April 25, 2024

From the Rector: Let's Stay Together

Dear parishioners and friends of Saint James,

On Tuesday, we had the funeral for Mr Joseph J. Thomas. If I could summarize his life in a phrase, I would say he went about sharing himself to make others great. He became a great and beloved husband, father, friend and mentor in the process. The attendees were many and varied, a testament to his universal appeal – helping others to be what they were born to be.

Afterwards, we had the noon time televised Mass. I was tired as all-get-out (again, whatever that really means) but the generous Spirit of the Lord helped us make it through. Immediately following that, I had lunch with a visiting priest. We were catching up on this and that and I had a chance to tell him about the recent plans to renovate the church. I was particularly pleased to give him a tour of the land, and I do mean land, the gardens around the Cathedral. It was a particularly tranquil day, the temperature perfect, the sun at just the right angle and an ever so slight breeze.

Somehow my strength was renewed talking about all we had been through together since I first arrived. Everything seemed astonishingly in order, as though we had gone on a sprucing up rampage before ‘company’ comes. But it was its now normally beautiful, inspiring self. 

I write all this with today’s Gospel in mind. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” Prior to this he said that the vine branches that bear fruit bear even more fruit when they are pruned. Immediately I thought of those vines you see that are growing in rocky, seemingly inhospitable soil. They don’t look lush but rugged, dry and gnarly. Yet, these are the branches that produce the best and most fruit.

Jesus compares us to that grape vine. Those branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off, and those that do are put to the test. The stressed ones turn out to be the best of all. So, yes, we’ve been through a lot but that Tuesday showed that we are indeed producing good fruit. “Let’s, we oughta stay together.” Loving each other, “whether times are good or bad, happy or sad.”* If we stay close to the Lord and let the Father have his work in us, we will stay together producing good and abundant fruit for the Kingdom.

In the Lord, we oughta stay together,
Fr. Bryan Patterson

*Thanks Al Green, Al Jackson Jr., Willie Mitchell