What about St. Theodore’s inspires me? Everything!
From the first time when Orville and I walked through the doors and worshiped in the, then much smaller nave which is now Pengally Hall, to this very day this is a very special place, a very special group of people and it just keeps getting better and better. The love and caring for each other which extends to others in our communities is tremendous and it has certainly grown on and in me to the point that when I am away and worship anyplace else it is missed. You are all special in my heart and in God’s love. For me, there is no place like St. Theodore’s!
We share in a beautiful and meaningful liturgy every Sunday which is important to me. When we were seeking a new church home we found this to be a wonderful blend of his Lutheran and my Roman Catholic background which led us to staying. I remember asking at one other church why they only had Communion once a month. I was appalled to be told that they didn’t want people to take it for granted. Take it for granted? Throughout my years of attending a Catholic School and Business College, especially during the high school years I attended Mass every school day and Sunday and I never once took it for granted, nor do I today.
In addition to the Mass we have other worship opportunities available. For me having the Stations of the Cross here and being able to walk and pray them any time is a great source of immersing myself in Jesus’ Passion and letting Him guide me through difficulties in my life.
While still working changes were leading to a lot of stress and dissatisfaction. Frequently I would come here during my lunch hour to pray the stations. One day, when I was extremely frustrated and upset the booklet which I was using at that time led to a moment of awakening. As I read and prayed, it spoke of Jesus not having wanted to follow His path but it was as if He was saying to me “If I could do my Father’s will so can you accept the need to accept your superior’s right to ask things of you.” I left that day, still not agreeing with my bosses choices but better able to live with them. This carried me through the last few years of employment until I retired.
What I am saying is that St. Theodore’s is a haven where I can feel closer to God and to better center my focus on Him in my life and to grow in relationship with Him.
In the early 90’s I was encouraged by Fr. Sisk to become more active in serving God and fellow parishioners. I had to take a giant step out of my long-held ‘Comfort Zone’, with a capital “C” and a capital “Z” and this has continued to increase. I first became a Lector, then a Chalice Bearer. As my time to retire neared I attended a Wednesday morning service and I asked God to show me what he wanted me to do with my increased available time and all I can say is “Be careful what you ask for because, boy oh boy, did He answer and continues to do so”. I have found myself doing and feeling more comfortable with things which I never would have imagined myself doing. No regrets!
Being able to attend Morning Prayer during the week enriches my spiritual life and what a great way to start a day, nourishing my love of Jesus before beginning my everyday tasks. Becoming one of the leaders was another step out of my former comfort zone.
I have been honored to be involved in several other ministries such as Daughters of the King of which I was the leader for two years. I’ve never looked upon myself as a leader, always a follower and supporter. That came about as I prayed for our group and over and over felt like I was being prodded to take a giant step out of that snug comfort zone once again. It felt like volunteering to jump off of a tall cliff! Working and growing through the Community of Hope, serving as a Eucharistic Visitor and, the longest one, serving as Clerk of the Vestry for over 21 years have all meant doing God’s will, using the talents which He gave me, some of which I kept buried for many years, and letting Him lead me.
We have so many great Outreach opportunities that there is something for everyone, some once a year, others ongoing. One of my particular favorites is to sponsor a child at Christmas. My kids and grandkids, are all adults now so I can still enjoy shopping for a youngster which is fun!
With my immediate family all living a few hundred miles to the north, all of you have become my near and dear family, knowing that there is much caring and love and, if needed, I can always find one or more to call on for assistance. Thankfully I am still able to do most things myself and having, over the years, been a ‘do it myself’ kind of person, I bit by bit, am learning to accept help when needed.
Lastly, but definitely not least, are the beautiful stained glass windows. Especially when the sun shines through them I find them so uplifting. Once in a while on a partially cloudy Sunday morning the sun will suddenly pop through and it hits me like God is reaching out specifically to me. It brings a smile to my face and I suddenly feel closer than ever to Him.
Perhaps not everyone has had the opportunity of being able to come into the Nave before the lights have not been turned on and experiencing the fullness of their glory. There are times when I come and sit in the darkened church just to savor the quietness and to feel His presence in a special way. Try it some time. Looking at the windows I have long felt that the curving colors on either side of the cross send out a special message. At least they do for me.
In a moment I am going to have the ushers turn out the lights for a little bit. Now, please close your eyes and wait until I tell you to open them. When you open them look at the cross and the windows and sit quietly; wait to see what comes into your mind. I am not going to ask you what your thoughts were but afterwards I will share what I have experienced since they were installed.
After the windows were installed I found the curved colored arching on either side and framing the cross shouting out “See, He is not here, He is Risen”. Since that time I have often felt that they represent the arms of God providing comfort as He cradles me, lifts me up and holds me close to Him. From the green of the earth through the blue sky, the reds and oranges of a beautiful sunset and the dazzling yellow of sunshine (God’s light) the cross is surrounded.
The message which I come away with is “We are a group of people brought together through our love of Jesus with the desire to let this lead us to follow in His footsteps in giving of ourselves and our resources.”
He will not be outdone in generosity – try it and see what happens!