homily – October 1

New Church

I won’t be preaching on the scripture this Sunday rather I’d like to bring you up to date on our new home. We’ve been in our new home over a month now. As you can see behind me they are still demolishing our old home. It’s a home that holds many memories for all of us. I was away the days they demolished the church – that’s such a harsh word – demolish. I was spared the experience. But the other week Father Steve Dunn and I watched as they demolished – there’s that word again, the monastery chapel, our recreation room and our refectory. The machine looked like a giant, hungry dinosaur tearing apart our home. That monastery was our home for many years – it’s loaded with memories – it’s been rough celebrating morning Mass and watching them tearing the place apart. I know many of you have had the same sad feelings as you saw the gradual disappearance of our old church. I know a lot of tears were shed.

But as the song sings – that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.

Here we are in our new home – we’re still moving in, its a work in progress. We still have to get used to our new seating arrangement – an arrangement that is totally different from what we are used to. It’s call antiphonal seating and is based on monastery choirs when the monks stood opposite one another as we do and chanted the office back and forth. There is a reason for our seating arrangement.

The church is not the building, it is people. Recently a bishop had dedicated a new church. He remarked to the pastor, you have a magnificent building here – to which the pastor replied, yes and we have a wonderful church ie wonderful people. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul talks about their coming together as church – they had no church buildings in Corinth – when they came together in homes, they were the church. That’s why we chose this form of seating to give you a better sense of community – of being here with other people – people you can see. We all know Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament but the truth is Christ just as present in this gathering – in you good people. Again it will take a bit of getting used to this but I’m sure we all will. I like to suggest you don’t get squatter’s rights – sitting in the same pew every Sunday – move around – mix it up – get another sense of the space, another sense of the church, the people.

Our beautiful stain glass windows are being restored and will be in place as soon as possible. The five windows from the arches in the old church will be placed in the five windows next to the doors of the church – the others will be displayed as banners as the occasion arises. This too is a work in progress. You’ll notice we’ve used much of the glass from the front doors of the old church as we could.

To have a sense of continuity we brought as much as possible from the old church – the pews – the marble for the altar, the pulpit, the baptismal font. Our tabernacle has been refurbished and has a new altar. The space in which the tabernacle is placed will be a chapel of ease – there will be chairs for your use when you come for a visit – it will provide its own ambiance of peace and quiet and privacy. New lighting will highlight the cross and tabernacle.

We brought with us our beautiful statues of the Sacred Heart and St. Gabriel. To tell you the truth I love our statue of the welcoming Christ. He was usually hidden by all the trees on the lawn of the old church – now Christ is very visible and very welcoming.

As I said, we are a work in progress. The chairs for the priests and servers have yet to arrive as well as the chairs for choir. And our reconciliation rooms which are on either side of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament have yet to be furnished. There will be a book of appreciation, which will list the donors and the gifts they’ve provided to our new home.

In the old church we had little if any space to gather and socialize as we entered or left the church. Our new gathering space gives us a wonderful open space – it is graced by our living wall of live plants. This living wall is meant to purify the air in our gathering space. This gathering place will help us be more church to one another – as we take our time coming and going. The underground parking is working out very well and thanks for your patience and co operation in your parking. We’ll appreciate it all the more when the snow falls. Just one thing, spaces marked ‘car pool parking’ are for cars that have more than two people in them.

As you can see our restored stations of the cross grace our west wall. I know some people feel the walls are stark – they are. Someone referred to our cement walls as the elegance of simplicity. You can see this especially when they awash with the colors that come from the stain glass skylights. Our walls speak to us of the earth – sand, water and lime, slag and sludge and they are reinforced by recycled steel and our glass wall opens us up to the world around us – so that even in our worship we won’t be wrapped up in our own space but are open to and aware of the beauty and the fragility of creation.

We are called Canada’s first green church. Every church creates its own atmosphere – it has its own feeling. Our old church offered us a real sense of tranquility. Our new home has its own atmosphere too – we just have to get used to it, let it grow on us.

The goal of all those involved in the planning and building of this new church that the praise and preaching done in this new space will facilitate the greening of those who worship here. Greening in the sense that we all will come to a deeper sense the human family’s oneness with the rest of God’s good creation. Greening in the sense that we all come to a deeper awareness of the truth that ‘we did not weave the web of life, we are strand in the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves’ – Greening in the sense that we face the truth, ‘the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth and what we do to the earth we do to ourselves’.

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist we can pray for ourselves and for each other that our time spent in our new home will be blessed by God, bring us closer to each other and to the wonders of God’s good creation.