From the Rector: November 2023
When Jesus was young, growing up with his family in the town of Nazareth, another faithful Jewish boy - whose name was Saul - was growing up in a Roman town named Tarsus (now in southern Turkey). Importantly, we know him today by his newer name of Paul.
Paul never met Jesus before the crucifixion and resurrection. It’s not hard to argue, though, that Paul has become a more influential apostle than any of those who walked with Jesus during his earthly lifetime. Amazingly, none of that would have been expected if you had known Saul earlier in this life, as an ardent and deadly serious professional, principally dedicated to tracking down brand new Christians who had fled Jerusalem and arresting them.
Then, we could say, Jesus happened to him.
Paul’s story is a timeless affirmation that there is redemption for all of us. Indeed, two thousand years later, Paul’s writings hold some of the most poignant and meaningful passages of all our faith.
During this fall’s Wednesday evening program, we are immersing ourselves in Paul’s letter to the very first Christian church in Europe - that being Philippi (in northern Greece). Like so many of his letters, here Paul reminds all of his readers be humble in their actions, firm in their convictions and to lead with love. With a heart towards Jesus Christ, Paul calls on all of us to remain deeply rooted in the unearned, undeserved and literally life-changing grace of God.
November has arrived. All Saints’ Day offers an opportunity to remember all of the saints of God’s kingdom, known and unknown, and especially those we love who have gone on before us. Then we move into a familiar season of gratitude and thanksgiving.
Wonderfully, our parish family has much for which to be thankful. On Sunday, November 19th we will celebrate the success of our 2024 Stewardship Campaign, with the hope that all have chosen to participate. During that morning, we will also celebrate the ministry of our laity through Community of Hope International, and also enjoy a special presentation by our St. James Children’s Choir. That day of gratitude for the love of God will continue, as our youth offer and lead our traditional and beloved thanksgiving service at Mt. Lebanon Chapel (5:00 pm). All are warmly welcomed!
As we live into our joy, we also remain so aware of the immense difficulties in our world this day, and as we pray for all who are innocently caught in the violence and strife, let us not turn inward. Rather, with Paul’s encouragement and admonishment, let us reveal our gratitude and thanks by turning even more towards the needs of those around us.
We are an extraordinarily blessed parish family. Together, in this season, let us look not to our interests, but to the interests of others.
Faithfully, and in Christ’s name,
The Rev. C. Phillip Craig, Jr.