Seeing 20/20 in the Year 2020

December 29, 2019

We are bombarded by opportunities on New Year’s Day to make new promises and new resolutions.  It is a part of the celebration of a new year.  As we begin 2020, I think about all of the eye exams I ever had when the goal was always to see 20-20.  So how can we see clearly in the New Year?  While a lot has been written and recently I have been doing a lot of reading about why many people are no longer going to church, the reality is more about faith in Jesus.  I ask myself a lot, do we as a parish of St. Anne profess clearly a voice of a Savior who welcomed all to come and listen?   Do we live our profession of the dignity of all human life?  Do we radically believe in the grace found in every person?  Easy to profess, not as easily to be lived at times.

Does prejudice affect our openness?  Have we challenged ourselves to walk in the shoes of the marginalized, the addicted and immigrants?  It is not easy, but in 2020 to see 20-20 I feel we have to go back to the way Jesus walked on the earth.

Seven years ago at my first celebration of Easter at St. Anne, I wrote something I truly believe which we handed out on a prayer card.  It was a declaration of welcome.  As I reread it today, I am humbled by the directness of its vision.  I said I hoped that people could find a reason to never leave their faith or their Church and would want to stay, but that was unrealistic.  Then flowed words from my heart and soul,

What we offer You is all we have,
The undeniable presence of the Risen Lord gifted to us in the Eucharist.
We offer this to You freely and completely.
Our doors will always be open, you will always be welcome
And His Real Presence will never be denied.

I go back to these honest words.  What we are all about when we are seeing 20-20 is His real Presence.   When we stay there, close to Him, we shall not falter.   At old St. Pat’s in the city of Chicago, they have put a banner outside defining welcome.  Its words are radical and profound, challenging and accepting.  In this New Year, these words challenge me to look 20 -20 in the mirror, and ask myself, how welcoming am I?  The banner states:

Christian & Jewish & Muslim & Hindu & Buddhist & Baha’i & black & white & brown & olive & straight & gay & lesbian & he & she & us & you & rich & poor & single & married & separated & divorced & hurt & citizen & immigrant & other & joyous & sad & hopeful & alone & depressed & lost & found & human.  All are welcome.

These words challenge me to reconnect deeply with what we offer and who we are.  We offer Jesus.  We are His followers doing our best.

Have a blessed new year as we strive to see 20-20 in 2020.

Reverend  John J. Ouper