A Note from the Rector – 12/15/2019

Today is pageant day!  A big thanks to all our children, parents, Sunday School teachers, and helpers for putting on this wonderful Holy Apostles tradition.

With today’s pageant and last Sunday’s guest preacher, I’ve been on a little preaching hiatus.  I’ve tried to use the time wisely, as St. Paul writes, “redeeming the time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).  So, I’ve been working on my sermons for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Casting about for inspiration, I landed on For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio by the Episcopal poet, W.H. Auden.  Of course, this long complex poem begins, not with Christmas, but with Advent.  

Darkness and snow descend

The clock on the mantlepiece

Has nothing to recommend,

Nor does the face in the glass

Appear nobler than our own

As darkness and snow descend

On all personality…

Everyone will be relieved to know that this hardly uplifting bit of poetry will NOT make it into my Christmas Eve sermon.  But, the Advent section of Auden’s long poem does capture the mood of mid-December pretty well. Darkness and snow. Both sound so dreary in Auden, but remember that both darkness and snow figure mightily into the magical formula of those treasured, glowing coals of Christmas nostalgia.  Who doesn’t dream of a White Christmas, covered in snow? And all those Christmas lights don’t look very interesting or impressive unless its dark. Snow and darkness are sort of essential elements, at least in the imagination of cultural Christmas.  

The Church insists that you can’t have real Christmas without Advent. That a season of waiting and expectation is essential. Advent tells us that part of preparing for Christmas might mean facing the realities under which we live; facing the darkness.  This is what Fleming Rutledge, perhaps the best Episcopal preacher now living, has to say about Advent: “Advent begins in the dark… [It] teaches us to delay Christmas in order to experience it fully when it finally comes.  Advent is designed to show that the meaning of Christmas is diminished to the vanishing point if we are not willing to take a fearless inventory of the darkness…The authentically hopeful Christmas spirit has not looked away from the darkness, but straight at it.  The true and victorious Christmas spirit does not look away from death, but directly at it. Otherwise, the message is cheap and false.” (from a sermon given on the first Sunday of Advent, 1996, printed in Fleming Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, page 251).

Of course, we are all in different places in our lives, and we have a variety of experiences during this time of year.  If this is a time of unremitting happiness for you, then you should go with that. I pray with one of the Prayer Book’s best prayers, that God would “shield the joyous” so that they may continue in their joy under God’s protection. But, if you experience some of the darkness of loss, loneliness, or sadness this time of year, do not let yourself despair. You are not alone. In Advent, we are reminded the whole world is waiting in darkness for the dawning of the light.  And I pray that you, that all of us, that the whole world, will ultimately find the Light of Christ’s coming. I pray that God will transform us, including our suffering, and give us healing and health and peace that only the Light of God’s love can bring.  Oops. I guess I can’t help but preach, even when I’m not supposed to be preaching.

In Christ,

James+

A Note from the Rector – 12/8/2019

There is a depth to the season of Advent that makes it my favorite season of the church year besides Easter (what can top a 50 day party?).  Themes are layered within this season like a rich and surprising dessert. There’s hope, preparation, expectation, longing; there’s the movement into the darkest part of the year while defying that darkness with light.  Advent is also a season to reflect on Last Things. As I preached about last week, “Advent…is a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus—preparation for the celebration of his first coming, as a child in a manger in Bethlehem, and preparation for the day when he comes again in great power and glory to judge the world and rule over the nations.”  This dual focus means that Advent has been the traditional time the church reflects on four interrelated themes: Death, Judgement, Hell, and Heaven. Doesn’t that just give you the warm and fuzzies? Nothing makes me want to cozy up near the stocking lined hearth, to watch snowflakes fall, and drink hot cocoa with the vocal stylings of Bing Crosby gently playing in the background like a good discussion about the end of all things.  Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but I don’t think these themes are out of place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, especially because the holidays can be a difficult time. For many of us ,they are a time when we poignantly remember those we love who have died. The holidays can be a time when feelings of loneliness and loss can creep up on us very easily and unexpectedly.  

So, there is some wisdom and, yes, even healing to found in taking a little bit of time to acknowledge the facts of life in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Death is real and happens to us all, but Christian reflection never ends there. As surely as death is inevitable, God’s love for us is invincible. God and God’s love are not defeated by death.  

God’s judgement is also real.  Scripture is full of reminders that we must give an account of this life to God.  We affirm every Sunday that Christ will return to judge both the living and the dead, and that’s no joke.  Perhaps the only things clearer in Scripture than God’s righteousness and justice, however, is God’s indestructible mercy.  Our patience and ability to forgive is so disproportionately small compared to God’s capacity for patience and forgiveness, they counted on different orders of magnitude.  All the sins, all the evil, of all the world in all times is like a handful of sand compared to ocean of God’s mercy. The Advent themes of judgement and hope, then, are completely compatible when we are talking about our God.  Scripture puts it this way: Nothing we do and nothing that is done to us can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39). God will never abandon the living, and neither will God abandon the dead.      

Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell: what all this will actually be like, I cannot say. What I can say is that the same love that reaches down to us at Christmas, the love that caused God to come down to earth as a human, is the love that is going to sort out all things at the end of our days, and at the End of Days.  And that is good news of glad tidings, indeed.

In Christ,

James+

A Note from the Rector 12/1/19

Happy New Year!  The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new year of the Church Calendar.  The Church marks time differently than the rest of society, and in fact, the Church experiences time differently than the rest of society.  That’s what the Church calendar with all its strange nooks and crannies teaches us.  On the table in the office hallway is a stack of Church calendars, each household is welcome to take one.  It can be a tool to help  you experience time differently.  Which brings us to one of the many purposes and themes of Advent: preparation.  Advent is the season right before Christmas (it is not part of the Christmas season), and it is meant to be a time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, when we celebrate Jesus’ first coming (advent is Latin for coming), as well as a season to remember and prepare for Jesus’ second advent, the future event when Christ will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, and establish a kingdom of perfect peace and justice forever more.  Advent is about watching and waiting.  It is about preparing our minds and hearts to receive Jesus. 

Advent calendars are a great way to help prepare us, and my wife, Deb has handmade Advent calendars for every family in our parish church.  The calendar consists of an envelope to open for every day of Advent.  The enclosed Scriptures and prayers will be a great tool to help us prepare for Christ’s arrival.  If you haven’t picked yours up, it is on the office hallway table. 

As the beginning of a new Church calendar year, Advent marks the reset of our cycle of Scripture readings called the lectionary.  Our Sunday Eucharist lectionary is a three year cycle: A, B, and C.  Today marks the beginning of Year A.  You’ll notice throughout the year that Year A focuses on the Gospel of Matthew. 

Advent is a special time.  I encourage you to shun the almost overwhelming temptation to being crazy busy during this season.  Shun the temptation to skip straight to Christmas without spending time to prepare your heart for it.  Take time to pay attention, to watch, and to wait.  Paradoxically, it is easy to miss Jesus at Christmas time if we aren’t careful to keep our minds and hearts on him, and focus on what is truly important.  Advent gives us space to find this focus.  May God richly bless you this Advent!   

In Christ,

James+

A Note from the Rector – 11/24/2019

A few weeks ago, I sent an appeal letter to every member of our parish.  I wrote about the theme of our stewardship season, “Wonder, love and praise,” which comes from Charles Wesley’s immortal hymn.  And I wrote of our calling as a parish church: We are called to foster wonder, to learn to love our neighbors, and to praise God.  This is one calling, and not three separate callings, because each of those items is really an aspect of the same thing. Wonder is about an encounter with the living God.  We believe that God is present to us in real ways in our real lives. A concentrated moment of God’s presence is our weekly gathering of Eucharist when we encounter Jesus in the bread and the wine.  Our first response to the encounter with the living God is gratitude. This is why we call it Eucharist, Greek for Thanksgiving, in the first place. Along with gratitude comes praise, which is simply the expression of gratitude.  We praise God through things like music. But, praising God is also a mindset that can and should inform the everyday actions of our lives. That is where learning to love our neighbors comes in. Scripture is clear: our love for God is expressed in our love for our neighbor.  1 John tells us that if we don’t love other people, we don’t actually love God, which inspired Dorothy Day to write these words: “I love God only as much as the person I love the least.”  

Cultivating wonder and gratitude, extending real care to our neighbors, and learning to praise God in every detail of our lives—this is the hard work of being a Christian and a member of Holy Apostles.  Charles Wesley’s song predicts that on the last day, along with all the saints, we will cast our golden crowns before the Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and that we will be lost in wonder, love, and praise.  In the eternal moment of heaven, everything else will cease to matter, and we’ll be lost: gratitude and worship will come naturally, it will be the only thing we can possibly do.  But in this world, oftentimes it is the opposite. We are lost in our daily preoccupations, our jobs and families, the cares, and trials of this life. That’s why EVERY Sunday is so great.  Our weekly Sunday Eucharist is an opportunity to experience the splendor of heaven. For a few minutes at least, (and sometimes this takes practice) we can be lost in wonder, love and praise.  In Sunday worship, praising and God and loving our neighbors should come easily to us. We should rush to honor each other and exchange the sign of God’s peace with each other. We should revel in our time of fellowship afterward and revel—just as much—In our time of prayer.  

All of this is amplified this Sunday because it is the Sunday that we gather together our pledges of financial support for the parish.  We have had several weeks of discernment and prayer. We have been asked to consider with gratitude the various gifts God has given us. And now we are provided with the opportunity to express our gratitude to God and express our mutual responsibility and care for each other and for this place of worship, prayer, and peace.  After service we will revel together in the possibilities for mutual flourishing that our financial support can bring us. It’s all pretty exciting, and I am truly grateful to each of you for making this church community a place of wonder, love, praise; for making this church community a place to belong.  

In Christ,

James+

A Note from the Rector – 11/17/2019

Tree cutters have invaded the neighborhood recently.  You can tell by my choice of words how I feel about it.  In theory, I understand the need for them, but viscerally, in my heart, I have trouble approving what they do.  Something deep in my desert dweller soul mourns the destruction of any tree. 

As I was walking by one of the tree-cutting trucks recently, focusing very hard on not scowling at all the workers standing nearby, one of the signs painted on the side of the truck caught my eye.

 

While the sign was obviously warning me to watch for falling branches, I began to think about its message in broader terms.  There are many times when I get stuck “in my head,” brooding about something (like how much I dislike the people cutting down trees), or just so intently focused on my own problems that I forget to look up.  I forget to be present and aware to what is actually happening, in the real world, all around me. It is so easy to miss beauty. How many of have been so busy these past couple of months that we’ve forgotten to take some time to look at the absolutely glorious splendor of the leaves changing colors? How many of us get so hyper-focused on work, or on the 24-hour news cycle or social media, that we forget to look up at the wondrous faces of the people that God has put in our lives—our children, our parents, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers—each one a precious and unique child of God, each one a treasure that enriches our lives in ways we rarely take the time to think about.  How many of us get so focused on the pile of work we have to do, or the pile of bills we have to pay, or the thousands of daily tasks and details that the prayer book calls, “the cares and occupations of this life,” that we fail to look up, to realize the enormous gifts that God has given each and every one of us, and be grateful. We all need to look up. For our sanity’s sake, we need to look up; for the sake of living a life that is worth living, a life of gratitude, a life that values relationships, a life that is shaped by an awareness of God’s grace.  Look up and live!  

In Christ,

James+

A Note from the Rector – 11/10/2019

I want to let everyone know about a recent gift that our parish family received.  Many of us were present on Sunday, October 13th, when the members of Holy Apostles and the Mediator were present with us for a very special and joyous morning of worship.  If you missed it, don’t worry; there are going to be other opportunities in the future to worship together. As a thank you for the day, our dear sisters and brothers from HAM sent us a special gift: a set of handbells called sanctuary bells, or sometimes, sanctus bells.  Here is the note I received with the bells:

“We are one, we are strongest working together in unity.”  I Corinthians 12:14

Dear Rev. Stambaugh [on behalf of the entire parish of Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne],

Just a note of thanks for hosting us [on October 13th].  We did not want the moment to go without sending a memento to our joint history and ministry together. 

Please accept these sanctuary bells as a reminder of our shared ministry as we press forward to serve the next generation of believers.

Yours in Christ,

Everett A. Gillison, 

Senior Warden, Holy Apostles and the Mediator

Bells have been used during the Eucharistic prayer for nearly 800 years.  They serve several purposes, both symbolic and practical. Perhaps the most straightforward usage for bells is in fulfillment of Scripture’s commandment to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”  In the worship of the ancient Israelites, the priest’s vestments were outfitted with bells. This was not only to make a joyful noise, but had a chilling practical application. Once a year, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies, the room of the Tabernacle and Temple which held the Ark of the Covenant and where God’s glory dwelt.  The bells would let everyone outside know that the priest was still alive. If the bells stopped, the people would know that the priest had been overcome by the glory of the Most High God, and had died. The people would then pull the priest out by a rope attached to his ankle for just such a purpose (see Exodus 28:25-36).

This points to one of the reasons for bells in today’s churches.  They emphasize and call attention to certain moments in the Eucharistic prayer.  They say, “Look up, something extraordinary, something supernatural is happening here, don’t miss it!”  These moments include during the “Sanctus” the song we sing that begins with “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord…”. When we sing that song we literally (yes, literally) join in the cosmic liturgy of Heaven, where angels and archangels and saints and our ancestors in faith are forever proclaiming the holiness of the Most High God.  The bells remind us of the extraordinary power and unity of that moment.  

The bells are also often used right after the Words of Institution, which are the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper: “This is my body…This is my blood…do this in remembrance of me.”  A final moment for bells is at the Great Amen. This is a special and supernatural moment. The priest is representing the whole gathering of people when he or she prays the Eucharistic prayer to God.  The final Amen, which we sing at Holy Apostles, is a very important acclamation by the people. When you say it, you’re saying to God, “Yes, the priest is praying the words, but they are really the prayers of the whole people.  We take hold of those prayers for ourselves and we say ‘so be it.’”  

So, you can see how special this gift is, and how it is a powerful symbol of unity and friendship.  Everett asked us to remember our special relationship of shared ministry with Holy Apostles and the Mediator when we use those bells.  They are a reminder that when we enter the Holy of Holies, when we join our voices with the song of Heaven itself, when we declare the words of Jesus and experience of the transformation of gifts into the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, when we acclaim together our shared thanksgiving to God, we do all those things in unity and fellowship with our sisters and brothers at Holy Apostles and the Mediator.  It is truly is a special gift. My daily prayer is that God will bless God’s Holy Apostles both here in Penn Wynne and on 51st and Spruce with unity and strength of purpose. 

Please sign the thank you card for the bells that you’ll find on the table in the office hallway!  

A Note from the Rector – 11/3/2019

              Happy All Saints Sunday!  The prayer book provides for celebrating All Saints (November 1) on the Sunday after to ensure that all of us have ample opportunity to celebrate this important feast and to think about our own connection to the Communion of Saints.  The Communion of Saints is a natural extension of the most important Christian doctrine there is: that Jesus Christ rose from the grave on Easter morning. If the Resurrection of Jesus is true—if Jesus really has destroyed death (and I’m staking my life on the belief that he has)—then what he promises is true, and we will be participants in that resurrection.  The logical entailment of this most glorious and central tenant of Christianity is that the fellowship of believers known as the Church does not end with the death of individual believers. Those who have died in faith are not gone for eternity but live together with Christ. While we cannot understand what that life after death looks like, we can join with the Church through the ages in affirming that there are those whose sanctity of life on this earth, or whose sanctity of death as martyrs for the faith, places them in a position to intercede for us to God.  This is why we say things like “joining our prayers with the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles, St. Faith and all the saints…”. It is not a matter of worshipping the dead, because God alone is to be worshipped. Rather, it is a matter of accepting that our ancestors in faith are still with us in the Christian journey, and just like we can call upon our living friends for prayer and support in that journey, we can call upon the saints.  

  So today is a reminder that our fellowship, unity, and communion with each other transcends space, time, and even death.  For that reason it’s a great day to begin our annual stewardship season. Stewardship season is a time to prayerfully reflect on how God might be calling us to recognize our interconnection with each other and with the ministry and worship of Holy Apostles, which is a small but integral part of the ministry and worship of God’s whole Church throughout the world.  This is a time to pray about what kind of support God is calling us to offer for the work of God in this parish family. Our theme this year is Wonder, Love, and Praise, which is a phrase from the hymn, “Love divine, all love excelling,” written by my one of my favorite hymn writing saints, Charles Wesley.  If you are a member of Holy Apostles, you will be receiving a letter in the mail this coming week introducing this theme. The letter will also include a pledge card.  These are tools to help you to think about the gifts that God has given you and how you might use those gifts to glorify God, to help others, and to keep this place as a place where we can all belong, a place that connects us to those ancestors of faith who have gone before us.  We will continue in this season of prayer and discernment until Sunday, November 24th.  On that Sunday, we will gather all our pledges of stewardship and generosity and offer them to God for God’s Church.  After that special service, we always celebrate with an all-parish luncheon. It’s going to be a lovely time.  

From beginning to end and at every point in between, it is my honor and duty to thank you for your past and continued support of Holy Apostles.  Thank you for your faithfulness in getting on board with what God is doing in us and through us as a community. This truly is a place to belong, and through your support, it will remain that way for future generations.  Thank you!

In Christ,

James+

A Note from the Rector – 10/20/2019

A big thank you to Jeremiah Mustered, our own postulant for Holy Orders, for preaching this morning.  We have missed Jeremiah lately. This is because, as a part of his process toward ordination, Jeremiah has been serving as a ministry intern at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore.  He is also taking a class on Modern Anglican Theology with the rector of St. George’s, The Rev. Dr. Joel Daniels. You should ask him about the differing eschatological visions of William Temple and Rowan Williams some time and see his eyes light up!  God willing and the people consenting, Jeremiah will take the General Ordination Exams this coming January and will be ordained a transitional deacon next June. This is truly an exciting time. As his sponsoring parish, it is our responsibility to hold Jeremiah and his family in prayer during this time.  When the time comes, it will also be our solemn and joyous duty to celebrate what God is doing with and in him and his family. Please take this opportunity to catch up with Jeremiah and encourage him on his journey.

You will notice that the “Acts of the Apostles” looks a bit different this week.  In an effort to more clearly communicate about the various important roles, activities, and events that make our parish a wonderful place to belong, we will publish the schedule of readers, intercessors, acolytes, chalice bearers, and coffee hour hosts four weeks in advance.  This information will also be published in the weekly email (if you don’t receive our email and would like to, let me know!)

This also gives us the opportunity to expand the Intercessions section and make it more useful for your daily prayer and devotion.  I have been talking about our formation as disciples using the image of a tapestry. Different threads weave together to make us who we are in Christ.  One of those threads is personal devotion, time set aside in our daily life outside of church to connect with God. One way to cultivate personal devotion is to set aside time every day to pray for ourselves and others.  So, in addition to the intercessions presented how they normally look, we will be experimenting with ways of breaking up the intercessions into daily chunks, so that it will be easier to have a consistent prayer practice day by day, lifting up to God the needs of this parish.  I trust that this will improve my own prayer life, and the corporate offering of Morning Prayer (Tuesday to Friday at 9:15AM). It may take a few weeks before we settle on a consistent pattern for this, so bear with us. Christian formation and discipleship (must like ordination to the priesthood) is a journey.   We are always on the way toward becoming who God wants us to be. Our parish communications systems are part of that journey of discipleship, and they too are always in the process of becoming better and more effective.

In Christ,

James +

A Note from the Rector – 10/13/19

This is a special Sunday.  I know I’ve written that before, but really: this is a special Sunday.  Today we are honored to welcome our Mother parish, Holy Apostles and the Mediator for a special shared Eucharist AND we are honored to welcome Madeleine Diana Fleckser into Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church through the Sacrament of baptism.  Each of these two events are exciting and wonderful in their own right, but they are also integrally connected.  Our history reveals part of this connection.


In 1868, the vestry and rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square decided to establish a mission church to serve the growing post-Civil War population of southwest Philadelphia.  They partnered with Church of the Mediator in Philadelphia. The church that grew from that partnership was Church of the Holy Apostles, first located on 21st & Christian streets.  By the early 20th century, Church of the Holy Apostles became the largest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.  In the early years of the 1900s there were 5,000 children enrolled in the weekly Sunday School. Around this time, Church of the Mediator and Holy Apostles decided to partner, and a new building, Chapel of the Mediator, was built on 51st and Spruce streets in West Philadelphia in 1919.  The establishment of this chapel reflected the congregation’s movement from south to west Philadelphia.  As this migration increased after the First World War, the Chapel of the Mediator flourished, while the congregation which met at the original Holy Apostles diminished. 

In 1944, the original Holy Apostles building was sold and the parish was consolidated in West Philadelphia.  The church was renamed Holy Apostles and the Mediator. In 1950, Holy Apostles and Mediator established the Chapel of the Holy Apostles in Penn Wynne.  This reflects the fact that many members of the congregation were moving farther and farther west into the suburbs, a movement that has been dubbed “white flight.” 

The funds from the sale of the original building on 21st and Christian streets were used to buy this property and build the parish hall.  Throughout the 50s, Holy Apostles and the Mediator raised money to build our church building, while financially sustaining this new congregation and ensuring that its first priests, Robert Bauer and John Kolb were paid.  When the church was built in 1959, the furniture from the original Holy Apostles in South Philadelphia was installed here: the altar and reredos (the wood panel behind the altar), the pulpit, the lectern, and the baptismal font.  Thus, Holy Apostles and the Mediator is responsible for the holy physical objects that shape our worship of God here in Penn Wynne every week.  

The font that baby Maddie will be baptized in this morning was originally given to the church in 1896 by George C. Thomas, who was, along with his wife, the primary benefactor to Holy Apostles in all of its incarnations.  Over more than a century, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been baptized in this very font. That means something. Baptism is a spiritual and mystical tie which binds every Christian in every time and every place to each other and to Christ.  This baptismal font is a tangible, physical link between what has ultimately become Church of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne and Holy Apostles and the Mediator. It is a physical reminder that our histories and destinies in Christ are bound up with each other.  We are because they are, and this font reminds us of the debt of gratitude that we owe our Mother congregation, whose generosity benefits us every Sunday and especially on Sundays like this.  Hopefully this baptismal font will serve today as a symbol of our friendship, our mutual love for each other, and the joy we share in worshipping our God together as sisters and brothers.

In Christ,
James+

A Note from the Rector – 10/6/2019

Today, October 6, is the Commemoration of St. Faith.  Sometimes known as St. Foy, she was a young girl who lived in the Aquitaine region of France and was martyred for her faith in Jesus at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century (approx. AD 297-304).  She was probably one of thousands of Christians martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.  According to St. Jerome, she was martyred by being made to lie down on a red hot brazier (notice the brazier depicted on the St. Faith’s Banner).  St. Faith is, of course, the namesake of St. Faith Episcopal Church, Havertown. This past July, many of us were present for the emotional service of de-consecration at the building which once held that congregation.  Without denying how difficult the closing of that parish was and is, we have also worked to honor the legacy of St. Faith here at Holy Apostles. That is why we have adopted St. Faith as one of our patron saints, and why we are celebrating her feast day this morning.  

It is also why we have created the St. Faith Preachers Series.  For over a year, the vestry and I have worked on creating this unique and dynamic program.  The idea is two-fold. First, we want to honor St. Faith in an enduring way. Second, aware that I am a solo, male priest and preacher here at Holy Apostles, we want to find a way to bring diversity to our pulpit, and to honor and raise up women leaders in our parish and the Church at large.  It is vitally important that our daughters and granddaughters see women in the pulpit and at the altar of this, their church. The St. Faith Preachers Series will accomplish those twin goals by inviting excellent, strong, and established women preachers to preach for us once or twice a year. We will also invite one promising, woman seminarian a year to preach for us.  Bringing guest preachers here takes money, so last December the vestry devoted $500 of this year’s budget toward this project. In the meantime, we asked Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopal seminary in the Washington, D.C. metro area (and my alma mater), if they would be willing to partner with us in this program. The seminary responded generously by giving Holy Apostles $3,000 for the continuation of the St. Faith Preachers Series.  I will be working with the Seminary to identify and invite a seminarian to preach for us in the Spring. But, this Sunday we are also very honored and blessed to inaugurate the St. Faith Preachers Series with one of Virginia Theological Seminary’s most accomplished and revered professors, The Rev. Dr. Kathy Grieb.

Dr. Grieb is the Meade Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Professor of New Testament at the seminary where she has taught since 1994.  She was ordained to the priesthood in 1983 in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and serves on the clergy team of St. Stephen’s and the Incarnation church in Washington DC.  Dr. Grieb earned a law degree from Catholic University, an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale. A noted theologian, Dr. Grieb serves on the House of Bishops Theology Committee.  She represented the Episcopal church at the World Council of Churches Plenary Session in 2009, and is a member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity and Faith. She is a long-time instructor for the Canterbury Scholars program at Canterbury Cathedral in England.  

Dr. Grieb has written numerous articles and written and edited several important books.  My favorite is The Story of Romans (Westminster Press, 2002), which is an accessible and profound guide to reading St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Dr. Grieb, was my New Testament professor when I attended Virginia Theological Seminary from 2014-2017. I learned a lot from her about Scripture, theology, and about living the in the way of Jesus.  I am very grateful to her for that, and for being with us this morning. I know the Holy Apostles family will warmly welcome our first St. Faith Preacher.

In Christ,

James +