“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” At the end of each worship service, we are sent into the world with these words, or words like them. We know what the words mean, but how do we, the people of St. Mary’s, actually love and serve the Lord?
When you called me to be your rector, you had fairly recently let go of two longstanding activities – the thrift shop and the antiques show – that had been a huge part of St. Mary’s identity, both to the congregation and in the community. In the welcome coffees and in meetings with many of you, it was clear that there is a hunger to find “our next big thing.” A common goal or purpose, based on a clear understanding of who we are.
St. Mary’s is sometimes known as “the little red church that cares.” Whether you like that tagline or not, it states an understanding of who we are (little red church) and how we are called (to care). I hope we can agree that it needs something more. The church is not the building, as we have so fully discovered lately – it is the people. How do we understand and describe ourselves? And what is it that we care about? And I might add also, how do we show that care?
With all that is going on in the world, it may seem an odd time to dig in to these questions. But it could not be more perfect. Rather than looking to “go back,” let us move forward. I encourage you to be involved in a new effort, called “On Purpose.” It is aimed at understanding and celebrating who we are and what we are about, so that we might be strengthened to joyfully take on what God calls us to do. It will take time and thought and care, and it will require deepening our relationships with God and each other. Which is what God asks of us, in all times.
I am full of holy curiosity about our future together, and I hope you are too. Let’s get to work.