Posted November 9, 2021
For ten years silent meditation has been offered at St. Martins every weekday morning. Starting with Sharline Fulton, Lucretia Robbins and myself, the group has welcomed all sorts of folks over the years waning and waxing from one participant to as many as ten. The one constant is 22 minutes of silence in God’s presence at 8:15 a.m. on weekday mornings.
When you meditate at the corner of Willow Grove and Saint Martins Lane, you discover that our neighborhood is both peaceful and noisy. Leaf blowers and lawnmowers roar. Cars and motorcycles race their engines and burn rubber at the four way stop sign. Ambulances and fire trucks flash, clang and shriek along the street.
Silent meditators could curse these interruptions for any number of reasons. How rude. How thoughtless. But an experienced meditator learns to welcome the interruptions. In humility, we chuckle, realizing that the firetruck just called us back from daydreaming to our meditative focus. We send gratitude to the passing truck and a prayer for the folks in need the firefighters will attend to. And then, we return to our open hearted self-offering to God which is meditation.
Imagine if a meditator did curse the distractions and raged at the noise makers. One would rightly wonder, “what spirit possesses you?” or “where did your peace go?” or “what happened to the compassion you say you highly prize?” Our reactions reveal our spiritual place and commitments. I do not mean this as judgement, however. For me, this is simply self-diagnosis and a call to prayer and more dependence on God’s grace to sort me out.
We have a gift of freedom in Christ. That gift of freedom—called grace—gives us space to step back and choose our responses to the challenges that are part and parcel of life. Scripture teaches us that faith is a gift that nurtures endurance, patience, and loving kindness in the face of oppression and opposition. What good news that this faith of ours is designed for test and travail as well as celebration and solace.
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
(215) 247-7466 ext. 101
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel (he/him) was educated at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained Priest in 1995 in Danville, Pennsylvania where he worked as a Hospital Chaplain and a Head Start teacher. Pastoral positions followed at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Flossmoor, Illinois, St. Paul and the Redeemer in Chicago, and then Rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. After following his wife, the Rev. Dr. Alison Boden, to her new position in Princeton, New Jersey, he was called to be the Executive Director of the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County. The largest food pantry and the gateway agency for Homelessness Prevention services in Mercer County, the Crisis Ministry also runs a Welfare to Work program and an innovative free farmers market. Jarrett became Rector of St. Martin’s in February 2011. He formerly served as the co-chair of Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Jarrett serves as Dean of the Wissahickon Deanery and is an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross. He is an Adjunct Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary where he co-teaches a regular class on Faith Based Community Organizing, Theology and Practice. Jarrett has been published in Sojourners, the Huffington Post, Yours the Power, and the Journal of Public Theology. He is the father of two children, Timothy and Martha.