There is a bittersweet taste to autumn that I find I appreciate more and more each year. I think it’s the way that both beauty and grief are entwined in this brief season that helps us appreciate the wonder and loss that are bound up in our experiences and puts our brief lives in perspective. Transition is something that we talk about, but in autumn we experience it all around us as the weather cools and the trees blaze in color. It helps us see that everything in our lives is in the process of change, even those things that can seem so enduring.
This congregation is a good example. It’s been a part of Asheville for 65 years and planted in this location for a little more than 40. In that time it has grown and changed in all sorts of ways. This summer and fall we have seen a lot of changes to our physical presence – expanding and enhancing our main building and larger campus, the most significant change to our physical space in more than 30 years. It’s meant giving up some familiar aspects of our campus while creating new space that we believe will serve us better. Please plan to come to worship at either 9:15 or 11:15 on December 6 to help us celebrate and dedicate all the work that has been part of our Welcome Project. You’ll hear more about all that this project has brought us and a bit about where we have come from to get here and what it could prepare us to do.
And that, of course, invites us into an important conversation: What are our hopes for the future? Your Board of Trustees and I have begun talking about ways to approach that question, and I’d love to have your input, too. For it’s true that along with the rest of the world, this congregation is in process. Who we are and how we envision our role changes as the congregation and the times change. Each generation in a sense reimagines that role, grounded in a rich history yet oriented to a future that is only now coming into shape. We are, as I have said, a community of memory and hope.
How we embody that hope is up to those who are here to carry it on. With our inviting new exterior we are sure to draw newcomers to check us out. What will we have to offer them? Your staff has developed activities and programs that we think advance our mission, but it is how you, the congregation, take ownership of them that will determine how they fare. Let us all together live into the promise that this congregation is.