Consider this…God comes in the unexpected.
Where did Advent go? I don’t know about you but Advent seemed to fly right by. Even though it flew, I pray that the fruit of this Advent season here at St. Mary’s will be evident for months. In a time when everything is different, and restrictions prevent us from almost anything normal, I promise you God is working. Look at the Gospel this weekend, the angel Gabriel proclaims to Mary that she is favored and will bear God’s Son. This is certainly unexpected and changes Mary’s life, but she says YES. That yes then brings salvation to our world, for us. Talk about unexpected!
Where have we found God in the unexpected here at St. Mary’s? Even amidst a pandemic, the first place that jumps out at me is our Day of Mercy and Healing. Even though we couldn’t do a ‘normal’ penance service, our Day of Mercy and Healing provided an opportunity for people to experience God’s love and mercy, and people responded. So many received God’s reconciling love and mercy, and many were anointed with the Sacrament of Anointing. Yes, even in a pandemic, even in a new unexpected format God came to us at St. Mary’s, and it was amazing! I’m still being inspired by this!
First Reconciliations also took place during Advent, and the change in format of our ‘normal’ First Reconciliation service made us wonder, will this work? I have to share that it was a graced moment! The beauty of our First Reconciliations was heartwarming. Parents bringing their children for their first time for Reconciliation, and then receiving the Sacrament themselves to be great role models to their children. The unexpected change turned out to be a blessing and families complimented the adapted format because it was more comfortable for all. The unexpected change brought God’s mercy to children for the first time, and parents who inspired their kids. It was awesome!
These are just two examples of how St. Mary’s change from ‘normal’ revealed God working in abundant ways. Even though it may be uncomfortable, maybe God is helping us to realize through everything, that we don’t need to be so in control and that we can find God in the unexpected.
I’m sure our Christmas celebrations this week will also be different. I pray that we don’t lose the sacredness of the Christmas season simply because it is going to be ‘different’, or isn’t ‘normal’. I pray that we open ourselves to experience God in the unexpected. Remember, God never disappoints us, but can help us to grow even in the unexpected.
I pray that this final week of Advent is prayerful for all of us. I pray that each of us may encounter Jesus with newfound hope and insight as I’m sure we will all experience the unexpected in many ways this Christmas. I hope that you are able to join us for Christmas Mass, live and in person or virtually. Please know that all of you are in my prayers in a very special way this year.
I encourage you to consider how and where you and your family find God in unexpected ways this Christmas.