An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 1/23/21

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Dear Members and Friends of St. James,

As this is the first note to you since my Staycation, I wish to bring you up to date on several important items of concern. And as always, I invite your comments and questions.

  • OUR CAMPUS: I have returned to my habit of spending at least one day per week at our facilities. Our senior warden has confirmed for me a problem with the large boiler which I noticed. However, the problem has been addressed and our furnace is again functioning, ensuring that we have no frozen pipes during our cold season. >>The thermostats remain at a temperature which prevents that calamity. I repeat an earlier invitation: As we are still prohibited by state and local guidelines from in-person worship, I am willing to open our buildings, especially our sanctuary for individual meditation, under guidelines set by our bishop and local authorities.  Please contact me, and I shall arrange to meet you.<<
  • LENT 2021: Wednesday, 17 February, marks the beginning of the period of Lent, those 40 days of reflection and contemplation.  It is also called in the vernacular Ash Wednesday, a day on which your clergy imposes ashes on our foreheads as a reminder of our humanness.  Our bishops and your clergy in our Clericus Meeting, via Zoom, recognize the solemnity of that day and its intrinsic tradition.  However, given the continued struggle with Covid-19 and the arrival of a variant strain of the virus, we are advised against this tradition, including the relatively recent contemporary ascendance of “ashes to go,” which we, since my arrival, have not continued nor re-introduced.

According to Anglican theology, unlike the Sacrament of Baptism, the Imposition of Ashes is not a mandated “laying on of hands.”  As your pastor, I care deeply for your well-being and shall not put yourselves, or me for that matter, in jeopardy of passing on, even inadvertently, the coronavirus.  I believe that there are other ways of reflecting on The Holy.  A question or two, per usual, from me to you: >>What, asides from ashes, would symbolize repentance to you?  Is it not possible to find the Sacred in the ordinary, something in your home that would be a sign unto you of mortality and repentance?  Above all, may I recommend setting aside a few minutes to read the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday as offered in our Book of Common Prayer?  This liturgy which may be observed at any time, and not simply on Ash Wednesday, is one which I find spiritually uplifting.<<

  • ANNUAL MEETING: Sunday, 14 February. Canon Law, as well as codes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, requires that we hold a meeting annually, in which we conduct the fiduciary business of the parish.  That meeting has been called by the vestry of the parish, in conjunction with recommendation from me, your Priest-in-residence, for noon on the date indicated above.  In communication from our bishop, I announce that due to this most unusual circumstance, caused by Covid-19, there shall not be an in-person meeting.  Rather, we have been authorized to hold such a meeting via Zoom or teleconference.  In conversation with our senior warden, our meeting will be conducted via teleconference, as some members of the parish do not have access capability to Zoom.B.: The reports of your priest, the wardens, treasurer, committee chairs will be sent via USPS to all members eligible to vote at the meeting.  In all candor, because Covid-19 has this year hindered almost all the usual activities of the parish, these reports will be brief.  Should anyone desire to bring a matter to the attention of the wardens, vestry or myself, I request that they be sent via this email address.  Finally, in addition to the brief reports, you shall receive, from the senior warden or from me, information regarding accessing the teleconference.


As I think daily of you all, I continue to be amazed at your dedication to our presence in Teele Square at the top of Clarendon Hill.  More than perhaps I should state publicly—I mean, after all we are Episcopalians—I am deeply, deeply moved by your frequent telephone calls and notes to me, inquiring of my well-being.  I long for the day that I shall again have the privilege of greeting you all in person and in celebrating with you the joys expressed in the Mass, the Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, to gather in unity and union with you in one of the great mysteries of faith.


Let us pray:

O merciful God, giver of life and health, send your blessing, we pray, upon all who are engaged in the ministry of healing.  Grant that they be compassionate in their care for the sick and afflicted, fearless in their efforts to promote the health and well-being of the people in this and other lands, and be strengthened by your grace, for the sake of Him whose Cross is the pledge of victory over all powers of evil, even you Son our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen

O gracious God, accompany us in these United States with your protection,
And in your protection give us courage,
And in our courage give us wisdom,
And in our wisdom a sense of justice,
And in our sense of justice the desire to realize it,
And in our actualization a love for all that lives
And above all a love of you, O God, who are only good and holy.  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 you and remain with you and those whom you love this day and for ever. Amen


Your humble fellow in The Way