Our July 25 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The August 1 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services.
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1 Kings 19:9-18 | Psalm 7:1-12
Acts 11:27-12:3a | Mark 10:35-45
Remember that the other Sunday, I said that you need to learn about the saints? Today, you get a chance. Indeed, I learned a couple of things preparing for this sermon.
Today is the Commemoration of St. James, the Apostle. Or, as I learned preparing for this sermon, we should call him St. James of Many Names. He is also known as James the Elder, James the Great or Greater (in the sense that he was older, or also, taller), James the Son of Zebedee (and his brother John). James and John were also called the “Sons of Thunder,” supposedly because they fought a lot. But, his name in Hebrew was Yakov. We made it James for us in English. He was the son of Zebedee and his wife Salome, not the Salome who was King Herod’s step-daughter. Rather, this Salome is supposed to be the Virgin Mary’s sister, which explains why she is named as one of the women who goes to the tomb on Easter morning to finish the embalming of Jesus’ body. That, if it is true, makes both James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Jesus’ cousins! It kind of explains why in the Gospel lesson that James and John ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left when he comes into his kingdom. As possibly his cousins, they may have felt entitled to those positions. Although, it seems to have angered the other disciples instead. And of course, there is his temper. He and John wanted to call down fire upon a Samaritan village that had refused to allow Jesus to enter. Jesus reply was, “Let’s just go to another village instead.”
What is significant about St. James are a couple of things. He was the first apostle to be martyred, by tradition, on July 25th, by King Herod Agrippa, in the year 44 AD. By some traditions, King Herod Agrippa beheaded James with a sword himself. In that tradition, the king didn’t like James’ hot temper! He is also the only apostle whose death is recorded in Scripture, the Acts text this morning. Notice that Herod Agrippa also had Peter arrested, intending to execute Peter at the time of the Feast of the Passover. But Peter is freed by an angel. Peter, James and John constitute what I call the Big Three. They are present at every significant event in Jesus’ ministry, including the Transfiguration. If you are reading the Gospels, and a section specifically names Peter, James and John, it is something important.
After Jesus’ Ascension, James went to Spain. Remember, the word apostle means “one who is sent out.” James was. There he set to work as an evangelist. This is decades before St. Paul decided that he wanted to go there, and never made it. It is one of the reasons why James is the Patron Saint of Spain (he is also the Patron Saint of a couple of other places, and pilgrims). After his execution in Judea, his disciples brought his body back to Spain. There he was buried at Santiago de Compostela. It is the site of the largest pilgrimage in Western Christianity every year. And it has been since the Middle Ages. In 2018, 327,378 people registered to take that 100 km pilgrimage! And if his Feast Day, July 25th, falls on a Sunday, in Compostela, it is declared a “Holy Year.” The last time that happened was in 2010. Regardless, in Spain, his Feast day is preceded by a two week celebration, ending in fireworks.