This past Sunday, Bishop Nicholas and his wife Karen came to St Martin’s for their yearly Episcopal Visitation at which he confirmed Deb DePetrillo, and received John Lawlor (at long last), Mark DePetrillo, and Debbie Boedeker into the communion of the Episcopal Church. Welcome Deb, Mark, John, and Debbie!
We lived up to our legendary reputation for fine food and my thanks to the hospitality committee who produced a wonderful coffee hour with a host of delicious edibles.
Keeping to the theme of bishops, the hospitality committee – which is one of our significant showcase ministries is doing double duty with back to back weekends. This coming weekend is the celebration of St Martin, bishop of Tours. Martin is our patron saint which means that when we are at our best, we exemplify some of the core values that Martin is remembered for.
According to the New World Encyclopedia, while Martin was still a soldier at Amiens, he experienced a vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the unfortunate man. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away and heard Jesus say to the angles "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." In some versions of the story, when Martin woke, his cloak was restored. A cloak, reputed to be Martin's original cloak was later preserved among the relics collected by the Merovingian kings of the Franks. Incidentally, the priest who cared for Martin’s cloak as it journeyed with royal court around France came to be known as the chapelain – custodian of the chapeau – French for cloak -from which we derive our word chaplain.
The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptized at the age of 18. He served in the military for another two years until, just before a battle against the Gauls at Worms in 336, Martin determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting. "I am a soldier of Christ," he reportedly stated, "I cannot fight." He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops. His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could do so, the invaders sued for peace, and the battle never occurred. Martin then was released from military service to pursue a life as monk and hermit before reluctantly being elected bishop of Tours.
Martin was a man with a social conscience - who believed that violence was against Christ’s call. Martin was a man who devoted the rest of his life to the pursuit of holiness, at first for his own benefit but eventually in a wider service of community. Let us pray that following in his spirit we may not be found wanting in witnessing through lives of holy action to Christ in our own day .
As is our love of both beautiful worship and a good party, this Sunday we will celebrate Martin’s Day with Choral Evensong at 4:30pm, followed by the parish feast. Remember, evensong at 4:30pm always means the possibility of a longer Sunday morning sleep-in. Who wants to let that opportunity pass the by? Hope to see you then!