|Nov. 2, 2017
Dear Hyde Park Family,
There, so far as is allowed us, when we are gathered together in exultation and joy, the Lord will enable us to celebrate the birthday of the martyrs, both for the memory of those who have contended, and for the exercise and preparation of those to come.
This passage, written by an unknown author, is part of The Martyrdom of Polycarp, one of the earliest eyewitness accounts of Christianity during the age of persecution. Written in the second century, the work gives us insight into how early in the church’s infancy the lives of saints were venerated, long before canonization.
This Sunday is All Saints’ Sunday, commonly observed throughout the church for us to “gather together in exultation and joy” and give thanks for those who have gone before us. Over the next few days, I also hope you’ll take a moment to remember that your very existence on earth, as well as your unique qualities, are the sum result of countless people who have forged the course of your life. Find an opportunity to remember by name those whom you claim as ancestors, both by lineage and by influence. Say a prayer of thanks for dearly departed family members, faith founders, and spiritual companions who make you who you are today.
The words of Polycarp also encourage us to exercise and prepare for our own journey toward holiness. Since we are in the wake of our annual stewardship campaign and last weekend’s commitment Sunday, I explored what some of our spiritual ancestors said about discipleship, commitment, and stewardship. Consider how each statement might challenge you to live your life in full obedience and surrender to God:
Be not anxious about what you have, but about what you are. – Gregory the Great
For those in the married state, the best example we can cite is that of St. Joachim and St. Anne, who every year divided their income into three equal parts. One was for the poor, the second for the temple and the divine service, and the third for themselves. – Ignatius of Loyola
If everyone would take only according to his needs and would leave the surplus to the needy, no one would be rich, no one poor, no one in misery. – Basil the Great
It would be considered a theft on our part if we didn’t give to someone in greater need than we are. – St. Francis of Assisi
It is well known that I had neither riches, nor talent, nor external charm, but I have always loved, and I have loved with all the strength of my heart. – Mary Euphrasia Pelletier
Here is a rule for everyday life: Do not do anything which you cannot offer to God. – St. John Vianney
God has no need of your money, but the poor have. You give it to the poor, and God receives it. – St. Augustine
True humility consists in not presuming on our own strength, but in trusting to obtain all things from the power of God. – St. Thomas Aquinas
I invite you to re-read and reflect on each of these quotes, and be open to how the Spirit might lead you to a deeper commitment to Christ and a fuller reorientation of your relationship with your finances and material possessions. If you haven’t yet made your financial pledge to God’s mission at Hyde Park United Methodist, you can do so efficiently and confidentially by clicking on this link. Thank you to the nearly 300 people who have already turned in their commitments over the past three weeks, putting us ahead of last year’s response rate. You, too, can be part of the Spirit’s momentum as we move forward together.
I hope you’ll join us this Sunday in person or online for our annual All Saints’ observance. We’ll remember those in our church family who have died over the past year, with the reciting of their name, the ringing of a bell, and the lighting of a candle. And, we’ll gather around the communion table, observing together the mysterious shroud of saints that accompany us on the journey.
Grace and peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega