Across many congregations this is the season of ingathering, a time when our congregations have rituals and traditions to welcome the beginning of a new congregational year. The rituals vary, yet the message is often similar—it is a reminder of our fundamental interdependence and the life-saving, life-affirming power of religious community.
As Unitarian Universalists, we are not known for our rituals, but we do have them. And rituals, particularly over time, come to have deep meaning embodied in memory and anticipation. The lighting of a chalice, or the reading of a covenant, alert our senses and communicate intrinsically that this is a sacred time. Rituals that come with the seasons remind us of the cycle of the year and bring intention to transitions. They help us mark time and make meaning of our lives.
For many, this is the time of year when school begins. The time when summer recedes and congregations start up programs with renewed energy. This is always a time filled with activity, but this year, many of these transitions are fraught with stress and worry.
This year, all of our rituals, all of these beginnings, will necessarily be different. And they are ever more important. Rituals offer containers for us to bring our hopes, grief, anger and our longings. They remind us that we are not alone in our experience and invite us into deeper compassion and care for each other.
The multiple pandemics of the coronavirus, systemic racism, police violence, poverty and climate destruction—which are disproportionately impacting Black, Brown and Indigenous people—are devastating our children, families, neighborhoods and future. There is so much collective grief and anger that needs expression.
Our collective expression matters. And it is not just about feeling the comfort of community. Being reminded through prayer, ritual and action of our shared strength, gives us the power to act for what we value and what we love. In these sacred moments, we glimpse the beauty, the truth, the justice that is possible—that is needed—in our lives and in the world.
The practice of gathering, no matter the distance, reminds us of our enduring connections. It helps us feel the ways that we are held by and lifted up in beloved community. It rekindles in us our commitment to keep living into our values and organizing for equity in all human relations.
We are all holding so much in our hearts this year. May your ingathering rituals, and all of the ways you come together, serve as a reminder that no matter how far apart, or how we gather, we are connected by unseen but real threads of care and intention for one another and for humanity. We are connected through our traditions of love and justice, and we are connected in our shared faith as Unitarian Universalists.
As your communities mark this annual occasion, I invite you to share with your congregations my video message, sent with love during this time of ingathering.
P.S. Visit our ingathering web page for additional resources for your services.
Also, be on the lookout for worship resources from UU the Vote to mark National Voter Registration Day on September 22.