Dear Friends

May Day has come to be associated with Communism, and large military parades in Red Square, Moscow. To counteract this the Roman Catholic Church inserted a new feast, 'St Joseph the Workman', into the calendar, but it has never really caught on, especially within the Anglican Communion, which has retained its prior loyalty to the feast of St Philip and St James.

However, just as Mothering Sunday celebrates not only Mary as the mother of Jesus, but also the Church as our spiritual mother, and motherhood generally, so there's no reason why these two saints, affectionately known as 'Pip and Jim', cannot remind us of the dignity of labour - and especially the work of evangelism. Philip was born in Bethsaida and was originally a disciple of John the Baptist but we learn, from John I :44-45, that he was so enthused by the call of Jesus to follow him, that he rapidly became the first evangelist, persuading Nathaniel that Jesus was the one 'of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote.' In response to Nathaniel's dismissal of the idea that anything good could come from Nazareth, Philip invites him to meet Jesus with the memorable words, 'Come and see'. Subsequently, Philip is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 8:26-40) as the apostle who explains the meaning of the Scriptures to the Ethiopian who had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and baptizes him. It is believed that Philip later preached in present-day Turkey and was buried in Hierapolis, currently known as Pammukkale.

It is hard to distinguish between the various references in the New Testament to James, but it is usually understood that James 'the Less', or 'the Younger', was the son of Alphaeus, and tradition often identifies him with James 'the Lord's brother' who became the first bishop of Jerusalem. He was also traditionally assumed to be the author of the epistle of James, and to have been martyred in Jerusalem in AD62. These two saints are commemorated together because their relics were taken to Rome and enshrined together in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles. The following is the Collect which is used on their feast day:

'Almighty Father, whom truly to know is eternal life, teach us to know your Son Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life, that we may follow the steps of your holy apostles Philip and James, and walk steadfastly in the way that leads to your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.'

A very happy Eastertide to you all.

Stephen