by Rev. Bill Gupton
For me, November is a month of introspection. It begins, in the cycle of our annual Heritage Church worship year, with our poignant All Souls Sunday service. Each year, on the first Sunday in November, we set aside a Sunday morning to honor and remember all those loved ones who have died, in the past 12 months. I find this to be one of the most moving and poignant gatherings of our entire year.
I also find that it invites me to take stock – of the passage of time, of the passing of beloved friends and colleagues, of yet another year. At the same time our communities (Heritage Church and, for me, Heritage Acres as well) are celebrating timeless rituals like Day of the Dead, All Souls, and Samhain, the leaves are falling to the ground, the air is growing chill, and the world is preparing for its winter slumber. Much to reflect upon. Much to contemplate.
And much to be grateful for. By the time the end of the month rolls around, we are celebrating – at Heritage Church, and here in America, Thanksgiving – a solemn reminder to consider, and appreciate, the blessings of our lives. This year, I am extremely grateful that my older sister, as well as my niece and nephew, and their various families will be gathering with us here in Cincinnati – a rare treat indeed. And thinking again of church, I am reminded that “Thanksgiving Sunday” (which we celebrate on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, because so many are unable to attend on Thanksgiving weekend itself) is one of the highlights of my church year. We come together, regardless of our “age or stage,” as the saying goes, to break and share bread, in a communion ritual, while singing traditional songs and holding one another around the warm hearth that is Heritage.
Each of these November rituals – and the Christmas rituals they point toward – have powerful meaning for me, as I spend my 22nd November with you in this church family we all hold dear. What seasons, what church rituals, have special meaning for you?
With love, joy, and profound gratitude –