Dear Friends in Christ,
During one of our first clergy meetings with Mother Jenny, she asked us, “Why Grace? What brought you here?” You know me well enough by now to know that I started, “Three things!” Three vehicles of Grace: Father Bob Malm, La Gracia, and the liturgy.
When my family first came to Alexandria, I worked as a youth minister at Christ Church in Old Town, and my wife, Julie, and our son, Tyson, became parishioners at Grace. Early on, Father Bob became a loving support for our family. He taught me a great deal about hope-filled faith, wizened pragmatism, and a commitment to discipleship.
Bob also invited me to help with La Gracia whenever possible. The community drew me in. Like Rumi, La Gracia invited me to “sell [my] cleverness and buy bewilderment.” Cleverness is mere opinion. Bewilderment is intuition. The community of La Gracia challenged me to give up my lofty ideas of ministry and to give in to our common desire for connection. And then, they taught me about the sacrifice and hard work necessary to make these connections happen. I pawned my cleverness and I put a down payment on connection.
God used my desire for connection to teach me anew how to worship in the beauty of holiness. There is no risk, in our nave, of forgetting that what happens here is sacred. Even before going to seminary, I knew I wanted to return to Grace one day to celebrate God’s love and to make a commitment to bewilderment, connection, and discipleship.
In this great stone church, dedicated to God’s Grace, we gather to consecrate our most humble gifts and we pray that they become Jesus’ body and blood. In the midst of so much beauty, we are moved most by a bit of bread and a cup of wine. The gifts of God for the people of God. Holy things for holy people. Bewildered disciples longing for connection.
Why Grace? Because in the economy of God’s grace everything can lead us deeper into the heart of God. This community has done this for me. And God help me to get here to join in the song and the dance of Grace (it’s like dancing the Cupid Shuffle at Shrine Mont).
I am at Grace because I’d rather not make music alone. I like to sing along. I like to dance with others. I am here because we are bound up together in this sacred dance. I need a community that reminds me to sell my indifference and buy connection. Sell my opinions and buy bewilderment. Sell my three-point method and buy encounter.
Why Grace? Because in this sacred place, among these holy people, there is no risk of forgetting that all good things flow from God.
In God’s Grace,
Father Santi +