A Message from Our Recently Retired Rector, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Lee Jose

Beloved St. Thomas’,

It has been a month-plus a few days since we last shared Holy Communion on June 26th, our glorious leave taking Sunday. And we will not get to share a common table this week either, although I will have all of you close in my heart as my retirement officially begins with the stroke of midnight tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the fact that the word tomorrow is not found in our Book of Common Prayer. ‘Yesterday’ occurs twice; ‘today’ 15 times; there’s no ‘tomorrow’. And in our lives, as well, tomorrow competes for our attention with yesterday and today. Yet so much of who we are depends on how our tomorrow fits with today.

I wouldn’t be writing to you this day if it weren’t for a lot of yesterdays that got us here, a history as priest and community who explored together some of the little and big mysteries that come to light as we worshipped in common prayer. The past will determine who we have been, and are, and may still be to one another—priest and congregation, our common faith seeking richer understanding of the difference we made, together.

I’m wagering, however, that the most important thing we share is not our past, but what is yet to come— our tomorrows, which will intertwine in ways that only God can today imagine. Tomorrow is the winnowing fork of yesterday and today; it tosses them up in the air, and only what matters falls out to remain, all else blowing away with the wind. Past tradition and present experience matter only if they pass the test of tomorrow.

Tomorrow nurtured by Common Prayer and participation in Holy Communion is a miracle waiting to happen. It’s neither a repetition of the past, nor an escape from the responsibilities of today, but an open door, a blank-page, calling us to knock and live, serve and commit, all that we are and all that we have.

Tomorrow emerges from yesterday’s worship as the place where all we’ve done and dreamed together, thought together, spoken about together, means something beyond our imagining at the time. We feed and drink at Christ’s table where the gifts of God for the people of God refresh us, empower us, to love and serve God in one another in a world of need.

And that’s where I am confident we will meet again, where what is significant in God’s sight about your tomorrow bumps into what is significant in Gods’ sight about mine. And, by the grace of God, we may for a moment recall all the days we’ve spent in conversation — in person, by email, and telephone, and letter — about the words with which we worship and serve God. And they will have a significance that only tomorrow knows today. As always, thank you St. Thomas’ Parish.

God’s love and mine,
Nancy Lee+

Message from President Obama on the fatal shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota

Posted on President Obama’s Facebook page on July 7, 2016:
“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who’ve suffered such a painful loss.

“Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.

“But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.

“To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.

“That’s why, two years ago, I set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that convened police officers, community leaders, and activists. Together, they came up with detailed recommendations on how to improve community policing. So even as officials continue to look into this week’s tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That’s how we’ll keep our communities safe. And that’s how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.

“In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling — feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils. Michelle and I share those feelings. Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let’s reflect on what we can do better. Let’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.”

Last Sunday, more than 200 of us gathered to honor, celebrate with, and bid farewell to our rector, Nancy Lee Jose. We were welcomed by Nancy Lee’s young nephews who served as ushers, along with glorious music from a brass quintet, a beautiful baritone and a string bass solo, an abundance of incense, proud yellow sunflowers at the altar, and beloved faces from present and past.

byeNancy01Nancy Lee spoke to the urgency of our mission and stated:

It has been my deepest honor, privilege, challenge and inspiration to serve these past 12 years as the rector of a parish that has chosen to allow the future to have as large a claim on us as the past, a congregation that is confident that at the end of the road lies the freedom for each of us to fully become the creatures who God so joyfully made us to be.

I leave secure that the journey we set out on together will lead where God needs and wants you to be for the next generation and beyond. I am confident that St. Thomas’ parish is based on a love so broad and so deep and so high that male and female, Greek and Jew, straight and gay, brown and white and black and poor and rich, and even Democrat and Republican will one day fade away as we become one and all neighbors in the kingdom of God.

byeNancy02The sacredness of such a way of loving is that it draws us into the mystery of an even deeper love than we have imagined possible. I know because I have been drawn into that mystery with you. The good news of the Gospel is that you have known enough of Christ’s love that you are able to love and to be love for the next person and the next person needing a gospel love like that.

My own prayer for you is that no matter the cost, you will continue to strive to be love for one another, for God’s creation and for God, each and every Sunday that we gather here and love at St. Thomas’, each time we gather as love and to celebrate the love given to us in the Eucharist, we leave here able to go forward to be that Eucharist for the world.

A recording of Nancy Lee’s sermon is here:

You Can Make a Difference

According to their website, “Christ House opened in December 1985 as the first 24-hour residential medical facility for homeless men and women in the United States. Today, Christ House is still the only facility of its kind in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area where over 6,000 people experience homelessness every day. To the best of our knowledge, there are only 13 stand-alone residential medical facilities for the homeless like Christ House in all of the U.S. and Canada. ”

Each month a group of volunteers organized by Laura Sinram and Greg Mackmin prepare a meal for approximately 60 Christ House Residents.  As you can imagine, this goes much more smoothly the more volunteers who can participate.  Recently a number of people who’ve faithfully participated in the Christ House Mission project of St. Thomas’ Parish have moved or for other reasons had to drop off the list of regular volunteers — the pool of workers has gone from about a dozen a few months ago to just two this month, Greg and K.C.  If you are interested in joining this team and supporting this ministry, please let Greg Macmin (gmackmin@gmail.com) or Laura Sinram  (lsinram@comcast.net) know as soon as possible.  This is a fantastic service opportunity — please take advantage of this chance to make a difference in DC.

Easter Sunday at St. Thomas’

A full house this morning for a joyous Easter celebration and festive service of Holy Eucharist!

Double Baptism on All Saints Day

A fun and festive All Saints Day service at St. Thomas’ Parish – Dupont Circle included the two baptisms shown in this clip

Help Feed the Hungry

One of the ways our parish cares for the community outside our walls is by donating food and funds to help feed the hungry. In addition to donating the dry and canned goods collected in the basket on the stairs to Martha’s Table, we also take up a monthly collection of cash and checks, typically on the third Sunday of every month. This Sunday, February 16, please consider placing an offering in one of the designated envelopes placed on each seat in the sanctuary. If you would prefer to make a contribution online, simply go to the contributions page of our new parish website to make a one-time gift and select the category, “Help Feed the Hungry.”