Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our new church reveals the glory of God

In today’s Gospel, the miraculous transformation of water into wine is certainly an important part of the story.  But there is more.  We should not overlook the fact that there would have been no wine, if Mary, the mother of Jesus, had not acted.  Mary saw the problem, recognized the gift that Jesus had, and said, “Do whatever he tells you.”

By converting the water into wine, Jesus “revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”  The revealing of Christ’s glory would not have happened without human involvement.  This marvelous sign of Christ’s glory did not take place in a vacuum.  It was precipitated by human action.  It required Mary, of course.  But, the servers also needed to follow Jesus’ direction by filling the water jars and taking some to the head waiter.  I imagine that they felt foolish when they drew from these jars, which they had just filled with water, to give to the headwaiter to taste.  And yet they did it and the glory of Christ was revealed in the excellent wine.

In our lives, our families, our parish, and our community the glory of Christ remains hidden, dormant, unrevealed, unless we become involved.  Grapes would not become wine and wine would not become the blood of Christ without human action.  The glory of Christ revealed in our world today depends upon our actions.

Today we see a visible expression of the glory of Christ being revealed in our beautiful new church.  We have waited a long time for this church.  And, certainly, it was worth the wait.  As many of you know, there have been several false starts over the past fifteen years.  On several occasions, we started the process of building a new church, only to discover that the time was not right for it.  I was on the steering committee in 1998 through 2001 when we made the first attempt.  At that time, our pastor received many of these stained glass windows from Archbishop Pilarczyk.  We proceeded to conduct a survey, hire an architect and develop plans for a church.  But, Father Hohlmayer had to retire due to poor health and the project was shelved.

A few years’ later, a building committee was formed and an architect was hired under the direction of our pastor, Father Schmitz.  But, once again, the timing wasn’t right for building a church or any other structure here.

Father Bernie started the process again a few years’ ago and proceeded through fundraising, hiring an architect and developing plans for the church.  But, when these plans were sent out for bids, all of the bids were much higher than the funds available.   Father Bernie with the assistance of Mike Perkins and Don Hinkle, was able to revise the plans to fit within our budget so our church could finally be built. 

There are several key lessons to be learned from this effort.  First, it teaches us the importance of perseverance.  Although we were disappointed by the first two efforts, our parishioners didn’t give up on the goal to build a new church.

Secondly, it shows us that God is always in charge and that what he wants for us is better than we can imagine.  We could not have built a traditional church like this in either 2000 or 2003.  At that time, all churches were being built in the round and often the tabernacle was located outside of the worship space.  By waiting several years, we were able to build a church which is more traditional with this beautiful tabernacle at its center for all to see. 

Finally, we see the importance of our efforts, working together in revealing the glory of God.  We have been blessed with a pastor, several advisors, and a builder who worked together extremely well to build an attractive, yet economical church.  Also, as a congregation, we responded to the fundraising efforts and pledged the funds necessary to build this church.  And then, when additional funds were needed for the interior furnishings, we again responded generously so that these beautiful statues, stations, organ, piano, and stained glass windows could be purchased or restored.  It has truly been a community effort and we have every reason to be proud. 

So, now and for many years to come, God’s glory will be revealed in this beautiful church.  We will look at the tabernacle and meditate upon the glory of God and the gift of the Eucharist.   We will look at the stained glass windows and reflect upon the glory of God in those events which they represent.  And we will listen to this beautiful organ as it lifts us up in song to experience just a glimpse of the glory of God.   So, we give thanks for all who played a role in making this beautiful church a reality and for their patience, perseverance, faith, and  inspiration in making this possible.  And now it is time to use this church as it is intended to be used – for the glory of God.  It is time to celebrate one of the first of many, many liturgies in this holy place.  We can all look forward to celebrations of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and of course, Eucharist for many years here. 

Lord, bless us in this beautiful church.  Grant that we may persevere in the teaching of the apostles, in the breaking of the bread, and in unceasing prayer, and so be built into the heavenly Jerusalem.