Sunday, September 5, 2010
A blessing of departure, and of welcome
Today began my search for a church parish in which to complete the final leg of the journey to Rome.
Last Sunday our Lord made clear that the time to leave the CEC had come, and so this morning was bittersweet. A day of endings and beginnings, of sadness and excitement.
This morning was amazing.
It opened and closed with blessing. As we left the house, my dear friend, wife of my BP, drove past on her way to church to ask which parish would get to have us today. Her cheerfulness was like the embrace of a mother on the first day of kindergarten, giving me courage to step out, and reassuring me that her love and approval would always be there.
The Catholic church was pretty. Not small, not big. Not ostentatious, not casual. White walls, lovely stained glass, and frieze-style stations of the cross circling the sanctuary. A beautiful organ and brass prelude was played. I noticed a priest walking up the side aisle. His face looked familiar, and his pink zucchetto made me recognize that it was Bishop Matthew Clark (our bishop here in Rochester, NY).
The Right Reverend opened his homily by saying "Don't worry; nothing is wrong." His appearance as celebrant was clearly unusual, and the congregation must have wondered if the church was about to be closed. He had not celebrated there in over three years. The last time had been at the anniversary mass of one of the parish priests. Bishop Clark explained that he'd had no other commitments for this particular day, and just decided to come and pray with this communion because he hadn't done so in a while.
His homily focused on Luke 14:5-33; the cost of being a disciple. He spoke of having to leave family and friends and possessions. All the things I've been dealing with in the past 6 months, first within my nuclear family, then with my church family. He told us to be ready for God to call us to the newer, the deeper, and warned us that it would not always be easy.
At the conclusion of the mass, His Grace came slowly up the center aisle, greeting people as he went. When he reached us, I explained that it was our first day in the first church of our search for a new home, and asked for his blessing. He gave it, graciously.
Our God is lavishly, astonishingly, abundantly generous.
Before entering this season of disruption and heartache, He asked which road I would choose; the one that would be easier but which would save fewer souls, or the one which would be more difficult but which would save more.
I answered that His will should be done.
It has not been easy, and it will not be. There is much pain and disruption still to come. The cost is indeed family, friends, and possessions.
But the rewards.... The rewards are staggering. He is already pouring out joy and blessing more abundantly than I could ever have imagined. I did not ask to be compensated for obedience, but He rewards my desire to do His will in ways I could never have dared dream.
Today was a good day. A day of endings and beginnings. A day which began and ended with a blessing. A blessing of departure, and a blessing of welcome.
Our God is a great God.