Last Sunday in Old Church
As you know officially this is our last Sunday Mass in this church. We will still be celebrating Mass here in July until we can make the move to our new church. At the end of Mass we will ritualize this event by carrying our parish records of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals out of this church as a sign of our movement to the future.
Reflecting on today’s scripture can support us as we move on to our new church. Today’s portion of Mark’s gospel comes at the end of a long series of parables Jesus used to teach the people the good news – Mark tells us that great crowds came to hear him – Jesus felt himself in danger of being crushed by the crowd so he asked his disciples to have a boat ready for him so he could preach from the boat. Jesus taught the people in parables – stories about the seed growing, the yeast fermenting, always stories about growth, becoming. Having finished his preaching Jesus knew it was time to move on – He had other cities and towns to visit.
So we have today’s gospel of crossing over to the other side, the violent storm and the calming of the sea. In a way we could imagine that the disciples were quite happy with the way things were – crowds were coming to hear Jesus, this was a good scene, they were getting comfortable with the situation. But Jesus gives the order – we’re moving on – we’re crossing over to the other side where there will be more work to do, more challenges to meet.
Moving on is not always an easy thing to do – moving out of a home you’ve lived in for years can be heartbreaking – leaving behind so many memories. Moving on from grade school into high school or from high school into university – these changes can be fraught with anxiety of what is ahead. Moving on from a single life to married life – moving on from a job you’ve held for years and going into retirement – moving on from independent living to home care – in all these situations we tend to think more on what we are leaving behind than the possibilities of what lies ahead.
As a parish family we are in the process of moving on, crossing over to the other side – we leave behind this holy place and space that has been our home these 54 years – we have memories of great celebrations and tragic funerals – in these past 54 years we celebrated 6,606 baptisms 3,838 first communions, 3,327 confirmations, 2,203 weddings, 1,363 funerals – occasions of joy – times of sadness.
Maybe we can see in the turbulent seas of today’s gospel the mixed emotions we all have about our move – I’ve been a priest 47 years – 35 of those years have been here at St. Gabriel’s and its not easy to say good bye to this place with its many memories – its not easy for any of us – but – we can make our own the first words of our second reading tell us – the love of Christ urges us on, urges us on to cross over to the other side – we can make our own the last words of Paul – in Christ there is a new creation – everything old has passed away – see everything has become new – We want to grow as a community of faith – our new church expresses in the way it was built, in the way we will gather in it – in the way we will worship in it – a new sense of God’s good creation – hopefully we will be put us in touch with a new way of looking at creation – a deeper awareness of our connectedness with all God’s good creation – a greater gratitude for the beauty of the earth – a deeper sense of our personal commitment to the healing of Earth.
Christ chided the disciples for their lack of faith – that they doubted he would leave them to their own resources in that troubled sea – We can continue this Mass giving thanks to God for all that has happened in our church these past 54 years – and asking for the faith we need to trust that Christ is with us as we go through the troubled seas of our own emotions – crossing over to that other side that will be full of new life and new possibilities.