Repetition is the only form of permanence that Nature can achieve.

George Santayana (according to the internet)

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It’s time for the annual report.

Our little congregation belongs to a national denominational organization, which keeps records and compiles statistics and asks us to contribute to those. The denomination also requires us to be established as a corporation under the laws of our state. But even if the denomination didn’t require that, the practicalities of accomplishing things like having property and a payroll in the contemporary US would call for it.

One of the consequences of all of that is that we need to create an annual report. Every year.

We know this, but it always comes as a little bit of a shock anyway. [“Didn’t we just do that? Oh, right – last year.”]

It’s more chore than blessing when it’s being put together, I think most of us would agree, even though it isn’t exactly difficult. The committee moderators write up a summary of what’s been going on during the last year, along with a list of who’s been at the committee meetings. The clerk tallies up what’s happened to the membership: who’s died or moved away or just moved on for whatever reason, who’s moved back or in or for whatever reason decided to become one of this particular “us.” We track down a copy of the budget the Session actually approved [“Wasn’t that the one in the email?” “Yes, do you still HAVE that email?”]. The Pastor writes a letter introducing the whole thing. Our versatile office administrator pastes everything together with a flourish of aesthetic unity, aided by imposing Times New Roman on all the copy.

So while the contents vary from year to year, the format of the report stays the same. [A real case of “we’ve always done it this way.”] This gives all the annual reports a familiar, even superficially interchangeable, quality.

They aren’t interchangeable, though. This year, the contents of the report will attest that it’s been an unusual and challenging year in every area, and that we have all been stretching to find new ways to do old things, and do new things that make sense, and love one another and our neighbors and God in and through it all.

Whether we have been successful in that, God alone really knows.

But we will have another annual report to show that we’re still working on it.

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Image: “Indeksering,” Audun Gjerdi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, x3 on pink