Weekly thoughts from the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where these words remind us that Jesus’ peace goes with us into the world.
June 29 was the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, when Christians remember these two greatest leaders of the early church. They didn’t always agree and weren’t always agreeable, a fact that the words of Paul about Peter (Cephas) in Galatians 2:11-14 clearly establish. Yet both men shared a common faith in Jesus Christ, knew his forgiveness deeply, and were faithful witnesses to him at the end of their lives.
That date is also the anniversary of two important occasions in my life. 20 years ago, I was ordained as a deacon at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 19 years ago, I was ordained as a priest at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach, South Carolina.
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., was the Bishop of South Carolina who ordained me to the priesthood. He died last month, remarkably, on June 29. He was slow and steady and faithful in the midst of a tumultuous period in the Episcopal Church. “Love Jesus,” he said, is the secret to being a good priest. That, of course, is what it means for anyone to be a Christian.
Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Rector