I must have sung the song a hundred times through the years I was a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Tallahassee (1988, then 1992 through 2005).
Seek ye first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness ……..
I sang this song today at St. Francis’s closing service. After more than 30 years, the size of the parish has declined to the point that it is no longer feasible to remain open.
I left St. Francis in 2005. Although my move to Holy Comforter was the right move for my family and me, St. Francis always held a special place in my heart and spirit. When I walked in today, the memories came flooding back:
- My confirmation in 1995
- Tenley’s baptism in 1996
- Our house blessing in 1998
- Wayne Kevin’s baptism in 1999
- Countless communions
- Tenley taking communion for the first time
- Wayne Kevin taking communion for the first time
- Serving on the vestry
- Many meals shared
- Tears shed over deaths, challenges, spiritually moving moments
- Christmas pageants, “the dancing angel“
- Easter bonnet parades
- The “Thanksgivings” tradition at the end of each service
- Moments where the Holy Spirit was inarguably, tangibly present
Today as I walked in, I noticed some visual signs of decline:
But inside, I encountered what really mattered — the people with whom I built all those memories, who nurtured my family and me through so much.
We pored over photo albums, marveling and how young we once were, where we have dispersed to, what we have shared:
Although we did not sing it today, a later verse of “Seek Ye First” says:
Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Today I saw the door of the church closed, physically, after the altar was stripped, the candles extinguished for a final time, and one last parishioner was baptized.
This door will no longer be open.
Thank you, St. Francis of Assisi, for the years in which the kingdom of God graced those doors, that altar, every blade of grass.