Who Moved My Church?!!! Loss, Cross, Change, & Eucharist
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Who Moved My Church?!!! Loss, Cross, Change, & Eucharist
The Lord gives us two teachings in this Gospel reading: one about carrying our cross and the other about hospitality. With many family visits at this time of year, carrying a cross and hospitality, to family, might even be the same thing!
The members of our parish, most of you here today, will be carrying a different kind of cross in a few weeks. We will need to abandon this church building the weekend of July 22/23. And we will have Mass in our Gym for a year. In a few weeks, you may be angry and thinking Who Moved My Church?!!! Yes, it will be a hassle. All of us will experience a sense of loss at least for a while. I’m sorry about that.
Many of us are attached to this place. We have emotional connections to this church building. Some of us have been here so long we identify with this place; we identify with this building for ourselves as church because this place has been our experience of church for so long. This building has become church for us. Because of that, this church building has great meaning to you. And yes we will lose that temporarily, but it will seem like a long time especially at first.
Some of us even identify with a certain pew or chair because it is where we always sit, and you will lose that. In that sense, you will lose a sense of control because you no longer have control over sitting in exactly the same place.
And yes when we move out in a couple of weeks, we will lose this structure for a while. This structure gives our lives some sense of structure and stability. We will be in a different building, and it will feel very different. This has been our spiritual home. It won’t be that for quite a while. What will the future hold?
All of these losses are crosses we will bear, and I am truly sorry we are going to go through it.
I remind you though that it is by choice we are doing this. This building has structural issues that need repair which will cost us about 4.5 million dollars. We are doing this to preserve our spiritual home for the future. So that generations of people who come after us will benefit from our work and from us bearing this cross, in the same way we have benefited from the generations that came before us and built our parish beginning in 1914, so that we today would have a spiritual home.
So that is the why of why we are doing this, and the why of how so many will benefit from us bearing these losses and bearing our crosses.
If we are going to hand on our parish here at Saint Mary to future generations, then this is the choice, we must make. I am sorry for the difficulty, for the loss you will experience, and the pain it will cause you.
We are setting up our gym to feel like church the best we can without incurring unreasonable expense. If you have been to Christmas Mass or Easter Mass in our gym, it will be similar to that but a bit better.
We have been planning the move as far as fixtures and furniture go, and our staff has decided to have the best positive attitude about it as we can while at the same time recognizing our losses. It is important to take a moment, name and claim any loss you will experience and acknowledge that in prayer with God, and ask our Lord to help you carry that cross.
If you are one of our school families, you have an additional sense of loss because our gym will not be available as a gym. Even though we have plans in place for our school to make everything work, it is still a loss.
Or you can decide to try and help others who are struggling with this loss by listening to them, show care and concern for them, and help them to acknowledge their loss, help them to carry their cross of loss. Or a great word in spiritual realms is surrender. You can choose to respond by deciding to surrender your loss to the Lord and carry this cross, this loss, with humility and with God’s help. In this way you choose to relinquish your loss to the Lord.
All of us have a part to play in making this temporary move a successful move, and we, the staff, need your help. Your main part is to be kind and help each other. That is the type of hospitality the Lord calls us to. Be hospitable to one another and those who seem lost in this change. Remember, we may not have chosen to experience loss; however, we do choose our response. We always choose how we will respond.
Our staff has chosen to respond by being committed to this journey and the process, by being joyfully relational, and by having a solution finding spirit. These are our behavioral values, and after you have grieved your losses, you too can help our entire parish, especially in this process, by embracing the same behavioral values as we go forward.
Please take the time to acknowledge your loss, grieve that loss, and then decide how you will respond when you are up to it. Do not cut the grief process short.
However, it is important for us to let you know what behavioral values we encourage you to embrace when you are ready, for this is the role all us play, including all of you, in helping to make our parish an even more amazing parish than it already is.
I personally ask you all, when you are ready: be committed to the journey and the process, be joyfully relational, and have a solution finding spirit.
All of this being said there is one important thing for you and me to remember. The Eucharist Makes the church.
When we receive the Eucharist with open hearts and an open spirit, we are transformed in Christ to be the Body of Christ, to be Church. The Eucharist makes us Church. The real presence of our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, in Holy Communion is who we follow. And make no mistake about it. The Eucharist will be fully present 24 hours a day 7 days a week in our gym. And we will be Church because our Lord Jesus will transform us there, to go out and be Christ to others.
We will have a beautiful Eucharistic procession to close out Mass here in the church on July 16 after the 10am Mass. In this way we will ceremonialize our move to a different building. The Eucharistic Procession will begin here in the church and will conclude in the gym. All are invited to participate, and all are encouraged to participate.
We experience loss, carry that cross, and follow our Lord where he leads us. It is our Eucharistic Lord who makes us church.