Mary Mac Shields, preaching on Christmas Day
Preachers come in all sizes and shapes. Just bringing up the word, “preacher”, can bring to mind all sorts of images and memories. Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” captures a particular type of preacher:
Starting soft and slow
like a small earthquake
and when he lets go
half the valley shakes.
Brother Love can be found in almost any church, synagogue, or mosque. For anyone raised in religion the memories of preachers are there along with a favorite person or two. The preacher who spoke to young and old alike; the one whose voice was kind and full of love; the preacher who taught us the meaning of believing; and the one we could count on for “3 points and a conclusion.” Those preachers are there along with some who scared us talking about “hell” all the time and those who yelled or leaned over the pulpit and shook their finger at us.
On Christmas Day at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, NC, I got to hear a friend of 20+ years preach for the first time. I know her as a creative, energetic friend. We share the same birth year, yet this retired school teacher is still serving others. She entered the Diaconate Formation Program in The Diocese of East Carolina 2 years ago and is now a postulant for Holy Orders.
Hearing Mary Mac preach gave me such happiness. Preaching will just be one of her gifts. She is excited about the way she can serve the least, and the lonely. Focusing on educating and enabling others so that they can become involved in the ministries of the church is deeply embedded in her heart.
Greeting people after the service in front of the Chrismon Tree
This preacher comes in a petite package that sparks with energy. She focuses on the God who loves us…God who will never stop loving us. Earthquakes and shaking valleys may not be her forte in preaching, but encouraging all of us to become the best we can be with God’s help is the gracious message she brought on Christmas Day. “The ‘presence of Christ’ is more important than any of the ‘presents’ we receive.” That was one of the messages that Mary Mac planted in my heart as she proclaimed the good news…good news indeed!!