A Note from the Rector – 9/13/20

This week was week two of school for Haverford school district and the first week for Lower Merion.  It’s been quite a week for my family as we’re learning all over again how to do online school.  It won’t take long before my kids, members of a generation who are dubbed “digital natives,” know their way around Zoom and other applications far better than I do.  It’s an understatement and a cliché to mention that this is a difficult time for families trying to juggle jobs, school, childcare, and mountains of uncertainty.  And the difficulty of one demographic does not minimize or discount the hardship of others.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t struggling in some way.

As a community of Jesus-followers, Holy Apostles has a lot to offer during this time of adversity.  One of the things it is able to offer is something in short supply these days, grace.  Grace is the freedom from shame, competition, and inauthenticity that can only come from knowing that you are truly loved no matter what.  It is related to the realization that your worth as a human being does not depend on your efficiency, your ability to achieve goals, your online teaching skills, your bank account, your house, your car, your children’s college admissions, or any other metric society uses to categorize and measure.  Grace cuts through all of that like butter.  

All grace originates in God and God’s invincible, unflappable love for us.  Through our connection to God–our worship, our prayer, our generosity, our fellowship–we have access to an unlimited supply here at Holy Apostles.  Grace means no matter who you are, or what you’ve been up to you are welcome to join us, either for online worship or in-person worship this weekend.  We have two services: our normal 10AM service (livestreamed), and a new, bi-monthly outdoor service geared toward families at 4:30PM (off-line but with ice cream).  

Grace also means that you are loved and valued even if you can’t make it to church this weekend.  Grace means God won’t give up you no matter what.  If you can’t make it to church (online or in person), my advice is, don’t stay away for too long.  Find some way that you can engage and stay connected with this grace-filled community. There are plenty of barriers at this time. It isn’t safe for everyone to gather like normal. It can be hard to engage online. But, please find some reminder of grace, even if it’s just a phone call with a church friend and a quick prayer. Know that Holy Apostles is here for you.  

The grace and love and peace that is found in worshipping God together is something I am convinced we all need.  Humans are made for worship.  If we’re not going to worship God, we will surely find something to worship.  It’s just that our other religions—careers, possessions, pleasures of all kinds—do not leave any room for grace at all.   

A Note from the Rector – 4/14/19

Holy Week is here; the culmination of Lent, the climax and concentration of the entire Christian story.  All the highs and lows of human experience are dramatically presented to us in the liturgies of Holy Week, from the glory, laud and honor of Palm Sunday, to the absolute dejection, isolation, and suffering of Christ hanging on the cross. 

Let us as faithfully as we can walk with Jesus on this final journey.  Our attitude is not one of grudging obligation, but one of true awe.  Nothing can hold a candle to the mysteries that we are invited to explore this week.  Our attitude is not one of shame, for as St. Augustine wrote in the 4th century, “The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.”  Augustine alludes to words of St. Paul in Scripture, words that are beautifully etched into our pulpit at Holy Apostles: “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Come and experience glory this week at the foot of the cross.  Come and receive grace that is only available because of Jesus.  Come and cast all your cares upon the One who cares for us more than we can fathom.

A Note from the Rector – 3/24/19

I love Lent.  I also love Spring.  I love watching early Spring flowers—crocuses, irises, tulips—as they begin to break through dirty snow, dark muddy soil, rotting leaves.  They are glimmers of hope cracking open the gloom of winter.  But, you can’t rush Spring.   It is easy for me to get impatient.  One beautiful Spring day may be followed by a week of storms and terrible weather.  It is hard for me to remember that all are part of the process of new life being birthed again in the world.  It is all part of an incredible miracle, but one that requires patience and attention in order to experience. 

Lent and Spring are both times of rebirth and growth, and this growth can be subtle.  You don’t always notice a crocus growing until one day your whole yard is full of beautiful purple flowers.  This is also true of spiritual growth.  God surprises us sometimes with our own spiritual growth, with the insights and joys, with uncomfortable realizations, and strange, unexpected consolations.  These all come to us, not from within ourselves or own intellect, but from God. They are arriving to us from God’s merciful excess.  So, this Spring and this Lent don’t forget to be surprised, to be taken aback by the wonder that God is bringing into this world, as gloomy, imperfect, or hopeless as it may seem.  God is in the business of surprises.  Let us keep our eyes open for wonder, even in this slog of early Spring and mid-Lent, lest the grace of God spring on us like a trap and catches us unprepared to give God thanks.   

In Christ,
James+