In the past few weeks, I have closed the windows in my apartment and gone searching for my long-sleeved shirts and jackets. I have seen the first tinges of autumn in the leaves. I enjoy autumn immensely (especially my pumpkin-spice lattes), and, but this season also brings with it some challenges for many families. One of the greatest enemies of the modern family is the incredibly full calendar. So many families rush from school and work to other sports and activities and barely even take a moment to pass in the halls. My own child, Ariana, just started preschool, and my husband and I are both working new jobs. Some days I don't get home until she is already in bed, and often we're so exhausted that our family meals are in front of the TV.
We all know how important it is to spend time with our families. Those important moments of connection, whether they are the bedtime rituals or family dinners, are the moments that bond us together with the people we love the most. I think my favorite moments are the times we can never plan: a sleepy-eyed Ariana stumbling out of bed in her pajamas wanting to snuggle, evenings when she falls asleep without a struggle and Rhye and I have just a few minutes to talk, or even times when we're navigating through traffic, discovering something new. These are moments worth treasuring.
And, as Ariana grows older, I also treasure sharing with her the religious rituals of my faith. We light a family chalice together and sing the chalice song she knows from Sunday School. We say bedtime prayers together. And, when she is ready, I look forward to sharing larger, communal worship experiences together. When I was a child, family devotions were an important part of our family life. My dad often said, "The family that prays together stays together." While my prayers now may look or sound different from the prayers I said with my parents as a child, they instilled in me a love for worship. My spiritual connection was intimately connected to my family.
The etymology of the word "worship" derives from "worth" or "value." What are the things we value? How will we shape the moments in our lives to recognize their worth? In addition to the beautiful spontaneous moments (which I encourage you to savor), this year we hope to bring many opportunities for you to share worshipful moments with your family at First Unitarian. The new format for Time for Community is intended to allow families to light candles together, to share their joys and sorrows, and to connect with others in the community. Many of the "Monday Night at the Church" programs are being designed for families to engage together in a spiritual way. And this Sunday I look forward to celebrating autumn with our first Community Worship Service, a time for all ages to join together in the sanctuary for the entire worship hour. For families with young children (early elementary and toddlers), we will offer "Extended Care" beyond our normal nursery services with activities connected to the theme, but older children and youth are strongly encouraged to join with the in this time of worship. Together, we will find new ways to express worth and honor in our community.
I hope each of us will find the time in our busy schedules to connect to our families and to our spiritual community. These are truly the moments of worth.
Bright Autumn Blessings!
Jessica Gray, Director FDM
First Unitarian Church of Worcester