On Sunday, the parish will celebrate a memory: 256 years as a site where God’s Word has been preached and the sacraments are celebrated. Yeah, I know. The canonical niceties of incorporation etc. didn’t happen from the beginning. Still, this is our Anniversary.
Sunday is about what “church” is supposed to be. We’re not a social club. We’re not a place to come to feel good. We’re not a building or a plan.
Our God “whom the heavens cannot contain, much less the walls of temples made with human hands,” has established a symbol of His presence. Where two or three are gathered; where we can come and “be still and know that I am God;” where we have been made God’s children through adoption and grace; where we come to discern God’s will and then try to do it “on earth as it is in heaven” – all that is what we celebrate. It’s our anniversary of who were are: flawed and fragile but strong in God. We’ve so much more work to do. Happy Anniversary.
So let’s try to say something respectful and purposeful about “Father’s Day” which does not sound as though it was taken from a maudlin “Hallmark” card or some comedian’s skit. I admit that I never learned the challenges or joys of biological fatherhood as my life altered from “unmarried” to being a “grandpa” in one moment – and yes it is much easier and more fun that way!
I do know that Fatherhood, if taken seriously and lived well, is a vocation – a calling from God. Oh any adult male can generate life. But being a loving partner, a caregiver, a mentor, the support for one’s spouse, a font of wisdom, a supply of experiences, a disciplinarian, a coach, a shoulder to cry on, a communicator, and maybe most of all, being “man enough” to let mom receive the adulations she deserves when we sometimes get mistaken for the furniture (always there when needed but not always appreciated) – that, my friends, is hard work. It takes grace!
St. John’s Gospel has the perfect definition: “God so loved the world that he sent His son…” The Father sent the Son to redeem us, out of love! Fatherhood is about love!
We’re not in charge! We plan and expect – so we think. But God plants! Walking our dog this week, I’ve noticed that the back yard is again speckled with drops of red. Seems that the area grows these tiny little wild strawberries only for a week or so. Abby sniffs and is pleased. Even your “urbanized” clergy can appreciate both the beauty and the surprise.
We have our plans for St. John’s, and I pray they accord with what Our Father has planned for us and has planted within us. (A hint for this Sunday’s readings!) But surprising things often come up beyond our expectations. E.g., we are hoping that St. Paul’s might develop into a Wedding Chapel for those beyond our parish community. Only one taker so far – BUT – this week I received a phone call from a person (not in any way associated with this parish) who asked about possibly being buried from this lovely chapel when her time comes. Surprise! A different direction? Perhaps!
So we must remain focused, keep working hard, and, of course, be ready for surprises. We plan a future. The Lord has already been planting it for us.
I have to admit that I am too old to get this “blog” thing. Short of God’s revealing God’s Word, does anyone need to hear any other person’s every thought or opinion? Not always. I admit that I’ve enjoyed writing this year – sharing some of my thoughts and concerns. I hope they have all been letting you focus on where we have come from as a parish and where we need to be heading.
This week I have a question for you: What is your greatest concern or desire for this parish? What do we need to be thinking about and doing if we are not only to grow in numbers or finances but also to grow in Christ’s love? In your eyes, what is important? I have many thoughts about this which I will be sharing in the coming months. I’d like to hear yours. Send them on to me. Sign your name. I will not post anything you write unless you give me permission to do so.