Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is
your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 12: 32
In 1827, a group of people hired an architect, John Strickland, to design a church. That act, that conviction, lead eventually to Trinity Episcopal Church at Centre and Howard Streets in the city of Pottsville.
In 1836, a solid building was erected in the village of Schuylkill Haven for the worship needs of a congregation of Anglicans. That beautiful place stands in vision still, as St. James.
In 1854, a cornerstone was laid at Nichols and Hancock Streets in the village of St. Clair. That conviction, to erect a church, lead to the current Holy Apostles Church of North Parish.
In November of 1855, a petition was presented to a bishop to organize a church in the far flung hills of Ashland, PA. That petition lead to the building of a church which is St. John’s of North Parish.
We–they–all of us–may worship in our buildings, and go about our provincial lives as parishes struggling to maintain…what? Buildings? Grounds? Roofs? Pasts which are just that, history, rather than life? Do we forget that what happens beyond these walls is as important–if not more–than what happens within them for an hour or so a few times a month? Are we running out to continue our worship, or are we content with nice offerings, nice sacrifices, putting on those good happy faces (like the Italians say the “Bella Facia) but leaving here with the mean, angry, sad, or concerned faces (Bruta facia)?
We are called to make purses that do not wear out. Those purses are the outreach with and to one another in Christian hope, in Christian faith, in Christian love, and in Christian worship! We are dressed for action, ready daily for that journey. And we are called to be alert: alert for the coming of Christ. But look around! He is already here. He is already here: in St. Clair, in Frackville and Ashland, in Cressona and Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville, in Aleppo and Orlando and Kabul, AND He is even in the city of Bethlehem, PA and the communities within the Diocese of Bethlehem, and beyond.
Being alert is knowing at all times that God’s kingdom is here. There may be a different way in this century than there was in 1827, than there was in 1912, than there was in 1999, but that Kingdom was there then as well. And those people were alert, looking at all times for a way forward, into the future. So, are we afraid on our journeys? Are we concerned and tense on our walk? Christ said it: Do not be afraid! It is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Do not be afraid, concerned, anxious, or tense. Because we never walk alone.
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