There’s a story that goes around Episcopal Church circles this time of year told by a priest, Janet Vincent, who found herself at Ground Zero after the towers came down. While there, doing her best to pray with the shell shocked and stunned, a firefighter approached her at 1:45 and asked a simple question, “Is there going to be a 2:00 mass today?” She was confused as she didn’t plan on holding mass and had never seen this man before. He asked the question again, “Is there going to be a 2:00 mass today?” Then, she got it. He needed there to be a mass. And, she was stunned. She couldn’t imagine saying mass in the Hell she and the rest were standing in. But, it was needed and so she did – she said mass with about 18 firefighters in a dusty, old respite tent as a sanctuary and a make-shift altar. And in that Hell, the people of God were fed.
In a culture that questions the need for God and the purpose of Church, this story illustrates why we exist. In a world beset by violence, disparity, fear and pain, this story illustrates how important the realm of the Spirit is to healing. In a country that has been shaken to the point that nothing seems as it was and what was once predictable is no longer, this story illustrates the sure foundation of Jesus Christ as a place where everyone is invited to stand for strength.
Unlike past decades, the Church is no longer woven into society as something you participate in out of habit or obligation. Instead, the Church is something you choose to be a part of. Hopefully, that choice is based on the experience that being part of the Church enriches your life and the life of your family, provides you with a sense of belonging, assists you in defining your own moral compass, and gives you comfort in times of distress and need. Hopefully, being part of the Church brings you into a deeper union with Jesus Christ, increasing beauty and wonder and mystery in your life. Whatever the reason for your connection, there is one thing I know for sure. The Church is a critical institution in a world in desperate need for Good News.
In the months to come, the vestry and I will be examining our upcoming expenses and potential income, and will craft a budget for 2018 that will allow us to continue the excellent work of being Christ to one another and to our neighbors. In order to fund our ministries, we will be asking you, the members of this Church, to continue your generosity and contribute a portion of your financial blessings. You will be hearing brief stories from our vestry members about financial giving, and you will be receiving a pledge card in the mail. Please pray deeply about contributing to Saint James’ so that we may adequately continue to meet the needs, and even exceed the needs, of the parish and community.
We live in complicated and stressful times, and we live in beautiful and joyful times. I for one am immensely grateful for sacred places like St. James’. Together, we will continue to be a light in darkened times, living water in a desert, and bread broken for the weary and the hungry.
To read the entire article by the Reverend Janet Vincent, visit episcopalcafe.com and search for “springsteen at ground zero.”