Aunt Ann and Mom came with me to church this morning. I checked Mapquest and off we went to Stratford. What I didn’t know was that the Mass at that church was moved from 8am to 9am for First Communion. So we jumped in the car and had 7 minutes to get to another church. Once we hit Main Street though, I pulled out the GPS (!) and found St. James less than a mile away.
I think we were meant to find St. James today, because it was a beautiful church, perfect sermon, and had a special blessed moment at the end. We slipped in during the first reading. After the Gospel reading, the priest (Later we found out his name was Fr. Tom and the parishioner who told us, described him as “Terrific with a capital T!”) stood at the podium to deliver the homily.
Fr. Tom started off the homily with the words “He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life”. He talked about finding the Way (Again, that GPS got us there!) and then being open physically and spiritually to the Truth. He talked about the fact that once you describe yourself as a follower of Christ, you can’t just pick out the “good parts we want to know and do” and disregard the rest. To be a true follower of Christ is an all or nothing package.
WOW! That is interesting!
I thought of all the times that I have thought about something I don’t agree with in a reading or in the Bible….I just disregarded it and openly said, “That doesn’t make sense to me” or “I don’t agree”. I need to think about that a little more! Maybe it is an ALL or NOTHING deal!?
He then went on to say, once you have found the Way, and sought the Truth, you will have Life in Christ. To be totally living a life in Christ, you have an open invitation to lay your burdens down at His feet and rest in the knowledge that He will take care of it. What a beautiful image!!!I truly need to lay the things that lay heavy in my heart down….at the feet of Christ!
In fact, as you enter the church this message is over the door for all to see: “Come to Me, all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. It was nice to hear a homily that so totally aligned to the welcoming message.
As Fr. Tom Lynch continued the Mass following the homily, I turned around to wave peace to the other people at church. I was so caught off guard when a man, about 40+, was standing across the aisle. He had longish hair, a beard, jeans, work boots, and a Tshirt. At first glance, he could have been a bigger version of my brother, but a second look, as he turned and faced me….he kind of resembled Jesus! I turned and told mom and Aunt Ann…”If Jesus was standing here, that is what he would look like!” They agreed!!
After Mass, a gentleman asked Fr. Tom to bless his parents who were celebrating their 60th anniversary. He did better than that! He called us all back together to the center of the aisle, to pray over the couple, as they faced each other and held hands, and renewed their wedding vows! An impromptu wedding…YUP…I cried! It was beautiful!
I was so intrigued by Fr. Tom and St James church, I looked up their website. Across the top banner is their Mission Statement:
See a face, learn a name, share a story, love one another
After spending one hour there…..I had no problem believing that this is a parish that is living their faith!