Dear Friends in Christ,
The clocks fall back this weekend, and the evenings will become darker. Before winter arrives though, we can enjoy the season of Fall, as it is known in the US. In the UK though, this season is called Autumn. I was pondering how these two words still feel different to me, even after 20 years living in the US. I have absolutely no idea why, but when I hear the word ‘fall’ it brings straight to mind the image of leaves falling from the trees and leaf piles on the ground, whereas when I hear the word ‘autumn’ I immediately think of trees full of beautiful colored (or coloured!) leaves. The words fall and autumn though are relatively-speaking new; until the 13th or 14th century, this season was known as Harvest. And that to me conjures up images of hay bales and ripe fruit and vegetables, and making jam and chutneys, and English church harvest festivals with fresh food piled high and beautiful flower arrangements, and singing the hymn Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.*
We have much to be thankful for this season, whether it is the dropping leaves, the beauty of the leaves or the bounty of the harvest. October was a busy month for our church beginning with our Spiritual Retreat Get Out of the Boat? which was a wonderful day of renewal for the 23 attendees, and ending with the joyous worship and activities of our Church Anniversary Celebration (more here). I am thankful for the difference you have made in some individual lives this year – for our two college students who you have supported emotionally and financially, for medical bills paid for a member in need, for embracing and loving our member who transitioned from female to male, for providing a caring supporting environment for a grieving widow, and so many other ways that you have extended the SPUMC welcome as Christ’s hands and feet. Now Thank We All Our God.
In California, we also call this time of year ‘fire season.’ Our prayers go out to all who lost their homes in October’s devastating wildfires. Twenty-two local homes were lost in the McCourtney and Lobo fires, along with the thousands in Santa Rosa & Napa areas from the Tubbs, Nuns and Pocket fires. We are grateful to the firefighters who worked so hard to put these fires out, and all those who reached out to help in a myriad of ways. Our communion offering this month will go to our California-Nevada Conference Disaster Response Fund to help those most affected with their most critical and immediate needs. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has also given an initial $10,000 for this work. Amazing Abundance … a tapestry woven by myriad hands.
I was blessed a few weeks ago by attending a spiritual renewal weekend called Walk to Emmaus. You may remember the Biblical story of Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus and explaining the scriptures to the disciples. (Luke 24:13-35). One of the questions that we pondered during the weekend was “What would we ask Jesus to explain?” I thought that would make a good sermon series! In the New Year, our first sermon series will be about questions that we would like to ask God. So I need your help! First, what questions would you like to ask God? And, second, please talk to your neighbors and ask them what questions they have for God? What would they like to know? Then, please drop me an email or a note. Faith, While Trees are Still in Blossom … faith believes that God is faithful.
— Pastor Joan
* Quoted hymns are from UMH 694, UMH 102, W&S 3120, UMH 508.