Sunday, September 9, 2007

Rally Day

Today was Rally Day at church. In some ways it's right up there with Christmas and Easter. At our church Sunday School has started, and the church is filled with colorful balloons, and many children. We invite the people to release their balloon at an appropriate time for them (when they would say "amen!" if they were Baptist). I always try to carry a green balloon to match my stole.

I asked one of the youth working on the "balloon patrol" how long they have had balloons on Rally Day. "A long time," she replied. "Since God created dirt."

I think you can't really experience the full impact of Rally Day unless you have been coming to church all summer, wondering if there will be anyone for the children's message, seeing the people straggle in, worshiping with the people who don't have cabins up north. There's a small sense of eschatological hope: a foretaste of the feast to come, when we will gather together for the great feast in heaven. And I'm sure there will be great crowds on that day, all ages, all kinds of people. I love the faithful few, but on the Great Day, heaven will be full. Don't get me wrong, summer worship is lovely, but there's an energy on Rally Sunday.

I remember when I first came to this church. I started at the end of May, and all summer I worked on the contemporary worship service I was supposed to introduce in the fall. I was also charged with the children's message on that day. It was my first children's message in this church, and I wanted it to be good. The gospel was "the lost sheep", and I thought I had a good idea: the children would find a "lost person" out in the congregation (a youth wearing a corsage), find her and bring her back. Then the "lost person" would tell everyone how good it felt to be found!

At the right time, I stood up in the sanctuary, which had more people than I had seen all summer. And remember, I had just recently come from a small parish in South Dakota. I said, "Would all the children please come forward?" About 80 children surged up toward the altar steps. At that time I knew that I would have to change my plans, at least a little. I couldn't send 80 kids back into the congregation to look for a lost sheep. Instead, I chose two. They found her. It worked out. Whew!


Magdalene6127 said...

I agree... there is an energy on Rally day almost unlike any other day in church! Any time you can say your Sunday morning experience gave you a small taste of eschatological hope... well, that is saying something my friend. A foretaste of the heavenly banquet sounds to me about as good as it gets!



Pastor Eric said...

Since we moved Sunday school to Wednesday nights "Rally Day" has lost some of its luster. Instead we have "Rally Wednesday". A picnic outside, games and a chance to meet their teachers.

But for me, September is "Rally month". I see people I haven't seen for quite a while.

RevDrKate said...

Makes we wish we were big enough to rally....we sort of dribble back in September. Don't have enough kids right now for SS, but we remain hopeful, hear we may have TWO coming! It sounds like a great celebration!

Serena said...

I love the images ... eschatological hope and foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

We celebrated Rally Day yesterday too ... with balloons in the sanctuary and a pot luck in Fellowship Hall after.

Energy was, as you say, unlike any other day in the church ... and sermon on "Community" ... why we come to church? because we're seeking spiritual community! ... kicked off what I believe is going to be an awesome year for some 800 folks where I serve!

Serena said...

p.s. LOL at your story about your first Children's Sermon there

Grandmère Mimi said...

It looks and sounds like a wonderful celebration, Diane. All those Lutheran balloons ascending!

Our children's Sunday school used Lutheran materials in the past, but I don't know what the teachers use now.

There is an excitement in the fall, when the congregation returns to its regular numbers, and the empty pews fill up again.

Diane said...

interesting, Grandmere Mimi, that your church would use Lutheran materials. At my internship congregation, I got them to start using Episcopalian SS materials, called "Living the Good News." I thought it was very good and lectionary based. (I do like our stuff too).

FranIAm said...

The Catholic contingent weighs in-- I loved, I adored reading this post. The idea and the imagery and your words. Simply beautiful.

Thanks for this insight. Despite what some foolish men say (ahem- B16) we are all sisters and brothers at the same table. People in my church should read a history book and recall that Martin Luther spent his last days saying mass in German. So many just don't know where and how all the connecting points are.

Then there is the most obvious one-just whose table we are all at... Jesus.

Here's to ecumenical joy! Thanks for inviting me to your table online!


Mrs. M said...

That's fantastic. I'm wild about the balloon idea.

Rowan The Dog said...


"PS" said...

Wonderful idea for the children's time. At my internship church there is a big community wide festival the weekend following Labor Day so their festivities begin this coming Sunday. It works well because school has been in session for almost two weeks and schedules seem less chaotic and people actually enjoy the return of the programming along with the choir.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Diane, I'm talking ten years ago. The teachers said the Episcopal Church programs were boring.

I believe I heard that the TEC materials have improved, and perhaps they do use them now.

Pastor David said...

80 Children! If I saw 80 children in church on Sunday morning, I would leave the service and go back to my office, where I would order my plane ticket to fly to Jerusalem and visit the newly constructed temple! Seriously, we are doing great if we have 10-15 children at two services.

We have a problem with Rally day: This year it was Aug 26 ... then no Sunday School on Labor Day Weekend. We would have it the week after labor day - but then we run into the county fair -- and the fair weekend is our lowest attendance during the year (as bad as the Sunday after Christmas). Oh well.