Recently, for the first time in my experience, I’ve begun to witness scheduled liturgical events to which no one comes. No one at all.
It’s a very different experience. My entire time, from diaconal ordination in 1982, has featured a fairly steady change, in terms of decline, when it comes to church attendance, active parishioners, and much else.
Mind you, that’s certainly not been the only experience. Men and women growing in faith and deepening their spiritual life profoundly has also been present and quite real.
This time of pandemic and endemic feels different.
This evening, when no one came to the Blue Christmas service, I stayed in the church to pray. I played music over the church system. I felt sad. And alone.
But not entirely.
I also felt a godly assurance. It can be put in the way Mother Teresa used to express it: “I’m not called to be successful. I’m called to be faithful.” And she was. That faithfulness of hers transformed the landscape of many lives and deaths.
It is an assurance. Just keep on. Just do the next good thing. The next right thing. That’s the path of faithfulness, and it leads where it’s meant to lead.
A stranger’s love and its amazing results. Steve Hartman, On the Road.
New York: City Hall Asks Houses of Worship to Shelter Migrants
Officials are looking for churches, temples and synagogues that can provide “secure space with bathrooms and a kitchen where an asylee family or individuals could sleep during the nights or live temporarily.”
“To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
– Helen Keller
Are you ready for ‘diamond-hard and costly love’?
“Jesus Christ does not only change our idea of what God is and what we might become: he also changes our idea of what love is. For ‘the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord’ is not a love which is soft and yielding and emotional. This love is diamond-hard and costly; it is a giving of yourself to others; it is a refusal to hate, whatever the cost; it is a refusal to be moved from what you know in your heart to be good and true and right. Love is quite often a kind of dying. It demands obedience and loyalty, and it may well encompass anguish, pain and even death.”
Ten years ago today 20 little kids in their school and six adults who dedicated their lives to education were brutally murdered by gunfire. Some of the parents bereaved that day, and always, have devoted their efforts since to seek to diminish heartbreaking and cruel incidents like that which took their children. Their work bears good results today. And they continue to work at it, and we all should with them, for there is so much more to be done. The number of shootings in our land, the number of school shooting incidents is obscene. I can think of no other word.
If you or I believe that we have a duty to work for justice; if we believe that peace is worth the effort, we must place the issue of violence in this society, particularly gun violence, among those needs crying out to heaven for attentive, committed, loving attention.
May those little ones who died December 14, 2012 rest in God, along with their teachers and helpers. May those young people, 17 years old now, who survived that day and whose memories must be stark, be blessed throughout the rest of their lives by a society and culture that grows continually more just and more peaceful. May the moms and dads who lost so much that day, and who have given so much leadership since, powered by love, continue to show us the way. May we walk with them, unafraid and strong.