Dearest St. Mark’s Family,
I hope that this week finds you healthy, happy, and connected to those who show you God’s love. Under usual circumstances, our church community would be leaning into planning a fall “semester” of formation, learning, worship, and gatherings. Still, in these unusual times, we are learning how to take it “one day at a time” and make plans loosely. The end of July usually marks a shift for us around here because we begin to think about back to school events and how to rally together for that first gathering that will bring us “back” from summer. Well, in some ways, we are still doing that; it just looks different than anything we could have imagined!
I believe this to be a good thing.
Now, don’t misread me. I grieve the massive effect this pandemic has had on us as a community, a nation, and a world. I am deeply saddened at the loss of life the virus has caused, and how this virus has highlighted our deep divisions in the country we love. I’ve been emotional and hopeful all at the same time, and like many of us, I want this stuff just to go away.
But the virus isn’t going away this week, and the pandemic is causing us to plan differently, which is what I believe to be a good thing.
Planning differently for me means that I’m not as attached to the outcomes. If this particular time has taught me anything, it is to hold on loosely to the reins of our plans. As soon as I get set in the concrete of my assuredness, something new comes along! Thanks be to God! (?)
There are a few things the St. Mark’s family is paying attention to that I think are exciting for us right now. First, our adult formation group is working so hard to provide some great online options for learning in the fall. Stay tuned for more about that or check out the website for some useful info.
Second, our preschool is making plans that meet the needs of our families in new and exciting ways. We’ve always been on the front edge of learning at St. Mark’s (in my biased opinion), and these two ministries highlight that practice. Fr. Mike is working to develop some new connections with our college students, and Ms. Kris is finding new ways to bring faith formation into our homes. Planning differently for us has been a wildly exciting (albeit challenging) new frontier for the St. Mark’s family in the fields of discipleship and formation!
As we plan differently, we want you to know that our primary goal is to keep the people of St. Mark’s connected as much as humanly possible. From Back Porch Blessings to Zoom Compline, we are continuing to keep St. Mark’s weird (in the best possible sense). It helps me to know that we are working with a connection in mind even when we can’t be together.
Finally, earlier this week, I had a conversation with two beloved friends about updating our website, and an idea came to me that I want to share with you. The differently planned concept centered around the notion that building our connection online (homepages, Facebook, etc…) is really like building a new campus that we inhabit together and bring into our most sacred spaces- our homes.
Ten years ago, we moved from campus to our current location at 3039 RR 12. Since the late 1800s, Episcopalians in San Marcos have found a home at least four places, circumstances have caused us to plan differently before, and they will continue to do so for the life of this church family. For almost 150 years, we have sought connection as the body of Christ, and we have always found new ways to do it together. Since the earliest days, we have been the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement in San Marcos and beyond, and we have faithfully answered God’s call to see Christ and be Christ in our connection to one another and this community.
As we approach the next 150 years, I wonder if our different plans might hold something amazing for us that we couldn’t possibly imagine? Programs change, and churches move, but God remains constant through it all. I’m grateful that through pandemic and plans that go awry, we are brought together in that steadfast Love, Hope, and Peace. Plan well, my friends, and know that God is doing something powerful in our midst, even when our plans get changed.
Oh, and never forget you are loved!