The Rector’s March Letter

Dear Friends in Christ,            This month marks my completing thirty years of service as rector of St. Mary’s. I am grateful to God and to all of you for the privilege of being part of this community of faith. I distinctly remember Admiral Bill Kuntz, who had been the Senior Warden during the search process, approvingly nodding his head when I said that I would certainly stay at least five years. Once again God’s sense of time and ours can and usually does differ widely.     I remember after those first five years were completed, knowledgeable persons outside the parish disapprovingly nodding their heads when I shared that we continued to use only Rite I in the form closest to the 1928 Prayer Book. I am grateful that God gave me the pastoral wisdom to be patient and understanding as St. Mary’s slowly embraced the 1979 Prayer Book.     My point in looking back is to make clear that parishes are living communities of faith. We have received from those who have gone before us, and it is our responsibility to hand on “the faith of the saints once delivered.” St. Mary’s had been a large, thriving influential parish in the Diocese of Virginia in the 1940’s and 50’s. We then faithfully carried on through twenty-five years of difficult times. What we are now will not be what we shall become. That reality will be determined by our response to God’s faithfulness. To put it in somewhat more colloquial terms, my Seminary professor, Charlie Price, encouraged all those to be ordained to remember, “The parish was there before you arrived, and God willing, it will still be there when you leave.” All of us one day will leave one way or another.     God’s love is eternal. That eternal love of God has decisively broken into our temporal existence through the law and the prophets, and perfectly in the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth. His death and resurrection confirm everything that we need to know in order not only to make sense of this transitory life but also to fill it with joy. I don’t know whether St. Mary’s is headed for smooth sailing or not, although given the state of the world, I suspect it may be a little choppy. What I do know is that as the Body of Christ, the Church has only one Head, Jesus Christ, not the clergy, not the Vestry and so forth and so on. We, all of us, are followers, disciples who are not perfect, but neither were the first ones named Peter and Paul, Mary and Joseph, Lydia and Chloe; yet the Church continues through good times and bad witnessing to a loving reality beyond our ability to fully understand or fully realize.     I pray that going forward we will continue to take God very, very seriously; ourselves not so much. It has worked well these last thirty years. May God bless us and keep us going forward. We have no reason to doubt God’s faithfulness.     May the Peace of the Lord always be with you.     Faithfully,  Andrew+