and our words, through our hands, feet, and faces.
So the program year theme won't look exactly how we intended it, but there are so many opportunities for us to serve our neighbors, communities, and those in need this year.
This theme is a rallying cry to serve the world in Jesus' name. How can you lead in our congregation to help us serve others this year?
Where is God calling you to share his love?
Where can you be his healing presence, his reconciling peace, his justice?
The world needs healing.
The world needs reconciliation.
The world needs justice.
The world needs peace.
The world needs forgiveness.
The world needs love.
The world needs God, and the world needs YOU.
Let's be the healing, reconciliation, justice, peace, forgiveness, and love the world so desperately needs. Let's be the Jesus the world so desperately needs. Will you join us this year?