Welcome Back: Why Do Church?

Worship at 11am in the Sanctuary! (This Sunday’s worship will not be streamed live, but will be recorded and posted later on YouTube*).

The last few years of global pandemic shook up a lot of our assumptions about in-person gatherings and brick-and-mortar institutions. Working from home and telecommuting are now much more viable options. So much of commerce has continued to move online. We see more street-level retail going empty or becoming a bank or a cannabis dispensary.

And yet, we also got it at a gut level that certain human, social interactions cannot be fully re-created or that fulfilling online: parties, playing games, sports events, music rehearsals, concerts, worship. Even the most introverted among us has to admit that we are social creatures, we need warm-blooded, in-the-flesh human interaction and proximity. We need human touch, some of us more than others.

Houses of faith went through the wringer during this cultural disruption. In a country that continues to grow increasingly secular and more religiously diverse, in-person church became even more optional. And in the long view of faith we are all now figuring out what it looks like as the dust of the pandemic settles around us.

I believe that human spiritual needs are as strong as ever, perhaps even increased. Even our Surgeon General has declared an “epidemic of loneliness.” As our new media outlets scare us on a daily basis about the worst of the human condition and the existential threat of climate change, our souls get anxious, fearful, unsettled. We need something to ground us, to center us, to remind us of something deeper, older, benevolent and kind. We need to remember how to keep leaning into the best versions of ourselves. We still need the Good News of Love.

Which is why I still believe in the essential importance of church, even as we discover new ways of doing it.

Sunday is our annual joyful re-gathering from our summertime adventures. In worship, we will delve into the questions of “Why do church?” and “why are you here?”, remembering what our early Christian forebears said about doing church (Matthew 18:20, Acts 2:43-47, Colossians 3:12-17) and what it means for us today. We’re also trying a new Sanctuary pew configuration (you can read more here) and will welcome the stirring sounds of the 855 Brass Quintet, a new in-residence ensemble. We’ll welcome back our youth and children with a pre-worship Church School kickoff on the front lawn starting at 9:45am (see schedule below).

And as always, our Gathering Team will host a festive, post-worship cookout in Willett Hall.

I look forward as we all welcome one another back from wherever our summertime adventures, big or small, have taken us.

In faith,

Welcome Back Reunion Kick-off Sunday
9:30 am — Nursery Open
9:45 am — Church School Kickoff (PreK-Elementary)
10:15 am — Church School Kickoff (Middle and High school)
11:00 am — Kick-Off Sunday Worship in the Sanctuary*
after worship — Welcome Back Cookout in Willett Hall

*Due to technical difficulties, we will post the recorded worship service on YouTube later on Sunday. Thank you for your understanding. We ask for your prayers and patience as we seek to provide a quality online worship experience for our congregation at home. If you have a passion for audio/visual technology, we need your help! Please contact kent@upbrookline.org to serve on a tech team.

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