An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 12/19/20

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Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. James,

You receive via this medium, in addition to my weekly reflections on the state of the parish, two attached items [see separate posts].  The first, my Advent-Christmas 2020 Newsletter, many of you should have by now received via USPS.  I insert it here, because I became aware that street addresses for several had changed, but that email addresses have remained constant.  In the second attachment [to be posted 12/24], Christmas 2020 St. James Somerville, I offer you my thoughts of the surprise that a most unique Christmas gift brings yearly.  The latter are my reflections that I had hope to share during our re-gathering of our sanctuary, but this latter further postponed due to the increase of Covid-19 cases in the City of Somerville.  Your counsel to me and to our wardens does not go unheeded.

Now I write you a non-typical “State of the Parish” update.:

And it cameCEBJodygreeningLadder to pass in those days that, after I had made a pastoral visit (via telephone, of course) with a parishioner, and was relieved to hear of her continued convalescence, I continued to make my telephone rounds.  And behold, the next parishioner asked: ‘Padre, are you a Christian?’ And I, who often comment jocularly after receiving good news that “there are times I am almost tempted to believe in God,” thought her question was in good humor. But, verily, she repeated the question and, with a firm voice, added, “When was the last time you took time for yourself? As I reckon, you have not taken any time away since you returned from Germany in October 2019, and that was 14 months ago!  Remember, even Jesus took some time off!”

I was left speechless, like our biblical Pharisees, not capable of presenting a counter argument. I had been called out.  However, I was moved, as this parishioner had done what makes St. James so special.  She reminded me that, yea verily though I am the priest, you are all the ministers.  You care for your own and others who walk with you in Christ’s name.  And, lo, finding no fault with this good woman, I have decided the following:  I shall embark on a two-week STAY-cation.  You may and should always contact me with pastoral emergencies, and I shall respond within the guidelines and mandates of our bishop and governmental authorities.

Should you be interested in how I plan to spend my “staycation,” I give you the following ambitious broad program:

  • I shall unpack the boxes still unopened since my move in July/August. Even labeled, opening them will be for me as if I were unwrapping Christmas presents.bedside books
  • I shall read, with the intent of allowing my reading material to find a level, not immediately in front of my eyes, if it so chooses. I share with you my proposed list:
    1. Isabel Wilkerson. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.
    2. Ibram X. Kendi. How to be an Antiracist.
    3. Albert Mohler, Jr. The Apostles’ Creed. Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits.
    4. John E. Booty. The Book of Common Prayer 1559. The Elizabethan Prayer Book.
    5. Gerhard Schlink. Die Heimkehr.
    6. Henning Mankell. Mödare utan Ansikte.


Except for the last two volumes (one German, one Swedish), which are for sheer pleasure, I recommend a, b, and c, as I believe they provide foundations for discussion of problems that beset our national and church communities.  Hard questions are raised, but then let us not forget that Jesus, during his earthly ministry, posed hard questions to those in authority.

I pray for your and our physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being and ask God’s blessings on us all.  I close with a Christmas benediction, author unknown, which I discovered in the periodical Southern Living.

May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child.  And, the Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.  Amen

Your humble sojourner in The Way