I’m here before you this morning because I was asked to respond to the question,
“How have you seen or experienced the impact of this Faith Community in your life or in the lives of others?”
The next few moments I’ll share my perspective on this question and hopefully my words will bring glory to God.
In the summer of 2019 we found ourselves looking for a new church, unfortunate in circumstance but fortunate for us. We landed here at Saints James and Andrew. We found a welcoming community that on a whole valued the Gospel in ways that we valued it such as meeting the basic needs of and caring for people, as well as valuing and embracing marginalized people. This was a breath of fresh air as we grappled with our severance from another faith community with different values.
We were able to get quickly involved and feel a part of this community. The kids and I got involved with Second Helpings. Setting aside each Monday night to help and serve. For those that don’t know, it is a ministry that welcomes and generously serves our community here in Greenfield and Franklin county in ways that exemplifies Jesus’ teachings. Or in other words, we feed people.
In the Fall, shortly after we started attending, we participated in the parish retreat which gave us another opportunity to feel the welcoming arms of the Saints James and Andrew community as we got to know other parishioners and share our lives with them.
Then the start of the pandemic.
What we saw was a complete shutdown of what was normal. What would we do? The community of Saints James and Andrew responded by keeping us connected. Remember we met together via Zoom? We had coffee hour via zoom. We were physically apart but still spiritually connected. Technological adjustments were made as things evolved with the pandemic. Eventually we were back in this place together physically but still connected virtually and spiritually via our live stream to those who could not be with us - those feeling apprehensive, medically concerned, geographically apart, or seekers from afar. This community remained welcoming and open to all.
When the death of George Floyd woke many of us up, this community moved to make our stance on racism known and to join in solidarity with those fighting racism and white supremacy, and providing opportunities for people to grow, learn and become better human beings
Also, during the height of the pandemic, and you must forgive me as I bring up the pandemic again, my family and I have spent more time attending this church during a pandemic than not. During that time, this faith community quickly adapted and began meeting the needs of the community in a practical and meaningful way by introducing a second weekly opportunity to get food to folks - our Sunday Sandwiches ministry. Again feeding people, a kind act that meets a basic human need and demonstrates human value.
One last instance that I believe has a powerful impact on our community is during the Annual Pride Parade, when a group of parishioners gathers in front of the church to offer words of love and value, waving signs of support and giving hugs to our LGBTQIA+ family as they proceed down Federal Street. This is a powerful ideological statement, and ranks right up there with Jesus’ love and care towards the oppressor and neglected of society.
So in my short history here at Saints James and Andrew, I’ve felt the impact of this community on mine and my family’s life, and I’ve seen it as this faith community seeks to be caring arms of love reaching out to those around it. Are we perfect, no. But we are ever seeking to be welcoming, loving and caring to our community here in Greenfield and beyond.
The band called Mumford and Sons has a song called “Awake My Soul”. One of the refrains states:
In these bodies we will live,
In these bodies we will die,
Where you invest your love,
You invest your life.
So for me and my family, we give of our time, energy and our monetary blessings.
How will you invest your life?