Patti 1:1-2

By Patti Pateros, Director of Community Building

I attended an all-girls high school. Because it was a Catholic school, religion and theology permeated every class and all subjects.  One of my most memorable experiences of those four years was giving the sermon at a weekly chapel service.  Go ahead and laugh – but this is a true story.

I don’t remember if it was a theology or English assignment, but I had done a paper on the Beatitudes.  I rewrote them to reflect life in a modern world, our attitudes towards one another, and our relationship with God, using the same poetic quality of the original Beatitudes, each beginning with “Blessed are. . .”  My teachers were so impressed they asked me to share it with the rest of the school.  I was honored, and to this day, the Beatitudes are my favorite passage of the Bible.

Normally on Sunday mornings I’m so busy preparing for fellowship or adult and high school formation that I’m not able to attend the liturgy. Last Sunday was one of those rare days that I found myself ready to go, so I was able to attend the 8am service.  I was glad I did because Fr. Myers’ sermon gave me a great idea.  Since he doesn’t publish his sermons, I can’t quote him, and I won’t even try to summarize it. But I will tell you what I heard.  He talked about the Bible – that it isn’t just words or a great work of literature.  It’s a living story about people, their lives, and their relationships with one another and with God.  The most important point that I came away with was that the Bible “story” doesn’t end with the last printed page, but continues on even today – it is now our story about our lives and our relationships.  

In 2002, Steve Crawford wrote a beautiful history of the parish in celebration of our Centennial.  Although he did misspell my name (it's Patti with an "i" not a "y"), he got the facts and the figures correct which told of the growth of Holy Comforter from a small mission of 28 families to the strong, thriving parish that it is today. The book also contains some anecdotes that give life to a certain period of time or reflect the personality of a rector.  But what it doesn’t do – and I don't mean this as a criticism – is tell the story of the “living people.”

Our parish is filled with poignant stories and extraordinary characters.  Maybe we haven’t witnessed any miracles - yet, but we have experienced a Christian community in action.  For me, it’s the smallest events that seem to have the greatest impact.  The high school student who randomly showed up at a Sunday WHAM meeting and found that he actually enjoys being there and now keeps coming back.  The 33 parishioners who volunteered their time and talents on a beautiful Saturday to help improve the living conditions of those less fortunate.  The Church School teacher who isn’t a teacher at all, but knows how important it is to be present for the children.  The women’s group that welcomed in an unfriendly guest who ironically gave them a new perspective on the world as they viewed it through her unhappy eyes.  The gentle man who can no longer walk on his own, whose speech is mumbled and hearing is limited, but has kind and loving eyes that well up with tears each time he enters our building.  The owner of the packaging company who refuses to lay off his workers in spite of - or because of -  the terrible economy. The unexpected emotional impact of participating in a Celtic Healing Service. The lone visitor sitting quietly in the church, seeking comfort on a dark and dreary evening.  

These are the stories that need to be told and heard and spread throughout the world.  Sure there are bigger and better churches out there that move mountains and build bridges.  But like the Beatitudes suggest, it’s not the act that brings us closer to God, but the attitude that makes the difference. I truly believe that we have a good and blessed attitude.

Hundred of years from now, someone will decide to add another section to the Bible and publish our stories as, for lack of a better title, “A Newer Testament.”  So as not to be left out of this upcoming best seller, I would like to offer my services as the author of our book of the Bible.  It won’t be an important one, like a Gospel or Exodus.  But like Esther and Ruth who came before me, Patti (or shall we call it Patricia?) will be short and sweet with a really good story. Let me begin it here . . .

1 This happened in the days of the rector named Myers in the small village of Kenilworth.  2 As the spirit of the Holy Comforter surrounded the village, God looked down on this blessed community and smiled, for he saw that it was good.