Pastoral Reflections

A news item caught my eye last week. It was a story from Cuba. People gathered to see the first church building to be officially opened in Cuba in about sixty years. A Roman Catholic Church in the city of Sandino. There were tears. There were cheers. Apparently, a couple of dogs even stopped by to see what the stir was about. Cuba was once a self-declared atheist state.

Says the priest in charge of the project, “To see this completed is like coming out of the night and into the day.” Worshippers sang their thanksgivings to God amid floods of tears.

Of course, the church is the people – redeemed by Christ and inhabited by the Spirit, not the building. Yet, I had to think that the experience of our Cuban brothers and sisters embodied a kind of hunger. Their story took my mind back to an experience the Psalmist described in Psalm 42 which begins, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God… When can I go and meet with God?”

Exiled out of Jerusalem, the Psalmist desperately missed encounters with God in worship the way it used to be in the Temple. He was offering up that severe thirst in a depressing song back to God.

I heard it said, “A man is what he eats.” But sometimes we get whatever is available, not what we hunger for. Sometimes it feels that way this side of eternity. But I suspect our hungers speak better of who we are as believers in this present life. If the depths of our hunger are within the world of human possibilities, then what can I say? But, if we deeply hunger for that which is necessary yet beyond us and eternal, made possible only through Emmanuel – God’s presence with us again, then hear what Jesus says: “Blessed are you… for you will be satisfied.”