The Church as my Foundation

Stewardship Reflection, Friday, November 6

By: Jill Aveson

Growing up, church was always a big part of my life. My parents took my sister, brother and I to church every Sunday – we were acolytes, we sang in the choir, and we rarely missed a coffee hour. I’d love to say that the moving lessons and sermons drew me to church and inspired me along the way, but truth be told, I suspect it was the jelly doughnuts and coffee afterwards. As I grew older, church always held a special comfort for me. Bobby and I were married here, my kids were baptized and confirmed here and although I know that God is always with me, the beauty of the church setting seems to enhance that connection. For me it is a place of peace and love; a chance to be renewed and restored and reflect on the many blessings of life.

When my sister and I were younger, we had a choir director who was very strict about annunciating the “tion” in the hymn in “The Church’s One Foundation,” and while I know it was probably a bit of a sin to make fun of him, what he didn’t realize was that our poking fun led us to sing that hymn into our hairbrushes in front of our shared bedroom mirror at the top of our lungs. Years later, that small thing provided a constant connection. Every time we would sing that hymn here at St. Mary’s, I would immediately call my sister, who lived in Baltimore, and sing a few lines. Years ago, my sister left this life far sooner than she should have and although she had long since stopped attending regular church services, she was welcomed into our church family and is laid to rest under a beautiful heart-shaped stone in our churchyard.

During this difficult year, it is easy to be frustrated. The pandemic and social unrest create noise that most of us would like to quiet. But leaning in to each other in the name of God’s love helps us to see the best lessons of our time. By connecting with others, whether it’s over Zoom, in the church parking lot, or a simple phone call, we can learn from each other. Jesse McCoy’s reflection a few months ago reminded me that there is an upside to staying close to home during the pandemic, and Wayne Dementi filled us with optimism that good times are ahead as he reminded us that the “roaring 20’s” followed the 1918 Pandemic. Other reflections from our church family have provided me with hope, optimism, and a renewed call to support the mission of our church.

As I reflect on the words in that hymn that my sister and I sang at the top of our lungs long ago, the last lines of the third stanza confirm for me a true sense of hope:

Yet saints their watch are keeping;
Their cry goes up: “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.