The Grace Given to Each of Us

 

My job is to make clear to everyone just what the secret plan is, the purpose that’s been hidden from the very beginning of the world in God who created all things. This is it: that God’s wisdom, in all its rich variety, was to be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places – through the church.” The Apostle Paul, Ephesian 3: 9 & 10

 

This weekend is our church’s 150th anniversary of the chapel. The church: St. Mark’s, named after the Evangelist.

St. Mark, the Evangelist

The Anniversary booklet states,

St. Mark’s origins go back to the earliest days of Geneva, around 1830, when Episcopal services were held in a log house belonging to Mrs. Charity Herrirngton, which stood at what is now State Street near River Lane. These were the first religious services held in Geneva [IL].

And this,

Early in 1868 plans were drawn and a contractor selected to erect a church in the Gothic style, built of local riverstone with limestone sills and hood moldings, to seat 250….

There is much more of St. Mark’s history to recount. But here, I’ll share my St. Mark’s experience and the photos I shot today after the 8:00 service.

 

I came to St. Mark’s after moving into the area. At the same time, I was moving away from attending Bible churches. Raised in Evangelical churches and then attending them for years as an adult, I became desirous of a higher church setting, one that honored the beauty of words, of music, of architecture and the sacred. The Bible churches and many others, it seemed to me, were becoming more and more like the surrounding culture in their desire to be relevant.

I like Anglicanism’s emphasis on the Word and Sacrament along with the informing elements of tradition (the practices of the historical church) and reason (involving the intellectual). I like how the liturgy (worship hymns, reading of Scripture, offering, sermon, confession, the Creed, the Peace) points to the apex of the service – the Eucharist. In the churches I attended previously the service is centered around Scripturally illiterate sermons.

The words of The Book of Common Prayer have a stately beauty and sacredness to them. The wording should be so. We are petitioning royalty. Who in turn, points me to the Eucharist — the REAL Presence of Jesus Christ offered to me each week. It is the main reason I attend St. Mark’s.

The church has been a tremendous blessing to me over the almost eleven years I have attended. And, that is why I also must mention the many good people of St. Marks. They have been generous with their grace towards me. What they have received they have passed on to me.

One last word. I have spent many a time alone in St. Mark’s Chapel. This occurs during the Good Friday night vigil. I sign up for an hour alone before the cross, keeping watch. As such, it is a sacred time at 4:00 am. It is my time to come away and meditate on the cross. I come away from the chapel with a gift of grace, given to me “according to the measure the king used when he was distributing gifts. That’s why it says…

When he went up on high

He led bondage itself into bondage

And he gave gifts to people.

(Ephesians 4:7 & 8)

 

St. Marks’ is a gift of grace to me. Rulers and authorities would be wise to take note.

Pentecost mural by Louis Frederick Grell (1919)

Burning Bush

 

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Imagine 150 years of marriages and baptisms and confirmations and funerals and friendships and giving, and the Eucharist, and witness for Christ to the community. Imagine the Kingdom Continuum.