Dear Parish Family,
Looking into the future five years, how would you like your life to be different then than it is right now?
Would you like your life to be less stressful? Maybe more connected and less lonely? Do you want to be less angry and resentful, or less wounded and hurting? Do you want your relationship with God stronger and more trusting?
The truth is, the best determiner of who we will be in five years is through our relationships, and the books we’ll read. It’s the input into our lives and, most especially, our connections with others that determines who we become.
I have become convinced that the best way for a parish to help its members grow is to offer the opportunity for them to form Small Groups. Small Groups become circles of faith, care, and support for each parishioner. Life is a hard journey. That doesn’t mean life is not beautiful; but even the best life is filled with struggle and heartache, absurdity and unfairness. Small Groups bring people together to be with each other, in the midst of life’s chaos, and to apply their faith to it all.
A Small Group is not a “Bible Study,” though the group often reads together. It’s not a “Prayer Group,” though they pray together each time they meet, and usually pray more outside of the group than they previously did. It’s not a “Support Group,” although if one of the members winds up getting a scary diagnosis, that illness will have a fight on its hands, as the Small Group is going to surround that person with support, prayer, and trays of baked ziti.
A Small Group is its own thing, unlike any other group. It fills a need that no other group can. It’s not meant to feed the head with knowledge, as much as feed the soul with connection and insight. Small Groups relieve the loneliness of modern day-to-day life. It takes us beyond the “get to Target before the next obligation in the day starts” kind of life.
It’s not another meeting – it’s life, lived with other people of faith.
This weekend, we’re offering an invitation to every member of our parish – and everyone beyond our parish who is reading these words, or is in some way connected to us – to join a St. Mary’s Small Group. Sign-ups begin this weekend for forming Small Groups; these Small Groups will take part in reading a book that will go along with a homily series we’re doing for Lent. We’re giving the book Seriously, God?, by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, away for free to those who sign up for a Small Group at St. Mary’s.
Some of you will be invited to host a Small Group. The host doesn’t need to lead because a Small Group doesn’t really have a leader. The HOST simply provides:
H = Heart that is open
O = Opens their door (or the door to a parish meeting room), or an online link
S = Serves drinks (and maybe plates some brownies or baby carrots someone might bring)
T = Turns on the YouTube message from Fr. Scott
My prayer would be that we would be transformed to a parish with Small Groups to a parish OF Small Groups. A lot of us want to grow spiritually, but don’t know the best way to go about it. This, my friends, is a way that will work.
Lent is almost here. Please consider joining a small group today. Call 518-792-0989 and tell them you’d like to sign up, or visit the following link to sign up today: https://forms.gle/wBvPjvBVnNwbSkTw6.