A number of years ago a call came from the maternity ward of the hospital. A young dad was calling to report the birth of his first child. “Cindy has just given birth, a little girl. Can you come up and see us?”
A short time later I arrived at the hospital and went up to maternity. Walking down the corridor I saw the young man standing in the doorway of his wife’s room. In obvious excitement, he grabbed my arm and hauled me into the room, exclaiming: “Come and see what we’ve made!”
A new birth is an exciting thing. It deserves to be proclaimed and celebrated. That new dad was doing precisely that. Just the look on his face expressed the excitement. As he looked as his wife his love for her and the wonder of what had taken place was obvious.
I am sure that after the excitement, will come other sensations – anxiety and worry about how to care for this little one. But also there would be joy and gratitude for what God had worked through his wife and him. A new birth is a wondrous thing, truly God’s work.
This weekend our diocese gives birth to a whole series of new parishes. From clusters of three or four communities, we see new parishes just beginning. This is a moment marked by great faith and hope for the future. It is a time to celebrate.
As we move into the future in our new parishes, there will be some anxiety and uncertainty. There may even some sense of loss as we leave what we had for something new. But this is a time for hope and promise as we see the birth of new opportunities in our new parish communities. A new birth is a wondrous thing, truly God’s work.
Our Scriptures offer us wonderful stories that reveal God’s work in our lives. The Old Testament story of the Exodus is presents us with a classic image of where we are now. As Moses led the people of God out of Egypt and had them embark on the trek to the Promised Land there was surely some excitement and also relief that they were leaving the bondage in which they had been held. This was trek to freedom filled with hope and promise.
As they left Egypt they did not know all the struggles and blessing that they would encounter as they trekked through the desert. There would be hope, but there would also be setbacks. There would be times when some would lament what they had left behind and they would argue that they go back. But others recognized that God was with them and would stay with them. And God did. It was in the desert, in the midst of their challenges that they came to recognize they were a People of God. Their new birth in freedom was a wondrous thing, truly God’s work.
Today our diocese and our parish are experiencing new birth. The hope and promise of this new birth of this new birth is that we can build active, vital and life-giving communities of faith open to all. Revitalization means the promise of full churches, with liturgies that include all generations – children, youth, adults and seniors. Our new parishes aim to be inclusive and welcome to all, members and strangers. We are called to offer faith formation, prayer opportunities, and outreach for all. Are we there now? No, but we will be working towards this goal in the years to come. May we recognize that this journey begins a wonderous thing, truly God’s work.