Most of us enjoy remembering and celebrating anniversaries. They are part of life. On July 1, I celebrated my first anniversary as Interim Pastor here at Holy Apostles. I am indeed thankful for the opportunity to minister in this wonderful parish and to be associated with the remarkable work of the Soup Kitchen. I need to remind myself and indeed all parishioners that I am only here as an Interim! The important work of the Search Committee is continuing and will bear fruit in due course. In October, we will be celebrating the 35th Foundation of the Soup Kitchen and in 2019 the 175th Anniversary of Holy Apostles.
Independence Day this week saw my third July the Fourth as an American Citizen for which I am also thankful. I am deeply grateful for what this country has given me not only in recent years since I have lived here but also historically. Growing up in Australia just after the Second World War I was fully aware of the important role the United States played in protecting Australia from the Japanese Advance. General McArthur had his headquarters in Melbourne just down the road from my school while the school itself was occupied by the American army as its headquarters. Memories of the American presence and achievement were fresh and vivid growing up. Recently the American Australian Association of which I am a member celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the naval battle that turned the tide of the War in the Pacific, and reduced the threat of invasion of the Australian mainland. Australia and the United states have honored that history and its ongoing consequences with military and strategic alliances. As a result of that long and special connection I am able to have dual citizenship for which I am also grateful.
But there are so many other anniversaries that inform and enrich our lives. We all love birthdays and wedding anniversaries; anniversaries of friendship or relationship; or of other special events in our lives. I rejoiced in celebrating 40 years as a priest some years ago with a wonderful service at Transfiguration attended my many friends, family and parishioners. We remember departed loved ones on their anniversaries of death. Often the flowers in church are in honor of such a memorial. I am conscious that the 50th anniversary of my Father’s death is coming up in September.
Anniversaries as well as being occasion for remembering and for celebration also in some way help give shape to our lives. I remember certain months because of the birthdays of siblings or other family or friends that occur in them. I always contact my longest friend in life on his birthday (July 1) and he does the same for me in February each year. Whenever I am in Melbourne we always arrange a birthday lunch to celebrate our mutual anniversaries (we were born in the same year three houses apart!).
When you think of it the Church’s Year or Calendar has much the same rationale. There are certain celebrations, events in the life of Jesus like Christmas or Easter, that give shape to our liturgical year, and give us a rhythm of feast, fast and ordinary time. At present in the seemingly endless Sundays after Pentecost we are in ordinary time. But we know there is extraordinary time in the offing. And that makes it all worthwhile, something to look forward to. Our personal anniversaries whatever they may be likewise give shape and meaning to our lives. Anniversaries be they personal, communal or national are important and are worth celebrating as occasions for remembrance and thanksgiving.