Saint Paul's Episcopal Church


Thomas and A Street - Altus, Oklahoma

Priest's Reflections

Dear Parish family,

During the month of November we will be given several specific opportunities to very intentionally give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

The first comes very quickly and is All Saints Day celebrated on the first Sunday in November. This ancient celebration dates back to 837 when Pope Gregory IV ordered a church wide observance of the commemoration of the martyrs of the early church. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates this feast day on November 1st. After the Church of England broke from Rome, it continued to celebrate All Saints Day with the New Testament understanding of the term “saints” to mean all believers. In the Episcopal Church we celebrate “All Saints Day” on the first Sunday in November. It is the day we set aside to remember and give thanks for all those “saints”, or believers, who have passed on to greater life. We take this time to remember their witness because they have inspired us, taught us and guided us to live into our faith.

On the fourth Thursday in November we celebrate that great American tradition called Thanksgiving Day. It began in 1621 in the first colony established in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was the first colony in a new land which would become the United States of America. That first celebration was prompted by a good harvest for which the Pilgrims wished to give thanks. It is significant to note that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration which included not only the Pilgrim settlers but also included Native Americans of the Wampanoag Tribe. It was these native people who taught the Pilgrims how to fish and provided the seeds with which to plant their crops and thus made it possible for them to survive and thrive in this New Land. So once again we have a rich historical example reminding us that all the blessings we have been given and the things which we have achieved are not only the product of our own hard work, but also the product of the help, support and love of others.

On All Saints Sunday we at St. Paul’s will lift our voices in the hymn “Sing the Song of the Saints of God’’. A question we should ask ourselves is this: How do we tangibly, individually and as a community, give thanks for the many blessings that we have enjoyed in our lives? I think the answer is----We Give Back.--- We strive to be good stewards with our lives following in the steps of the saints of old by inspiring, teaching and guiding others in the faith and also by sharing our resources so that others might thrive as well. One of those opportunities will take place here at St. Paul’s on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, November 19th. That will be the day of our annual Commitment Sunday Ingathering. On that Sunday each family will bring to the altar their offering to God and a blessing of that offering will be made.
St. Paul’s is a special place because of each of you and we have been blessed by God, this place, and each other. I ask that you prayerfully consider the abundance that God has bestowed upon you when determining your commitment.

Blessings and peace to you always,