I believe Motel Six was the hotel chain that would always end their commercials with the comforting tag line, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” What a wonderful image of vigil; we’ll stay awake and ready for whenever you find your way here.
I usually arrive at St Timothy’s around 7:30am on weekdays (Morning Prayer is at 8:15 and mass follows). When I open the church doors, the inside is quiet and the lights are off, but it’s not completely dark. There is, more times than not, a single votive candle burning at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Early in the morning, a medical professional comes in the church to pray. I imagine she prays for herself, her family, and those who will be in her care that day. I also trust she prays for the parish and its priest. She lights the candle and by doing so, leaves the light on for us. I always get the feeling that we are a relay of prayer. She has come in before dawn and we take over from there. The altars of the church are always warm, never allowed to grow cold due to dormancy.
Today’s mass was for the feast of St Francis Xavier with a commemoration of the Advent Feria. To my shock and delight, it was a congregation of men. I’m sure it’s happened before, but I can’t remember. I know it’s not politically correct to say, but it’s true, we need more men in the church. Men are disengaged through lack of challenge, catechesis, and cult. I was pleased to have two seminarians today, one from Wake Forest and one from Duke. There is hope for the future.
After mass, I had eggs and coffee with our Wake Forest Divinity School intern. We meet every Monday morning, usually over coffee, to discuss his internship and to solve most of the theological problems of the world. After breakfast I heard a confession and spoke with a husband who just lost his wife at a young age. Her funeral will be 19th for this year, the most ever for me in a year. It’s been a difficult season for death.
After a simple lunch of canned chicken and bread and butter pickles (not as bad as it sounds), I spent the afternoon in weekly meetings. I met with a member of the vestry, then both of my wardens. We use these meetings to stay up-to-date with the fast pace of the parish and I keep them informed of what is going on and ask their counsel for any issues or decisions that might be tricky. We also spend a lot of time in laughter.
At 4:45pm it was back in the church for Evening Prayer and Shrine Prayers. The first lesson from Second Peter was beautiful. To strengthen faith we need goodness and goodness needs knowledge. Knowledge needs self-control. Self-control needs endurance. Endurance needs mutual affection. Mutual affection needs love. At the Shrine of St Timothy, we concluded our prayers for the day, with the day’s intention for missionaries, since it is the feast of St Francis Xavier.
After Evening Prayer, I peeked in to listen to the chorister’s rehearse (they are so very good), and it was back for a final standing meeting of the day – with my liturgical leaders. We recently started meeting to review the previous Sunday and to tweak anything out of whack. It is so helpful when they can anticipate my thoughts and I can anticipate theirs.
Out of the church just after 6pm and off to hear my daughter’s school orchestra concert. As I drove by the parish hall, I saw the preparations for tonight’s shelter guests. The light was on.