As I have said many times, serving as Bishop of ECMN is both a blessing and a privilege. I am afforded the opportunity to be a part of the most important and celebratory occasions for faith communities and individuals. These are times of great affirmation of the Spirit manifesting itself in the Church and in the neighborhood. It is new life and resurrection at it’s best.
There are, of course, times and situations which are very challenging. As I have also said on numerous occasions, when you serve as the Bishop, you are at the end of the frustration food chain. There are encounters with both individuals and communities that are very difficult. Yet in the midst of these, particularly if patience prevails, the Spirit’s presence will manifest itself. These, too, are particular opportunities to seek the new life our resurrection Easter faith calls us to.
This last week I gathered with three different faith communities to secularize their buildings. As you might imagine, these gatherings evoke feelings of sadness and loss. Space and time are important to us. Places to gather to celebrate our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows naturally, inherently connect us to them. This is where and when we celebrated the baptism and marriage of our child, Christmas Eve and Easter with our family. It is also the place we came to when tragedy struck and where we offered our prayers when our loved ones have died.
There was a palpable sense of loss for all. Yet in every one of these gatherings, the Holy Spirit was clearly in our midst. In the sharing of memories, in the sharing of deep gratitude for all that had taken place over time in these spaces, the Lord’s living embrace was clearly felt. And there was a strong sense of hope from many who had gathered. Hopeful for the new spaces they have found, hopeful for those who will now occupy the space that was hollow for them for so long, hopeful for the Church. Folks were leaning hard on their Easter faith and rays of new light were finding their way into the gathering.
This is our call. To be faithful people, whether we find ourselves in times of great celebration and affirmation or in times of sadness and loss, confident that the Holy Spirit is in our midst, strengthening us to be people of hope, people of new life – Easter people.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!