St. Mary’s offers numerous opportunities for adults to learn and grow. Spiritual Formation includes programs that challenge you to think differently, help you to expand your knowledge base, deepen your prayer life, and engage you with the breadth and depth of Anglican history and contemporary expressions of the faith.
Creating a Sacred Space
Your sacred space or altar can be a “pop-up” and doesn’t have to be permanent, especially if you are using furnishings, such as a small table, that serve other household purposes.
Creating a sacred space or altar is quite simple and most likely can be done with objects that you already have on hand. Selecting your space and the items that adorn it is a great family activity.
- Step 1: Location Pick a special area of your home where you can set up your altar or sacred space. This can be a corner of a room. You might use a table or a nightstand as an altar. There is really no one “perfect” place for your sacred space or altar. The point is to find just enough space where you can put your items (see step 2) and be able to sit near them. Ideally, your space is not in a hallway or spot you have to walk through or walk over.
- Step 2: The Elements of the Space
CLOTH: Drape your table or other type of altar with a cloth. Because God is accessible at all times, set the table for God to come and be with you.
CANDLE & WATER: Add a candle to be the light of Christ guiding us and put it in your sacred space. Flameless/Electric candles are fine too. Finally find a bowl or pitcher for water, to remind us of God’s cleansing power.
CROSS or other symbol of Good Friday: If you don’t have a cross, you could always make one out of paper, two sticks tied together with twine, or even popsicle sticks. A nail is an appropriate symbol of Good Friday that can adorn your space as well.
- Step 3: Personalize with other objects Remember not to over decorate or clutter your space or altar. Simplicity is best. There are no “right” or “wrong” items for your altar, so just trust your intuition and allow yourself to be led to the ones that resonate with you the most. Perhaps an icon (or have your family draw them), objects from nature that remind you that God’s creation is all around us or a Bible or Book of Common Prayer are all appropriate additions. Flowers, another reminder of God’s creation and abundance, are also lovely.
- Step 4: Bless your space When you feel that your altar is complete, set aside a few minutes to bless the space. Of course, Bishops are the only ones who can formally bless altars in church, but you certainly can say a prayer over the space you have created.
- Step 5: Incorporate it into your life It’s important to actually use the space. Don’t’ just make it look pretty and admire it as a decoration in your house. We hope this altar will be a reminder for you to stop and pray, not just in holy week but, every day. In the morning say a brief prayer for God to be in your head, heart, and mouth. This is a wonderful way to get your whole family started as we practice social distancing in our daily lives but stay in close contact with God, resting in the warm embrace of love.
Upcoming – Nancy Clark, St. Mary’s Director of Sunday School, will share her experiences as a Heifer International hands-on volunteer in several countries around the world as part of our ongoing Sunday morning Adult Christian Formation programs.
Heifer International, a nonprofit organization, values holistic community development and providing the means for families in need to obtain self-sufficiency and regain a sense of dignity and purpose. Volunteers such as Nancy are an important component to Heifer International achieving their goal of eliminating hunger and poverty. Learn more about being a responsible global citizen, living out our Baptismal vows and how this year’s St. Mary’s Lenten Heifer Project benefits and reaches far beyond our own community.
Upcoming – Shannon Eizenga, Executive Director of The Gubbio Project, will a guest speaker
A San Francisco non-profit, The Gubbio Project’s mission is to be in community with and to provide sanctuary for unhoused people in need of safe, spiritual respite during the day. Each day, Gubbio tends to the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of hundreds of people living on San Francisco’s streets. St. Mary’s is an ongoing partner with The Gubbio Project. During Advent, our congregation donated white socks, blankets and cough drops for Gubbio Project guests.
In addition to a Masters of Divinity degree and fourteen years of nonprofit experience, Shannon brings passion and spirit to her service to those who deserve dignity as valued members of our community
St. Mary’s Stories: Partners – 10:15 to 10:45 in the Great Room – Similar to the Pillars, the Partners are parishioners who have been at St. Mary’s for 5 to 39 years. Our most current speaker was Debbie Veatch, former Senior Warden of the Vestry.
St. Mary’s Stories: Pillars – Bi-monthly Sundays, 10:15-10:45 in the Great Room. – You are cordially invited to our bi-monthly seminar to learn more about some of the people who make our community so strong. In the fall, the Rev. David or the Rev. Marguerite will interview some of the pillars of St. Mary’s.
Rod Dugliss shared his spiritual story starting with Wednesday morning services to Dean of the Episcopal School of Deacons.
David and Betty Hood Gibson let us know the many ways they have shared their talents at St. Mary’s.
Nancy Clark shared her story of how she became the Sunday school Director and her journey to St. Mary’s.
Guy Kornblum shared his history at St. Mary’s dating back to 1962 when he was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco.
Georgene Keeler shared her story of how St. Mary’s helped her through a difficult time and led her participation in the wider church.
Jan Bolles shared her story of how St. Mary’s influenced and continues to influence her life.
Our Summer in the City series was a great success. If you missed the talks, some were recorded and available.
July 21 – Stop the Bleed, by The Rev. Nan Slavin, R.N. –
July 28 – Raising Children in the Christian Faith, Alana Ackerson, D.Min. –
August 4 – Expansive Language and Deepening our Relationship with the Holy, by The Rev. Dr. Paul Fromberg –
August 18 – Open Thou Our Lips: Music in The Episcopal Church, by Music Director Eric Choate –
The Way of Love, Practices for Jesus-Centered Life
An Invitation from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry to Practice the Way of Love
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19
In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.”
Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world?
The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework you now hold – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life – outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.
It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.
Your brother in the Way of Jesus,
The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
What do you Seek?
Early in his ministry, Jesus of Nazareth was surrounded by crowds. He turned and asked, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). For more than a thousand years, monastics have greeted pilgrims knocking on their doors by asking: “What do you seek?”
Today, each of us can pause with the same question. As much as the world has changed, the fundamental human hopes and yearnings that draw us to faith may not be so different. For many …
- We seek love
To know God’s love, to love and be loved by others, and to love ourselves.
- We seek freedom
From the many forces – sin, fear, oppression, and division – that pull us from living as God created us to be: dignified, whole, and free.
- We seek abundant life
Overflowing with joy, peace, generosity, and delight. Where there is enough for all because we all share with abandon. A life of meaning, given back to God and lived for others.
- We seek Jesus
The Way of Jesus is the Way of Love,
and that way has the power to change lives and change the world.
Making All Things New, An Invitation to the Spiritual Life – By Henri Nouwen
Recommended reading – If you would like to read this book, copies may be found on Amazon (CLICK HERE), bookstores, libraries or by electronic means. A few printed copies will be available in the church library.
The Rev. David Erickson