Some years ago while teaching confirmation class, I asked the students to name parts of the church. Predictably, they said things like altar, pew, cross, and organ. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, I said. After a bit, they caught on and began naming church members, including themselves. People, a community, make a church.
St.Johns church building is a magnificent structure. It hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years. It hasn’t changed at all in the last one hundred. But inside, in the living part, where the people are, it has changed indeed. Like all living things it has been transformed, and it will continue to be transformed.
Bishop Gutierrez would not allow the transformation to end. He insisted that people should be worshipping in that space, and in the last year, a small group began to come together, first monthly, and then weekly to say Noonday Prayers together.
Father Andy Kline would come and stand inside the glorious but empty structure and his part in the transformation began. As the new Vicar, his first act was to call together our bishop and local clergy and friends to hold up a symbol of transformation. Twenty-five people, led by our Bishop Gutierrez, processed, sang, blessed and prayed in every corner of St.John’s building and grounds. Holy transformation.Holy presence.
Can St.John’s be transformed into a vibrant worshipping community? How will the Holy Spirit lead us? Who will the Holy Spirit call? I don’t know, but it is happening around me.Here are two transforming examples, just from the past week.
-The Reverend G. Warren Weleck wrote to tell us that his church, Augustus Lutheran, is making a significant (really, really generous) contribution toward our discretionary fund and to support the lunch program. A group of good folks from Augustus Lutheran has for some time participated in the luncheon program where on many days we have been serving one hundred sixty folks.
-The Bishop has decided that St.John’s will begin regular Sunday worship on September 24th. Father Andy will be prepared to share the Eucharist and a sermon. The candles will be lit and the doors will be open. But who will join us? Who will perform all of those duties that go on every Sunday at every church? Who will greet and usher? Who will lead the prayers and read the scriptures? Who will make the coffee?
For that first day, Fr. Frank Allen has pledged that some good folks from St.David’s in Radnor will see that all of those things are attended to. Furthermore, Fr. Allen says that they will continue to walk alongside us in this way until we can walk alone. Of course, St. David’s cannot do this every Sunday, so who will?
-Rob White, a fine man, churchmen, and a member of St.David’s has felt called to step into the challenging role of reaching out to other parishes join us when they can to participate in the same way. He will take care of all of these details every week until he “works himself out of a job.”
-Fr. Koshy Mathews, the Dean of the Valley Forge Deanery has encouraged every church and every church member to know that “We all have a big stake In the success of this mission.”
This is an awful lot of love and transformation in one week, dontcha think? Can we all consider how we can support St. John’s with our own gifts, for a day, or a season? I know that I am being changed, willingly walking into an unknown personal transformation, being guided and lifted up the Holy Spirit.
How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.
Photo courtesy of Bp.Daniel Gutierrez