Enlightened by John, December 27, 2018


The three feast days after Christmas are among my favorite: St Stephen, St John, and the Holy Innocents. As the Golden Legend taught, these three feasts are snuggled next to the Nativity of Our Lord as examples of martyrdom in will and deed, will and not in deed, in deed and not in will.  Enid Chadwick’s My Book of the Church’s Year beautifully illustrates this theological grouping. I love Ms. Chadwick’s book. Over the years I have found three copies to pass down to my children so they may enjoy it and share it with their children.

On these three days, we say the Office in the side chapel and mass at the main altar with the trees and poinsettias. I was pleased to have a congregation full of men and I am grateful that the daily rhythm of prayer is drawing more and more men.

I spent the morning in the office with necessary administrative tasks: bulletins, the weekly newsletter, etc. I was also briefed on the financial situation. We have received 91% of our pledges through December 23. 9%, or nearly $65,000, needs to come in the final week of the year. It’s an extraordinary thing, leading a parish. Imagine any other business that operated trusting that nearly 10% of its revenue would come in the final week of the year, and that income comes from those who do not have to pay for any “services.” Our “product” and “services” are freely given. People may pledge all they wish, but fulfilling that pledge is completely voluntary and for me, a great leap of faith. I still stress over it, but less so than in the past. My worry won’t add one cent, but it will take something from me. I think the Lord wants it to be like this. It makes me a beggar. I am not comfortable begging, which is probably the reason why He wants me to do it. So, dear reader, if you are feeling generous, here’s a link for any year-end donations you wish to make! I will remember you with gratitude at the altar. Don’t forget the capital campaign too.

The afternoon was personal time. My father and his wife (my mother died 8 years ago) drove up for a couple of hours to visit for Christmas. My household made an evening trip to the bookstore and we ordered pizza.

Evening Prayer was from the St Stephen’s Office and the KJV. The second reading was from 1 John 5. I don’t often read the KJV and came into contact with the Johannine Comma (compare your KJV 1 John 5.7 with any other translation). Clergy are mostly generalists with some pet specialty. I am not well versed (no pun intended) in the various manuscripts and their histories, but this was really stoked my interest.  I use the RSV for the Office and I love the KJV for personal devotion, but so often I’m working with the text for Bible Study and sermons and 1 John doesn’t turn up and when it does, it’s 1 John 4. Maybe Luke Timothy Johnson brought it up back in the day, but I apparently wasn’t paying attention!

That’s the beauty of reading the Bible. You never, ever, ever exhaust the surprises. Even if you are a specialist, it’s a well that will never go dry.