A reflection from Sally Fleming, long-time parishioner, and Loaves and Fishes and Sunrise Cafe volunteer
Dear People of St Paul St James,
Prior to our weekly discussions about faith, I had often thought about my faith and what it is and how I demonstrate it. I am not a proselytizer, and don’t easily use faith talk. However I have long known that what I believe is summarized by Jesus’’ words in the Gospel of Matthew:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me…..Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.
At a point of transition in my life, I needed to find a church that devoted its resources to the community –that looked beyond its walls. The first time I visited then St. Paul’s, the priest’s sermon railed against the war in Viet Nam. I soon learned that this was a church that stretched beyond the walls into the community and the world. So it is here that I have worshipped and worked since the last 40 years.
For those of you who are newer --and we are so glad you are here!, Loaves and Fishes began in the early 80s when Hanne Howard, our beloved elder, took $10.00 of her own money and bought canned food to give to those hungry people who knocked on our door. Her small beginning became a bona fide mission of the church and more recently its own 501C3, and now fills up to 1000 bags of food a week for those who come to our doors and for those in our community.
It has been a perfect place for me to demonstrate my faith. I am a Martha, the one in the kitchen preparing a meal for Jesus, not Mary, who sat at his feet listening. For all these years, I have helped prepare for Saturdays, leading and helping the busy Saturday welcoming of those who need clothes and food. Since Covid, I have mostly been in the Clothes Closet, finding trousers and coats for those who come to our door. It often takes patience and forces me to remember that those who come are children of God, no matter how they are dressed or how noisy their need is exhibited.
PJs has also opened me up to the spiritual side –surrounded by those who read and pray and who can articulate their faith in words that don’t easily come to me. This is my church and my community and it is here that I will continue to follow Jesus’ commandments.
PJs Wardens and Vestry