(Editor’s Note: This poignant message was written shortly before Father Rob’s death. We thought it was a fitting final message to the parish.)
November has many significant events on the official church calendar. We start with All Saints' Day, then conduct our Annual Stewardship Campaign, observe Thanksgiving at our Annual Parish Thanksgiving Feast, and close out the season of Pentecost with Christ the King Sunday on November 26th. (We also have another treat I shall mention at the close of this article, so keep reading!
What do all of these events have in common? Gratitude and celebration. God continually does great things for us, his children. Every Sunday is a wonderful participation in that truth.
All Saints' Day reminds us of our sainthood. We tend to be hesitant to accept our saintly status, but it's time to accept the truth. You are a saint! We also remember the saints who have gone before us. These may be folks who helped raise us in the faith or the "official" saints who have days named in their honor. Regardless, sainthood is a gift from God, and we give thanks for it and celebrate it!
Our Annual Stewardship Campaign and our observance of Thanksgiving are also times of celebration and gratitude. We contemplate the many spiritual, financial, and material gifts that have been so kindly and wonderfully given to us by God. We are not worthy of such benevolence, and we certainly have not earned it. God is good, and we respond by being faithful, thankful stewards of the bounty.
Another wonderful aspect of our identity is that we are inheritors of the Kingdom of God. Again, this is a gift. It came at great cost as Christ sacrificed himself for our place in that kingdom. One day we will be joined with our king in paradise forever! We contemplate such with humble thanks and joy!
Now comes the extra treat: Another opportunity of celebration and gratitude in November is the baptism of Clara McFarland on November 12th. She is the granddaughter of Tony and Mary Jane McFarland and the daughter of Matthew and Sarah McFarland. She is another gift from God in so many ways!
The days may be shorter, and the season may seem somber with the leaves falling in November. In the church........and at St. James'.........it is a different world. It is time for gratitude and celebration! RSC+
Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, grew out of the determination of the General Convention in 1934 to counter a period of anxiety, distrust, and decline in the Episcopal Church with a "forward movement" charged to "reinvigorate the life of the church and to rehabilitate its general, diocesan, and parochial work." Daily meditation is available online by clicking HERE.
A Meditating Priest: December 7, 2017
On the way down to Mobile this week, I stopped in Birmingham to see my sister. After supper, which was very good, we sat on the porch talking about some of the problems facing our country today—health care, racism, education, attitudes toward government. We agreed on a few things, but, not surprisingly, we also did some head butting. You may have some conversations like this over the holidays.
I lay in bed that night thinking about our conversation. I wished that I had spent less time arguing with her. She would express an idea, and I would immediately begin to tell her why she was wrong. I wished that I had asked her how she arrived at her ideas. What were the experiences that had led her to think as she did? She’s a smart and caring person. If I had thought to ask questions, I might have learned something. I resolved to try and do better the next chance I got.
The next chance didn’t take long. In Mobile I met up with two of my friends from college. We had not seen each other for nearly fifty years, but we had spent a lot of time together as football teammates. Most of the time we reminisced about experiences and friends. It was a great time. However, inevitably, the topics from the night before came up.
When we got to an area of disagreement, I asked questions. It was a much more profitable exchange of ideas. I also asked my buddies for ideas about how to resolve the problems we were facing. Rather than placing blame, we were able to think more constructively…most of the time.
One of my new prayers for the holidays is, “Lord, help me keep my mouth shut and my ears open.”