Thoughts before polishing silver

The new look

The new look

Our five year project of stripping woodwork in the hallways and kitchen has finally ended. The wood is beautiful and the new paint sets it off elegantly. So now all we have to do is clean up the residue of dust and disarray and put things back where we want them.

We finished cleaning the kitchen and began to look at the dining room.  As I looked over the room, laying out my battle plan, my gaze stopped at the silver tea service we had been given by our good friend, Mary.

Our dusty silver

I first met Mary just after my ordination in 1970 while at the Cathedral in Albany, NY. We have maintained a connection and friendship ever since. On our last visit Mary stunned us by handing her silver over to us. “You will use it and enjoy it!” she said matter-of-factly. And we do – often.

I stood there looking at this antique tea service but saw beyond it, thinking about the first time I was invited to one of Mary’s dinner parties – an eclectic mix of people; with an array of silver and china setting an elegant tone, yet wonderfully fun, festive and informal. And I recalled many other occasions over the ensuing years – the people she enveloped in her caring and nurture, and of course, her wonderful hospitality that was the initial spark that created this deep bond between us.

What Mary has given us is more than some nice things – she has given us a treasure trove – not just in the beauty or worth of the objects themselves, but it the stories they mediate. They help us to remember and recreate these wonderful times, and inspire us in how we offer hospitality to others.

We in the church have been given the same gift in which we may participate each Sunday. The liturgy is a means of re-presenting the story of Jesus gathered with his friends – and the gathering of Jesus’ friends week after week over the centuries. It is the story of people, of nurture, of crises, of births and deaths, of healings and wholeness, of painful times lived through, and of  mostly well intentioned and often supportive faith communities. In theology  this gift is called anamnesis. (Literally “not forgetting” that I prefer to think of as:  To make alive in the present a past reality.

Every time we look at or use one of Mary’s treasures we recall Mary, and all of the people and occasions with which these objects are interwoven. With each celebration of Eucharist or liturgy in which two are three or more are gathered we have opportunity to re-present and make a present living reality of the two millennia of people’s interactions with God as followers of Jesus and fellow travelers on a spiritual journey. We are enriched, sustained, inspired and renewed.

Thank you, Mary. Thanks be to God!


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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6 Responses to Thoughts before polishing silver

  1. nakedgoat says:

    Not bad article, but I really miss that you didn’t express your opinion, but ok you just have different approach

  2. TechnoSid says:

    It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it’s always possible to find something new. 🙂

  3. Hi, You have some really Great articles on your blog. I also like the theme and the layout as well. excellent work!

  4. Great post, many amusing points. I believe 6 of days ago, I have viewed a similar blog.

  5. don says:

    Thnak you for your comments.

  6. don says:

    Thak you for your comment. I am trting i=to reflect on things more than to argue my particu;lar viewpoint. But my opinions doe come out loud abd clkear much of the time :-]

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