Good morning, Friends
This week is the first week of Advent, 2009. Sunday was designated as "Hope" Sunday. I barely had any hope as I drove to worship. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and tears started to come, just from the sheer tiredness of being solo pastor in this church. Ministering to the growing congregation and beginning the new church seems overwhelming at times. The bright spot of that drive was that I would go to a church in Elmira, NY that afternoon. Just to sit and be washed in grace. And, I did and I was.
The congregation in Elmira is not huge, but, like my own, it is filled with spirit and hope and joy. This congregation is where I "borrowed" the idea of having the children's band at the conclusion of our service - the 2- 3- and 4-year old children (and older, too) play a percussion instrument to accompany our amazing Charles.
As I sat in this Catholic (not "Roman") mass, the tiredness and feelings of the world on my shoulders left and I was at peace with myself and the world. For that time I found what I think people seek when they dare to come to a church after years of absence. I think they are seeking the experience that I have in this holy place. Offering that experience is my duty as a minister. The grace-feeling cannot come from a secular society no matter how many activities are offered.
My prayer and hope this week of Advent? when visitors come to our congregation, they find the same grace and peace and love and acceptance that I find in this worship comprised of Catholics wanting a new church in a changing age.