I am not sure why Unitarian Universalist congregations live on an academic calendar, but I am sure that just as Labor Day marks the end of summer, Homecoming marks the beginning of a new school year. Or should we call it a church year? Or perhaps a fellowship year or a society year or a congregational year?
No matter what word you prefer, this is indeed the beginning of a new year. A new year of worship, religious growth and learning, fellowship and hospitality, service and advocacy. A chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Like the first day of school, Homecoming is a time pregnant with possibilities. We are presented with a metaphorical clean slate. (Remember when schools actually had slates??) What will we do with this opportunity? With the invitation to build on past experiences while learning new things? With all of the energy and hopes and anxieties that constitute our shared life in faith?
All of that will come clear day by day and week by week as we walk together through the year. All I know for sure is that right now it is time to come home. Longtime members and brand new visitors. Elders, adults, youth, and children. Come home to your UU congregation, the place where you will find a sanctuary for your spirit; a safe place to explore your personal spiritual path in the company of others. Come home to the place that welcomes your ideas, your gifts, your time, your passions. Come home to the place that comforts you when you are afflicted and afflicts you when you are too comfortable.
In honor of Homecoming I offer you some thoughts from the great American philosopher George Carlin: “Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.
Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error.
In football the specialist comes in to kick. In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness. Baseball has the sacrifice.
Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end – might have extra innings. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different: In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe!”
See you at home plate – or in the sanctuary!