Father Manny: Walking, Praying, Staying On and Off The Trail

This weather of late has been remarkably wonderful…almost “perfect” if you ask me. Not much in our world comes close to being perfect. So when such near-perfect weather presents itself, we are to make full and good use of it.

Hiking boots on, I ventured to a small but rather rugged forest preserve just a stone’s throw from our home. The place is a year-round refuge for outdoor folks; hiking, fishing, camping and cross-country skiing, too. It is a wonderful spot. I decided to take the longer path; lots of hills and some sharp curves were on the agenda but I was not to be deterred.

St. Nicholas Church provides us a safe place to worship, to gather with family and friends around a Common Table, the altar, where we have Jesus presented to us from humble, earthly gifts of bread and wine. Through the sacred words of consecration and God’s divine intervention, Jesus is afforded us and we partake in the banquet. Drama of the highest degree!

The sun was out, God was in God’s heaven and all was well in my little world. I began the power walk right into the woods: the journey commenced. As I walked I prayed; sometime silently and sometimes aloud, as if I were announcing my Creed to the creatures of the forest. I was in a zone. I walked fast and and I walked hard. I stayed focused on the trail but not really paying too much mind to what trail I was actually taking. Eventually, it dawned on me that I was no longer on a “marked trail,” but into the damp, muddy and swampy fields. The cattails were tall…I mean really tall. I kept walking on what appeared to be another hiker’s footprints. I figured they must have gotten out some how as I saw no body laying amidst the tall grasses and other growth. And I kept walking. It wasn’t that I was scared, mind you. I knew I’d get out eventually. After all, I could still hear the truck traffic on the main road. I figured if I could hear the trucks and determine from whence they came, I’d head in that direction and I’d be safe. Well, it’s not that easy when a forest and swamp lands intercept your path. I was sweating and my heart was pounding…okay, maybe I was just a little “concerned.” I left my cell phone in the car…that was smart. So much for emergency use. But, behold, just before me, past a group of evergreen trees I could see the bend of the gravel road that would lead to the parking area. Success. I had survived. Truly, it was not all that dramatic a situation. However for poetic license, I had to make it sound dramatic, right?

When it comes to church, there is a friendly familiarity to what we do. We know of what we commemorate, of what we celebrate. We recall Jesus’ breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine with His disciples. We have heard the Lessons from Sacred Scripture. Some passages are very dear to us and perhaps some passages not so catching or memorable. And yet, we come each week and some thing “new,” some thing “wonderful” happens. We are refreshed. We are rejuvenated. We are made gift of God’s unique and loving grace yet again. This is why our worship is so dramatic…so dynamic…it is never the same…it is ongoing, varying and flowing.

St. Nicholas Church provides us a safe place to worship, to gather with family and friends around a Common Table, the altar, where we have Jesus presented to us from humble, earthly gifts of bread and wine. Through the sacred words of consecration and God’s divine intervention, Jesus is afforded us and we partake in the banquet. Drama of the highest degree!

It is our sacred responsibility to make sure St. Nicholas stands tall and remains just such a safe place for ourselves, our children and the generations that are to follow. Preserving our church today secures a solid and sound tomorrow. Please pray and consider with generosity, kindness and love the current requests of our Stewardship Drive and Capital Campaign. Let’s make sure we keep St. Nicholas on the right path…the path to a long, enduring and successful future.

God bless us, one and all.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

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