Valentine’s Day came early here at Holy Apostles, in the form of our Black History Month celebration last Sunday honoring the life and legacy of Bayard Rustin. What a glorious event! A full church, with people in attendance representing so many of the communities that are part of our extended embrace: Soup Kitchen volunteers and guests, neighbors who live at Penn South and other buildings nearby, friends from other Episcopal congregations, people affiliated with groups that regularly rent space here, musicians, people representing elected officials, Community Board members, activists, sisters and brothers from other faith traditions. Everyone there brought their enthusiasm and their good will. The presentation was moving, the food was delicious, the questions interesting and the collective singing rousing. All in all, an inspiring experience.

And all the love in the room was supported by the Spirit that exists here. I am certain that every single person from Holy Apostles contributed in some way. From visioning, organizing and creating to getting the word out to logistics on the day. Every conversation with a visitor, every bulletin shared and chair stacked and plate offered; each grand gesture was welcomed and no offering was too small. We learned some things. We enjoyed ourselves more. It was wonderful to feel so rooted in the authenticity of who we are while at the same time feeling connected to something greater than ourselves.

It is said that Saint Valentine restored the sight of a young girl who was blind. In response, the girl’s father destroyed the idols in his home and agreed to be baptized. I hope the celebration last Sunday will renew our vision of the possibilities that exist when we partner with individuals and organizations who share our commitment to open faith and our aspiration to love generously.

photo courtesy of Jeffrey Penn