Pastor's Message

September 2021

"Rooted in Love"

“They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season.” Psalm 1:3a

Back in July, the 33rd Synod of the United Church of Christ took place. For the first time ever, the entire gathering—which normally spans a week and includes beautiful worship, moving keynote speakers, informative workshops and lots of denominational business—took place online. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Rooted in Love.” I was hoping to be able to “attend” while I was back in North Carolina, preparing for my mother’s move to San Diego, but I was unable to do so. Fortunately, the worship services were recorded and are available online on the UCC’s YouTube channel at

When I left for my time away back in June, many of us were feeling some sense of “normalcy” creeping back into our lives. Our Regathering Team imagined being able to return to our sanctuary, perhaps even unmasked, in September. But by the time I returned in August, so much had changed. The Delta variant was spreading rapidly, and case numbers and hospitalizations were on the rise as a result. Breakthrough infections were making those fully vaccinated more cautious again.

It’s easy in this season when so much seems to change so quickly to feel disoriented, untethered, uprooted. Our Synod theme, drawn from Psalm 1, reminds us how important it is to stay “rooted in love.” As a congregation, we continue to live in the midst of this tension. It’s so good to be able to continue to be together in person safely….and it’s not exactly like it used to be. It’s wonderful to have in-person AND online worship….and we are still learning how to use our new equipment and create worship that works in both formats.

As much as I want to be done with this in-between time (please and thank you very much, Jesus), I expect it will continue. In these uncertain days, I am encouraged by the image of a big, tall, strong tree. Rooted in Love, reaching deep down into the soil for nutrients and high into the air for the sunlight. Flexible as it waves in the breeze. Changing with every season. Responding to all the changes happening around it and growing bigger in love. When I feel discombobulated (which is often these days), I sit with this image of a tree, rooted in God’s love, and find some measure of peace.

What images are speaking to you during this time of ongoing change? What small glimmers of hope on the horizon are giving you strength? Have you made time to sit with the Spirit and share the pain you’ve experienced? And the joys, too? In our worship on September 5, we are making time to do just that, as we pray the psalms (and even write some of our own) together.

As we move from summer into fall and walk through life’s seasons, may we all be rooted in God’s love: big, strong, flexible trees reaching down, reaching up, reaching out to share that love with all we encounter in the world around us.

With hope,

Pastor Mary Sue