God’s Table is Set

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 8, 2018

By: Andrew Moore

For my last two years of seminary, I lived with four other students at the Berkeley Center, home to much of the community life of Berkeley Divinity School. We house residents were responsible for providing hospitality at the Center. We’d make coffee each morning for Morning Prayer. And we’d prepare the Community Dinner for 125 people each Wednesday night.

I love to cook, so this ministry of hospitality was a natural fit for me, but I’d never cooked in such large volumes on a regular basis before. When I first began, the weekly trips to Restaurant Depot and the math involved in multiplying recipes were utterly overwhelming. I’d always found cooking to be relaxing, but it seemed like cooking for a crowd might be more stressful than soothing.

But I quickly discovered that as the five of us gathered in the kitchen each week to chop onions, trim meats, and make sauces, the joy of being together made the task that had seemed overwhelming become downright manageable. Sharing the responsibility of feeding the community, of creating a space of hospitality and welcome where people could come together over a hot, home-cooked meal, quickly became one of the most rewarding experiences of my time in seminary.

God invites us to feast at the heavenly banquet, to come together as the beloved community around a table. In one of the services of Eucharist from the Iona Community in Scotland, all are invited to share communion with the following words:

This is the table of company with Jesus, and all who love him. It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world, with whom Jesus identified himself. It is the table of communion with the earth, in which Christ became incarnate.

Sharing a meal is a sacramental act, it allows us to see God in one another and in the world. The meal may be shared at the altar or around a table at home. Wherever it might be, God is present.

Here at St. Mary’s we have many opportunities to feast with one another. Whether at our monthly Parish Suppers and Breakfasts or through the new Pastoral Care Meal Ministry, we get to share God’s hospitality, to feed and be fed, to break bread and see God.

So come, God’s table is set. Come and feed God’s people and, at the same time, be fed by God.

Gather Around a Table

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 1, 2018

By: Ashley Cameron

How often do you get to sit down at a table surrounded by the people you love? As someone who up until recently lived in an apartment without a dining table, those times were few and far between.

Which honestly was isolating and soul sucking for me. I grew up where family dinner happened at least four to five nights a week. We all gathered around the table to share a meal and share about one another’s day, challenges we were facing, accomplishments we achieved. Sometimes we sat in silence but were still present with one another.

This past Monday was my birthday. In the weeks leading up to it, my friends kept inquiring how I wanted to celebrate. After some thought, I decided that this year I didn’t want a big party but an intimate dinner with my closest friends.

I deeply desired to gather around a table and truly reconnect. Not only did I want to celebrate another year but celebrate our friendship and love for one another. However, the best part of the evening was “phonedora’s box” – a wooden box with a lid that said, “you have to put your device in ‘phonedora’s box’ on your table. C’mon, you know you could use a little digital detox.” They’re right, who doesn’t need a digital detox these days?

The five of us had no choice but to put down our phones – not scroll through Instagram, not answer a quick text, or pull up photos to enhance a story but be fully present in life-giving conversation.

As a birthday gift, my friend gave me The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell. Kristin creates a place in her own front yard – the Turquoise Table – where family, friends, and neighbors can slow down, sit, and develop community. She writes, “people are hungry for connection and a place to belong. And the truth – we were created to be in community by a God who loves us extravagantly… In order for us to even get a glimpse of what that kind of majestic love looks and feels like, we have to experience it through connection with others. So God gave us one another.”

Next time you’re feeling isolated, frazzled, or disconnected, invite one or two or three to gather around a table. Let’s unplug and build our lives around one another by opening up our hearts to connect.

A Letter from the Rev. Andrew Moore and Tracey Ragsdale

Dear friends in Christ,

I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying the many blessings of summer. We have gone through much together so far in 2018. We bid farewell to Weezie and Buck as they moved to Colorado. We shared the stories of what God is up to in our lives during our Lenten Forum series. We had a spectacular time at Date with the Daffodils, honoring Isabel Souder Correll and raising over $75,000 for our mission and outreach. We have celebrated together at weddings and baptisms, and we have wept together as we bid farewell to dear loved ones. And now we eagerly look forward to welcoming our new rector, David May and his wife Emily in July. St. Mary’s is a remarkable community and I can’t wait to see what God will be up to next in this special place.

And so it is with a great deal of joy and sorrow I must share with you that, after much prayerful discernment, I have accepted the call to serve as the next Priest-in-Charge of St. Andrew’s Church in Oregon Hill. This move was not something I anticipated, nor was it something I was looking for. But from the moment I was asked to consider the position and through my conversations with the vestry of St. Andrew’s, I have felt that the Holy Spirit has been very clear that this is the next step in my journey of service to God and the church.

I can’t adequately express how blessed I feel to have been able to serve as your priest and pastor, particularly in this period of transition. Your love and support, your commitment to one another, and your dedication to serving God in the world have made serving in your midst a true privilege. The leadership of the parish, especially Senior Warden Tracey Ragsdale and the vestry, are outstanding. And you have a staff that is unparalleled anywhere in the church. While I am sad to leave, I do so knowing that under David’s leadership, and with the support of Bob and the rest of the staff, you will continue to thrive and grow.

I am committed to supporting David as he begins his work with us. To that end, my last Sunday with you will not be until August 19. We will have plenty of opportunities between now and then to celebrate the time we have had together.

St. Mary’s will forever hold a special place in my heart. My time here, though briefer than any of us anticipated, has been crucial to my growth as a priest and, more importantly, as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I thank you for allowing me to share in your journey for this time and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you next.

Peace & Blessings,

The Reverend Andrew Moore, Associate Rector

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

I received the news of Andrew’s appointment as Rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church with such mixed emotions. I am so thrilled for Andrew and this next phase of his spiritual journey. I can think of no one better suited to lead the St. Andrew’s congregation as it is a perfect match to Andrew’s gifts and passions. I am also pleased that the diocese recognized Andrew’s outstanding work and accomplishments while at St. Mary’s and reached out to him to consider this position.

As a congregation, we will be eternally grateful for Andrew’s commitment to St. Mary’s, especially during this time of transition. He has stepped up and assumed the role of leadership beautifully. He took on additional responsibilities and led the staff in a manner that appeared effortless. He has allowed St. Mary’s to continue to move forward in a time when it would have been so easy to do nothing more than just keep the doors open.

David and Andrew have discussed this move and while David is very happy for him, I know that he is saddened that he will miss the opportunity to work alongside Andrew. Once David arrives, we will begin making plans to search for a new Associate Rector.
Please join me, along with the Vestry, in congratulating Andrew on this wonderful new endeavor.


Tracey Ragsdale, Senior Warden