An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 12/5/2020

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creche Parsons 2018

Dear Members and Friends of St. James,

My pastoral note to you this week does not bring details of events or condition of our parish campus.  Rather, I chose to the North, in order to reassure you, not only of my concern for you all during these trying days, but to remind you of a connectedness that extends beyond our place on Clarendon Hill in Somerville, Massachusetts, where the excavation across the street for the boutique hotel remains a hole and the traffic through Teele Square remains sparse.


Lacking a TV, that is, rejecting cable TV because I find, even during our Covid-19 mandated social-distancing, little time and patience to watch uninteresting offers of that medium, I came across a snippet on my computer news of a short emotion-filled address that reminded me that concerns of other nations in the world are our concerns as well.  The Premier Minister (governor) of the Canadian Province (state) of Manitoba pleaded with his people to forsake gathering for Christmas, one of the three “mandatory” days of Mass attendance for Christians.  He was not canceling Christmas, although he did confess that he “was stealing Christmas this year.”  His nod to the 1957 Dr. Seuss classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” was not lost.  (As our Bishop has reminded us: Christmas will happen, as it has in centuries past, and shall in years to come.)  Rather, the Premier Minister appealed to his people to remain apart, in order that they may gather in Christmas(es) Future for even more glorious celebrations.  How we respond this year is crucial to our individual and collective health.  The Premier Minister, as he reminded his denizens, had elected him to lead, and although there would be those who disliked this decision, he hoped that in future time, he will have gained their respect, for to do nothing was to ensure their disrespect and diminished health.


I have heard from many of you of your desire to celebrate together a central act of our faith, namely the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, so have you told me of your desire to ensure that we carry out our mission to secure, God willing, the legacy which we have inherited from those who came before.  You have shared with me at the same time your concern that we should all do what is required to remain as healthy as possible.  What has escaped me, as I have reflected on these conversation, has been a meaningful action that brings us together, while allowing us to remain safely apart.  Given our geographical location and the uncertainty of our weather, to hold a midday gathering on our lawn, even why practicing social distancing required by the governor and mayor, has struck me as being counterproductive, perhaps even exposing many in our congregation unnecessarily to other health challenges.


I do, however, present to you as a possible and an achievable action that will allow for a different celebration of the Birth of Christ.  With help from colleagues in our Deanery and from the Diocese, we could create a collage of greetings from individuals and families which I could then post to you all.  To that end, I ask that you send your greetings as an attachment to my email address, by Thursday, 18 December, and I shall work feverishly with others to make our different celebration a reality.   Please note, as well, this does not preclude sending, as we do, cards and notes to each other and to friends of the parish.  Let us be joyful.  Let us be messengers of cheer and Good Will.


Let us pray:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sin, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

O merciful God, giver of life and health, whose will is made known to us in Jesus Christ our Lord: Send Your Blessing upon all who are engaged in healing.  Grant that they may be compassionate in their care and fearless in their efforts to promote the health and well-being of the people of this and other lands, and be strengthened by Your grace, for the sake of Your Son our Savior Jesus Christ.  AMEN

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.  We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity.  Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, 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 you and remain with you and those whom you love this day and for ever. Amen

Your humble fellow in The Way