“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Labor Day marks a turning of seasons. True, there are plenty of hot and muggy days to be had in Sep- tember and we’re still a few weeks before the official beginning of autumn. But with schools back in session and a busy fall before us at UBC, we are quickly transitioning into a new season. There is much to look forward to over the next few months. At the same time, there is much to be thankful for after what has been an energizing summer here at UBC.
I’ll start by giving thanks. This past Sunday, we gathered around the baptismal font to welcome Andrea McGowan into the family of Jesus and then shared stories of our summer as we feasted at the Table of our Lord. We heard reports from the Passport camps our children and youth attended, a report from the group of sixteen UBCers who attended this year’s General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), and stories about our first trip to Shaw, MS, to work with Delta Hands for Hope. We add to these thanksgiving for the ways our children put their faith into prac- tice by making necessity bags for the homeless, collecting and sorting food for the hungry, and sharing Bible stories and a feast with residents of Bedford Care. We give thanks for the conversations we had around tables at JavaWerks, discussing the events of Freedom Summer and how we might enact justice today and for the time we shared last week with Dr. Charles Marsh. We give thanks for new members and new people who have joined us in our life together over these last few months.
Added to this, we must give thanks for the hard work that so many invested in our rummage sale. Through the sale, we added over $10,000 to our Capital Improvements fund, allowing us to end the summer with over $30,000 in that account. We also end the summer with news that our giving to the general budget is significantly up as compared to this time last year. Yes, we are still running a deficit, but we have reason to be optimistic that we are on track to meet our budget goal for the year.
And still, we have much to look forward to in the coming months. I’ll name a few.
Engaging Faith and the Arts. The deacons brought to our August business meeting news of a new step UBC will take to engage the university community through intentional efforts to explore faith and the fine arts. Approval was given in the August meeting to offer a new internship in faith and the fine arts. Our first intern will have an emphasis in music. Along with singing in the choir, the intern will assist with our children’s choir, participate in Worship Studio, assist the church when USM recitals are held at UBC, and serve as a liaison between UBC and the Music students at USM. I am hopeful that this will open new relationships between UBC and the arts community.
Narrative Lectionary. The next cycle of the narrative lectionary begins this Sunday, September 7. Once again, we will journey through the Old Testament this fall before opening the Gospel of Matthew during the Sundays between Christmas and Easter. I look forward to another year immersed in the stories of our faith.
CBF of MS Fall Assembly. One of the projects I have enjoyed working on as Moderator of CBF MS this year is re-imagining the format of our Fall Assembly. This year, we will gather with sister congregations in Shaw, MS, on October 24-25. On Friday night, Suzii Paynter, Executive Coordinator of the CBF, will preach and on Saturday afternoon, Jason Coker, a William Carey graduate, CBF pastor, and the one who had the dream for Delta Hands for Hope, will preach in a community-wide worship service. On Saturday morning, instead of attending workshops, everyone will have the opportunity to participate in mission projects in Shaw. It will be a chance to work alongside fellow believers from across the state as well as local people from Shaw. I hope you will register and attend.
There is much more ahead… Another great season of Backdoor Coffee House, children’s and youth activities, Prime- Time, continued engagement in community mission and ministry work, and, of course, our commitment to the work of communal worship.
Of course, I realize that with a calendar already full and lots of new ideas being shared by many in the church, it can be easy to get so caught up in our plans that we forget to pause and remember God often shows up in unexpected ways. Bonhoeffer reminds us that amidst all of our planning and living we must also ready ourselves for holy interruptions. So here’s to a great fall—for all the things we anticipate and for the holy interruptions that will come along the way.