Holding the same spade used over two decades ago to begin building the current St. Alban’s, Ellen Eller came forward to scoop a bit of earth from the spot where construction vehicles will soon tread. With the Parish Hall Committee, the clergy, and the congregation cheering her on, she broke some ground, and then spoke of her hope and dream that this day would come. And come it has.
That special moment was one of many during our Parish Hall groundbreaking ceremony on the First Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2023. A highlight was seeing the children dig in the dirt with their own little shovels. Thanks to parishioners from age 3 all the way to 97, the ground beneath our future Parish Hall has been painstakingly broken! We are ready for construction to begin in January.
Another meaningful moment for me was getting to hear James Wally, one of the chairs of the project, share his gratitude for the good work of the Parish Hall Committee. Indeed, this team has been absolutely incredible. Our groundbreaking was the perfect occasion to recognize their amazing efforts thus far, as well as all the good work still to come.
The custom of “groundbreaking” is, on the one hand, a way to garner excitement for our project and mark the occasion with a bit of ceremony, as Episcopalians love to do.
But even more than that, I think there is something very meaningful about pausing at this juncture on the journey toward our goal of building a parish hall, and acknowledging that, to build something new requires some disruption.
Brokenness is part of growth. Disruption to the status quo is part of building for the future. We are growing, and therefore, we are breaking things. Breaking up well-packed soil. Breaking through old vinyl siding. Breaking up our routine of zipping into our preferred parking spot at 10:28 a.m. on a Sunday morning!
In this Advent season, we are reminded that God works through broken things. Broken systems and broken hearts were part of Jesus’s story, and without them, the story would not be as powerful as it is. And each time we celebrate Eucharist, we remember that Christ’s body is broken for us.
The coming months will require of us a good bit of patience, a sense of humor, and plenty of perspective—remembering that we are being temporarily inconvenienced for a greater purpose, and that the brokenness will all be worth it when we finally break bread together in our new Parish Hall.
Yours in Christ,