I came to St. John the Divine shortly after and as a result of the Hurricane Harvey floods. The flood destroyed my home and upended my life in every way. Up to that moment, I had lived my life following my own compass, and very often found myself tied up in conflict and struggles. The water and chaos afterwards removed so much of what I had built self upon. I found myself struggling to get through each day of trying to keep moving life forward.

I quit the church in my early adulthood and spent most of life somewhere between agnostic, atheist, or pretending to be spiritual. I met Jessica Huang soon after the floods. She told me that I clearly needed to go back to church and that, through the floods, God was calling me back. We both prayed hard and often for God’s grace and salvation. We asked the church for prayers to help us.

While Jessica and I were traveling in Israel over the Christmas holidays with a group from St. John the Divine, I was awoken late one night in Galilee with something like a message or a voice instructing me to read the last book of the old testament. I could not rest again until I read it.

It was the book of Malachi. God had sent a message to the Israelites that he was displeased with their sacrifices. They had been sacrificing blind cattle to God’s altar and keeping the best for themselves. The message was clear to me: God was insisting that he wanted my best sacrifice and that I could not just be casually attending church, because faith without works was dead. I had to dedicate my life to him and the mission of his Church and give my best and my full life to him.

Jessica and I wanted to donate a new LED sign to St. John the Divine. We were learning how to build them for a business, saw the church needed a new one, and knew this would be a way we could help SJD reach out to people. This project has taken a long time and we have had many, many difficulties in getting it completed. However, through God’s grace and many prayers, he has guided us forward in the project. We have the sign in our home and have an installation date coming in June. We ask that everyone keep the project, and us, in your prayers throughout the final installation and beyond.

Benjamin LaGrone
Parishioner, St. John the Divine

We are a resurrection people! In the weeks following Easter, we are sharing stories that illustrate how we live our thanks to God. We are challenging everyone to think of one thing you are grateful for this week, and one thing you will do this week for others to be a part of God's Living Thanks.