I once heard a powerful and popular illustration of what it means to be a part of the Christian community. I don’t know its origins, but I’ve heard it multiple times since then in different contexts: A priest visits the home of a man who has stopped going to church. The man explains to the priest that he doesn’t need the church; he is fine being a Christian on his own. His faith is strong, but the church is filled with lots of people—some whom he really doesn’t like—and taking time out every Sunday morning gets in the way of other things he wants to be doing with his weekend. The priest quietly listens, then walks over to the fireplace where a roaring fire is heating the chilly room. The priest takes the fire tongs and gently lifts a burning coal out of the fire. He places it on the hearth. As both men watch, the red hot coal slowly cools, eventually turning gray. The priest picks the coal back up and places it in the fire where it immediately catches again, glowing red. The priest turns to the man and the man says, “I’ll see you on Sunday.”
From its earliest beginning with Jesus and his disciples, our faith has been based in community. We can survive for a little while on our own, just as that coal continued to burn for a time, but ultimately, if we want to grow in our faith and in our relationship with God, we need community. We need to pray and worship together. We need to have faith-based conversations. We need to study and learn together. We need to support each other through all the ups and downs of life. We need to allow our faith to propel us into the world, impacting how we interact with those around us. We need to be an active part of a faith community; we need to be active at St. Peter’s.
I am so excited by all that we have going on here at St. Peter’s right now. There is an energy that I feel as we move into this fall and into all the opportunities for worship, fellowship, formation, and service that we are offering. I would like to encourage everyone in the congregation to engage in St. Peter’s in a new way this fall. Look through our incredible list of classes, groups, events, and ministry opportunities and find something you haven’t done before. Go, try it out! Meet some new people, engage your faith in a new way, and let your own light burn a little brighter. We are made for community, and our faith is strongest when it is lived out in community. I hope that you will be an active part of our St. Peter’s community this fall.
The Reverend Amanda C. Stephenson, Associate Rector