A Sermon for All Saints’ Sunday

By: David H. May, Rector

At Shrine Mont (our diocesan retreat center) in the summertime on the very last day of each session of camps for our kids and young people a special thing happens. On that last day, the kids gather at the Shrine of the Transfiguration an outdoor church of stone and trees and open sky. All the campers and their counselors gather for a closing ceremony where they share singing and laughing and shouting and praying together. And they share something else too. Everyone gathers in a really big circle and connecting that big circle of kids and counselors running all the way around that circle of people is a thin little cord of braided colorful threads. One of the counselors explains that this bright, colorful circle of woven threads shows them that they are all connected to each other as members of the Body of Christ. They are connected just like a toe is to a foot or hair is to your scalp. And then that long braided cord of threads is divided up in to five or six inch pieces which are then tied around the wrist of each camper and each counselor. It’s a friendship bracelet that each person wears home. It’s there, right on their wrist, to remind them when they get back to the real world of how they are still a member of a holy fellowship of love and belonging in the Body of Christ.

I was there one year for this closing service and after it was over, parents gathered up their kids and we all began to troop to our cars for the journey home. Just before we got into our car, I remember seeing two girls saying goodbye to each other. And oh were they ever feeling this goodbye. There were just crying and crying at their parting. They kept falling into each others arms and then stepping back to look at each other one more time, drinking in the sight of each other one last time.

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Preserving the Magic

Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, November 3, 2019

By: Andy and Katie Howlett

We drive 20 minutes and pass four Episcopal churches to come to St. Mary’s on Sundays. When it comes up in conversation, neighbors often give us quizzical looks and comment that it seems like an awful lot of trouble. And with young kids, some Sundays it is. But there’s something about St. Mary’s, an almost magnetic pull that draws us each week. And over the years the list of reasons we keep coming back has grown. But if we’re being honest, it’s her good looks that attracted us at first.

We’d spent years “trying out” churches. The people were nice enough, the sermons were good, the cookies and lemonade standard, but the spaces were often uninspiring. So, when Anne and Jessie McCoy invited us to check out their church, we were expecting much of the same. We both remember the first time we crossed Tuckahoe Creek and felt ourselves let out a collective breath. Any craziness of the week, or the morning, seemed to dissipate. And then, when we pulled into the parking lot for the first time, there was a strong visceral reaction to the campus. The grounds, the architecture, the little parking sign that says, “Thou Shall Not Park Here”, the quintessential Colonial blue trim, the antique rugs, the needlepoint and stunning floral arrangements from the Altar Guild. It’s really what drew us back each week. We wanted to spend time in these spaces, to come to this beautiful place for a few hours each week and we believe these elements led to a deeper, spiritual experience.

Then we came to know the people and the staff and found that the outward beauty of the church was matched only by its inner beauty. We found ourselves wanting to volunteer our time and limited talents to be a part of the magic of this place. And for a long time that was enough. But as we all know, a church like St. Mary’s doesn’t run on time and talent alone. So, we started talking about prioritizing our giving and how St. Mary’s needed to be at the top of that list. That’s not an easy task for a young-ish family. Our purse strings seem to be pulled in so many directions: school fees, family trips, travel sports and activities, camps, birthdays and other non-profit organizations of importance. But as part of the next generation of this church, we feel it’s crucial to preserve the magic.

For us, this year’s Stewardship Campaign theme is so fitting: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. And what a treasure we have in St. Mary’s: the grounds, the buildings, the people, the programs. So, our challenge to you is to consider what you can do, from a financial standpoint, to help keep this place so special. Then we encourage you to try and do a little more. Whether you have 5 minutes or 20 on the way to church on Sundays, take that time to reflect on this treasure and what you can contribute in the coming year.

Adult Forum with Annie Campbell, part II

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Adult Forum with Annie Campbell, part 2

 

Annie is one of the founding members of Richmond Hill, a professional storyteller, retreat leader, and recently retired from 40 years of teaching. We are excited that she came to share with us about the role of spiritual formation in the lives of both children and adults. This is part two from Sunday, October 27, 2019.