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A Letter from Pastor Anita: Home Coming!

When I was a child, I knew the first Sunday of the church year as Homecoming Sunday.  That was the day everything started- Sunday School, Youth Group, Bible Studies, and so much more.  Usually Lenape Valley celebrates this homecoming moment by gathering for a church potluck picnic, with a feast of our favorite foods.  I love when the church family comes home from their vacations and adventures, from their shore homes and mountain cabins, sometimes even from their lazy summer schedules when they are perhaps less faithful in church attendance.  I love when the church family comes home!
But this year, homecoming will look different.  The church picnic has been cancelled.  Most of the church family is quarantined at home, with just a handful sitting socially distant in the sanctuary for worship.  Our Sunday School will kick-off the fall with exciting new material, but the experience will be virtual, each family in their own home.  Our youth group will gather in person, but some will be missing due to pandemic concerns.  Some of our Bible Studies will meet this fall, but they will be just faces on a screen via Zoom.  While we will have a Homecoming Sunday on September 13th, most of us will still be in our own homes that morning.  Yet, while our “homecoming” will look different this year, we are still the people of God… still called to be salt and light… still determined to bring God’s grace into the lives of others.
In Genesis, we read the story of Jacob.  He exiled himself from his home as a young man out of fear that his brother Esau would seek revenge.  Years later, Jacob began his journey home, only to realize that Esau’s anger had not yet abated, so he turned away yet again.  How desperately Jacob yearned for a homecoming!  Instead, God gave him a greater promise: “Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go; and I will bring you back to the land in due season.” (Genesis 28:15)   That promise transformed every place that Jacob camped into home.  That promise is for God’s people today!  Wherever you are on Homecoming Sunday, know that God is with you.  God’s presence with the people of God is redefining God’s home from a church building to a multi-room, multi-state, multi-nation home.  Even though we might yearn for the day when we can all gather at 321 W. Butler Ave. for a shared meal and joyful worship, today God is still blessing His people with strength and purpose.  
Yet, like Jacob, we rail against accepting this distance as our new ‘normal’!  To help strengthen our family ties during this pandemic season, our ministry teams have been hard at work all summer to create new opportunities.  We hope that these gifts will invite you into new ways of being God’s people, new ways of finding home.  Here are just a few of the opportunities that have been prepared with you in mind:
Dare to BE- Outdoor Church Concert –Sunday, September 13th @ 6pm
One of the great joys of our Lenape Valley home is music.  So many gifts… gracefully shared… artfully woven together into a symphony of joy.  On September 13th you are invited to experience those gifts in person.  Bring a blanket or folding chair and sit on the lawn or drive up and stay in your car with your windows rolled down.  BYOSnacks.  Rain or shine. (The concert will move indoors if the weather does not cooperate.)
Dare to BE 2020
Watch for your materials in the mail.  This fall we hope you will participate in the rich experience of Church Has Left the Building by exploring Dare to BE.  Begin each day with the BE devotional thought.  Then find time each week to delve into the meaning of the Beatitudes with the 7-part BE Bible Study.  If you need a packet, contact the office.
The Church Has Left the Building 2020
Lenape Valley is the mission of Jesus Christ to the world God so loves.  This fall, our COVID reality makes mission even more important.  We are seeking new ways to make a difference in our community, to be light and salt.  Watch for the Dare To BE 2020 catalogue of projects.  Be looking for ways that you can Help a Neighbor near you, or send a card to a senior, or bring Dry Goods to LVC for the Barclay Farmer’s Market.
You Have Been Signed!
Look for the Hope Has a Name signs that are out in the community.  Perhaps someone will put the sign on your lawn next.  If so, sign the back, keep it on your lawn for a week and then pass the blessing on to another in our church family.  
Women’s Retreat is Coming!
BE refreshed in heart and mind by a shared faith journey with other women.  Watch for details of a retreat for women done in a new way!
And so much more…
Watch for information about Children’s Ministry opportunities, EPIC, Genesis, Youth Group, Bible Studies, and worship… Even in a COVID reality, Lenape Valley Church is alive and active, growing in the faith and serving in the world.
With you as we Dare to BE!  
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