“There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit…. The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4 and 12:6.
I am always impressed by the many and varied gifts God has given to members of St. John’s, and by the many creative ways these gifts are used for the benefit of the church and the community. It is truly an illustration of God’s abundant, overflowing generosity.
There are those with the gift of hospitality, whether expressed in events like the Sunday Coffee Hour, Easter Sunday brunch or at the Red Door Café. There are gardeners, those who keep the grounds beautiful and indoor plants flourishing and those who plant and tend vegetables at the Inner City Garden. There are those who volunteer monthly at the Food Pantry, organizing the food and assisting clients, or welcoming women who come for Coffee and Conversation. There are those who welcome visitors and guide them around the building, those practical souls who maintain the building to look its best or decorate it for special occasions. There are those whose gift is to pray for the needs of others, or to teach, or to deal with day-to-day business of the parish and finances. The Altar Guild prepares meticulously for services, washing and ironing linens, cleaning silver and brass, so all is ready in its proper place for the priest, acolytes and chalicers. The organist and choir bless our worship with the gift of music. Eucharistic Visitors keep in touch with those who cannot attend in person.
Gifts, above and beyond those mentioned, all used for the general good and the glory of God.
Photography is my passion. I captured this image at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company Homes. A portion of these homes are abandoned and I had an opportunity this past winter to photograph the discarded spaces.
As I stood in the empty kitchen of a once vibrant home, I stared out of this window. I gazed at the snow on the roof of the abandoned complex across the street. I watched my friends struggling to walk up the icy path following my footsteps to this home. I began to notice how the light coming through the broken pane twisted and bent to reach my cold face and hands. The light rays danced as the wind ever so slightly moved the shattered bits of glass. A delicate dance performed at the perfect moment to an audience of one.
I lifted my camera, click, click, click. My mind and body shifted to the task at hand, capturing the moment, freezing time for an instant. It wasn’t until my drive home that my thoughts returned to the broken window and that beautiful dance of light and motion. Broken but the light still permeated the window pane, the kitchen and my thoughts. I was thinking about the heat from the sun, the motion of the wind and the power of God.
Today, as I once again look at this photograph, I remember that cold winter day. The memories of that moment in the abandoned kitchen flood my thinking and I’m brought to my own brokenness. The ways in which life has cracked and in some cases fractured my tough exterior. I think we are all broken in some way but we are afraid to show those cracks or expose our brokenness. We are conditioned to show the world our perfect self. We really aren’t perfect, are we?
The cracks exist but I think God uses them. God knows that we are not perfect. He sees us as we are. He knows our brokenness. Maybe it is through those cracks in our tough exterior, that hidden brokenness that God brings light. God permeates our souls through the very cracks that we are ashamed to show the world. I wonder if I am ready to show my brokenness? Am I brave enough to allow God in to heal the cracks?
We are St. John’s Episcopal Church. We are a place where everyone is welcome and valued. We are a church that asks questions and seeks to find the answers together. We are a community that reaches out to our neighbor in an effort to be brothers and sisters together. This blog contains the thoughts, hopes, dreams and struggles of members of our parish. Our deepest desire is to grow closer in relationship to God, deeper in our understanding of ourselves, and more relevant in our broken world. Please join us!