One of the things I love most about this congregation is how much you like one another. Over 30% of you report attending worship services four (or all) Sundays a month. More than 60% said you come three times or more a month. And still, on Sundays, when the lobby fills it is like you haven’t seen each other in a season! You greet each other with joy, kindness, and a welcome home.
I could tell you stories about each entryway of the congregations I’ve attended or served. They all have a certain feel and I think tell congregants how they should feel coming in. The congregation I grew up in had grand front doors that led directly into the back of the sanctuary. No one used them; they entered through the kitchen. A neighboring UU church I once preached in only has doors that are placed right next to the pulpit! The poor soul who came in late, the person who had to leave to use the restroom – they all got the congregation’s attention – and in the middle of my sermon, mine too.
Other than UUCWC, my favorite still is in a large church in the Twin Cities. They have not one but two entryways, one after the other. The first is for the celebration of another week together, the out loud joy. The second, further in, is to become grounded, prepare oneself for the hour of intention, a quieting and focusing of the spirit. The room is darker, there are candles lit, the space communicates a transition.
My friends, I love that you are joyous and that you love one another. And I ask that you be mindful of the bell ringing in the lobby – your five-minute heads up that we are about to begin – and to use that sound as a second entryway for your own spirit; a time to end your conversations, lower your voices, and begin to move across that threshold that is the lobby-sanctuary doors. If you arrive late, harried, or just overjoyed, please be mindful that for many of us, we have entered a new rhythm inside the sanctuary. Pebbles have been given to the water symbolizing joys and concerns. The chimes have rung as a time of centering. The Five Candles of Fellowship, words that have made members and friends know they belong here, are spoken with intention. Please, consider ways of showing those in other parts of our first floor that you love them, are happy they are in church, too.
I look forward to greeting you on Sunday, joyous and reconnecting. I look forward to all that is possible when we are present for one another and ourselves beginning at 9am and 11am.