Copyright 2016 Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist. All rights reserved.
The Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist 200 Main St., Thomaston, Maine 04861
firstname.lastname@example.org (207) 354-8734 Sunday Services are at 8 am and 10 am
We have no record of who chose the name of our parish, or why they did such. It seems odd to name a church, The Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist while it is across the street from a Baptist Church. Maybe they thought they might attract some wayward Baptists. Being that it was in Advent when they probably were making the decision to name the parish and John the Baptist is a central figure of the Advent season might be why they chose this name. Whatever the reason it is lost in time. Adding to the confusion is that the Episcopal Church in Camden is St. Thomas, and we are in Thomaston; and my name is Peter and the Episcopal Church in Rockland is St. Peter’s.
We are left with our name, we did not chose it, but inherited it. Just as our own personal names were usually not chosen by ourselves but by our parents. Whatever the source the name we live with helps to define us. With the advent of internet search engines we now can search our name and find others with our very same name. When I come across someone with the same last name I wonder if we are related. Our names not only connect us with our family and geneology, but also can connect us to our faith or history when we share a name with a biblical or historical figure.
Our connection with John the Baptist, or St. John Baptist - the title in the old prayer book, through our name is a way in which we connect to the beginning story of Christianity, as other churches use Saint’s names to connect them to the early church and the larger history of faith. In particular it connects us to the one who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. The feast day for St. John Baptist is June 24th (though this year we will celebrate it on Sunday, June 25th) and it is a celebration of his birth and the meeting of Jesus when both mother’s were pregnant. A bit of trivia is the first act of John’s ministry is that he lept in the womb when the two pregnant women met.
The feast is a foreshadowing of Christmas and is six months before, both festivals were placed near the winter and summer solstice as efforts to Christianize the celebrations at the time and as such both became big festivals throughout Europe.
As a parish church named for St. John Baptist we are reminded to prepare the way for God in our world and to meet and hear the love of God in ways that will bring us back to our core of belief and being, challenge us to let go of those things that distract our lives, or corrupt it, and see God in ways that we might never have imagined – right before our eyes.
Over the last few years with construction upending our traffic, it is important that we stand as a witness of something positive in a transforming way while most people simply complain. We are a witness to the potential of grace in both inconvenience and deeply troubling times. In the midst of a deeply divided and contentious political environment we are called to hold fast to the call to repent when needed and to not simply take sides in the immediate debate but to remember the larger vision of God that is at work in all of our lives.
What is in a Name
by the Rev. Peter Jenks