Saturday, April 02, 2016

Gloriously United

That was spectacular!
Yes, I am talking about Holy Week and Easter.  I assume you noticed that it was spectacular, and think I am talking about the music, or the flowers, or the liturgies.   Yes, you would be right, but I have my eye on something more.
What was spectacular in my eyes was the consistent and coordinated efforts of so many people to make the Holy Days beautiful, faithful, and hospitable.  Nobody had the spotlight, no individual drew attention, but what was on display was the many members of the Body of Christ working in concert to manifest the Paschal Mystery both in worship and in fellowship.  That was spectacular!
Doesn’t the church look amazing?  Melissa and Peter Franklin, with help from Lewis and Peggy Hicks, creatively and beautifully arrayed the flowers in our sanctuary, commemorating that garden in which Christ rose from the dead.  But do not forget that you and so many folks gave those flowers, as a mark of love of the Lord and their family members, whom they hope to help enjoy a share in that resurrection!  The outpouring was especially generous this year – truly a fragrant offering to the Lord!
And while you very likely did not have your attention drawn to any one of them, you cannot have missed the group effort of our altar servers.  These young people willingly gave hours and hours of time and hard work to make the complex liturgies unfold with elegant beauty.  You didn’t see the rehearsals, the early arrivals, and the staying late that they so willingly gave.  It was a joy to see them work so well together, and the friendship that such service fostered among them.
Many have commented on the beauty of the music John Henderson directed and led.  While individual talents were clearly displayed, there was no spotlight-and-microphone grabbing performance, but a generous outpouring of sacred music to accompany the worship of God in these most sacred mysteries.  One parishioner observed that from a seat he didn’t usually occupy, he was struck to see how much the choir enjoyed working with one another to offer their beautiful fruit to the Lord, and to us.
A community can accomplish great things; only a communion can accomplish divine things.  The friendship and affection of life in Christ was clear among the members of the various groups who did so much this week:  the ushers, the lectors, the sacristans and their helpers, the counters of the collection, and the fearless fellowship you all know as “the staff.”  Individually, they were untiring in the their efforts; together they were unstoppable.
In the sanctuary, the corporate nature of even the priesthood was manifest.  Fr. Gallaugher and I enjoyed the presence and help of Fr. Markey and Fr. Brian Kane, a Lincoln (NE) priest who grew up in our parish.  Each of those three took one of the homilies of the Triduum, and to have four of us together for the mystery at the heart of our faith and identity was a real blessing. 
At quarter to seven on Easter morning, I looked out my window and saw a swarm of folks on the lawn preparing for the hospitality and the egg hunt.  More than seven hours later, the tables rolled away like the stone before the Lord’s tomb.  What an effort!  Jasmine Kuzner and Liz Dooley coordinated, and so many worked and helped from the coffee pots to the cleanup.
One parishioner already told me that his family followed a visiting couple up to the church as they remarked first upon the egg hunt, then upon the reception and tent, and then continued to marvel at all they found in the church.  Their reactions made it clear that not everybody expects this, and not everybody gets this; because not everybody is willing to come together to do all this.  And that all of you are, and do, is spectacular. 
This communion in work and worship is the integrity of the Body of Christ in the glory of the resurrection.  This is your, and our, identity before God, made real by your willing participation.  Truly Christ is risen, here and now, in you.  Deo gratias!

Monsignor Smith