2023 at UUMC looks good to me

I feel charged up by today.  I’m writing this on Sunday night, and while some ministers are often drained by all the activity of Sundays, (especially when they involve a morning activities and an evening activity) this pastor rarely fits that description.  I guess I’m a true extrovert.  (And while I’m not lauding that personality trait as some kind of superiority to the other, I am simply celebrating it—it’s a good thing for introverts to be charged up by “alone time,” and it’s a good thing for extroverts to be charged up by “together time.”)  What is especially rewarding about today?  Well, let me simply use this space this week to follow the guidance of the old hymn (okay, I’ll admit that even for a relentless optimist, this particular hymn is cloyingly saccharine and perhaps even hokey) and “count the blessings.” 

               First of all, it was refreshing to have our College Student and Young Adult Sunday School Class continue to grow in number and depth of discussion.  We are reminding ourselves that Christ gives us a priority as a church—to be a beacon of hope to the poor, outcasts, and marginalized.  Shane Claiborne’s video-based series, “The Economy of Love,” puts that in a compelling way.  Fortunately, our church has an outlet for that kind of concern.  Kendall-Whittier Food Pantry provides one way anyone in our church can get involved in reaching out to those who need help in our neighborhood.  Shelly, our faithful pantry director, has lots of help from college students.  She was actually in the pantry after worship today because someone came to their church service today who was in need.  She got them signed up and was at the pantry right after worship so that those needs could be met—today!  One of our college students who participated in Sunday School, Worship, and the Second Sunday Series tonight, is a freshman who has participated in the mentoring program at KW Elementary, which our own KWI developed as a program and then “graduated to college” by turning over to the TU True Blue Neighbors Program.  Mine wasn’t the only Sunday School class to have success.  Thanks to new participants also bringing friends, I think the Youth Sunday School Class had around 15 participatns.

In worship (doh—I just realized I didn’t get pictures of the altar) we had a beautiful altar setting furnished by Donna Bingham and her green thumb.  It was Flora Sunday, and you didn’t have to think hard to realize that!  Beautiful flowers, honey, jam, tomatoes, and other beautiful things reminded us of the importance of pollination.  There was also a beautiful rosebud celebrating the birth of a new great grandson of Vicki Isaacs. Folks were plentiful (144 this week, and as many or more last week) and excited to be there. Becky Williams read the scripture beautifully and capably handled the poetic prayer of confession (written by Wendell Berry) and Psalter (today taken from the Chinook tradition)  One college student came up to me after worship and said, (with genuine enjoyment of this whole thing) “You forgot to tell me what to wear next week!” (We’ve been giving thematic color palate suggestions for the season of creation–the choir and I are not vesting this month.) By the way, that’s Black, White, Pinks, and Purples for “Cosmos Sunday” next week.

Tonight at the BBQ Roundup, we had people bringing friends, engaged in the discussions, signing up for volunteer work, etc. David Helm and the Adult Education Committee put together a fantastic setting and presentation about envisioning the church in 10 years.  We had to pull out tables for people.  If today is any indicator, I’d say UUMC in 2023 will be vibrant, graceful, and making a genuine and positive impact on our community.  It was a good day to be pastor of UUMC!