Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Recently St. Martin's has felt the sting of COVID in ways that are both painful and sad. With active cases in nursing homes where we have parishioners, we have families living with very real anxiety. We also have had parishioners who have tested positive (thankfully they are doing well), but because of those positive tests, they have had to live with real health concerns while also navigating a culture of unfair judgment and community shame.

Also, with half a year of "lockdown" under our belts, we have now experienced firsthand the various forms of restrictions placed on worship beyond Sunday services . Families have had to make some really hard decisions. Decisions that truly hurt. Hosting a funeral with only 20 to 25 in attendance is not how any of us want to be remembered. Holding a wedding where only 15 to 20 people can come is not how many people envision their "big" day, and services of baptism with only parents and Godparents present, grandparents watching via ZOOM, is clearly not the communal celebration that our theology of baptism warrants. These things, however, are a part of our current reality. It is hard for everyone involved.
Weddings used to be small affairs -- in fact until the 1980s and the invention of modern weddings with Princess Diana's wedding televised out for the world to see -- most Episcopal weddings were done in chapels and/or in partially filled church sanctuaries. The large wedding was the exception, not the rule. Perhaps the current time is calling us back to that? Perhaps we are called back to something small in other places as well. Our culture has thrived on a "bigger is better" culture for too long. But Jesus never did this! Sure, he preached to the tens of thousands, but he also reminded us that where two or more are gathered in His name, he will be there. In God's eyes, the size of gathering was never as important as the gathering's intention. Instead of longing for the crowds of yesterday, perhaps one of our current spiritual practices could be embracing the intimacy of the smaller groups of today.

In Christ,
Sharing the garden's bounty
Debbie Billings and Emily Jones recently harvested vegetables from the garden to deliver to the Ramirez family -- a mom, dad and two daughters under the age of 10. This family has significant health issues and little transportation, but upon receiving the fresh vegetables, the mother immediately expressed a desire to share the gifts with a neighbor. Debbie and Emily thank you for the love and care our garden is able to provide for those in need.
The St. Martin's Reads group is hosting its July gathering online via Zoom today (July 14) at 6:30 p.m. They are discussing "A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII" by Sonia Purnell.

To receive your Zoom inviation, either refer to the email Carol McGinnis Kay sent earlier this week, or email Carol.
While scrolling Instagram, be sure to follow @smifsc for the Three-Word Gospel on Tuesdays, a brief summary of the upcoming Gospel, and ComplinefromHome postings, short evening prayers or thoughts, Monday through Friday. This week's Compline images are provided by Robin Smith.
Should you be in need of pastoral care , please use the dedicated extension, (Ext. 201) when you call the parish office, 803.787.0392.
Thank you in advance for keeping your pledge current during this time of uncertainty. You may pay your pledge in these ways:

  • Use this link to keep your pledge up-to-date by going online. You will need your bank routing number, which is the first set of numbers printed on the bottom of your checks, on the left side. You will also need your account number, which is the next set of numbers beside the routing number at the bottom of your check. This online link is safe and secure. 
  • You may also mail your checks to the Parish Office at 5220 Clemson Ave., Columbia, SC 29206.
5220 Clemson Avenue
Columbia, SC 29206
803.787.0392 | www.stmartinsinthefields.com