Hello! I am very glad to be here, and very glad to meet you at last!
As you may imagine, this past week, past month,
has been rather hectic. Well, maybe I should say, last six months?
So, as I say, I’m glad to be here.
Let me tell a little story on myself.
When I was in the seminary, this first reading would come up
as part of Morning Prayer every couple of weeks.
And, without being too explicit about it,
the imagery of the “abundant…” -- well, let’s just say “abundance” –
used to get us seminarians chuckling and smirking.
With that out of the way,
it’s worth really considering further the imagery Isaiah chose.
The prophet either gave this message
right before Jerusalem was destroyed in war,
or else when the people returned from exile to rebuild.
In any case, not a picture of abundance and comfort.
Meanwhile, you and I still do live in a world of tremendous abundance,
even if the prices get more abundant ever day.
On Monday, we will celebrate our nation’s 246th birthday,
and that is a cause for great joy. We’ve come so far!
But when you hear “Jerusalem” in Scripture,
it’s always about something more than an earthly city.
“Jerusalem” stands for hope. It stands for that city we long to be.
Therefore, when you hear “Jerusalem,” think of the heavenly city.
And, along the way, Jerusalem stands for us, the People of God
who are earthly and so far from the ideal,
yet by God’s grace, day by day becoming that heavenly reality.
So, now let me bring up everyone’s favorite topic: “Beacons of Light”!
As we all know, this weekend begins a new reality for
St. Henry, Our Lady of Good Hope, and St. Mary of the Assumption.
We are now a “family” of parishes, with one pastor.
I will not be surprised if you haven’t unraveled
all the implications of that yet, because I haven’t, either.
But it is necessary to say – and I will be saying this over and over –
that there are a great deal of implications to work out.
That’s my task as your pastor; but I will be asking each member
of all three parishes to help me do that.
I’m not merely talking to the person behind you or in front of you,
I’m not just talking to your mom and dad. I mean you!
Everyone is going to play a role.
I don’t want to make any news here today,
because I don’t want folks at the other Masses, at the other parishes,
to hear it second-hand.
But I will stress this point: over the next few weeks and months,
one of the things I’m going to emphasize is communication.
You and I know how these things can go: people hear rumors,
folks get all upset; there can be twelve versions
of what the priest supposedly said in a matter of hours,
all traded in the aisles of Krogers or on Facebook.
So: please feel free to repeat and share this information:
As you and I work out whatever rearranging comes with this change,
your pastor – that is, me – is going to make absolutely sure
that all our plans, all our discussions,
all the ultimate decisions and their reasons,
are going to aired out through lots and lots of communication.
If you never paid attention to the bulletin,
I strongly suggest you start.
If you get a letter from me, please read it closely.
We may use our websites, or Facebook, and other tools.
I expect will have some meetings; everyone loves meetings!
I’m not trying to launch a revolution, but there will be change.
I simply want to assure you it won’t be in the dead of night.
It’s not something that’s just going to “happen” to you, to us.
You and I, all our family of parishes, will enter into it together.
Back to Isaiah’s prophecy. As I said, he wasn’t talking to people
who were in a comfortable state, but who longed for it.
He was assuring them and us that God will supply us
the nourishment to sustain us.
That’s what our parishes – our family of parishes – are meant to be.
As you can imagine, I have some unpacking and organizing to do,
at my house and my office.
But that’s not my mission;
that’s a tedious but necessary step that needs to be done well,
so that I can then launch on my mission, which is to be your pastor.
Similarly, in this next period of adjustments,
whatever rearranging you and I decide on,
the whole point is to set the conditions for our family –
our spiritual family, our three parishes –
to live and work and pray together as a family.
Our main task – and we want to get to it as soon as we can –
is to be a source of God’s divine life to each other, and our community.