Faith in Action
Author: The Rev. Clelia Garrity, LCSW St. Simon’s on the Sound Episcopal Church
“A Heart filled with love is like a phoenix that no cage can imprison.” --Rumi
Wednesday of Easter Week was a day on which I found myself in what we have come to know as a liminal space – a transitional space in which we are on the verge of something. A space in which we leave behind the old and cross into the unknown, the next. Liminal space – a bridge from one place to another. Another space, a different space; a space that allows for growth, for creativity, for a renewed connection to God.
Wednesday of Easter week it dawned on me that the past was indeed past, and the future was, as always, unknown. But the present, the present – the here and now – was a sacred time given to us by God. A time in the continuum of our lives that mandates growth through creatively adapting to this liminal time. A time filled with opportunity. Opportunity to continue God’s mission for the world – good news spread through word and deed. Good news of love and compassion and caring for each other and for our church.
A time upon which the future will be built.
I could not get to my computer fast enough. “What have I been thinking – I need to get to work,” said I to myself. As the deacon at St. Simon’s on the Sound, I decided that a first step was to convene (via Zoom) our Faith in Action Workgroup. I was quite sure that if we ever needed faith in action, it was now. I chastised myself, “Why had this not dawned on me earlier?”
I sent out a meeting announcement for the following week and prayed that all 12 members would attend. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would be very present with us as well. We needed help in hearing God’s call for us in the here and now.
At the outset of the meeting I suggested that in the weeks since social isolation had been in place, the church building had been essentially abandoned. Doors locked, gardens overgrown, red doors faded and dirty, parking lot empty, etc. What message did this send to the community?
The workgroup’s passionate response to this suggestion surprised me. “We need to send a message that the church is here for the community,” said one member. Another member said, “I have realized during this time that we – we – are the church. We need to take care of our building. We need to let the community know that we are alive and well.” And so, it went for well over an hour. WOW.
At the close of the meeting six major initiatives had been identified with a plan on how to implement each beginning right that very afternoon. Among the plans – paint all five doors of the church (all the same red, thank the Lord); weed the flower beds; refresh all plantings; decorate the outdoor cross for Pentecost; place 10 sheep on the bishop’s lawn with a sign that said, “We love you Bishop Russell;” form small groups within similar zip codes to call and check on each other; and finally to distribute slips of paper in Pentecost colors on which people can write a prayer, mail them back to the church, and assemble a paper chain of prayers for St. Simon’s and the church to be displayed on Pentecost (via the FB live service). These activities can all be accomplished with social distancing in place.
On Saturday, May 2, all the doors were painted, and the gardens cleared of weeds. That evening one of the participants sent me the following, “Coming together in unity although working apart and out of sight from each other gave me a spirit of oneness with not only the few present but the whole St. Simon’s community, and by extension all of God’s world. We are in it together and we will come out of it together too…reminds me of the Cursillo opening, “We are one in the Spirit…and they’ll know us by our love.” Carolina Greene-Murphy
Faith in Action is alive and well in the present, just as it has been in the past, and will be in the future. As always, we just need to stay tuned to the time we are acting in. With God’s help, we will.
The Rev. Clelia P. Garrity, LCSW St. Simon’s on the Sound Episcopal Church