Many of you are travelling this Christmas to be with families and loved ones, and I hope that you have some sacred time with them. Others of us are staying here, some with and some without families nearby, and for many of us St. Paul’s really comes to be our family, certainly our loved ones. I hope that we shall have a sacred time also, beyond the wonderful time that we shall spend in prayer together.
One of the many blessings of St. Paul’s is the diversity of parishioners. We have an overwhelming abundance of intelligent, creative, talented, educated, interesting people.
During this season of expectant preparation and waiting for the birth of our Lord Jesus there are many ways for us to give thanks for our parish blessings. Perhaps this is a good time to celebrate our “Older” members and the gifts they bestow on us every day.
First of all, you may be wondering why the Director of Music is writing to you about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Members of our choirs, perhaps those in the parish who know me best and my many foibles, might well think I ought to head for the nearest confessional just about every time I put one step in front of the other.
But I write to you on this topic because it is of interest to me, and I may have some perspective that is helpful to a few.
"The Church does not have a mission; the Church is mission". This line jumped off the page when I read it a number of weeks ago. It comes from a discussion by theologian Stanley Hauerwas on the Church's tendency to speak of the mission of the Church as if it is distinct from how the Church lives out its identity as Christ's body. Mission is not something the Church does in addition to other things; mission is a constitutive part of our life together in Christ.
For the past few years I have gathered with my sister and brother-in-law and their children for a family Thanksgiving, since my family is in the San Francisco Bay area. They do not have some of the practices of prayer and gratitude that are mine, but I have asked them to reflect (unfortunately while the turkey is growing cold) to name what they are grateful for this year and have heard some lovely prayers.