From Father's Desk

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last week we wrapped up our message series on our new parish mission statement:

“Building up the Body of Christ!” These are the words of Saint Paul to the Ephesians (4:13-16), explaining the common work the church undertakes guided by Jesus. Our belonging to Christ includes that mission to grow, foster and knit together the great Christian project of building up the Church in love.

God has placed this word on our hearts and at the center of our common parish life together. We can begin by asking the question: how. How will we engage in this common mission? Or, if you prefer: what will we do? Allow me again to present the vision statement which guides our mission. “As members of one body, we strive eagerly to follow the Lord, make disciples, seek out the lost, share fellowship, love our neighbor and above all worship God.” This one key sentence offers us concrete steps we can take to build up the body of Christ.

One of the great hurdles to overcome during our extended pandemic is weariness. Many of us do not feel all that eager. I feel it, too. The fatigue which comes from masks, precautions, extra work responsibilities, family health emergencies is wearisome. Many people have shared with me that they feel worn down, but not out of the fight. Yes, indeed. They desire to overcome the challenges the world places before us, but also admit that life is hard right now. Yes, indeed - I hear you and I feel it! Life can feel tired and burdensome.

Jesus reminds us that he came so that we might have life and have it to the full (see John 10:10 - easy verse to remember!) This fullness of life promised can be felt when we share in the confidence and trust that Jesus is close to us, accompanying us. That nearness and intimacy with God develops over time. Closeness in any friendship comes with spending time, sharing life. We can also foster nearness with God by sharing our journeys with others. It can be so good, so heartening to share life with each other; we can admit that life is messy, but God is good.

Sharing our journey with others makes a great difference. I do not mean just “having friends” but building relationships with Jesus as the center. Nourishing friendships with others who love the Lord and want to grow in holiness and grace with him is essential for developing this closeness. Small groups can foster that reality. It melds together following the Lord and sharing fellowship - two key pieces of our vision statement. It is so important during these days to share life together, share life in Christ. If I can put it this way, that true abundant life will be known and felt when we share life, not with our drinking buddies but with our Jesus buddies. And those two groups do not have to be mutually exclusive! The key is Jesus at the heart of things.

Today in the Gospel, Jesus begins to invite others to follow him. He invited Simon and Andrew, James and John - two sets of brothers. They leave everything. I wonder if they would have left everything if they were not invited with their brother. Could they say “yes” alone?

During the coming weeks for Lent, we are engaging in a Spiritual Campaign. We will be sharing a Lenten book together: Seriously, God? And we are making a special parish-wide invitation to join a small group for Lent, a 7- week commitment. We invite you to follow Jesus more closely and grow in his friendship. We also invite you to share in a common fellowship together. Like the disciples Jesus invites today, it may be easier to say “yes” with a friend, with a sibling or work colleague. I would encourage you to get ready to say “yes” by thinking of a friend you would like to journey with towards the fullness of life in Christ.

May God lift your spirits!

Fr. Joel Wilson