Words of Encouragement
from Fr. Peter Speropulos
After his conversion and commissioning to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul suffered a great many hardships. For proclaiming the Gospel, five different times he was flogged with 39 lashes, three different times, he was beaten with rods, he was stoned, put in prison more than once, abandoned by his friends, poisoned, and even shipwrecked twice! In his second letter to the Corinthian church, he tells them,   " I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked." Eventually, he would has beheaded in Rome.

The Church Historian and Bishop of Caesaria, Eusebius writes in the 4th century (312-324AD,)
..... concerning the time, place, and manner of [Paul's] death, we have little certainty. It is ..... commonly believed that, when  a general persecution   was raised against the Christians ..... by Nero, about A.D. 64, under pretense that they had set Rome on fire, both St. Paul ..... and St. Peter then sealed the truth with their blood; the latter being  crucified with his ..... head downward ; the former being beheaded, either in A.D. 64 or 65, and buried in the ..... Via Ostiensis. 

All Paul had to do was stay home and keep his mouth shut. But in spite of all this suffering, Paul had one even greater anxiety. He tells the Corinthians, "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches." He loved the churches. 

All of the churches were aware of Apostle's suffering, but he sets them at ease in his letter to the Ephesians, "So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you." In the midst of the suffering they are witnessing, he wants them to have courage and keep hope. Even though they are still underground and worshiping in secret, he wants them to hold fast.

How? In the face of such a fearful time could they be brave? How in the midst of such ravenous uncertainty could they have hope? How could they hold fast to anything? They know that Paul, through all his suffering, is praying for them. "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father," he assures them. 

He concludes this section of his letter with a doxology; praising God, but I think also to remind those he loved of the God to whom he is praying: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we could hope or imagine, according to the power at work within us,   to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." God is able to do more than we could hope or imagine. 

There is a prayer in the Book of Common Prayer that reflects Paul's heartening theology of prayer for those we love:
..... Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your
..... never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
..... knowing that you are doing for them better things than we
..... can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

In all of our prayers for those we love, for our parish, for our community, for our world, we can have confidence that God is creatively at work. Have courage and hold fast.

Peter+

  • As we begin to relaunch our in-person liturgies and ministries, CSMSG's Words of Encouragement will move from daily installments to weekly. The clergy and staff have enjoyed sharing their hearts with the parish each day since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and connecting with many of you through your responses. You can look for the weekly Words of Encouragement each Wednesday beginning July 1. 

  • Please register to attend this Sunday's, July 5th in-person worship services on the home page of our website. Please register by midnight on Friday.

  • The Zoom coffee hour will not take place this Sunday.

  • Be sure to download the Sunday Morning Prayer service leaflet posted on the web so that you can participate in the liturgy. We join with one voice in the Worship of the living God.  

  • Be on the look out for a phone call from Church Receptionist Becky Arthur or other staff members, as we update our Realm directory.