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What St. Paul's Means to Me
By Vicki Gottlob
I’d have to say that St. Paul’ s is both a comfortable place for me and also a place that regularly makes me quite uncomfortable. This is because our clergy and people try to be what the Church should be, embodying God’s love and furthering God’s kingdom as shown by Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus says “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I find that St. Paul’s gives me rest from the expectations of the world and accepts me as I am. It gives me a sense that I am a loved child of God amidst a whole diverse group of loved children of God. I love to look at you all as we go up for communion and marvel at the unique beauty and gifts of each of you. Our church really is a communion of saints of all kinds.
On the other hand, I keep coming back to St. Paul’s because it makes me uncomfortable. In the Sunday liturgy and preaching, in retreats and small groups, and in opportunities for service, our church also embodies the words of Jesus: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."
Every Sunday when I sit in the pew there’s nowhere to hide and I have to face some inconvenient truths about myself, my neighbor, and the world: that following Jesus means confessing your sins, taking up your cross, and loving your neighbor as yourself. The clergy and people of St. Paul’s have not exactly forced me out of my comfortable self-centeredness, but they have opened my eyes and gently pushed me, like a stubborn sheep, in the direction of following Jesus who tells us that we will find him when we pray together, and above all when we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. So let’s all continue to love each other, to encourage each other, and to push each other gently along the path.