Every so often, one gets a moment of clarity when you are reminded of how blessed your life is. It can be a simple blessing; the sound of a healthy child laughing in delight, the wag of the tail of a dog, or perhaps the smell of a cup of coffee in the morning as you awake and give thanks for the beginning of a new day. At other times, it’s a revelation of something bigger, something amazing, that can make you stop and realize what wonderful gifts God has blessed you with.
This past Sunday, I experienced one of these epiphanies. At the 10:30 service, when I asked the children and youth to join me up front in the worship space for the blessing of the backpacks, I could not imagine the throng of young people that was to come forward. As I turned and watched everyone rise from their pews, I was overcome with pure joy as our young people approached the altar. Later that night, at the first fall gathering of our youth group, I walked in and saw 77 young people gathered. Elizabeth and our faithful volunteers were beginning a new academic year with these students, and the excitement in the room was incredible to see. As I went home that night and said my evening prayers, I gave thanks to our Lord for all the moments of the day. From the smell of my morning coffee to the grand excitement and reverence of the liturgy, to the sight of our youth group, I was reminded how blessed life is at Saint Margaret’s.
Jesus calls us together so that you and I will go into the world, proclaim Him as risen from the dead, and baptize all people while we obey His commands. That’s it. That’s the thing. That’s what you and I are to spend our time and energy trying to faithfully do. It seems so simple, yet if we are being honest with ourselves, how much effort do we really give? I’ve noticed that within our own denomination, we spend so much time, energy, and resources on a variety of issues, but very little effort on proclaiming Christ in our culture. Those individual issues might be all wonderful causes, but they’re not the thing! If the church is not primarily about spreading the good news; if it does not bring new people to the faith, then we have lost our way.
The sun is shining bright, and glory be to God for his wonderful blessings!
This past month was eventful for Saint Margaret’s Children’s Ministry as we held our Stellar Vacation Bible School June 19th-June 22nd!
We kicked off this amazing filled week of fun and fellowship with our “stellar” themed VBS with games, activities, crafts, and music as we explored what it means to shine Jesus’ light in everyday life. Even though the outdoor weather was rainy, you would never have known it because the hallways of Saint Margaret’s were filled with the smiles and laughter of children enjoying all the activities we had to offer.
As we enter the summer months, remember that the church will be open for worship every Sunday. I will continue to pray for you, and I hope that you will pray for me. I cannot wait to see you this Sunday, and I so look forward to being blessed by your prayers and your presence.
One of the many things I am thankful for at our parish are the good people who have come before us, who have sacrificed so much and given us this beautiful setting in order that we might gather and worship the Risen Lord. All of us, and all our shared ministry, is built upon those who have come before us, from apostolic times to now, and I am so grateful for the faithful people who have laid the actual physical foundation and the spiritual bedrock that allows us to witness together in this time and in this place. Saint Margaret’s was founded 40 years ago this month, and from the very first prayers offered that day, Saint Margaret’s has served not only as a physical haven for worship, but as a spiritual sanctuary of prayer, service, and transformation for its people and the wider community around us. Not only can this building not be hidden, but the witness that springs forth from its walls cannot be stopped as we strive together to follow Jesus and help build His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.
God’s beauty is all around us, and if we take time to look, we will see it everywhere. I have always been so grateful for the people of Saint Margaret’s who have come before us, and that through their toil and sacrificial efforts, provided the beautiful worship space that we enjoy today. During my recent walks, I have chosen not to listen to podcasts or news updates, but the beauty of Brahms, Bach, and yes, Mahler. Yesterday, with ever-improving vision, I saw the stunning brilliance of a perfect blue sky, and listened to the sounds of young birds singing as the spring season begins to blossom. There is so much to see and hear, and I am making the intentional effort to take more of my time and focus on experiencing God’s wonders in the world, and to be grateful that He reveals Himself through the beauty that abounds and surrounds us. What an awesome and amazing gift this is!
Lent is a season gifted to us by the Church that allows us to focus on those things that burden our souls and keep us from a full and transformed relationship with Jesus. People think I’m crazy when I say this, but Lent is my favorite season of the Church year. I love the intentional, quiet time that I spend in deep contemplation, naming those struggles in my life that weigh me down and keep me from the new life that our Lord has offered me. Through worship, prayer, self-denial and the contemplation of Holy Scripture, it is a season that allows me to get real with myself and with God about those things I do that I shouldn’t, and about those things I don’t do that I should.
People think I’m crazy when I say this, but Lent is my favorite time of the year. I encourage you over the next few weeks, to make plans for a full Lenten journey. Set aside time for the liturgies and take on meaningful spiritual practices that will bring you closer to our Lord. Please, don’t let the pace of the culture drown out the voice of your Father calling to you. He loves you and wants to be close to you. Now is the time to ready prepare yourself for the season ahead. If you do your prayers, journey through the liturgies, and listen for God every day, I believe Easter will feel different for you, and the Passion of our Lord will be revealed to you in new and powerful ways.
This section of the Gospel of Matthew contains a central teaching of our Lord. We are called to love our neighbor, will the good of the other, and work for that good to become a reality. I highlight this section of the Gospel because I would like to invite everyone to a three-week course that will be offered this January during the Adult Formation hour on Sunday mornings (9:30-10:15) that will help us to live out our Christian love of others. Keith Adams, a parishioner and Co-founder and Executive Director of Common Heart, will present the Bridges out of Poverty Workshop for our parish. A fuller description is contained within this newsletter, and I commend it to you for your reflection and consideration. I believe that Saint Margaret’s is uniquely situated to have a positive impact in our community and can powerfully live out our Gospel calling to love our neighbors, and to use our abundant resources for the good of our wider community.
Eleven disciples. Eleven disciples that changed the world! The Risen Lord rose from the dead, and these eleven, faithful souls went into the world and proclaimed Jesus as King. Jesus said to go, and they went. Jesus told them to baptize everyone, and the revolution grew by billions. Jesus promised that he would be with them always, and He still is!
The call is the same for us. Go, and share the Good News. Baptize all people. Teach others the way of Jesus. Love Jesus, Love your Neighbor, and Bless the World. And always, always, trust that His is with us.
Eleven people helped change the world. Imagine what we can do!
All our time and all our prayers have pointed us to the reality that God is calling us to not just follow Jesus, but to become His disciples. With this hope in mind, and through much discernment and prayer, your vestry and I want our parish to be a mission center where we focus our efforts on building disciples of Jesus in four very intentional ways:
Worship-Every disciple of Jesus should be engaged in the weekly and regular practice of corporate worship.
Pray-Disciples of Jesus have active and deep lives of prayer, both in their homes and in public.
Serve-Jesus commands His disciples to serve the poor, most specifically widows, orphans, and the marginalized.
Evangelize-All baptized persons are called to a life of witness, by word and by deed. At Saint Margaret’s, we are going to endeavor to equip our members with the tools and confidence to do just that.
In a world that is changing so rapidly, the way forward at Saint Margaret’s is to embrace the ancient disciplines of the church that have formed disciples for over two millennia. The world is so different than it was in A.D. 30, yet what has sustained God’s people in their common life has been the proven traditions of worship, prayer, service, and the sharing of the Good News of Jesus. These spiritual practices have had profound effects on billions of people around the globe and have changed not just the lives of those within the Christian community but have transformed the world. If we fully embrace these habits in our lives, it is my expectation that we will see extraordinary things happen at our church.
Our Sunday School classes are off to a great start! This year we are using the Love First book and curriculum to guide our weekly gatherings. All our lessons, activities, discussions, and crafts are based on the three principles of Love God, Love Neighbor, and Love Self. We are exploring the idea that God’s love is present all around us, and we are all loved by Him, and we can take specific actions to show that love to everyone around us. This ties perfectly into our church’s tagline: Love Jesus. Love your neighbor. Bless the World.
Something as simple as noticing others, listening to people, and showing kindness and support are something we can all do, no matter our age. Even the youngest children are equipped to share God’s love with the world. When we love God, love our neighbor, and are kind to ourselves, we can change the world!
Each week dedicated volunteers share a lesson with our students and learn and practice the three principles of Love God, Love Neighbor, and Love Self. We do this through studying Bible stories, listening to children’s books from a variety of authors, and engaging in discussion, games, and crafts. Each month we will have a service project during class to highlight what we’ve learned. This month we will learn about Saint Margaret’s Card Ministry and spread love with encouraging cards.
Having a sense of our own identity helps structure our lives. Recognizing where we put out time and energy and passion tells what we value and what we value, informs our day-to-day decisions and puts us on the path for accomplishing long term, complex goals and the desires of our heart. How we identify ourselves indicates what is most true about ourselves, what we love most, whether we see the world as a fundamentally safe or dangerous place, and how we want the world to engage with us.
One identifier that is often not as easily shared is our relationship with our faith. We can be hesitant to lead with or even list it as part of our being.
EYC will have our Fall 2022 Kick Off on August 28th from 5:00-6:30pm. All 6th-12th graders are invited to our first meeting of the school year. Our 6th graders are invited to a welcome gathering on the 28th at 4:30pm in the Parish Hall (older siblings welcome as well!). We will welcome our group and go over what to expect at EYC for our newest members. Youth will then stay for our EYC kick off following the meeting.
During VBS we learned that Jesus’ power helps us to be bold in loving others, and our students brought in donations of canned goods and money to benefit Common Heart. They also created beautiful suncatchers to help share God’s love with the elderly residents of White Oak Manor of Waxhaw! Look around Waxhaw and you might even spot a friendship rock created by our students…complete with a QR code to our StM website! An event like VBS is only possible with the help of many volunteers! This was truly a team effort, and so many members of our parish worked behind the scenes and during VBS to make the week so memorable and impactful for our children!
The Church recognizes for its clergy that there are also times when it is good for them to take an extended time of rest, to separate from the parish community for a time, and return refreshed and re-energized. Therefore, as I did seven years ago, I will enter a time of sabbatical on July 4th and return to Saint Margaret’s on October 4th.
I wonder how many of us give the same
consideration to the choices we make that
affect our spiritual well-being. Do we
consider the implications of what we
ingest with our eyes, our ears, or our
speech, and recognize the profound affects
that these choices can have on our
spiritual health? Whether it be the news,
political discussions, social media, or the
TV shows that we watch, do we
adequately consider what we are taking
into our body, and the profound affect that
these mediums can have on our spiritual
Join us in the StM Cafe’ every Sunday in April, between the 2 worship services.
All parishioners are invited to the StM Café in the Connector Hallway (just past the
restrooms). Please join us to socialize and reconnect with other parishioners, staff,
vestry and clergy. Plus, you get free coffee & snacks!
The season of Lent is a time offered to us by the Church to intentionally reconnect with Jesus and one another. And so let us do our prayers, spend time in worship, and do those things that help us intertwine our lives with Jesus. And perhaps we might also take some deliberate time and sit down with those who are dear to us, put down the phones, gather over a cup of coffee, and meet face to face.
We are grateful for the amazing support we received for our refugee welcome baskets! In just over 2 weeks, our parishioners donated $3,195 to help us pay for 30 welcome baskets for Afghan refugees moving into our area. And with the $2,000 match that St. Margaret’s contributed, we covered the cost of the supplies with funds to spare. We used the leftover money to provide other needed supplies such asvacuum cleaners, cooking oil, detergent, colored pencils, construction paper and other small toys for the children.
We have all been called, beloved, to seek to please God and follow Him wherever He made lead us, regardless of the
circumstances that we find ourselves in. Where we are, and the world around us, is our mission field. COVID or not, we are called to lives of faithfulness and discipleship. God is calling us to follow His Son, wherever He might lead us. He is asking that we put our faith and trust in Him. God is calling. We will follow?
All this serves as a reminder that no matter the circumstance we find ourselves in, the story of Jesus continues to unfold in our world. No disease, no obstacle, no personal situation can thwart the spreading of the love of God through Jesus Christ that began on that day in Bethlehem. God came to be with us, and He has never left. That is why I am so thankful that this year the church will be open, the community of faith will gather, and we will gaze together upon this wonderful act that God has done.
I believe in the Communion of Saints. I profess so every time I recite the Apostles’ Creed, and so do you. While this creed is not contained within the Sunday liturgy every week, it is a part of Daily Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, and we do pray this creed corporately within our liturgies for Baptism and the Burial Rite.
I was driving along recently, minding my own business, when I noticed two drivers close to me acting a bit perturbed with one another. I don’t know what started this clash, but as we all sat at a red light, the tensions between the two grew greater. Honks turned into yelling, and it was getting quite uncomfortable for those of us in cars witnessing this confrontation.
Let’s be honest, it’s been rough lately for a lot of us. I cannot remember a time in my life when so many difficult circumstances were present in our society. Racial divisions, political turmoil, national unrest, war, poverty, disease.
One of the wonderful reminders that the current pandemic has afforded me is how privileged I am to be allowed to serve as your priest at the Lord’s altar. In our liturgy, and in that sacred space, our Lord becomes truly present to us, and offers Himself to us in order that we might be transformed and receive His grace.
The act of praying should be a daily discipline for all followers of Jesus. Our Lord faithfully set aside time to find a quiet spot and to connect with His Father so that He might discern God’s will, align Himself with that Divine Will, and gain strength from the presence of the Almighty.
In his powerful letter to the Church in Corinth, Saint Paul addresses a community that found itself deeply divided. The fractures within this burgeoning movement of Christ manifested themselves in a myriad of ways: some members believed they possessed greater spiritual gifts, some thought that their relationship with Peter positioned them for a place of greater honor, and still some believed they were closer to Christ Himself.
To be a community of people who follow Jesus is to be a people who gather for Mass. Our corporate worship of the Risen Lord provides us strength, encouragement, instruction, and the very presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, so that we might be nourished by His grace and be strengthened for the ministry entrusted to us.
What would you say if I told you that the early Christians didn’t spend a lot of their time talking about eternal life? Would that surprise you? Now to be clear, the early disciples absolutely knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead and firmly believed that through faith in the Risen Lord they too would have eternal life. They just did not spend much of their time talking about it. No one needed convincing; it was simply what they knew to be true by the teachings of the apostles and the beliefs of the early Christian communities.
When I was very young, I used to be the unofficial tracker of time and distance when my family went on vacation. Now to be clear, no one asked me to do this, but I was always so excited to get to our destination, I took it upon myself to notice every mile marker, every exit sign, and would routinely ask my father and my mother, “How much farther?”
In case you haven’t heard yet, we have an election coming up on November 3rd. This election will decide the ultimate fate of our nation; or so I’ve heard. If you vote for Donald Trump our country will end. If you vote for Joe Biden, civilization will cease to exist. If you just vote for the correct candidate we are told, everything will be fine.
As I trust that most of you have heard by now, and after a long hiatus from worship in our beautiful space, Saint Margaret’s and its people will return this weekend to in-person, inside worship! It has been almost seven months since we gathered inside to worship together, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be with you again inside of our beautiful nave worshipping the Risen Lord. What Good News this truly is!
It is the month of September, and at Saint Margaret’s, we find ourselves saying goodbye to our dear friends and members of the clergy, Fr. Lito+ and Fr. Eric+. While I never expected these departures to occur so close together, they are a result of God’s call for each one of them. For Fr. Lito+, a call to the retired life after 47 years of faithful ministry. For Fr. Eric+, the exciting call to lead a congregation as its next rector.
This past week, a video was posted on YouTube entitled, Dancing Priest does Hamilton. In this three plus minute parody of the musical, an Episcopal priest, donned in full vestments, sings and dances while telling us each that “You’ll be back; back to church, back to passing the peace, back to the Eucharist.”
I know that this sequester has affected me. I trust that these changes will only last for a short time, but it has influenced me, and I do not like what it has done to me. I’m more irritable, less focused, and I’m not sleeping as well as I usually do. I’m tired of ministry via email, text message, and a computer screen. Don’t get me wrong; I am thankful that I have these tools by which I can stay connected to everyone, but I still do not like it.
Coronavirus. George Floyd. Protests, riots, and continued racial divisions in our communities. Heck, I even just learned about the invasion of Murder Hornets! I don’t know about you, but 2020 is not the year I expected, but unfortunately, it is the year that we have. As I am writing this to you on June 2nd, we in this country have had some of the most tumultuous months in our recent history, and my sense is that there is still more to come
I am ready to see all of you. It has been too long since we gathered together, and my heart longs for the moment where we can return to our lovely church and worship together, pray together, and most importantly share together the Sacraments of the Church. These past two months have been an extraordinary time in the life of our parish and in the world.
I thought that I had figured out my spiritual disciplines for Lent this year. The Church calls us to honor the season of Lent by…selfexamination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. So along with deeper study and more prayer, I decided that I would abstain from coffee again this year as my discipline of self-denial.
The season of Lent is almost upon us. February 26th is Ash Wednesday, and it is on this day that the church offers us again the imposition of ashes, in which each of us is reminded of our mortality; of our finiteness. The liturgy for this day calls us to a Holy Lent, specifically by instructing us to mark this season…
It has long been the practice of the Church to remember those saints who have gone before us; those whose lives serve as a testament to the power of living a life following Jesus Christ. Given that every Sunday is dedicated as a feast day of our Lord, we seldom get to honor individual saints or hear of their stories during our weekend liturgies.