The Rector's Column October 2016

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

Several years ago, the Parkin family spent a week in Manhattan on vacation in August. Needless to say, New York City truly is one of the most exciting, vibrant, stimulating places in the world, filled with fabulous museums, marvelous skyscrapers, seductive restaurants, and countless notable sites and sights, and we tried to see and experience as many as possible during our visit.

However, we are a clergy family, and this means-as my children will forlornly tell you-that we spend an inordinate amount of time on vacation visiting churches, cathedrals, and other sacred spaces. This particular trip was no different. We stopped in at St. Thomas' Church on 5th Avenue, a glorious, flagship parish in the Episcopal Church, and Trinity Church, Wall Street, where Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton and John James Audubon are buried, among others. While in the neighborhood, we also viewed St. Paul's Chapel, the church that served as the center of spiritual, physical, and emotional care for the workers who labored at Ground Zero following September 11, 2001. We dropped into St. John the Divine, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and Temple Emanu-el on Central Park East, the largest synagogue in the world. Riverside Church, the stunning non-denominational church in Harlem, and St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral were also part of our itinerary.

Famous churches. Landmark buildings. Faith communities with rich, inspiring, varied traditions and histories. As I think back on that trip, I occasionally ask myself, "What do these places got that Holy Comforter don't got?"

The answer is: nothing, really. Our building is not as dramatic, our name not as renowned, our heritage not as storied as these venerable faith communities. And yet, here, as in those more famous churches, the Good News of God is proclaimed and heard and embodied. Here, children are loved and nurtured in a caring context. Here, people are welcomed and encouraged to struggle with the difficult challenges of life in this world. Here, we reach out to those in need or want or pain in the name of the living, loving God. Here, we seek to worship God with vitality and energy and care; to rejoice and weep together; to baptize our younger brothers and sisters into God's family and to commend to God's care those who have finished their earthly pilgrimages; to feast and fast and celebrate and sing and laugh and love in the name of the Risen Christ. Here, in this simple, lovely, beloved old stone building, in this lively, noisy, occasionally chaotic world, we strive to know and acknowledge and revel in God's continuous grace to us. Here, above all, we seek to become more and more what we already are: God's holy people called to incarnate God's love in this time and in this place. And we can rejoice in that heritage and calling, even as we dedicate ourselves to living into it ever more thoughtfully and faithfully.