My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ at St. Herman's:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Please forgive my absence from you as I recover from my second emergency retinal surgery in as many weeks. It is very difficult for me to be away from you: when the starting bell rings, an old race horse wants to bolt from the starting gate, and when Sunday morning comes, an old one-eyed priest wants to pray at the altar and preach from the ambo. But my surgeon has forbidden me to return to work for an entire month, and my bishop has ordered me to obey his medical advice.
In all this enforced absence, I am consoled by three things. (Here comes the three-point sermon after all.)
1. I am consoled by the hard work and dedication of Deacon Kurt, who is God's great gift to all of us. Being the interim pastor for an absent priest was /not /part of the expected job description when he was ordained, and this added burden is made all the more challenging by his extra domestic tasks during the week. Yet he has risen wonderfully to the sudden challenges and our community could not be left in better pastoral hands.
2. I am consoled by the presence of my dear friend and concelebrant, Fr.
John Bingham. This month has been more than interesting for him as well, and yet he has selflessly carved out the time to befriend a sick brother. I am grateful to him for his love, compassion and kindness, both me and to our community. It is my hope that we shall yet stand together at the same altar and serve together for many Liturgies.
3. Finally, I am consoled by your presence here in my absence, for it means that my words have not altogether been in vain. In all my sermons my aim has been to uplift the Name of Jesus, so that you, the holy people of God, come to Liturgy to meet, worship and exalt Him. He is our joy, the strength in our hearts, the breath in our lungs, and, (as I am discovering) the light in our eyes. You come to Church to commune with Him, as earthly members joined to our heavenly Head.
That is, you do not come to Liturgy because Fr. Lawrence is there, but rather because the Lord Jesus is there and because, as His people who belong to Him, you also belong to one another. Your absence from here on Sundays would tell me that you are failing one another as fellow-members of the same body, and therefore that I have failed you as your priest. (And how could I remedy that? By starting to preach
_four_-point sermons?) Therefore, as you meet together in the weeks to
come as the holy community you are, as St. Paul says, "I am filled with comfort, I am overflowing with joy in all my affliction". You are my consolation.
May God bless and keep you all.
Your loving papa and fellow-servant,
posted by Mat. Donna
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