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Pastor's Message - October 2023

Pumpkin Spice Communion

I knew I needed to knock off some of the business world's sharp edges before beginning professional ministry, so I did more than the required number of internships, four in total, and five if you count the additional clinical unit I completed during the pandemic. My first parish placement was in a Boston suburb, where my primary focus was Christian Education and Youth. Chris, the intern the prior year, was much younger than me, and infinitely more hip. On their annual mission trip, he had even celebrated an Oreo and Coca-Cola communion with the teens.

Yeah... About that.

I was a little more uptight back then, a little more concerned about rules. I mean, Oreo's are more sugar than anything else, but there is at least some wheat there. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, contains nothing that qualifies as “fruit of the vine,” and little that qualifies as edible. (And yes, I love an ice-cold Coke.)

I still wouldn't use Coca-Cola for communion, and though Autumn is upon us, you will not find me doing anything “pumpkin spice.” I'm not a hater, even if I have no interest in Pumpkin Spice coffee or Pumpkin Spice beer or Pumpkin Spice air freshener. I'll happily eat a slice of pumpkin pie. (I do love me some pie.) Otherwise, it is a hard pass, mainly because I hate the way business manufactures desire.

Of course, we could try to use “Pumpkin Spice Communion” as a gimmick, an attempt to draw in new people. Churches have been trying gimmicks for years, as mega-churches sell religion as commodity rather than as community. But that isn't who we are.

As we try to drag ourselves, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, you can be assured that our work together will be thoughtful, and true to who we are, not driven by fads or the hype of commerce church. Oh sure, we'll diversify our music and work to improve the aesthetics of our worship space. The council has voted to invest in the quality of our online worship for those unable to travel to church or who live far away. Each of these adjustments will be made in the tradition of The Park Church, a living and non-credal body that gathers to change lives in the “practical Christianity” tradition of Langdons and Gridleys, Beechers and Eastmans, of me and of you.

Happy Autumn, +Gary


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