Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Letter to the Hebrews, which we read this week, carries a sense of excitement for the new things that have dawned in Christ. I think it provides some important lessons for us as we continue to work on the All Things New pastoral plan.
On a human level, a sense of excitement accompanies every graduation: eighth grade, high school, college and so on. The excitement comes, interestingly, from something that’s partly unknown. We don’t know exactly what the next step will hold. But we’re still excited to take it.
There’s a certain sadness with every graduation, too, as there should be! Something good is being lost. But the sadness doesn’t stop us from taking the next step, and it shouldn’t!
In both of these senses — the sadness and the excitement — All Things New is like a graduation.
Something similar happens every time we enter a new stage of life: getting a new job, living on our own for the first time, getting married or becoming a parent or a grandparent. These next steps are accompanied by excitement and trepidation. There’s excitement because there’s something more for us in the next stage of life. There’s trepidation, too. We wonder about the challenges we’ll face and whether we’ll get them right.
All Things New brings that same sense of excitement and trepidation.
Note, too, with all of these — graduations, new stages of life and All Things New — it’s not that what came before was bad. Quite the contrary, because what came before was good, but it’s time for us to take the next step. Sadness, trepidation and excitement are all bound up together in the experience of transition.
The coming months will bring a lot of emotions. It’s important to be deliberate in how we approach those emotions. Sadness can come out sideways as anger. Trepidation can turn into paralysis. Excitement can run away with us and fuel imprudent decisions. I hope we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and take some wisdom from other experiences of transition. That will allow us to give each emotion its proper place while moving steadily into what comes next.
The Letter to the Hebrews also draws our attention to some important symbols. It speaks of Melchizedek as a priest who foreshadowed Christ. It speaks of the tabernacle set up by Moses as a foreshadowing of heaven. Think about symbols that can help us understand the transition we’re going through with All Things New, and this week’s readings offer us a pretty good one: the calling of the 12 apostles (Mark 3:13-19).
The 12 were already followers of Jesus. When He called them, He reconfigured their lives in a significant way. But He reconfigured their lives precisely for the sake of the mission that He was giving them.
That strikes me as an apt symbol of what we are and will be experiencing with All Things New. We’re already followers of Christ. Our experience of parish life will be reconfigured. But it will be reconfigured precisely for the sake of being sent out on mission in a new way.
Let’s continue to walk forward into the excitement, sadness and trepidation of our reconfiguring and pray that it will be rooted in Christ.