Engage Boundaries

Joy and Ben Philpott,
St. David’s Parishioners
Photo: Lisa Woods Photography

Church can be part of the bubble in which someone lives; from work to home to church one can remain in that circle. Even in a downtown church it is possible to maintain the bubble; at St. David’s the bubble is dissolved.

We were drawn to St. David’s because of the way the church uses its location to engage the boundary with neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. Promises of the baptismal covenant — “to seek and serve Christ in all persons … to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” — are inherent to the life of St. David’s.

We saw this initially in that Trinity Center is physically part of the church, but our neighbors are welcome beyond the walls of Trinity to meals in Sumners Hall and into worship spaces just like our neighbors in the new high-rise condos. Through the leadership of Ted and Anne Clark, the church embraced Karen refugees from Burma/Myanmar. This welcome can push comfort zones of those who live more secure and affluent lives, AND it expands the world view of all. There are many churches who say “all are welcome,” but being a church who truly sees and works to ensure that all are welcome helps us live into our baptismal vows.

We are called not just to welcome those who come to us, but to go and seek those from whom we may learn more of God through relationship and service. Each week, after gathering together for the Eucharist, we asked God to “send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”  St David’s parishioners have done this as far away as Malawi through Warm Heart International and as close to home as South Congress with Laundry Love. We’ve been fortunate in the past year to be part of groups that have traveled to Brownsville and across the border into Matamoros to support Team Brownsville in serving food and a bit of education to asylum seekers in the refugee camp just across an international boundary. In these spaces, close to home or far away, when we engage social, economic, and political boundaries—all erected by humans—when we work to dissolve those barriers, we come closer to the kingdom of God.

In engaging the boundaries, we may encounter what ancient Celts would have termed a “thin space,” a place where earth and heaven are drawn closer together. While we may tend to think of those spaces as being a geographic places, they can also be temporal spaces, moments in time when we draw closer to God through engaging and dissolving the barriers erected between humans. In the raucous hullabaloo of the Trinity Center Christmas party one year, someone looked around and declared “This is exactly what the kingdom of God looks like.” What a gift to be members of a parish that facilitates celebrations of the kingdom of God within and beyond its walls.

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