Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022
While the rest of the country was dealing with frigid temperatures and falling snow, we were enjoying warm sunny days that broke all records: People out walking without jackets, some going back to shorts and t-shirts. On the news I heard that nature was ‘mixed up’ animals, migrating birds, even dandelions thought it was spring again. And then it hit… cold air from the north coming down upon us, made us shiver and turn up our heat. Reality has set in. Winter is coming… no matter what.
Regardless to the weather, and with Remembrance Day over, many are beginning to prepare for the holidays: plans for get-togethers, purchasing gifts and thinking about tasty foods as we celebrate our time with loved ones. As Christmas plans are made, we have been plunged into the darkest time of the year. Everything looks dead, uninviting and dull. Even the scripture readings for this week have a rather bleak tone to them. At first glance, they not only reflect the end of the year but as well, the end of the world.
Luke begins the gospel today with the description of a beautiful temple that will soon be destroyed… 70 years later, it was destroyed and the Christian people were threatened and killed at the same time. Rather than the end of the world, Luke describes various tragedies as an end of an era and a time for new beginnings. It is a time to shift from the pain of destruction and begin anew.
Believe it or not, the very same thing is happening in our church. After 2.5 years of pandemic, periods of being closed, not able to gather, distancing ourselves from others, wearing masks, hand sanitizing and so on… most of us are back…while some have not. But we’re a different people now. How could we not be?
For some time, you have heard me preach and speak about this is a time of new beginnings. This past Saturday, those who were interested and able, gathered to talk about the future of our parish community with two worship sites because we, too, are beginning again. The purpose of our gathering was to first look at how we’re doing as a parish and secondly, how can we improve, to make our community more welcoming and involve both inside and outside the church. Other than dealing with buildings that need constant care and attention, we looked at where are the opportunities to really be church for those around us? Many great ideas were put forward and I am grateful to Patti Blake, our Revitalization Chair, the committee itself and those who participated.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us that as followers, we will suffer terrible agony, but in the midst of pain, we will be protected… not even a hair on our heads will be destroyed. I find it interesting that all those terrible things that Jesus talks about are what we do to ourselves and it isn’t until we grasp on to the love he shares that we’ll know the life he speaks about. In other words, Jesus is reminding us that the time to transform our lives is now, to heal our relationships and to rebuild what has been destroyed.
If you remember, we had a lot of great things going on here at Holy Spirit Parish prior to the pandemic. But most of it was destroyed. And now we’re given the time to begin again… begin a new era, which will include the choir from SJHS who have found a home here. Other than that, you may be asking, ‘What will it look like?’ I would respond with, ‘honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that we need to trust in the Holy Spirit who will never lead us astray. As well, we need to have everyone on board. If we do not have your participation, your willingness to work together then it will not work. Or as Paul put it to the Thessalonians, “with toil and labour we worked night and day …” and then adds, “anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” If we ‘toil and labour’ together, great things will happen here.
My dear friends, as we come to the end of the calendar year, let us allow our upcoming Advent to refresh us into the greater fullness of God’s loving presence, calling us to begin anew. This is an exciting time for us as Church… it’s not all doom and gloom rather it is a ‘new beginning.’ The last line in today’s gospel, Jesus affirms and encourages us… “By your perseverance (not successes) you will secure your lives.” Now I ask you, could Jesus say anything else that would have been more hopeful? Amen.