St. Paul’s is a welcoming and inclusive community of about 280 members who come from all over the greater Milwaukee area.
We treasure the richness and diversity God has given our community, as it enhances our understanding of God.
Let’s face it, at first glance, today’s Gospel reading does not leave us with a warm and fuzzy feeling. John the Baptist does not come as Santa Claus, down the chimney, leaving presents, eating cookies and drinking milk left out for him by children who hope for their favorite presents left under the Christmas tree.
One of Milwaukee’s premier holiday traditions of the Advent and Christmas season for hundreds of Milwaukeeans is the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols held at St. Paul’s Church. This year’s Festival, the 40th annual, will be held on Saturday, December 14, 2013, at 4PM and followed by a celebratory reception.
The event will feature a 40-person St. Paul’s Choir, with Timothy Benson directing and the music of James Macmillan, Harold Darke, Anthony Milner, Bob Chilcott, Alf Houkum, Carl Rütti, Paul Edwards, Richard Allain, J.S. Bach, and hymns and carols of the season.
About the time Thomas Edison perfected the electric light bulb, and I start my first divinity school classes (that’s funny – so laugh), the hot religious topic was Jesus’ second coming. Some people were all worked up. Terms like apocalypse, the end of time, the parousia and the rapture get folks scared. The return of Jesus will come suddenly. While people are marrying, partying, doing normal things, they get swept away in floods, totally caught off guard. People are at work — one randomly disappears, the other is left behind. That’s the rapture. Some think that means the good people get air-lifted out of here; the bad stay and are doomed. That’s not what Jesus is saying here. But it sells books, with ominous titles like “The Late Great Planet Earth.” I remember bumper stickers: “In case of rapture, the driver of this car will disappear” — which I thought was pretty arrogant and self-righteous. I guess the rest of us can just go to h…?
Today is the last Sunday of this church year. Some think it’s December 29. The church doesn’t live by the fiscal calendar. For strange folks like us, Christians, we keep time differently than the world. In our calendar today is called “Christ the King” Sunday. Even stranger – next Sunday is the church’s New Year. In an era of dysfunctional government systems, today brings great hope: This world’s powers do not have the final word. Christians always believed Jesus is a king, granted, a peculiar one. In 1925 Pius XI declared this Sunday Christ the King, to serve notice: “Emperors and rulers, dictators and kings: Your power is limited.” In 1979 Christ the King Sunday was added to our Prayer Book – thank goodness.
We probably ought to issue a disclaimer for the next few weeks: “What you are about to hear can be disturbing and could keep you awake at night.” I think, as a child, I stayed awake for a month when I first heard this stuff, fearing Jesus was coming soon, and I hadn’t asked forgiveness for some unknown sin. Warning – don’t take these readings literally. It’s the genre of apocalyptic, symbolic warnings about the future. In our day anything apocalyptic is catastrophic – doom and destruction, like global warming, weather disasters, typhoons, or an injury to Aaron Rogers. Now that last one’s apocalyptic.
Sadducees and Pharisees generally won’t play well together. Sadducees reject resurrection. Pharisees believe it. They are more progressive and well read. Sadducees reject resurrection because it’s not in the Torah – the first five books of the Bible which is all they read. So they pretend to want Jesus’s take on resurrection.
Jesus must like tax collectors, or Luke wants us to think so. Two weeks running we meet tax collectors. I guess they need someone to speak a kind word for them. Jesus can take care of that for me.
Check out the news in the November Apostle…picture directory signup information…Stewardship details…how to purchase a recently published A Journey through the History of St. Paul’s Church…Outreach update…just click on News and then on the Apostle icon!
Celebrate the Christmas Season with A Festival of Lessons and Carols, one of Milwaukee’s premier holiday traditions, featuring the St. Paul Choir, Timothy Benson, director, with guest organist Jayne Latva,
Join us for Evensong on the Feast of All Saints, a beautiful celebration of prayer and music in which we remember those who have gone before us in faith.
• Sunday, November 3rd at 4:00pm
• At the beautiful Landmark Chapel at Forest Home Cemetery
• Rev. C. Steven Teague, Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, presiding