It’s time to tell the kids: It is OUR birthday this Sunday, and WE will be 376 years old! Good for us. That’s a nice, ripe old age for a congregation in this nation. Not only that, but ours has been a pretty stable history despite all the slings and arrows of history and fortune, with just 17 called ministers over all that time.
How far we have come over the past three and three-quarters centuries! From a Puritan congregation with a medieval mindset founded in 1645 on land that was inhabited by the Pennacook people, to today’s Unitarian Universalist congregation, “we” have been on quite a journey. Our congregational ancestors would not recognize us and would be horrified to know what we practice and preach. I suppose we rarely have control over the things we create but then let go of, as part of our legacy.
And what will our legacy be? Many in the “church world” are musing about that these days, as we navigate a sort of liminal space during the pandemic and wonder which congregations will fill up again and return to their old selves, which will fade… and whether or not we even want to return to our “old” selves. Do we want to be as busy as we were? Do we want to “do church” the same way? What new thing might emerge from all this change? What will we let go of, and when will we figure it out? Of course, these are questions for ourselves as individuals and families as well.
Meanwhile, we gather to simply celebrate that we’ve made it thus far, so far—as our exact 376th birthday falls on this Sunday, October 24th. And that reminds me that it’s also the exact anniversary of my installation service, 22 years ago. Wow, time flies! I suppose from the viewpoint of the universe or god, even centuries are merely a blink of an eye.
Hope to see you on Zoom or in person so we can sing “Happy Birthday” to each other during the service, and then dedicate our Community Bell and Sculpture after the service, at 11:15. Wear your party hats!
P.S. We won’t be having birthday cake but we WILL be handing out various individually wrapped cookies in the shape of a bell. You won’t want to miss it!