A few days ago, as I was headed out of the office to a meeting, a car appeared. It was two visitors from another parish, curious to see St. Anne’s. As we walked through the church building I saw it as a visitor would see it. Normally, I walk past the detritus of an active, vibrant, and slightly chaotic parish. Things like a toddler’s container of Cheerios, an announcement sheet with extra notes scratched into the margins, pumpkins recently harvested from the garden. I was suddenly aware of all the signs of life I take for granted, the things I walk blindly past.
In the sanctuary the man looked at our simple windows and blurted out that it was one of only two Episcopal churches he had ever seen without stained glass windows. The midmorning sun streamed through those windows, bathing our church in the autumn light. Those windows framed growing trees, aflame with changing leaves. Beneath those trees rested a bench, given in memory of a past parishioner. Along the road, behind the large altar window, buzzed cars and work trucks- evidence of a busy community, hard at work that morning. My heart swelled within my chest. No, we do not have stained glass windows or heavy stone walls that cloister us away from a busy world. We do not exist in the midst of silence. We flourish in the chaos of family, work, and community. Goldfish, Cheerios, juice boxes, and coloring books are the stones upon which we build our church. The varied faces of children, young people, parents, and grandparents are the colorful windows that project Christ’s light and shower us with joy. Laughter, tears, and stories are the mortar that holds our parish together. No, our parish is not on the historical registry; no, our windows were not created at the hands of a Tiffany craftsman. No, our entryway is not paved with ancient stone, but with well-worn carpet littered with coffee drips and juice stains. And folks, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My heart swells with pride and love when I share this place with others. I adore our chaotic and joyful community. I gleefully give all visitors a tour of our home. Because that is exactly what our church is, a home. It is not a mausoleum to a long past glory age; but a teeming house of God, riddled with life.
And it is with that love and that pride that I write to you. Please think and pray about pledging to support our parish. When we take the time to share our time and treasure with our parish family, we move from consumers of a product to stewards of God’s gifts. Your pledge allows us to budget and plan for the coming year; ensuring that we can do the most with what we’ve been given. Do not walk blindly past the beauty of this place; please take the time to acknowledge Christ’s light in this place and within your own heart.