O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James...
-This Sunday's collect
I was on vacation last summer on the Feast of St. James, so I am excited to be able to celebrate the feast here for the first time this Sunday. I look forward to having our service outside, too, (weather permitting) and to having a church picnic together afterward. When churches celebrate their patronal saints' feast day, it is often an opportunity for fun and food.
Traditionally, more so in the past than we notice now, Christians developed a special relationship with their patronal saint. Amid the great cloud of witnesses, one's patronal saint could be counted on to be a special intercessor with God - someone who would be particularly tender hearted toward them, and who also had good access to God's ear. So people would pray to their patronal saint for all kinds of help. They would often name their children after their patronal saint, and keep symbols of their patronal saint in their homes (James' symbols are either scallop shells or a cross made of swords. The saint was considered a helper - a benefactor - even like a family member. These days, we are more likely to think of "St. James" just as a name for our church, and to think of James as a 2 dimensional stained glass image.
Preparing for this Sunday has given me the chance to learn more about our patron saint, James the Apostle, also known as James the Greater (as opposed to poor "James the Less," the other apostle with the name James!) He's actually quite the ball of thunder - as Jesus described him and his brother John.
So I hope to see you all gathered together to celebrate our patron saint this Sunday - and also to celebrate this wonderful church community that gathers in his name each Sunday.