October is here!
By far almost my favorite month of the year (December still takes the cake) and yet also one of the most difficult for me personally.
Pumpkins and spooky decorations are out in droves. Football is in full swing. Bonfires are thronging the air. Cackling can be heard from every corner – because Halloween is almost here. And with it, Reformation Sunday, of course. Because we good Reformed children do not believe in all that Hocus Pocus (things truly transubstantiating and all).
In addition, October is my birth month and I will turn forty this year. No small feat in my family. Yet October is also the month I lost both my mother and my husband. The two people in the world who were closest to me and provided my greatest support. And in great irony, one funeral was the day after my birthday and the other on Halloween proper. Good times.
At church, everything is coming alive! Our JAM (Jesus and Me) program begins this weekend, on Sunday, October 2nd, with learning and fun for ALL ages. Not to mention food, because every good Presbyterian knows: “when we meet, we eat.” There are parties coming and feasts, special worship services, opportunities to be our church out in the community, incredible ways to pray for one another, and some great fellowship times for our adults.
In this midst of all of this vibrant life, I want us to keep our eyes firmly focused on God’s mission for us as a church family. This year our guiding words are going to come from a simple quote by one of the mystics, named Thomas Merton, that echoes Christ’s own commandments to us: “Our job is to love other without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”
We never know who is going through what. We can never be sure the struggles that linger beneath the still surface of our neighbor’s calm visage. Nor can we ever understand fully the experiences of our siblings walking this earth, which is why Jesus commanded us to love. Period. No more. No less.
Love takes many forms in our life together: a child feeling welcome and safe within our walls. When one of our more mature members takes a turn keeping nursery or teaching Sunday School to offer a much needed break and chance to worship to our young parents. A member of many years singing a longtime favorite hymn that evokes memories of days gone by. Giving generously to continue Christ’s ministry within our campus and far beyond it. Someone who cannot leave their home partaking in the Communion that reminds us we are all one in Christ. Sharing canned goods and other nonperishable items with American Rescue Workers to feed the hungry in our community. Connecting with new friends over a cup of coffee. Teaching our younglings about hunger in our own community through our support of Tiger Backpacks and taking a hunger walk. Ensuring that the work and worship of Christ’s church at First Presbyterian of Hollidaysburg has not stopped, though it may have transformed, come plague or high winds.
Yes, love looks like many, many things.
Our job, as Christ’s followers is to know how incredibly loved we are and then to share that love with everyone, whether we are within the walls of our campus or out in the world that God so loves.
This October, as we all have so much to celebrate, be sure to show the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life by loving every way you can without ever stopping to inquire who deserves it.
Blessings, Pastor Janie