As a parish, and as a people, we’ve been through a lot in the past few months. Facing the issues of health and safety, of how to care for each other and how to treat each other, it can feel as if we are adrift, unmoored, untethered, unsafe.
It’s fitting that this is all happening in the part of our lectionary cycle where the Gospel of Matthew is featured. The author of this Gospel wrote it with a particular people in mind: the Messianic Jews of the region of Antioch, who had lost their center of worship, the Great Temple of Jerusalem.
The people there/then had great faith in the Temple building itself. It tied them to each other across generations, standing as a symbol of renewal and of timeless strength. For the believers in that time, the Temple was a home for all that was holy and sacred. It was the place where they were connected to God.
But in their time, the Temple had been destroyed, and the Jewish people at that time had to come to terms with new ways of living their faith; new ways of finding connection with each other and with God, honoring their history but facing an unknown future.
And here we are now, not worshiping inside buildings that we love- buildings that undoubtedly have been places of connection between us throughout their history, buildings where we felt a profound connection to God. Like the Antiochan Jews, we are faced with an unexpected future.
I can’t help but think that being exiled from our houses of worship, for however long this will last, can be an opportunity for us to connect with each other, and with God, in new ways that only the Holy Spirit has envisioned. We are no longer set apart from the world by beautiful walls. Now is the time for us to trust that God can use our time of pilgrimage to build a most beautiful sanctuary among the people of Salem, especially those in most need of welcome, healing, and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
As much as I miss what we had before the pandemic, and loved every minute of what we did and who we were, I admit I’m in no hurry to return to the comfort of a faith lived indoors. I am amazed by the joy of people who come to Mass in their car or on the lawn, amazed by the ways our parishioners are reaching out to care for each other, amazed by the financial and prayerful support we’ve received, even while people are facing uncertainty in all areas of their lives.
I would not want to be living through this time with any parish but MQOA, and I can’t help but feel some excitement about what the Holy Spirit is doing here, even while we struggle and suffer in this difficult climate. Please continue to join me in praying that we can be part of God’s dream for the people of Salem, whether we are in our pews or on the internet.
Remember: please register to join us at Mass this weekend, it really really helps us a lot. Check our website for updates and our Facebook page for the latest information about all that's going on at MQOA.