The Rector's Column Summer 2015

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

We are what we repeatedly do.
                               Aristotle

There are 127 churches in the Diocese of Chicago. The Diocese encompasses approximately the northern third of the state of Illinois and, as a result, comprises a wide variety of congregations. There are churches ranging in average Sunday attendance from 400 down to six. Some congregations are in tiny farming communities, while others are smack dab in the middle of busy urban settings; some churches are rich in resources and people, while others struggle daily to survive financially and spiritually. Our Diocese contains very traditional communities of faith, and some that are extremely liberal. We have many ethnic congregations, including a growing presence in the Hispanic community. Some parishes are "high church," others more evangelical in their theology and worship. This a very diverse and vibrant Diocese in many ways, as one might expect in this part of the country.

Among all of this variety, Holy Comforter stands unique in at least one aspect: we are one of only three churches in the entire Diocese-and the only non-urban parish-that celebrate the Eucharist every single day. Think about that for a moment. Every single morning, whatever the season, whatever the weather, whatever the feast, whatever the pressures of life, whatever the attendance, whatever the news of the day, whatever the mood of the world, this church begins its day in the preeminent act of worshipping and giving thanks to God. Day after day, week after week, year after year, people gather to be nourished by the sacred bread of the holy meal and to share in the cup of Christ, that his life might flow into our lives, his Spirit envelop our spirits, his blood course through our veins. Some of the people who come to the daily Eucharist do so in order to be fed for the day or the days ahead. Some come because of a particular sorrow or fear they need to offer to God, while others participate to give thanks for a blessing, a birthday, an anniversary. Some attend because they wish to be reminded, as the day begins, of their identity as children of God, while some wish to know more about that same identity.

Many years ago, a retired, and somewhat eccentric, priest named Francis Lightbourn was a member of Holy Comforter. Every year, on the anniversary of his ordination, he would ask to celebrate the weekday Eucharist "before I forget how," as he would annually say. I remember well, even exactly 25 years later, his 55th ordination anniversary when I assisted Fr. Lightbourn at the altar. There was only one other person present-the late Irene Bower-and yet, there were in fact thousands present: current and former members of the parish; the people each of the three of us held in our hearts and prayers; future parishioners of Holy Comforter not yet born. It was a profoundly poignant and powerful experience for me, one that will remain in my heart all my days. And it would not have happened were Holy Comforter not so devoted to the worship and praise of the Most High.

We are what we repeatedly do, wrote Aristotle. By sharing in the bread of the altar, we become bread to the world. By partaking of the body of Christ, we become his Body, more and more, day by day and year by year. So if you have a joy for which you wish to thank God or a burden you want to lay on the altar; if you want to be strengthened for the journey of life in the middle of the week; if you want to gather with sisters and brothers who are present for their own variety of reasons; if you want to become more mindful of who you are as the child of God; if you seek peace and serenity in the midst of a frequently overwhelming world; if you desire a place of calm after you have dropped the kids at school or preschool; if you want to be a little more intentional about tending to your spiritual life; if you want to be fed before you go out to feed others; if you are anxious about the workday or the travel ahead; if you want to be nourished by Christ's presence for whatever reason: join us. God is praised and thanked every single day at Holy Comforter. The table is set. The banquet awaits. The holy family gathers. Join us.