I wandered with my husband Steve up to St. Peter's in Santa Maria. I was at a formal visitation which included the celebration and rededication of their sanctuary. It was an incredible morning, full of love, great music, incredible sharing of the many ministries they are engaged in. I thought to myself, "nothing can top this."
We wandered down to St. Mark's in Los Olivos. I was invited to give a talk on stewardship at a dinner last evening. That's when I experienced radical hospitality in a new way.
From the moment I entered the parish grounds, the warmth of the grounds and people made both Steve and me feel very welcome!
I've included pictures here of just some of the welcoming touches -- drinks put out for us in the parlor so we could rest. The women's room was wonderful, and the invitation to join the church was there -- see the picture above. And then there was the doggie water sign -- so anyone coming through the courtyard would see this and be able to offer water to their dog.
At dinner, the members of the parish gathered were asked to write on a heart what they love about St. Mark's. I've included a picture of the hearts that were filled out and placed on a tree. One woman who is actually a member of a parish in Santa Barbara came because she received an invitation in the mail (she was a long time member at St. Mark's and now lives in Santa Barbara, but is still on St. Mark's mailing list). She told me, "it was so great to receive this pink invitation to come to a Valentine's dinner to meet you. I'm so glad I was here -- and so happy to have received this invitation."
Most importantly, setting the tone for the evening was a spiritual, moving service at 5:00 that began with the lighting of candles by each person who attended. Lighting the candles off the first and then subsequent candles was so moving. Bear offered music on guitar that was not only appropriate for the service, but moving spiritually. The service, put together by the Rector, was the icing on the cake. I was moved to tears on more than one occassion during the service -- it was amazing.
It was an amazing day yesterday, starting with St. Peter's and ending with St. Mark's. Hospitality was the order of the day -- it was radical and wonderful.