August 19: A Festival of New Beginnings

On Sunday, August 19th, Laurel Heights will celebrate a Festival of New Beginnings. In worship that morning we will honor teachers from all settings – Sunday school, our weekday school, elementary, middle and high schools, and evening groups. We will also observe a Blessing of the Backpacks (and diaper bags!) – an invitation for all those who tote backpacks – children, youth, college students, and other adults (and moms and dads with diaper bags)—to bring them forward and receive a blessing for their journeys into the new school year.

Fellowship time will feature a festive décor, a popcorn machine, and other special refreshments. Sign-up sheets for mid-week adult classes and flyers for adult Sunday school and other mission and ministry opportunities will be displayed. Children will begin their new Sunday morning classes; at noon those new to the youth group will be welcomed with a special celebration.

Small groups are vital to our life together as a community of faith. Such groups enable us to be formed in faith, make connections with others, and build friendships so essential to navigating the narrow straits and open seas of life in the world. Whether you’ve never been or often been in such a small group for study or music-making, mission or ministry, consider what might be next for you, and perhaps for your family. My own faith journey has been profoundly enriched through shared study, time spent in small groups with which I have gathered throughout my life to ask the hardest and best questions I know. My hope and prayer is that we would each find such an open circle, then another, and another—a lifetime of shared exploration, discovery, wonder, and faith.

The Trappist monk and mystic Thomas Merton once observed that “the spiritual life is starting over.” That simple observation reminds us of something both obvious and easily forgotten – that our lives are best lived when we are seeking new ways to grow, learn, stretch, and regroup; perhaps organizing our life practices in a slightly different way than before. Beginnings, and then new ones, next ones, fresh ones – these are the threshold crossings that lead us along in our journey with God and one another. Already we have experienced as a congregation a summer of new beginnings with my arrival as your new senior pastor. What others will follow as we open ourselves to the Spirit’s leading in our lives and life together? I’m excited to share with you in all that God is doing among us in this wonderful season of new beginnings.

Grace and peace.