This month, we celebrate the 135th anniversary of the dedication of St. Mary’s by-the-Sea, the first church building constructed in Pacific Grove. The first church building, though, was not the beginning of God’s work in this place. It is important to remember that people lived here for centuries before this church was built. The first people to live here, today known as the Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation, had their own ways to worship the divine, as have people in every generation since, whether indigenous peoples or any of the immigrants who have called this place home. A lot of those ways might seem strange to us, just as our ways might seem strange to them.
It is a reminder that we are all just passing through, one way or another. We bring our own gifts and dreams to this place, in the hopes of bringing God’s reign near in our own time but knowing God’s work will continue long after we are gone. The hallmark of God’s reign is love. The community of St. Mary’s expresses love in a variety of ways. We gather to worship, to learn, and just to be together. We pray for one another, and we offer concrete care – meals, money, presence – to each other. We provide space for others in the community to gather. We reach beyond our walls to help those in need around us, on the peninsula and beyond.
As we read in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”
Friends, the harvest is happening, even as we are still sowing. The Spirit is breathing eternal life into us, encouraging us not to give up, and reminding us that every minute, we have an opportunity to work for the good of all. I am grateful to be part of this loving community, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you on July 10 and beyond.