The Gift of a Parish Community

Even after seven years at St. Mary’s I remain amazed and humbled at the life and energy of this community of faith. As parish member Carol McC_______ told me before I started, when I confided that I was not sure I would be able to minister effectively in such a small congregation, “We may be small, but we are mighty.”

This past Sunday morning, two parish members stood up and gave a brief witness as to their experience of the presence of God in this parish. Their words were moving and insightful. These two men spoke from their hearts.

Following the Sunday morning celebrations, members of the youth group gathered and I was so impressed and proud of them – the way they were able to share, contribute and listen to and respect each other. I wrote a bit about this in my previous post.

During the week, as is so often the case, parish members have stopped by to meet in ministry committees, to join in weekday prayer opportunities, to plan upcoming events and to do all kinds of behind-the-scenes work without which things around here would most likely cease to function.

In this regard, a parish community is an organic, living being. These are folks with whom we probably would not normally spend time – yet we end up being together during some of our most formative profound moments. We come to know and love each other in spite of our differences, and we know that we are together on the same journey – the only journey that really matters when you get right down to it. Our faith in and search for Jesus brings us together. And here’s what happens: as we proclaim God’s word, celebrate the sacraments and seek to learn to love one another, we are transformed into the Body of Christ. This is nothing less than a miracle. It is God working in and through us. What we do together equips us to enter the mission field (i.e., the rest of our lives) and to bring Christ with us.

Our new building was a way to give expression to our growing faith and our desire to welcome more and more people into our midst. With this gift comes responsibility and a call to gratitude. It seems to me that there is plenty of both, with much generosity to boot!

May the good Lord who has begun so much good in us, through His grace, bring it to completion. Amen!

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