A testimony by Fr Patrick Hunt, Assisting Priest at St John’s Church
On the Feast of the Epiphany, I especially wanted to attend the Holy Eucharist because I was feeling both anxious and afraid. Like many other people, for much of my life I have struggled at times with depression. This past year was one of those times. I was very eager to get some mental health care and was scheduled to be admitted to Gateway Mental Health Crisis Center here in Savannah the following day and was wondering if I was making a mistake or if it was too late.
As I sat waiting for the service to begin a lot of things began to flow into my consciousness. I heard the patter of feet across the ceiling of the chapel as the ongoing busyness and business of Saint John’s continued even during worship. The noisy door from the Close opened and shut, opened and shut, announcing visitors, worshippers and the needy to the offer of prayer, the beauty of holiness and friendship.
I heard a closet door close in the sacristy and could imagine Father Jameson scurrying to vest and prepare for Holy Communion, acting more and more in the pattern of the Rector every day. And, of course, I knew that Father Dunbar was at Bonaventure Cemetery also offering prayer, the beauty of holiness, and friendship to the bereaved.
I can hardly express the comfort I took from what many would consider a distraction from what had been on my mind. And yet it was a distraction sent from God to me through the ministry of the clergy and people of Saint John’s Church. Little epiphanies from our daily life as adopted sons and daughters, and most importantly, friends of Jesus.
If you have listened to the Church’s preaching and teaching over the years you already know that not all of the epiphanies of Jesus are as momentous or exciting as the visit of three oriental kings, the voice of the Father from heaven to John the Baptist, or even a wedding flowing with excellent wine and good cheer because of the
miraculous intervention for celebration that Our Lord performed in Cana of Galilee.
The sounds of Saint John’s Church which permeate its worship outside the plans of the Clergy and Ministers are sometimes more expressive about ministering to the souls of the Church Militant than the services themselves.
I felt a wonderful peace flow over me even before Father Jameson addressed us with “The Lord be with you.” I knew he was with me, with us, in the work of this Holy place.
Nearly a week later I returned to worship once again having been sustained in the work of mental healing and encouragement by the events of the Feast of the Epiphany, or as the Eastern Church says, the Theophany—the showing forth of God—that I experienced that day in this place.
It was providential, a further glimpse of epiphany, that when I returned feeling restored and refreshed, the workmen were at the work of reinstalling the Nativity window following its restoration.
Many have asked me how I’m doing. I feel reborn along with all who believe in Christ. He has chosen to show himself to me once again from the midst of this personal crisis. Thanks be to God.
This essay by Fr. Hunt was published in St. John’s Parish Paper on Jan. 29, 2023. Image: The descent of the Holy Spirit by Durer, WikiArt.org