“‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16: 6-7
It is that time of the year when we celebrate graduates. Students of all kinds have finished their course work, completed their training, earned the needed hours, and are prepared to graduate. These students have finished this chapter of their lives and are prepared to begin the next. Graduations are filled with a variety of emotions. Pride for a job well done and finished, sadness at the thought of moving away from friends and classmates, and excitement about starting something new and challenging are commonly expressed feelings.
However, these are not the only feelings graduates might experience. With every new chapter of life comes the unknown, which for many people can lead to fear, anxiety, and a sense of being overwhelmed. Whether it is graduation, a new job, loss of a relationship, or countless other circumstances, change can be difficult.
What are we to do? How do we balance the sense of joy, accomplishment, and excitement with the reality that things are going to be different, change is going to happen?
In a sense, in chapter 16 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ followers have graduated. They have followed Jesus all the way to the end; his death has closed one chapter of their lives. The next chapter of their lives is upon them, they must figure out where to go from here. We can be certain Jesus’ followers felt overwhelmed, fear, and anxiety. Like us, they would have asked: “Where to go from here? What is next? How are we going to make it now?”
For Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; and Salome, the very next move is going to Jesus’ tomb with spices and oil to anoint Jesus’ body. To their surprise, instead of finding Jesus’ body, they found an empty tomb and a young man dressed in white (some say an angel). Which brings us to the conversation in verses 6 and 7. What these three woman thought was next changed in an instant. Before arriving at the tomb, they were confused and overwhelmed. Finding the tomb empty has compounded those feelings. Their desire to anoint Jesus’ body in an effort to show their respects is replaced with confusion and bewilderment. Before arriving at the tomb, they at least had some idea how to move forward. The empty tomb has left them completely lost.
Like the women at Jesus’ tomb, some graduates may also feel like they are lost or like they have no idea where to go from here. I believe verses 6 and 7 (see above) offer us some useful insight in moments like these.
The resurrected Jesus is fully aware that Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; Salome; and the rest of his followers would not understand what was happening. He knew that his resurrection would change everything and that change is rarely easy. He knew his followers would be overwhelmed, anxious, and afraid. He knew they would need some direction. This is why, after telling the women to “not be alarmed,” the young man in white gives them some very simple instructions. “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that [Jesus] is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.”
Jesus did not make the problems go away. He didn’t remove the confusion or anxiety. Rather, he went ahead of his disciples into Galilee. His invitation calls the disciples to face their fears and start the journey to Galilee, where they will find him. None of us knows the future. Things can and will always change, regardless of how well we may have prepared. However, Jesus’ invitation remains the same. Just as he went ahead of the disciples into Galilee, Jesus goes ahead of us into the Galilees of our lives. Our job, like that of the disciples, is to seek him out.
Since Christ has gone before, we can rest assured that there will always be a path for us, even when we do not see it. Our way forward, like the disciples before us, is to follow where Christ leads; down the path of faith, hope, and love. Knowing exactly where the path leads is impossible and unimportant. What is important is seeking Christ by loving God and loving our neighbor. When we approach the future in this manner, we will always find Christ waiting for us at our destination.
Congratulations, Class of 2021, I pray your future is filled with much joy and success as you begin the next chapter of your life.
1 John 3:18: “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
We are all familiar with the old adage “actions speak louder than words.” Most of us have experienced moments when actions did indeed speak much louder than anything someone may have said. It may have been a kind word from a stranger, a harsh word from a friend, or one of many other countless possibilities. Regardless of your particular experience, the old saying is true, actions do often speak much louder than words.
In recent weeks, I have had the pleasure and honor of observing actions speaking. Just before Christmas of 2020, I met Jermaine Williams, the owner of Pete Williams BBQ. I received a phone call asking if Jermaine could use the church parking lot to serve 250 free meals for anyone who might need a warm plate of food during the Christmas season. I was delighted that St. Patrick’s could be of assistance.
Since that first encounter, Jermaine’s actions have spoken many times. In January, he cooked for our National Championship tailgate party, and during Lent, he cooked for our Lenten fish fry fundraiser, which proved to be a very successful event (with the help of Greg and Dianna Bonaventure, and Susan, Don, and Charlotte Leese we raised around $3,000). In addition to offering his gifts and talents to the life and ministry of St. Patrick’s, during this same period of time Jermaine has organized multiple events, giving away thousands of plates of food.
Most recently, Jermaine traveled to Pflugerville, Texas, just outside of Austin, to feed 500 people who were heavily impacted by the winter storm in late February. I was honored to be a part of this trip and to observe Jermaine in action. After driving 6.5 hours to Pflugerville on Friday afternoon, Jermaine, along with his wife, Tamika, and their three children, went to work at 6am on a Saturday morning. They boiled beans, cooked rice, and fried chicken the entire morning in preparation for an 11am kickoff. Once the event started, Jermaine, his family, and the entire team (which included our very own Larry Manuel) served a continuous flow of people for 2.5 hours, until all 500 plates had been given away. At which point they spent about an hour cleaning up, loaded up the truck and drove back to Zachary.
If we agree that actions do speak louder than words, what are these actions saying? The first time I met Jermaine, one of the questions I asked was, “why are you giving away meals?” His answer: “People got to eat.” This answer is as profound as it simple. When people are hungry, you feed them. When they are thirsty, you give them something to drink. When they are grieving, you comfort them. When they are joyous, you celebrate with them. As people of faith, we are called to meet people where they are and act accordingly.
Scripture reminds us numerous times that as followers of Christ we are called to be people of action. Actions which know and make known the love and grace found in Christ Jesus. In his first letter, John says it this way, “little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
May the love of God’s kingdom, found in Christ, be an ever present and burning reminder that our actions speak louder than our words and that we are called to be people of BOLD actions in order to proclaim to the world the Good News of God’s love and grace.
Zachary Wrestling Teammates after the State Championship match.
As many of you know, my son is a wrestler. Not the WWE kind of wrestling but high school wrestling. This means I have spent countless hours sitting in gyms all over Louisiana, waiting (you wrestling parents know what I am talking about). My entire exposure to this sport has come as a parent. My high school did not offer wrestling as a sport, so I did not know anything about it until Ashton started wrestling in the 6th grade. If I am being honest, I still do not know much about wrestling. However, I have grown to enjoy it.
The relationships that are developed between teammates and coaches are one of the things I have come to appreciate the most about wrestling. This is not to imply that meaningful relationships are not present in other team sports; they certainly are. However, there is something different about the way these relationships occur on a wrestling team.
I believe the primary difference can be found in the way wrestlers compete. Unlike other team sports, when wrestlers take to the mat it is just the two individuals. When I played football, often when I made a mistake, no one noticed expect my coaches after reviewing the film. This is not the case for wrestlers; when they make mistakes, everyone is vividly aware. Conversely, when they experience success, it is the individual who is praised and not the team.
Given our society’s tendency to hyper focus on the individual and the level of narcissism we tend to practice in our culture, it would seem natural to assume that the focus placed on the individual wrestler simply reinforces these cultural norms and promotes an unhealthy development of the wrestler’s ego. In my experience, this could not be further from the truth. Instead, wrestling seems to have the exact opposite effect on its participants. Which makes me ask the simply question, “Why?”
Why does a sport that is hyper focused on individual results tend to produce more empathy and mutuality within its participants, rather than producing more self-centered egos and narcissism? Although I am certain there are many answers to this question, I would suggest that any answer which is true, is in part, connected to love. The heart of wrestling is love.
Before I continue, let me clarify that I am not talking about Hallmark Channel, Valentine’s Day, ooey-gooey, romantic-comedy love. I am talking about the love we are called to have for our neighbor; the love Jesus repeatedly calls his followers to seek. The love for the other that genuinely desires to see one flourish, thrive, and grow. This is the love I believe is at the heart of team sports and is uniquely expressed through wrestling.
This understanding of love compels me to say, “the heart of wrestling is love.” This type of love promotes, encourages, and requires relationships that are founded on honesty and accountability, which is reflected on the wrestling mat. As wrestlers engage in their craft, the spotlight, focused solely on them, highlights their successes and failures in an extremely honest manner. If a wrestler wishes to improve, he must be willing to face the honest truth regarding his mistakes. He must be willing to be held accountable in order to grow and mature.
When a team of wrestlers engage in this process together, it creates a community of individuals who hold each other accountable with truthful feedback in an effort to grow and improve daily. Communities built upon these traits, whether it be a wrestling team, grief support group, church family, office staff, or any other group of people, are always founded on love. Relationships of this sort not only desire to see each person flourish, thrive, and grow, they empower those persons to do just that.
Furthermore, relationships founded on this type of love allow us to more deeply participate in the success of the other. To put it plainly, when we love each other in this manner, the success of others becomes our success. Our value as individuals is not measured against the other. Rather our value as individuals is measured with the other. When they win, we win!
Just take a look at the pictures above. Outside of wardrobe and sweat, can you really tell which wrestler just won the State Championship? Everyone in the picture is truly participating in the success of their teammate. The relationships they have developed, founded on honesty and accountability, has produced a community rooted in love. Their membership within this community encourages and enables these young men to sincerely support and foster each teammate’s success; while at the same time allowing each of them to flourish, thrive, and grow together.
The love we find in the example of these high school wrestlers is a wonderful example of the love Jesus calls his followers to pursue. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to engage with others in a manner that genuinely desires to see them flourish. As we faithfully seek to love others in this manner our tendency to focus on ourselves alone will give way. My prayer for you is that in its place you will discover the delight of finding God’s love and grace in the success of those around you. May the example of these young wrestlers be an ever-present reminder that when we are bound by the love of Christ, our need to measure success against the other will always pale in comparison to the joy we find in God’s beloved community.
Just a reminder, if you would like fish plates on Saturday please use this link to let us know: https://forms.gle/cny5SQhGUJSRZWwF9
We look forward to seeing everyone Saturday.
Join us in our sanctuary on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 6:30PM for our Ash Wednesday Service.
Join us each Friday in Lent for Stations of the Cross at 6:30PM in the St. Patrick's Chapel.
This year, due to the Covid19 pandemic, we are not able to gather in person for our Annual Meeting. Instead of our normal meeting this email and the reports contained within it will serve as our annual meeting. Please watch each video and read each report. After you have finished, please use the link provided to cast your vote regarding the 2021 Budget. If you have any questions, please contact me.
Once you have watched the videos, read the reports, and voted on the budget you are finished with this year's Annual Report. As always, thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions please contact me or any of your vestry members. I look forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, be safe, take care of yourself, and continue to seek and serve God as you witness to his kingdom through your life in our community.
Dear St. Patrick's family,
I pray this message finds you doing well and you and yours are safe and secure at this time. Let me begin by offering our sincerest thank you to all of you. The love and support we have experienced in the past two weeks has been a wonderful example of God's grace and love for me and our family as we have dealt with the reality of this virus. At this point, everyone in our house has tested positive for the virus. Although we each have experienced symptoms due to this infection, thankfully we appear to be on the mend at this time. Our symptoms, ranged from low grade fever, and slight body aches to severe headache, body aches, and sinus pressure with very high fevers. As I have said before, this virus is not to be trifled with.
Your support during these past two weeks has absolutely made this experience more bearable. For that I would like to offer each of you my deepest and most sincere thank you.
I would also like to update you regarding our Annual Meeting details. As is our custom, we typically have our annual meeting the last Sunday of January each year. Due to the virus, this year we are not able to meet in-person, so we were going to send you an Annual Meeting email on January 31st. Since, I have been sick, I have been unable to prepare and coordinate all of the information required for our virtual Annual Meeting email. Therefore, we WILL NOT BE SENDING, the Annual meeting email this Sunday, January 31st. Instead, since I will be back in the office on Monday, February 1st, we will send the Annual meeting materials on Sunday, February 7th. I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me or any of your vestry members.
Thank you again for your support and prayers these past few days. We are truly grateful. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Yours in Christ,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing to let you know I tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, January 20th. My first symptoms appeared in the evening, on Tuesday, January 19th. The family and I will be in quarantine for the next two weeks. I am feeling okay at this time, with only slight symptoms. However, as we have learned in the past year, this virus is not to be taken lightly. With that in mind, I ask that you keep my family and I in your prayers within the coming days.
In my absence, Fr. Jerry Phillips, from St. Augustine's will be supplying for me.
Thank you in advance for your prayers and support. I look forward to seeing you again as soon as I'm COVID-19 free.
Please join us for the St. Patrick's Epiphany Pageant Service. It will be held Wednesday, January 6 at 6:00PM.
All children who would like to participate in the pageant, need to arrive 30 minutes early to prepare (5:50PM). This is a no rehearsal pageant.