One Sunday morning when I was 24 I decided, after several years of avoiding Church, that I needed to go. I was living in New York City then. I got dressed, stepped out of my apartment and started walking. After a few blocks, I heard church bells ringing and walked in their direction. I found myself at the doorstep of The Church of the Ascension on lower 5th Avenue. The service was lovely and the music was sublime. However, it was in the coffee hour after where everything changed. After speaking briefly to some people who identified me as a newcomer and greeted me, I was overcome. Somehow I knew that in that moment, through these wonderful and kind people, Jesus was greeting me and inviting me on a journey that has defined the shape and scope of my life. I have never been the same since that day.
Fast forward 20 years later, I find myself ordained a deacon and looking forward to my ordination as a priest in January of 2017. As I prepare for this major transition, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on that random day in NYC. Though executed flawlessly, it was not the liturgy and music alone but really the community that saved my life through what they modeled. I think a better way to say it is that I was brought to new life on that day. To me, that is evidence of the Gospel being lived in real life, in real time. The Holy Spirit was alive and active in that place and I believe it is here at St. James’ too. There is a vibrancy to this unique community that is compelling and has the power to transform lives and model something new for the complex world we live in today. I am thrilled to be here sharing this time with you and invite you all to remember that the we are the Church…together. The Holy Spirit is working through us always…even at coffee hour! Never underestimate the power of community and what we can do together with God.