A Letter from the Rector - August 22, 2019

    August 08, 2019 by Jesse Lebus

    Greetings St. Luke’s, friends and family!

    It feels like August. It’s humid with periodic thunderstorms. Baseball teams and school kids are getting antsy, anticipating Autumn. Sea Cliff is sleepy and many folks are still on summer hiatus from church. 

    A number of my colleagues are bothered by the fact that people don’t go to church as often in the summer. “It’s not as if God takes the summer off,” is a common clergy lament. Early in my time at St. John’s in Cold Spring Harbor, when I wondered why the numbers dipped in July and August, a parishioner told me that God doesn’t stop working, “he just goes to Maine for the summer.” 

    When I bump into parishioners on the street and they haven’t been to church, whether it’s one Sunday or several, they almost always apologize and let me know why they’ve been absent. I have a regular response. With my tongue only partly in my cheek, I say, “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t come every Sunday if they didn’t pay me.”

    This past Tuesday the church remembered the 12th Century French monk Bernard of Clairvaux. There’s a lot about him that’s interesting and in my searching and studying this week I discovered this quote from his letters:

    Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.”

    It doesn’t completely correlate to going to church, but it does remind us that we can grasp a sense of the divine in all things, not just in the conventional corners of our religious landscape - churches, bibles, and theological tomes. There’s also a subtext to Bernard’s wisdom: get outside and listen to the world! Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Italian monk, is often quoted as saying that “revelation comes in two volumes - the Bible and nature.”

    Of course, I want everyone who reads this letter to come to church every Sunday! But I won’t spend my time and energy trying to convince you that something bad will happen if you don’t. I would rather use my time and energy trying to convince you of the truth: that something great can happen if you do! 

    After I joke with people that I only come to church every Sunday because I’m paid, I remind them we haven’t forgotten them and they will always be welcomed. Not everyone can make it to church every Sunday, I understand. But believe me - no matter what season you are in, be it summer or sport, college or kids, trials or travel - the church is here, St. Luke’s is here for you. 

    As we get ready for a new program year, some of us planning to up our attendance on Sunday mornings this Fall, I invite you to reflect on where you have encountered the divine this summer, what lessons has the Holy Spirit shared with you outside the walls of St. Luke’s and outside the covers of the Bible. Our opportunities to engage the Lord are endless! Reflect and rejoice!

    I look forward to seeing you!

    Fr. Jesse

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