Luke 12: 4-12
Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon and Martyr, 304
This is an unusual week. Three days in a row, in the calendar, we commemorate some of the earliest martyr saints of the Church: Fabian, Agnes, Cecilia, and now Vincent, all martyred in some of the earliest waves of persecution against the Church.
It’s easy, from a distance of about 1800 years to look back at these figures and dismiss them as irrelevant to faithful Christian living in the early decades of this century. Our challenges living as Christians in an age of pandemic, are very different than theirs. Yet, by their feasts, especially since they happen three days in a row, they invite us to consider, not simply their deaths, but their lives, and the invitation they make to us today.
Vincent was a deacon of Spain, and the assistant of the saintly bishop, Valerius. Both of them were caught up in the persecution of early Christians ordered by the Emperor. Already, Valerius was an old man, but more significantly, tradition tells is that he had a serious speech impediment, and Vincent would often preach for him. The story goes that when they were called before the governor, Vincent said to the bishop, Father, if you order me, I will speak. To which Valerius responded, Son, I committed you to dispense the word of God, so I now charge you to answer in vindication of the faith which we defend. With those words, Vincent holding nothing back, proceeded to offer a defence of the Christian faith boldly and with exuberance.
1 Thessalonians 5:21b-24 | Psalm 126 | Luke 12:4-12
Many of you who have heard me preach over the years will know that I grew up in St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Regina. St. Mary’s had been founded about the time of the First War as an alternative to the Cathedral and at one time would have described itself as a cassock – surplice –and –stole, cross, but no candlesticks, Holy Communion second and fourth Sundays and Morning Prayer all the other Sundays sort of place. The Cathedral on the other hand had … wait for it … candles on the altar! My grandmother remembers the rector sometime in the 1940’s putting candles on the altar at St. Mary’s. When he asked her what she thought, her response was they looked pretty. Obviously others didn’t. The candles disappeared a week later.
St. Mary’s was a small town sort of Church. My grandparents attended the “early” service and we the later one. We went to public school with many of the kids who were in Sunday school with us and one year my Sunday school teacher was also my grade 1 teacher. My father served on the vestry and as a sidesman with men he had grown up and gone to school with and the children of people, who went to Sunday school with him, were now in Sunday school with my siblings and me.