Today we commemorate St. James, the Elder, brother of St. John and first martyr among the Twelve. The first reading tells his story: Acts 11:27-12:5.
Upon the ordination of a friend not too long ago, a mutual friend (Pr. Jay Watson), wrote to him: "Welcome to the martyrdom." The collect captures the same thought:
"Your servant and apostle James was the first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ. Pour out upon the leaders of Your Church that spirit of self-denying service that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone."
The spirit of martyrdom - of not finding our life anywhere but in communion with Jesus Christ - is the spirit we pray for all who hold office in Christ's Church. St. James' Day reminds us of this:
O Lord, for James we praise You,
Who fell to Herod's sword;
He drank the cup of suff'ring
And thus fulfilled Your word.
Lord, curb our vain impatience
For glory and for fame,
Equip us for such suff'rings
As glorify Your name.