The Tangible presence of God
In 2013, a group of brother seminarians and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On our trip, we saw many beautiful old churches but none struck me more than The Church of the Holy Sepulchre which covers the sites in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified and buried.
The word “church,” however, didn’t quite describe the building. It seemed more a roof and walls over a little world. There was, of course, the sepulchre, surrounded by pillars and topped by a dome, while in another part of the building was something of a church – a large chapel within the building that formed the “main body”. Around the outsides of this main body were the various chapels dedicated to various moments of Jesus’ passion.
One of the things that struck me were the stone surfaces, smoothed from a millennium of pilgrims walking around and touching them with love and devotion. Indeed, there were no shortage of pilgrims when we were there: Christian faces from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, all weaving around each other, eager to touch different holy surfaces, some believed to have been touched by Jesus himself. The place had a presence of its own – an Easter presence – such that even the walls vibrated with a certain energy; an energy that only time, devotion and the gift of the Holy Spirit can generate.
As we celebrate Easter, it is important to grasp the fact that Jesus’ resurrection opened the way for us to experience the gift of God’s divine presence in tangible ways. It’s this divine presence that Christians have been experiencing for 2000 years and which fuels us to both serve and share our faith with others. Speaking with and listening to different people over the past few months, I have experienced this divine presence or energy in parishioners of this parish – an energy of enthusiasm that is tangible.
As we celebrate Easter and the resurrected presence of Jesus, we also celebrate what the Divine Presence is doing in our parish at this time.
In September last year, we commenced a journey of strategic planning. In this, we committed ourselves to being a mission-focused, outward-facing parish, filled with people who desire to use the gifts they’ve been given to accompany others into an experience of God’s divine life.
We committed ourselves to being deliberate around the ways we seek to connect with and accompany Children & Families, Youth & Young Adults, and invite people into Community Life. We are developing firm strategies around how we can be people of Service & Outreach, who are invested in Faith & Formation, and who participate life-giving Worship opportunities.
In the light of Easter dawn, Jesus desires to make himself known to each of us. He never ceases to reach out into the reality of our lives – our human experiences – saying, “I am here, I have always been here, and I love you.” My hope is that you experience his love both this Easter and as our parish continues to be Jesus’ hands and feet, deliberately reaching out to you with a spirit of gentleness and accompaniment as together, we actively seek to encounter the Risen Lord.