Dear Friends in Christ,
As I sat down to write this note, I read of the passing of the great American writer and
theologian Frederick Buechner. His writings meant to me more than I can say. He
taught me two crucial lessons about how we experience and respond to God’s love.
Let me briefly share with you how I see these lessons unfold here at Grace.
In his book, Alphabet of Grace, Buechner says that the best way for us to share God’s
love is through ordinary means: bread and wine, hugs and spoken blessings, flowers
and food pantries, coffee hour treats and bowls of chili.
As your priest, I love seeing how God uses physical touch, ordinary things, and spoken
blessings to transform lives. I am honored to lay hands on people when they seek a
prayer of healing and encouragement. I love standing before the altar and reaching out
to touch the bread and the cup, speaking the blessing, and laying hands on them
begging the Spirit of the Living God to transform these ordinary things into holy things
for the people of God. I cherish pronouncing absolution over a penitent believer seeking
God’s grace in the sacrament of reconciliation.
For me, it is an incredible privilege to see how God uses ordinary things in miraculous
ways. It is also humbling to know that God calls us all to participate in this work. Part of
what it means to accept this invitation, is to believe in the possibility that God can use
ordinary means for the slow and difficult work of healing the world.
This brings me to the lesson on vocation that I learned from Buechner. In his book,
Wishful Thinking, he wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep
gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
This is true for our community of faith. God calls us to the place where our joy meets the
In my first two months as your Associate Rector, I have learned that our deep gladness
is to love people well: in fellowship, service, and worship. We love creating deep and
meaningful connections. We love meeting the world with compassion and joy. We enjoy
witnessing God’s love through ordinary means.
Now, the world has many needs, but here’s one I see everywhere. As members of the
human family, we all hunger to be seen and known and loved. And more than anything
else, we fear that we’ll never be seen and known and loved as we truly and fully are.
The events of the last few years have made us all lonelier. Three out of five Americans
feel lonely. Survey after survey tells us that our children and youth hunger for belonging,
our young adults struggle with the stress and anxiety that result from loneliness, and our
seniors feel disconnected from the people who genuinely care for them.
I believe that our vocation at Grace is visibly demonstrating God’s love to all people
through ordinary means. This requires us to seize every beautiful opportunity to receive
people as they are. To stand in solidarity with the lost and lonely. To be present to them
without judging them or trying to fix them. To be in awe of the mystery of each person.
To remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (as Pope Francis loves to say).
To fulfill our vocation, we have two choices: we can tell someone about how God loves
them. Or we can love them the way God loves them. I believe the latter is always the
better option to witness to others the eternal love from which we were all made.
Let us lean into this vocation with curiosity and courage. Let’s continue to throw open
the doors and to rush into chapels and coffee shops to lay hands and give hugs (with
consent), to speak blessings and prayers of healing, to be sacraments of the present
moment, of tenderness and loving-kindness. Let us use ordinary things to love God and
her people: with bread and wine, food and flowers, blessings and brownies.