Prayed for, Supported, and Loved by St. Mary’s

Weekly Reflection, Friday, September 17

By: Jeff Allende

For my entire church life, I recall watching fellow church members receiving support and love in more ways than I could count, not only from clergy, but from kind and thoughtful parishioners as well. I’d never heard of “Pastoral Care,” but witnessed this outreach often – calls being made to check on fellow congregants, casseroles appearing on doorsteps, flowers delivered to those unable to attend services, and the list goes on. It was a wonderful outpouring of care, but I wasn’t anywhere near needing such things nor did I have any idea how these amazing do-gooders knew what to do when. Unfortunately, I was unknowingly about to find my way on the receiving end of this wise and seemingly magical group of souls.

About 7 years ago, I was diagnosed with an aggressive, late-stage cancer and was told by the specialist I was seeing that I had only a few years to live and that I “needed to use this time to get my affairs in order.” Needless to say, this shook me to the core. I remember thinking, “who can help me get through this? My family, of course, but they will need support as well. My friends, but, again, who will support them?” And then it hit me: God and St. Mary’s. I was, like so many before me, enveloped into the fold of the church, prayed for, supported, and loved. Miraculously, with the help of a clinical trial and a long fight, I have been cancer free for five years. One of the best memories I have of those months is when I was offered a private prayer service for Page and me the day before my surgery. I felt truly blessed and was certain that God was with me and would be through my treatment.

A couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity to participate on a pastoral care team. I jumped at the opportunity, signed up for training and couldn’t wait to get started. I am so grateful to be part of a team giving back to our amazing church community, in the form of get well cards, happy birthday wishes, visiting parishioners unable to attend services, or delivering a meal for a family going through tough times. I am forever humbled by the warmth, depth of caring, and love that our St. Mary’s community seamlessly provides, without hesitation or fanfare.

A Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, September 12, 2021

By: David H. May, Rector

 

I am guessing that many of you are familiar with the phrase, ‘come home to Jesus’. I first became acquainted with those words somewhere in my childhood. Somewhere along the way I remember my mother saying to us, her – at the time – four rampaging, belligerent children, “you four need to sit your little selves down right now because we are about to have a ‘come home to Jesus’ talk”. Which sounded serious. So, the four us began to plead our case, of course, about how I didn’t do anything wrong it was someone else, or maybe I did do it but it wasn’t as bad as what someone else had done and besides I was provoked, or ok maybe it was bad and I did do it but everybody does bad things, etc., etc.

I learned that a ‘come home to Jesus’ talk was one where the light was about to get shed on everyone and stuff we would have preferred to keep in the dark was about to come into the light, and nobody’s hands were clean so (as I was once warned) don’t try that ‘Pontius Pilate stuff’ with me.

‘Coming home to Jesus’ means things are about to get real, get serious; because it’s time for truth-telling and fessing up and there’s no sense in blaming someone else when it’s time to ‘come home to Jesus’.

Which is hard. But what else are we to do right now? This phrase came to mind a few days ago when I had a conversation with a beautiful, faithful person who was up-to-here with it all and said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. No place feels like home right now – wherever I turn – including my own family. I don’t want to come home to social media where two days ago, I promise you, someone posted the question: “would Jesus wear a mask?” Which is the kind of thing, to quote the great Anne Lamotte, that is enough to make Jesus drink gin from a cat dish. I don’t want to come home to the endless ranting on television and at school board meetings and in the grocery store where someone has just lost it and is screaming at a cashier who’s just trying to do her job. Where does anyplace feel like home now?

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Give and Receive Christ’s own Holy Communion

Weekly Reflection, Friday, September 10

By: David May

Except for those who were too young or not yet born, most of us have been remembering September 11, 2001. This is the 20th anniversary of that tragic, profoundly traumatizing, world-changing day. A few nights ago, I watched a documentary made by two French brothers who at the time happened to be chronicling the life of a fire station, Ladder 1, in lower Manhattan. The documentary included footage of the second plane striking the second World Trade Tower. As I watched, I realized that I was shaking my head, my eyes were wide, and my mouth was hanging open. It felt like I was seeing it again for the first time. That’s what trauma is like. I thought, ‘What is happening?! What am I seeing?! Is this a bad dream?!’ These were the same thoughts I had as I watched the television in the library at St. Andrew’s School that morning twenty years ago and realized that the librarian who was standing next to me was screaming.

That’s one side of what I remember. But there is another side to that day that for me lies deeper in me.

I have one memory in particular that is just as alive in me and speaks a clearer truth and has laid a holier calling on my life. It was September 12, the next day. I stopped at a market on the way home to get a drink. As I was paying, I realized that the cashier – a man whose name tag read ‘Carl’ – was standing there just look at me silently. He hadn’t moved to pick up the two dollar bills I’d laid on the counter. We just looked at each other for what seemed a long time. Then he asked, finally, “Are you ok?” I said, “I think so.” We just stood there looking at each other. I said, “are you ok?” His lip started trembling and he said, “thank you. I think so.” I said, “God bless you, sir,” and he said, “God bless you, sir.” Sometimes when I think about the words ‘holy communion’, I think of that day and that man and for the holy communion we were given, because I promise you, Jesus was there.

As Christians, we do affirm that ‘the sin of the world’ is a persistent, purposive, destructive reality of our lives ‘this side of Eden’. But we live from the grace of the One who laid down his life for us and for all, for love. Grace abides with love stronger than death. That is God’s calling laid upon us. So we go in peace, day by day, seeking to give and receive Christ’s own holy communion, for his love’s sake.