It must be more than 10 years now that I have been attending St. Mark’s. The story of my experience of St. Mark’s starts, both literally and figuratively, at 8 o’clock Sunday Mass. The liturgy of the Mass, the stillness of the chapel and the greetings of friends all reset my week. Further, I feel other connections with St. Mark’s also start with this service.
One of my connections is with the Tuesday Evening Scripture Discussion group. Going back 5 years, and 10 books of Scripture, Rev. Lori Walton helped me start the discussion group. Rev. Lori was fostering small groups to expand the sense of community within St. Mark’s. I was ready to expand my involvement. Wanting to start a small group focused on Scripture came naturally from my experience of our 8 o’clock service.
The structure of the 8 o’clock liturgy focuses my attention to the readings from Scripture. That structure also leaves space for a bit of reflection and pondering. From the readings sometimes it takes only a single verse to set the stage for a meaningful sermon. But our readings during the service are often teasers for me. The readings are maybe 10 verses and there are four distinct readings. I am often fairly sure you need to be ordained or a certified theologian to catch a theme running among the four. Brief as they are, the readings themselves leave room to further find a sense of the themes within a complete book of Scripture. Being in the discussion group has for me opened the opportunity to truly begin reading Scripture for more than the message in a short passage.
In the Discussion group we do read through complete books of Scripture. We do this reading and have our discussions over the course of about six months. Often we will read aloud a complete chapter of Scripture. After several meetings with one book the broader stories and themes begin to emerge. Most often discussions quickly ensue about present day dilemmas of modern life and a search for some insights to apply from our reading. Of course we find no pat answers to any of these dilemmas. What we do find is an ongoing conversation with friends. This is a wonderful personal connection with St. Mark’s.
I do feel strongly connected with St. Mark’s. I feel this in Sunday Mass, in participation in the activities of the church, and, yes, in stewardship. Stewardship is a quite tangible way in which to experience being a part of the church. Stewardship is an affirmative decision. Ultimately, financial stewardship actually does feel like taking care of something with which I am personally connected.