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.

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.

A Message from David

Dear Friends in Christ,

At its August meeting, the Vestry met with a member of our parish who is a physician and who has been providing guidance for our parish over the nearly 18 months of the pandemic. At the meeting, he offered an overview of where we have been and where we are now, and vestry and clergy were able to ask questions. It was a very good and, in some ways, very challenging meeting. I came away from that meeting with a sense of an emerging consensus among us about how we view the coming months as we try to regather for the life and ministry of St. Mary’s. I’d like to share that emerging consensus with you.

Our lives this past year have appropriately included an emphasis on caution through guidelines and restrictions for the ways we may or may not gather. On balance, I think that was an approach that our congregation largely appreciated. It fit the time of the acute onset of the pandemic with all the uncertainty and fear that came with that.

And now, I think we have entered into a new time calling for a new mindset and approach. If last year we experienced as an acute onset, now we have entered into a time of a more chronic condition. We are going to have to learn to live with the presence of COVID. And it is appropriate for us to find ways to go ahead and live our lives, and be smart about that. And, we need to be generous hearted for each other. So, we are going to go ahead and make plans to have Sunday School, for example, but in an outdoor setting. We are going to go ahead and carry on with our lives in person at St. Mary’s and make plans for things we love. And we will be smart and creative and loving about how we do those things.

It’s complicated, I know. But we have all been doing complicated for a while now! This parish has shown itself to be resourceful and strong and loving and resilient and faithful. That is who we are. That is who God is calling us to be: to go ahead and live our lives, be smart, and be loving for one another. And above all, have faith in God and God’s faithfulness for us and for this world God loves, that has brought us so far together.

Your brother in Christ,

The Reverend David May
Rector

St. Mary’s Kitchen Bringing Us Together

Weekly Reflection, Friday, September 3

By: Michelle Lewis

September is here and it’s time to get back into a routine. Sorry! We all know your calendars are filling up fast, but make sure you save a spot for Parish Supper!

From when I was born until my middle school years, my family attended River Road Methodist every Sunday at church, Sunday school, choir, youth, you name it. My grandfather was an usher, and my grandmother (Meme) was always in the kitchen and Fellowship Hall delighting people with both her sweet and savory treats on Sundays and whenever else they needed it. If a church event had food, my Meme had her hand in it. I always loved my grandmother’s spirit and generosity toward others, and her love of cooking has stayed with me, and keeps me close to her in my heart.

I guess because of Meme’s example, it just felt right that I would put an apron on and get to chopping when my family started attending St. Mary’s about 12 years ago. I immediately felt at home and enjoyed just getting in there and doing one of my favorite things, which is cooking for people. People talk about their “love language;” well, mine is definitely food (being inappropriately silly at the wrong times is a close second).

Cooking for you is how I show you I care, say thank you, I appreciate you, hope you feel better, thinking of you, Happy Birthday, I miss you, you name it! If something happens in the life of people I care about, I cook about it.

Since I have been involved in the kitchen at St. Mary’s, I have been so fortunate to have met so many people that I most likely would never have met otherwise. I have laughed and learned so much from them over the years and am grateful to St. Mary’s and the kitchen for bringing us together. Through working in the kitchen, my faith and personal relationship with God has grown in such an organic way that I credit to what? Showing up and leaning in (credit to Bob Hetherington)!

Whether Parish Supper is in the Parish Hall, or a drive thru pick up in the parking lot, these meals bring us all closer, and I’m grateful to be a small part of them. So if you never miss them, or you have never gone, make a point to attend or pick up Parish suppers this Fall (depending on what our church can offer). To be sure, just like my Meme’s food, it has been made with love (and gloves…… and masks).

St. Mary’s September Technology Backgrounds!

St. Mary’s continues to present beautiful, free technology backgrounds for your phone, tablet, and/or computer. Each month, you can download the same image from the St. Mary’s Wall Calendar of the corresponding month either with the scripture verse or not. Click the link below to the correct size you need and download the image to your computer or phone for your new background!

Click Links to Download

St. Mary’s Churchyard image with Matthew Scripture

Desktop | iPhone 8 / Google Pixel | iPhone X, 11, 12 | Samsung Galaxy | iPad / Tablet

St. Mary’s Churchyard Image (no scripture)

Desktop | iPhone 8 / Google Pixel | iPhone X, 11, 12 | Samsung Galaxy | iPad / Tablet

 

 

New St. Mary’s image with Psalm Scripture

Desktop | iPhone 8 / Google Pixel | iPhone X, 11, 12 | Samsung Galaxy | iPad / Tablet

New St. Mary’s Image (no scripture)

Desktop | iPhone 8 / Google Pixel | iPhone X, 11, 12 | Samsung Galaxy | iPad / Tablet