From the Rector: July 2022
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord ...… to give you hope and a future.”
Dear St. James Parish Family,
Happy Anniversary! With gratitude Jennifer and I (and family), this month are completing our first full year with St. James and here in Wilmington. To be sure, we would not have imagined in 2020 that God had such wonderful plans in mind. We remain thrilled that God has brought all of us together, and given us important work to do. I have a longer message in mind regarding my first year as your Rector, and I invite you to anticipate that letter later in July.
For now, I’ll admit that this passage from the prophet Jeremiah is one of my favorites. The theological and spiritual affirmation that God is in control is comforting. I’ve been reflecting on it more often recently, as I ponder and pray over so many things that might seem beyond (or out of) control. For me, it’s helpful to remember that Jeremiah lived in a time of great unrest. Like any notable prophet, he sought to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable” Jeremiah leaned more often, though, toward the vision of comfort. Throughout, Jeremiah sought to remind the beleaguered people of Israel of the importance of their faith and their responsibility toward their neighbor.
Here’s the reminder that I find most helpful. God’s plans, as articulated by Jeremiah, are not to make us happy, or wealthy, or even to live in complete peace and comfort. Rather, God’s promise is one of hope, pointing all of us toward a future where God is already waiting, where we will never be alone, and where together we will be with him.
Our Gospel readings this season are set in the last weeks and days before Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem. We hear more than once that his “face was set,” and that his vision was clear. Jesus understood God’s plan, one which would bring him to the cross and then to defeat death itself. How wondrous. Turns out that Jeremiah was spot on, even for the human Jesus. There has never been a plan, in fact, more beautifully designed to give us hope - in the here and now, and then a future we can neither earn nor deserve, yet which we shall obtain through the gift of our faith.
The Rev. C. Phillip Craig, Jr.