October is a big month in our congregational life, five Sundays altogether, beginning with a service that starts UUCMC on a process to call a settled minister for only the fourth time in its over 65-year history. I am honored to be the candidate for this position, but the process isn’t really about me so much as it is about you—about this congregational system, this community of communities. Who are you as a congregation? Not an easy question as we emerge from two-and-a-half years of pandemic restrictions. How do you envision going forward—what are your dreams? Also, not the easiest of things to articulate. And yet, that’s what it takes in order, then, secondarily, to determine whether I will be a good partner for who you are, and for where you are headed. It’s a process that takes some courage—courage on all our parts, to wade into murky waters! For, as Brené Brown says above, courage and comfort can be mutually exclusive. But courage need not be daunting…courage can rise to lofty heights of daring, but can also be summoned to achieve smaller tasks, such as being patient with one another (as Cornel West reminds us), or even just summoning up the strength to try again tomorrow (Radmacher). And, as Shane Claiborne attests, just refraining from “tiptoeing through life” can result in courageous skipping, hopping, and dancing! As long as we remain in community with one another, I trust that we will find the requisite courage for the way ahead.
One way we can regroup and reestablish who we are as a community is to live into rituals and activities, old and new, and October is full of them. The Adult RE Committee is hosting an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day Show and Tell” on the 7th to start up the three-day weekend, and then a discussion of the stunning novel, Middlesex, on the 14th. We reap the lessons of the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot on the 9th, join together for a Fall Fiesta on the 15th (get your tickets!), and march together for the annual Red Bank CROP Walk against hunger on the 16th. And we reprise last year’s Trunk ’r Treat outdoor community event on the 23rd. For our newcomers, we have a three-session Getting to Know UU(CMC) Path to Membership series beginning on the 13th. We end the month invoking the ancestors in our traditional All Souls service as we remember those whom we have lost in the past year. So many ways to be together in community in one month!
As you will have read, the Covid-19 Task Force has instituted a mask-optional policy for being in the meetinghouse. And many will have noticed that many masks are still in evidence; that’s as it should be, as masking has kept so many of us safe all these many months. We do encourage everyone eligible to avail themselves of the bivalent SARS-CoV-2 and Omicron BA.4/BA.5 vaccine. It just makes sense to protect yourself and others: the jury is still out on the negative long-term effects of contracting the illness, and hundreds of persons still die every single day in this country. The cooler days will only bring more and more people indoors, so we are likely to experience spikes, as we did in prior years. But we are confident that, like every other public accommodation, going mask-optional makes sense. So, we will no longer be patrolling mask use. Just use your own common sense.
We have begun to inch back into Coffee Hour following services, even as our kitchen remodeling enters its final stages. And, in order to continue offering a meaningful way to be together online, what had been our after-service Zoom Community Hour has shifted to Thursdays. I hope you will join me for Thursday Tea Time, weekly at 4:30 PM. We will check in with one another, and have conversation on the issues of the week, the Wednesday Meditations, and the monthly congregational themes.
I hope you will find many ways to join us for a beautiful, meaningful, and courageous October at UUCMC.