Holy Trinity Rector, Very Reverend Marc A. Vranes, returned to Holy Trinity on Sunday, October 22, 2017. He had been absent the previous two weeks, home and rehabilitating, as a result of total right knee replacement surgery on October 4 at MidState Medical Center in nearby Meriden, Connecticut. Many thoughts go through one’s mind during this post-surgical time. Following are some thoughts shared by Fr Marc to his church community upon his return.
Christ is in our midst.
Good Morning. It is good to be back.
Without question, the Parable on the Rich Man and Lazarus (Saint Luke 16:19-31), today’s Gospel reading, is my favorite one to preach on. This Sunday each October is always highly anticipated. The depth of this parable is unparalled, and frightening. We note that after the Rich Man had died and was buried (v.22), something changes in him, the evangelist Luke notes. Although there was never any stated repentance or contrition from him, his perspective changed and he became only concerned that the same fate not befall his five brothers (vs. 27-28). That was all that mattered.
A change in perspective is an interesting thought process to consider. It comes to all of us at some point.
No one actively sets out to pursue a change in perspective. It normally comes to us as a result of a change that is forced upon us, and takes us out of our daily routine. Somewhere along the continuum of thought, man becomes grateful for this change in perspective. He receives this change as a gift from God, and uses it as an opportunity to offer thanks and draw nearer to God. Thank God for changed perspectives; they are indeed beneficial.
My own perspective has changed significantly since I was last with you. I began to see life from the outside looking in, instead of inside-out. I usually function on one side of the hospital rail, and am called upon to be a spiritual care-giver. Yet, I had become the patient for several days, and it was a completely different perspective. Second, I was no longer in the center of the community, but instead, was afforded the opportunity to see our Holy Trinity community through the eyes of being a parishioner, sitting in the back of the church.
I came to see that our church is not a museum piece, in spite of our best efforts, at times, to make it that way. We are, I noted, a group of well-intentioned and honorable people, who although are sinful, broken, and fallen, love the Lord God and make the effort to live a Christian life, one that is well pleasing in the Lord’s sight, devoted to the Gospel teachings, and truly attempt to make some sort of mark on the world into which we have been called into, so that God might call us to eternal life. As such, we are the Body of Christ, the church; a community of believers.
When the Body gathers together as church, and for God, we do so with human limitations; yet with the knowledge that we can only attain to human perfection through the free gift of God’s grace. In the final analysis, we do the best with what we’ve got, and through prayer ask God to perfect us so that we will grow more into his likeness.
I apply all of this, and to my own changed perspective over the past twenty days, to what I have learned during my time away from you.
I visited two churches, one each of the past two Sundays (October 8 & 15), since my last time here on October 1. One church was absent of children; it was lonely and felt empty. The other community was full of children; it was vibrant and full of life.
What these two trips reinforced for me is that our own church is nothing without children. They are a tremendous gift, and must always be seen as a blessing from God to each of us, not just some of us. As we have learned at Holy Trinity, since escaping the darkness of the 1990’s, children have the power to soften hearts, and to turn us from old and complaining, into joyful and prayerful images of Christ to them and to each other.
There is no pulse to a church community without children. They are without guile, they are completely innocent; and this is what they teach us, and this is what we as adults are in desperate need of because we have lost our way. Children are curious and they love to explore; they bring with them a certain activity level in church that we must become accustomed to. If one of our children is having a difficult day, we will be forced to handle it to the best of our ability. Rather than be critical, see how it is we can assist. Everyone of us. No one is exempt; it is their church, as much as it is ours.
Three weeks ago on October 1, I received a final gift prior to my time away from you. As I went upstairs to gather my belongings, there was a certain eight year old girl from our parish who was singing alone where the choir stands, in an otherwise empty church, by herself. After a few moments, she would move to the foot of the amvon and play the role of the priest chanting petitions. Back and forth she moved, first she was the choir, then the priest.
Who would want to stifle that, I thought?. What a wonderful final gift she gave to me. Thank you, and blessings to you, Anna Rose.
All this, and more, is what I have learned during the past three weeks. I am grateful for my changed perspective; and I give glory to God for each of you, and especially to our children, who have helped me with a changed perspective that I otherwise might not have had.
May each of us be allowed to experience a change in perspective, one that is received as a gift from God and brings us into a more perfect union with him.