This is the year of celebrations in my extended family.
Earlier this year we celebrated the 60thWedding anniversary of my parents, replete with cards from the Queen and the Governor General, and a sit-down lunch, for family and friends. There has been an 80thBirthday, we are yet to celebrate a 50th, and a 60thBirthday, we have the dedication of a great nephew to look forward to, and one marriage has been celebrated another is set for later this year. We also have an engagement recently announced though not yet formally celebrated. Yes, all the big life stage events are happening across the generations this year.
Like any extended family, we have had our ups and downs, our tragedies, our falling outs, our hurts and wounds inflicted on or by each other. But this year is celebration time, and we all need an excuse to party. We all need a truce time, we all need to put a smile on our face and we owe it to those we are honouring and those we are partying with to bring our best to the table, swallow our pride, extend the hand of forgiveness and create good memories.
The whole clan gathers from the youngest (great grandchild) to the eldest. And it is no different with many of the churches we all gather for the special occasions.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia, https://assembly.uca.org.au/about/uca an amalgamation of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in Australia to form a combined entity. Living out the idea of inclusivity, and bringing three faith traditions together 42 years ago. As a teenager, I witnessed this birth and it was not always smooth sailing. The decisions were made beyond and around me, and the fallout was at times bewildering to one still young. But 42 years later and this new church is still here and still as strong as any other faith organisation now in Australia. A country that was at the time Christian but now is not.
While abiding with the rules of union, each congregation has some autonomy, and each will mark the occasion in their own way. Many will conduct services today using the readings set for the Anniversary 1st reading: Deuteronomy 30:1-10, Psalm 100, 2nd Reading 1 Corinthians 3: 10-17, and Gospel Reading John 15:1-8 A great collection of readings to remind us that all things flow from God. Our liturgical colours are the same as Pentecost, red. So, the church can be quiet striking, when decked out for this Anniversary.
A few years ago, I got my best response to what our logo stands for. https://assembly.uca.org.au/resources/logos Though deep thought had gone into the design and significance of each element. I still love the image and reasoning of a child in my care who firmly stated that the best part of our logo was the smile, that it made it warm and welcoming. Sorry to those who worked hard at the beginning, but that explanation is my favourite and preferred.
If you took my advice on Pentecost to use the shape of the dove on the UCA logo as a Pentecost motif, now is the occasion to place that shape at the heart of the logo.
The Bible is full of celebrations, anniversaries and gatherings. Celebrations bring us together, give us shared history, continue old traditions or start new ones. They are intergenerational as generally all age levels come together and are catered for.