Thursday, June 28, 2018

Open Hearts

Have you ever had a week where you feel good energy emanating from everyone, and everything seems in harmony? That's how I felt this past week. I'm not exaggerating. So much good is happening at St. Helena's that I am convinced the Holy Spirit is leading us toward an abundant new life. I am absolutely glowing with pride.

First of all, the very fact that we were able to celebrate LGBTQ Pride on Sunday is a huge achievement. Many parishes would be afraid even to mention the word "gay" or "lesbian," but I was proud of those who set aside any personal discomfort and showing up for Mass with open and generous hearts. I have been delighted, moreover, by the visitors we have had over the last few weeks, which testifies to the good energy we are generating. I was also proud on Sunday when one of our youth was unexpectedly injured while the adults were in the vestry meeting, and everybody--Anglos and Latinos--pulled together to care for her. Coming together in a moment of crisis is one of the things we do best. And I was incredibly proud that we were able to be honest at the vestry meeting about the "pinches" we are all feeling as a result of the changes we are implementing. Nobody said it would be easy.

Then, on Wednesday night our longstanding book/discussion group engaged once again in a completely improvised discussion that began with "why do bad things happen to good people?" and concluded with a discussion of the sacrament of reconciliation, after having covered sin, gluttony, biblical anthropology, and the skeptical approach to Biblical interpretation called "the hermeneutic of suspicion!" It was a vibrant and energizing discussion, and my conversation partners shared with me that, after years of trying a variety of formats, what we had just done was exactly what they needed to feel spiritually fed during the week. A slam dunk.

I also continued my ministry of presence this week at the Starbucks on Lagrange Road in Countryside, where I've been keeping office hours three afternoons a week. The number of people who have stopped for the "free prayer" on my table sign, and have shared with me their deepest concerns--for refugee children divided from their parents at the border, for their own children unable to find jobs after college, for their personal desire to follow Jesus faithfully--has been awe-inspiring. The good energy is building and I am so amped for what the future holds for us. Again, nobody said change was easy, and there will continue to be challenges and disagreements, anxieties and uncertainties. But I ask you to keep your hearts open and TRUST that God is leading us somewhere very, very good.

Abundant blessings,
Fr. Ethan+

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