This week, Mary and I visited the Episcopal Carmel of St Teresa monastery up in Rising Sun. Some weeks ago I received a letter from Carmelite Sister Teresa Irene to offer us back a sweet little altar that Rev. Jim Ransom had given them some twenty or so years ago. The table had been an extra Sunday School altar of such small size that Rev. Ransom also ordered custom linens to fit it. Rev. Liz Masterson also contributed a hand-sewn dustcover for the piece.
Bishop Ilhoff consecrated this humble altar to serve as the Holy Table in the Carmelite sisters’ chapel. Since then scores of priests and bishops have celebrated Holy Eucharist there. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, traveling incognito in the U.S., once snuck up to Rising Sun with his Secret Service detail and towered over the little table as he consecrated the Bread and Wine.
Mary and I returned to Trinity on Wednesday not only with the altar, but with several bags of books on Celtic Spirituality and other topics, all currently a jumble in my office until we can sort them out and put them in the library. The two nuns of the order are, sadly, are putting their property on the market, and planning to move to Mercy Ridge in Lutherville, hence the need to give back the altar and clear out their library.
Meanwhile Trinity is the beneficiaries of years of prayer, contemplation, liturgy, and devotion brought to this altar. Because it is so small, light, and on wheels, we will use it for times when it seems prudent to celebrate Holy Eucharist at the crossing, and for our outdoor services. This Sunday at 10am, it will make it first liturgical appearance at Trinity in nearly twenty years. Let us bring out whole hearts to God’s Holy Table with praise and thanksgiving.