Whether you spent the summer in town or at the shore; whether you’re joining us in person or virtually this Sunday—whatever the details of your day-to-day, welcome back to another ministry year at St. Peter’s.
It is especially exciting to welcome all of you back because I too am returning to St. Peter’s after maternity leave. On June 2, 2021, Phoebe Ruth Hedgis-Kligerman entered the world and changed my and Roger’s lives forever. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all of you for the love and support you have shown to our family, especially during my leave. It’s been an intimate few months solely focused on getting to know and adjust our lives to this amazing little human. A time many families refer to as living in “the bubble”. I will forever treasure our bubble time.
And yet I thought about all of you while I was away. I thought about the self-appointed (and self-named) St. Peter’s “granny squad” who will dote on Phoebe. And about how she will actually be able to sing in key (unlike her mother!) through the Chorister Academy. I gave thanks for the Family Worship community, families who will welcome Phoebe (and Roger and me) into this new role of what it means to see God through your child’s eyes. I imagined Phoebe’s baptism and the vows we will make as a faith community to stay a part of her life as she learns how to both receive and show Christ’s love. I was—I am—so excited for Phoebe’s life to become a part of the life of the St. Peter’s community. As a working mom whose busiest day of the week happens during the weekend, Sunday mornings are a time that Phoebe could mark by my absence, but instead I know she will enjoy them as one marked by your presence. I thought about the gift of belonging to a community—to this community.
During my last week of maternity leave, Roger’s maternal grandmother, Sue, died. The start of my leave centered on the beginning of Phoebe’s life and the final days were spent grieving the end of Sue’s. There was mourning and sadness. There was also celebration and gratitude. Above all, there was that consistently powerful presence of community. During the shiva, Sue’s rabbi shared this reading:
When we worship in public, we know our life is part of a larger life, a wave of an ocean of being—the first-hand experience of the larger life which is God…It is only a true and close community that develops associations, traditions and memories that go to make up its soul. To mingle one’s personality with that soul becomes a natural longing. In such a community one experiences that mystic divine grace which, like radiant sunshine, illumines our lives when joyous and, like balm, heals them when wounded or stricken. Then all questions about saying this or that become trivial, for the real purpose is attained in having each one feel with the Psalmist: “One thing I ask of God that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life, to behold the graciousness of God.”
Light and balm. Joy and pain. All held in the power of coming together as a community of people trying to seek God and love our neighbor. I wholeheartedly believe that God is at work in the world all around us. I also believe that, when we follow God’s Spirit, there are some pretty amazing and life-changing things happening specifically and uniquely through the Church.
I share these themes from my summer experience as an invitation to consider the hopes, longings, and anticipations in your own life right now. As we enter this new ministry year, may you have an openness to how St. Peter’s might be a part of them. I hope you will spend some time with this month’s Spire to learn more about what that looks like this fall.