You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.
Having grown up far from any ocean, I was determined to learn to sail when we moved to Rhode Island now over 20 years ago. I started out sharing a Cape Dory Typhoon, a 19-foot day sailor then, about five years ago, graduated to a slightly larger design of the same model.
Hardly intrepid mariners, we’re mostly content to cruise Greenwich Bay a few hours every week, weather permitting. Heading out we have views of Goddard Park and Sandy Point off our starboard side and Buttonwoods and eventually Warwick Neck to port. Once we get a glimpse of Warwick Neck Light we tack through the warm southwesterly breezes that are typical in Rhode Island during the summer months. As we head back to port, the steeple of St. Luke’s slowly rises into view until it dominates the western horizon as we approach the shoreline. The steeple stands strong and tall on the hill, just like the rock and fortress described in today’s psalm.
During this current period health crisis and political strife, the psalmist’s imagery of rock and refuge and fortress moved me deeply. It stirred memories of other times we’ve sought refuge by the rock on the hill on Peirce Street, home to our faith community. Indeed, seeking shelter from the storm is what brought my family through St. Luke’s doors to worship for the first time on the Sunday following the 9/11 attacks. Reeling from both personal and national loss, Jennifer and I, like many of you, came to pray that day and seek prayerful assurance that, together, we all would get through those dark days.
And here we stand again, in the midst of another national crisis, this time a surging pandemic that continues to inflict enormous pain and loss. And how do we respond? We gather together –- for now virtually but soon enough in person, to learn, to pray, to sing, and to remain steadfast, knowing that doing the good work of the Gospel will bring us closer to each other and to ease the suffering of our neighbors.
Last year with Father Tim on sabbatical, it was my privilege as senior warden to preside at our annual meeting. You’ll recall it was a day of great joy and celebration as we set a course to expand the reach and impact of our feeding ministries through the generosity of our fellow parishioners. Rest assured we will gather again next month (though probably in front of computer screens) for St. Luke’s 186th annual meeting. There, even in the face of unprecedented suffering and hardship, we will celebrate the resilience of our faith community, the wisdom of our lay and clergy leaders and the undaunted generosity of our parishioners. And through this celebration, we will recommit ourselves to proclaim the good news of Jesus by offering comfort and refuge on this rock on a hill.
We are so pleased you have joined us online at St. Luke’s.
And, we invite you to make a Special Christmas Gift Offering to help us
continue our outreach efforts, especially during the pandemic.