Rally Sunday is somewhat of a bittersweet eventPublished 9:20am Friday, September 13, 2013
By the Rev. Don Rose
United and Mansfield Lutheran churches
Rally Sunday is a time for new and renewed ministries and celebrations in the lives of congregations. Typically this Sunday marks the beginning of a new year of Sunday School and other forms of religious education, primarily for children but often for adults as well. It is a time when people who have been away with other activities during the summer months return to regular participation in the life and worship of their congregation. These are all certainly worthy things to lift up and celebrate and yet at the same time it is a rather bittersweet occasion.
Rally Sunday events are bittersweet because they remind us that in many ways congregations and their members go on summer hiatus. Various ministries and programs take a break because it is summer and people are busy. The days of seeing summer as a time of leisure are long gone for the majority of people. Events and activities are planned for all ages to take advantage of the time when there is typically no school. There seems then to be some practical wisdom to ease up on church activities to accommodate peoples’ modern lifestyles. And yet by doing so does the church not say that it and its message are of less importance than other things in peoples’ lives? Are not people equally busy with a variety of activities throughout the year? If the church does not want to be a burden in the summer will it not soon decide to not be a burden at other times throughout the year as well?
It is good to celebrate Rally Sunday and all that it represents in congregational life. However, perhaps it is time for God’s people to make different plans for next year that will help to be a witness to the importance of faith and the presence of God in the lives of God’s people year round. Many school districts already offer year-round school. Perhaps congregations can use that idea for their own benefit to offer ministries for all ages all year long rather than just when it seems most convenient for people or the congregation itself.
God’s love and peoples’ witness and service in response to that love are never seasonal. That promise and its reality are truly something to celebrate, even more so than Rally Sunday.