I hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving; I’m looking forward to our day school navigating the 3 weeks till Christmas break safely and productively. It is Covid 19 time so Advent and Christmas here at SCL will likely be like Lent and Easter earlier in the year, a shadow of what we normally would do. I have found myself much too often noticing too much of what is not, and not nearly enough what is. I’m not suggesting ignoring reality is a good strategy, but I am saying to myself and others more and more often, you will see, and likely only see, what you go looking for. Advent is a time to look for a coming, if I can see with the eyes of faith that Emmanuel, God with is, is coming, has come; then how does that give me wisdom in seeing what is about us and happening now?
The pandemic has turned our world more upside down than ever, it has disrupted and harmed life and livelihood, family and friends, health and stability. But I wonder for myself do I give it much more power than it deserves, and no I’m not buying the hoax dementia; rather I’m suggesting that I need to more deeply know and believe in the power of God’s goodness, grace. Grace which sanctifies is no less with us, in us, and among us pandemic or not, war or not, hatred or not. Every day given as a gift offers me, us, the opportunity to open my life more fully to God, especially my broken and vulnerable self, to salvation, to fullness of life. Will I look? Will I see? Only if I am open to God’s goodness and its power to give life and transform.
Let me give a couple of examples from my place. Our school was able to open and stay open now for 3 months, and be safe, and be filled with learning and friendship, for many reasons: Good leadership, commitment from parish and school families, hard work, creativity, courage from teachers and administration, loving care, fellowship, and determination to name just a few of the characteristics that have made this possible. I see and hear the school at work and I am reminded of what is, what good can do. And it happens because so many have determined to do what must be done, and to do it willingly. In my view there is so much greater care and cooperation in our school community this year, the pandemic couldn’t shake that, it called it forth, and good people made it happen. I’m not describing a silver lining here; I am rather describing God with us at work.
Generosity. Our parish is in fact known for its generosity, most recently the Run for Ryan made this clear. New parishioners almost universally notice that we care about and for one another. Throughout these 9 months your generosity has not only been unabated, but it has also grown. Many could have claimed in fear and anxiety to close down their vision and focus only on self, very few if any did. My neighbor in need was not a threat, but rather one who presented the opportunity to share and care. And yes, not as hands on as I might have wanted, but this parish did not choose isolation, the bonds of connection remain strong if manifested in pandemic safe manner. I am seeing the church vibrantly living its mission, dedicated discipleship abounds in the midst of our challenging circumstances as we pray and live together.
There are many more examples, but enough. Look for every opportunity this Advent to open yourself to the power of God’s goodness. Look for the good in you and all around you. If evil is to be conquered, it is grace that accomplishes that, and God’s plan is that we must be the instruments of grace. So let us be watchful for grace and goodness, and more let us be ever open to it.