Taking a Timeout to Change the Momentum

A NEW MESSAGE SERIES SEASON

One of the greatest changes we have made in the parish from a liturgical perspective has been to preach in series instead of week to week homilies.  In the summer of 2019, Deacon Dennis, Deacon Mark, Fr. Pedro and I spent two and half days in Grand Bend reflecting on a book about preaching and planning to implement this new way of sharing the Good News.

All four of us have truly enjoyed the opportunity to pray, share and work together to craft each series looking at the scriptures in a different light being able to more intently connect it to the life of the parish and the needs of the community.  We have seen our appreciation, enjoyment and enthusiasm to preach growing with each series.  Here we go again!!

AT A CROSSROADS

It has now been six months since the lockdown back in March when our lives completely changed.  Many thought that this would be a temporary and brief “bump in the road” but as we see now, some things have changed forever.  How do we adapt, pivot and adjust to the world today while longing for connection and normalcy?  We are at a crossroads needing to make a choice of which road to follow—one of resentment, longing for days of old and ignoring where we are right now or seek to embrace the road of hope given to us by God.  A chance to renew our embrace of faith.

The need to wear a mask, sanitize our hands, keep physically distanced and avoid large gatherings are taking their toll on us.  We are getting tired and pushed to the edge.  We all want things to go back to the way they used to be when we could go to a restaurant, a basketball game, travel or to gather for various occasions with family and friends.

MINISTRY CHALLENGES

This has been a hard journey for everyone.  We at the parish have seen it with the challenges of celebrating weddings, baptisms, First Communions and funerals in the midst of the pandemic.  All of the celebrations are beautiful and powerful yet limited.  Not everyone can attend, not everyone can celebrate and not everyone can mourn.  This becomes a great challenge to be creative, innovative and extra compassionate.

I am so thankful to the staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to provide opportunities both online and in person to connect, support and guide the faithful to Christ in these difficult times.  We continue to learn, adapt and seek new ways to fan the flame of faith, that for many, has diminished in recent months due to the pandemic.

(1) TAKE A TIMEOUT

Since the pandemic, I have to admit, I haven’t had time to watch any sports.  I didn’t even cry when the Bruins were knocked out of the playoffs.  I did watch the last two games of the Toronto Raptors season and enjoyed them very much.  Too bad they lost.

Watching those basketball games reminded me of the many years I have coached and officiated this wonderful game.  Basketball is truly a game of momentum.  The longer a team controls momentum during the game the better chance they have to win.  One of the important tools a coach has to try to stop or swing the momentum the other way is to call a timeout.  When a team is on a run and in complete rhythm and your team is falling apart, you call a timeout or two to slow down the opponents, get them out of sync and refocus your own players.  The hope is that you rattle the other team while trying to spark momentum in your own.

Our first message series of the fall is a call for a timeout.  We are looking to slow the momentum of the pandemic chaos that seems to be overwhelming us and seek to catch our breathe, refocus and generate our own momentum of hope, trust, faith and community.  God is our coach and we are the players looking to re-group trying to gain perspective, seek guidance and generate our own momentum.

This message series is that timeout for us to seek grace and take the path of the Good News which will not only help us endure through our “new normal” but to take the road of grace, hope, joy and love.

(2) SEEK THE LORD

As we face the crossroads of despair, acceptance and frustration, we take a timeout to slow down and disrupt the momentum of this global crisis that has overwhelmed us.  When we stop, we need to seek the Lord while he may be found.  We need to return to our bench and huddle around the Lord ready to listen to His instructions, encouragement and support.  He will guide us to where we need to go.  But how can we seek the Lord during the pandemic?  It is very hard and may not even be possible to get to Mass, go to Confession or pray.

Personal Prayer—We need to pray.  You can do that at home with the scriptures, the rosary or some quiet time.  You can also go online via our parish website and explore the many different opportunities of prayer.(www.stgeorgelondon.ca) You can do lectio divina, the St. John Paul II Prayer Series, TED retreats, online rosary, pilgrimages to Poland, the holy Land or Italy (coming soon), devotions and litanies.  You can journey through previous message series or watch a previous parish mission.  You can also join us online or in person for Mass.

Examination of Conscience—This form of prayer invites us to look at how things went at the end of each day.  We look at what graces and blessings we need to thank God for while also taking time to see where we strayed away from the Gospel seeking forgiveness for the ways we were not kind, generous or loving.  The American Bishops have a few different ones you can look at by clicking on this link.

Make Time For God—To seek the Lord we need to make the time.  May we seek the Lord and take a timeout each day to thank Him and seek His guidance, compassion and love.  God can help us change the momentum in these difficult times.  May we trust