EP: Psalms 67, 96; Isaiah 52:7-10; Acts 1:1-8
Many, many, many moons ago, before I joined The Episcopal Church, and during a period of "un-churchedness", while I was living in NYC, a friend of mine invited me to attend church with him. He told me he had found this great church not far from where I was living and that I should come with him some Sunday. I knew where this church was as I had walked by it on a daily basis on the way to the subway, but had never paid much attention to it.
After a number of invitations by Frank, I finally said yes, okay, I'll go. We arrived on this particular Sunday, and discovered that it was "the feast day" for that particular parish and that they were going to have a luncheon after the service to celebrate. I had not been in a church for quite a while, and knew nothing about The Episcopals. Yet, when the entrance bell sounded, and the organ started, and the choir began leading the entrance hymn, and the thurifer began swinging the thurible filling that space with smoke and smells making the morning light coming in through the windows defuse in interesting and different ways, I felt something twist within me, like that swirling smoke. I knew there was something there for me; I knew, without really knowing until years later, that I was home. That something that was missing in my life need no longer be missing.
The name of the church was St. Luke in the Fields and today is somewhat of an anniversary for me as we celebrate Luke's feast day. Holy Women, Holy Men tells us today that Luke's "Gospel is not a full biography (of Jesus) - none of the Gospels are - but a history of salvation." I was given the gift of salvation all those many years ago on that beautiful Sunday morning. A morning that I remember as if it was yesterday. For me it was a very slow change, a creeping under the skin of this mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, altering my perceptions and understandings of the world and God's workings within it.
I think many of us can look back and see a moment when something changed within us, something started us on a different path in our journeys. Mine was a seemingly small thing that took many years to mature and radically shift my life. But today is an anniversary of sorts for me, and a glorious one at that. I have a tremendous amount to be grateful for today, not the least of which is finding a place and a group of people that helped nurture a small (and what I thought of at the time as a lost) seed of faith into something far stronger and larger. Happy St. Luke's Day.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.