Always with Us

Weekly Reflection, Friday, April 16

By: Eleanor Wellford, Associate Rector

Was Jesus an Introvert?

Of course we can only speculate about that. On one hand, maybe he was an introvert because he liked to go away and be by himself to pray or meditate or simply recharge. Right after his baptism, he spent 40 days in the wilderness by himself and then spent time alone before calling his disciples. Jesus was alone when he grieved the death of John the Baptist and after the Feeding of the 5000. And on the night he was arrested, Jesus distanced himself from his disciples and prayed alone on the Mount of Olives.

On the other hand, maybe Jesus was an extrovert. After all, he selected 12 disciples to follow him – not just one or two; and they often traveled within even larger groups of followers. Jesus attended social events such as the wedding in Cana and various dinner parties. He often dropped in on friends such as Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and encouraged children and those who were sick, disenfranchised or needed healing to come to him during his travels.

I think it’s a mistake to limit Jesus to any character trait. What may be more revealing about him and what may be a way for us to connect with him, would be how he was feeling when he was either alone or in crowds. Did he feel supported in his ministry? For example, how must he have felt when he returned to his hometown of Nazareth to preach and was rejected by family and friends there? And how must he have felt when those closest to him misunderstood so much of what he said and did? And then near the end of his life, there was the outright betrayal by Judas and denial by Peter. Jesus’s loneliness must have turned into feelings of abandonment in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.

Yet never was Jesus truly alone. He may have felt that way just as we can feel that way when we’re suffering or in pain. His Father, however, was always with the Son even in his darkest hour. And his Father is always with us. That’s the gospel truth and one of the many blessings of Easter.

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20

A Different Way to Offer God our Praise

Weekly Reflection, Friday, April 9

By: David May, Rector

I want to tell you a resurrection story. It’s a story about how something immoveable and impassable – like the great stone sealing Jesus’ tomb – and something that we couldn’t possibly move ourselves, was moved anyway. And how the emptiness of our church buildings – like Jesus’ empty tomb – only meant we would find him alive out in the world.

Over this past year plus some, we have not been in Little St. Mary’s and New St. Mary’s together to sing God’s praises and to give God ‘the proper service of our lives’. That way has been closed. Blocked off. Impassible and immoveable. But, following an Outreach Committee meeting this past February, I realized something: another way to offer God our praises had been opened. I realized – with the weight of God’s holy love – that we had continued to give God praise in a different way, with a different voice. I realized that we had been doing it all year in so many ways through our ministries of Outreach.

Looking back, whenever word got out to the people of St. Mary’s Church that we were gathering food or clothing or money or items to furnish the sober-living apartment we pledged to help create for CARITAS, or an emergency appeal to please help feed our friends in Ecuador for this coming month, or we needed gift cards to give for our friends at Peter Paul Development Center, or when our Finance Committee with passion and heart and determination said we must fully support the work of our Outreach partners, or an out-of-work chef needed our kitchen to help prepare food to feed doctors and nurses in the early days of the pandemic, or when a teenager and a 10-year old asked for help to feed the hungry, you said, ‘Yes!’ and, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow!’ sounded from our congregation. And I will never forget, not in this world or through God’s mercy the next, that when CARITAS asked last March when we were all so afraid, ‘can our women come and stay with you; we will understand if you say no’, that we said, ‘yes!’ as a confession of our faith in Jesus, as mighty as if we were all together in church saying as one body, ‘We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.’

This resurrection story is one that reveals that God has given us a different way to offer God our praise and thanksgiving. This is a resurrection story that has shown us – please God, we never forget!’ – that outreach is not a ‘program’ of the church, but a confession of our faith and at the heart of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ, and our ‘proper service to God’. Alleluia!

The One for whom the Lamb of God laid down His Life for…

Holy Week Reflection, Good Friday, April 2

By: Rainey Trice, a seventh grader at St. Catherine’s

During this past year, I have witnessed hurt in our community, and our nation. We need to start recognizing our own pain during these times, and we need to take time to reflect on everything that’s happened to us and to others. All too often, I see judgement being passed, or hate from one to another, over issues such as race, culture, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs. Sometimes I’ll even find myself getting caught in judgement over something as small as someone not agreeing with me, rather than just listening and trying to understand where they’re coming from—putting myself in their shoes. I try to remind myself that God wants us to love and not hate, he wants us to find joy and not anger or judgement on somebody else’s heart.

At one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights speeches, he said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” His profound message has such an impact on everything going on in our world today. We need to remind ourselves to respect the dignity of every human being, instead of trying to be right all the time. This reminds me of Reverend May’s sermon for Good Friday in 2019. He talked about how if we could take away everything we see ourselves as—straight or gay, American or Asian, white or black, conservative or liberal—if we could take that all away, what we’d find is “that you are the one for whom the Lamb of God, Jesus, laid down his life, for love. For love.” If we could do that, maybe we wouldn’t be so divided.

Offering Patience, Giving Space for Perspective, and Praying

Lenten Reflection, Friday, March 26

By: Macon Moring

It is very common to hear people asking when life will get back to normal. Some people think that we may never get back to normal: that we will have to create a “new normal” for the greater good of society. This year, I will look at the new normal with hope: the hope of a new creation. 2020 offered us the opportunity to think about others rather than ourselves in completely new ways. When rebuilding our fallen world, putting others before ourselves is the perfect example of what 2020 taught us. The arrival of a new year provides a perfect opportunity to rebuild our world after a difficult year.

When I think of points of focus to reshape our world, I think of patience, perspective, and prayer. Nearly one year later, COVID-19 is still with us, and patience should dictate what we say and do until we find a solution to the virus. Next, perspective helps us put ourselves into the positions of others and realize what they are going through. It is possible that the virus has not affected us on a personal level, but letting ourselves think about those who have been affected personally helps us put others before ourselves. Lastly, thinking of others and retaining the virtue of patience is what our Christian community is built upon. If we use the concept of prayer to help us perform these first two actions, getting through these turbulent times will go by more quickly than we think.

Today, I will try to offer patience, give space for perspective, and pray.

The Community includes Each and Every One

Lenten Reflection, Friday, March 19

By: Jane Fawley

A community is a group united by similar location, interests and ideas, or experiences. We at St Mary’s identify ourselves as a “Community of Faith”. From this group of similar-minded beings we [receive-enjoy] the affirmation of our faith with and often through other members. We were created to be social beings; that is, we thrive in the company of others. Yes, John Donne, “…No man is an island…”

That big empty building on River Road is just an empty shelter unless it is filled with people. Our Community of Faith gathers here to practice our Faith. Our interaction makes it a church. From these participants we give and receive, i.e., share…

The warmth of fellowship
The joy of music
The inspiration of preaching
The comfort of prayer
And support during loss.

A constant, fluid giving and receiving, make us a church. Together. We participate in the gathering of the community, and each is needed to make the whole.

The community includes each and every one. And what a joy it is to be together!!!!

What a gift is Community!

And HE will be in the midst of them.

What will it be like when we can come back together at church?