From The Rev. John Shumaker
St. Matthew’s, San Andreas
If you’ve ever planted something from a seed you are well aware of the great variety of seeds that can be found. Some seeds take a while to get going, and others sprout right away. Saint Matthew’s Church in San Andreas seems to be the ‘slow growing’ kind, and stereo-type of an Episcopal Church (especially within our Diocese). We are a more mature congregation with a few young people. It can be discouraging at times working with seeds like that….but also very exciting when new growth sprouts and leaves start popping out (even with flowers). It takes patience and prayer, and I’m sure most of us would like to have everything happen right away if you are like me, but that’s not real life. Our growth, and our emergence is a slow and ever happening process. A slower and steady growth gives a deeper root. The Holy Scriptures mention something about the various seeds that were sown on various kinds of soil. It always takes two to tango, including all of the surrounding elements helping, encouraging, or discouraging the growth.
Saint Matthew’s Church is deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, who is present in our midst in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. All that we are, all that we have, and all that we hope to be stems from that reality in our midst, and of our lives together as The Body of Christ.
When a sprout shoots out of the soil, it looks kind of strange most of the time, and it takes some time to help it grow into what it is to be. Saint Matthew’s is just like that. As Episcopalians we probably have one of everything and every thought you can think of in our Parish Family, and we struggle from our drab emergence as we are drowned in the Waters of Regeneration, born-again, into what we were created to be…..and we continue to grow in God’s light. Of course, the elements around us have an effect on us where we’ve been planted, and we need to grow where we’ve been planted, and it is that firm root in Jesus Christ that keeps us (in all of our differences) growing into what God has created and calls us to be. It is oneness in Jesus Christ and praying together corporately at Mass, and individually in our personal devotions, that binds us together as one, in order to BE the Church. Someone once stated that we are not perfect, but we are called to be faithful. We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church.
In any emergence we have to notice things about us…….not only ‘in-reach’ ministry, but ‘out-reach’ ministry. At Saint Matthew’s we’ve been involved in the use of our Parish Hall almost daily each week with 12-Step Programs. We’re involved in the community Food Bank, as well as our outreach to Haiti with the Sisters of Saint Margaret. Almost every Friday afternoon you can find women from the community playing cards together in the Parish Hall (with a few parishioners), sponsored by the E.C.W. There are parishioners that are involved in local service groups, and of course Mass is sung every Sunday, and a Bible study before that, as well as Mass being celebrated on most Major Holy Days as well as a mid-week Service. That just scratches the surface of what our emergence looks like as a Parish that is active within our Diocese striving to be faithful to Jesus Christ in our personal commitment to Him as our Lord, God and Saviour.