Christ is in our midst!
We have come to our fourteenth year together. My family and I arrived in July of 1993. It has been a wonderful and eventful time together. The parish has grown and prospered. We have watched both our sons grow and mature and, as of September, our youngest will join his brother at UMASS Amherst. In one way, our "nest" will be empty. In another, we know it never will be. The community has become our family.
I remember Fr. Michael Keiser's comment when he visited not too many years ago. "I sense in this parish a true family." A college visitor at Holy Pascha this year had much the same to say: "I don't know if Orthodoxy is true, but if so I would attend this parish because it isn't a business, it is a family."
In so many ways we are blessed. The presence of genuine warmth and compassion at St. Mary's is palpable. That is why so many people are drawn here. It is in large part why Carol and I cannot imagine leaving. There are no "greener pastures" anywhere.
Of course, the pasture is green wherever we are. Everything depends on attitude. And yet, somehow the soil has become very rich here. I am sure it is because of the work of all the people and clergy who have come before us and who are here now and, more than anything, the presence of the Lord who is loved and honored here in "songs, hymns and spiritual songs."
Over the years the heart of this parish has opened and expanded. The doors were flung open long ago in invitation to all who might want to come in to visit or stay. Self-interest has died. The grasping for power so often at the heart of churches simply doesn't exist here. There is no need for it. That is the key. If we attend to what is most important, then everything else will come.
Let's give thanks to God for all things and embrace one another with love and compassion. Let's continue to move forward and ask our Lord to guide us one step at a time.Fr. Antony Hughes