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Reflections from Rev. Emily Gage

What Does It Mean To Be a Community of Connection?

On our last Sunday worshipping at United Lutheran, I asked those present to write down something they appreciated about being at United Lutheran for those two years. People wrote all kinds of things: the gym, foosball, the generosity of our hosts, the stained glass windows, all of us there all together at one worship service. We wrote them down on colorful pieces of paper. Later I collected them, recorded them, and posted them on the bulletin board at United Lutheran as a thank you. I didn’t know what to expect when I asked that question, and it turned out to be a lovely testament to the connections we made to that place and to one another while we were there.

The next day, when the movers came to take our possessions back to Unity Temple, I found myself alone in the sanctuary. All evidence of our congregation’s presence there had been removed. But as I sat there, I thought of all that had taken place there—the babies and children we had blessed, the people we had said goodbye to there, the various joys and sorrows that had been in our hearts when we came to church, all the growth, a particular sermon here or there. I had not expected to be sad at all, but I found myself a little weepy for the way that space had held so much for us, and the way it connected us to each other and to all that had happened in our various lives. I live close to United Lutheran, so I see it almost every day. From now on, as I gaze at it, I will feel connected to it, knowing how it was a special place for us for those two long years.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe we were out of our own building for two whole years, especially on that first Sunday back for worship. Everyone who had a regular seat in the sanctuary found it right away and it felt reassuring to me to look out and see how things felt so familiar. It doesn’t all look the same, of course—nothing is falling apart AND there is much evidence of an infinite amount of love and care and thoughtfulness that has gone into restoration. Seeing all that, I am struck by the fact that we are mere stewards of a building which was gifted to us, and which we pass on to those who come after us. Connections to the past and to the future...

While it was an incredibly joyful return, I could not help but think of those whom we love who were not with us when we came back to Unity Temple. Now that we’re back in that space that is familiar to so many of us, it seems like even those who died should be sitting in their regular pews.

At the same time, there were babies and young ones who were born into our congregation who had never been inside Unity Temple, not to mention those who joined us while we were in exile, and are experiencing the return home in a totally different way.

This summer will be a time of many transitions in the life of our congregation—coming back to our worship space, getting to know our building again, moving into our offices and new classroom space at 1019 South Boulevard, going back to a two worship service structure, among other things. It is a time to be mindful of the many connections among us, between us, and all around us.