It has been an amazing two weeks of pastoral care work. Part of this has been due to the marriage equality legislation, and part of this has been due to visits with our homebound parishioners. My days have alternated between the two, with one day bringing communion to a member of St. Mark's, and the next day going to the capitol to support the marriage equality efforts. Then the cycle would repeat. Many at the capitol have been extremely happy to welcome clergy who support marriage equality. We have worked especially hard to be a peaceful presence, and even when the opposition tried to shut down one of our press conferences with bullying, we simply responded by singing "Amazing Grace." Such singing was a beautiful alternative to the shouting and intimidation tactics used by the other side.
During this time we also had our All Souls Requiem, and we had our monthly parish requiem. These requiems always give us a time to pause and remember those who have gone before us in the faith, and many times we find ourselves comforting those who still live as pilgrims here on earth. We have also been reminded of the realities of living in the Pacific due to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Special intentions were offered for those who died at our requiem this past Saturday, as well as the masses this weekend. There is further information in this email below for how you might help out financially through Episcopal Relief and Development. Needless to say, the need is truly great.
Amidst all of this is our stewardship pledge campaign - many pledges have increased, but also there are those who have decreased. The decreases are not because people are upset with St. Mark's. They are decreases due to fixed living costs, and in almost every case, there has been the pastoral work of comforting those who wish they could give more to their church and diocese. I always try to remind people that if they are trying their best, God is most certainly pleased.
And then there are those who are single, and even though they are happy for others, all of the marriage equality talk only reinforces the fact that they desperately want to be in a relationship, but they have not found the right match yet. They try to take comfort that some day they will have the chance to get married, but the reality is that they yearn to be loved now. All of the marriage talk just seems to make the proverbial clock tick louder.
There are so many ways we might minister to one another. Opportunities abound everywhere you look. The key is to be willing to see the need, and then to take a little time to give one's attention to others. When we read the Gospels, we discover that Jesus mastered the art of being attentive to the needs that were around him. He consistently ministered to all sorts of people in all sorts of conditions. Sometimes he made grand gestures, and other times he comforted in small and simple ways. No matter what the situation, he was fully present to those around him. May we strive to do the same.
Father Paul Lillie+