Return to the Lord Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)
Summer is soon coming to an end. Time to close up the cabins, come back from vacation, put our gardens to bed, say goodbye to the sunshine, and hello to cooler breezes and winter snows. The month of September often means a “return” to many things. Children and parents return to a regular school-year routine. The Silver Lake Loon goes back into storage. Fall sports start up and summer concerts in the park are no more.
The church is no different. With the start of September, the church returns to its regular schedule of Worship with Sunday School on Sundays and Confirmation on Wednesdays, and before we know it, we’ll be enjoying our annual Lutefisk and Meatball dinner, attending midweek Advent services, and preparing our hearts for Christmas. I hope that for many of you, the month of September also means a return to church!
During the Summer, our schedules are more flexible. We take time off to enjoy vacations and other activities. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s fun to do. Often, a casualty of summer, though, is church attendance. Unfortunately, we may think, and even speak, of taking a “break” from church during the summer months. Good for us, though, is this fact – God does not take a break from you!
The prophet Joel once spoke to the people and reminded them who God is. God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” These are truly some of the most wonderful qualities of our God. We especially see these qualities fully displayed in the life of Christ, who suffered, died, and rose again from the dead all for us. Because our God is merciful, the prophet Joel encourages us to return to him. Because our God is slow to anger, we should return to God knowing that God will never turn us away. Because our God is abounding in steadfast love, even when we return at our very lowest, even when we have done our worst, God will still receive us; that is just who our God is!
September is a time of year to return. I encourage you to return to church, starting with Welcome Back Sunday on September 11, when we’ll have a small celebration with food and fun activities for all ages. I’m looking forward to seeing so many of you returning to regular Sunday worship. And because our God is merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, we can remember that we can return to God, to receive forgiveness, life and salvation, not just in September, but in every moment of every day.
Your sister in Christ,