With heart and voice, colorful balloons and homemade bread, logo-dotted sweets and a community filled with the Spirit of hope and abundance, Sunday’s fall kickoff launched us into a bold and boundless year ahead!

Bold love and boundless compassion, as many of you heard on Sunday, will be our compass for the year ahead. You might call that a theme, but my prayer is that it will be our practice and posture, our commitment and calling, our very orientation for this work of Love.

We’ll explore it in our relationships, too often places of woundedness and resentment, indifference and contempt. We’ll unpack it in our world, too often found in a climate of conflict and suffering, disintegration and discord. We’ll root it on the margins, too often spaces of exclusion and fear, insensitivity and disregard. We’ll connect it to our bodies and souls, too often sources of shame or guilt, envy or emptiness. And we’ll press towards transformation, that resurrection place of wholeness, integration, flourishing, new life. 

I wondered with you on Sunday: what might happen if we became a community so committed to the ‘practice of bold love of God and neighbor and boundless compassion for all people,’ that it caused meaningful shifts in our relationships, our world, our margins, our bodies, our souls? In all these places and spaces where suffering abounds, how might things look different if we do just that?

As evidenced by the stack of pink cards you see pictured above, many of you have responded to the invitation across all the areas of our church’s life: I’m in! Sign me up! And for those of you unable to join us on Sunday, grab a bag at the church house next time you’re here. It’s filled with all the ways you can deepen your understanding and expression of this call to bold love + boundless compassion we share. You’ll find there and on our website (firstonfifth.org!) new offerings for study, fellowship, and mission this year. May we all enter the new year with expectant hope for what God might do within and among us.

Receive now a snippet of the blessing we offered to students, teachers, & administrators on Sunday:

Loving God, be with these people – students, teachers, administrators, librarians, custodians, professors, and counselors. Be with them and help them as they begin a new year of learning, teaching, growing, and serving… 

May their minds and their pencils be sharp; may their lunches never be forgotten at home; and may their big pink erasers help them to remember that mistakes are not only okay but the most important part of the process of learning…

God, thank you for glue sticks and homework folders and laptops and crisp new notebooks waiting to be filled; thank you for schools and libraries and teachers; thank you for all that these folks will learn this year about the world you so love; thank you for gift of curiosity and for your Wisdom that is all around…

No matter their age or role, may each person before us today be teachers. May each person be learners. May all delight in the playground of discovery. May your bold love and boundless compassion be the place from which they lead and the home to which they return. 

We pray this and everything in the name of your Son Jesus, who left his parents so he could sit and learn at the feet of those rabbis in the temple, Amen.

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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