An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 11/28/2020

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Dear Members and Friends of St. James,
 
The parish update which accompanies my homily [see tomorrow’s post] for this First Sunday in Advent 2020 leans, fortunately or not, towards the personal. The “or not” or non-personal is to alert you that, while I continue to commiserate with you all over our absence from our sanctuary due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the reports of increases in Massachusetts and in Somerville, St. James remains financially supported thanks to your determination and dedication to our ministry on Clarendon Hill. There are no new updates, no changes in regulations regarding in-person assemblies for worship.
 
And so, I step today out into the personal–in part about myself, but mainly about you–about what I learn weekly about you/us. You have a sermon from me, but I want to “preach on” briefly about resilience and restoration. To be sure, as our junior warden said just days ago to me, he does not, realistically speaking, see our return to our beautiful sanctuary for our trIMG_2405aditional Christmas Eve liturgy, the Mass of Christ’s birth. However, that does not mean that we need to remain distant from our worship space. He and I agree: SHOULD YOU DESIRE TO SPEND TIME IN PRIVATE MEDITATION, YOU NEED ONLY SEND ME AN EMAIL OR RING IN TO ME, AND I SHALL OPEN THE CHURCH FOR YOU! My only request is that you observe our governor’s mandate of a face-covering and distancing, for I shall be the bandit priest, wearing my matching black mask. You will find a candle lit, which will remind you of the eternal promise of God to light our way. You may also take away with you, should you come, a Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal to have at home. This is practical: when we are again permitted to resume communal worship, we shall have to use single-use service bulletins, until the pandemic is under control.
 
I share a moment of personal privilege, which is a sign to me of human resilience and restoration, not unique to me, but which is within us all. On Thanksgiving Day, before noon, I received a telephone call—caller ID prompted me not to ignore it as it was not a political solicitation—from a first cousin, whom I had not seen and most certainly with whom I had not spoken for years; not out of animosity or indifference. Rather, the busyness of life, the pursuit of careers, and the supporting of our offspring in their collegiate endeavors and establishing their own careers got in the way. Charles and I spoke for more than 45 minutes, and that conversation was, as if our last conversation—as I said, years prior—had been interrupted briefly by a power failure.
 
As a recently retired executive in our federal government, my cousin recalled, so said he, my tendency to worry about the state of affairs, and he called primarily to ensure me that all would be well and that I could now let God (Charles is much more religious than I) take care of the creation for eight hours. What the son of my late mother’s sister (the latter herself now 94 yrs. old, as is standard in our family) did for me awaits you, should you but make that call that you have been putting off. Sharing of family memories, reuniting with old friends via email, telephone, Facetime, Whatsapp, speak to the human need for community, for connection. That one small, untimed and unexpected gesture can work wonders. It can provide a refuge, a relief that will get us all not only through the bleak hours of lengthening nights of darkness, but also help us to rebound with strength, determination, and hope through this pandemic, as well as other difficulties that may be placed in our paths.
 
We are a people better together than apart. We are a people of hope.
 
Let us Pray:
 
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this moral life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Most Gracious God, whose blessed Son came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the love of him who laid down his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Almighty God, who created us in your own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
 
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with and remain with you and those whom you love this day and for ever. Amen
 
Your humble fellow in The Way,
CE