An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 2/7/21

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Dear Members and Friends of St. James,

My update to you this week shall be marked with an unusual brevity.  The rationale is that on Sunday next,
14 February, 12:00 p.m., we meet via teleconference in ANNUAL MEETING
At that time, we will all have opportunity not only to hear reports of activities from the chronological year 2020, but also to ask questions.  But, of greatest importance, to greet each other and to hear each other’s voices, a contact denied by the pandemic.  This week via USPS, you shall receive reports that will allow you to reflect on a horrendous and unsettling year, and to imagine how we might go forward when once the pandemic has been diminished in number and potency and we are again permitted to assemble in our sacred space.  I remind you that, although we come from surrounding towns, Somerville, the city in which our parish is situated, continues its restrictions of 10 persons for in-person worship and meetings.  The packet that you will receive will contain instructions re: how to dial into the meeting.

As many of you know from my biweekly conversations with or written notes to you, I devote much time to contemplating how we shall go forward.  The old normal has been changed, even if it is not immediately apparent.  We shall challenge each other and those who, God willing, find their way to our doors, to consider what form the new normal shall take.  One thing is clear to me: we will hold on to that which is good and lay aside that which may impede the spreading of Christ’s Good News of Love, Justice, and Peace.  I pray that you all add your voices in determining how we do that.

I quote to you from a rector/friend/colleague who has said to his congregation “God does not save us _from_ life, he saves us _in_ life.”  The pandemic has removed us from our usual busyness, has offered us time, as it were, to consider what is important, what is essential in our individual lives, and as we anticipate going forward, I raise (as always) a question:  Will we apply that insight in our common life?

Let us pray:

*O Sovereign Source of peace, let your people know your enduring peace.  Keep our tongues from evil and our lips from deceit.  Give us courage to speak out when others are being derided, and to be humble in the presence of all.  In a world torn by violence and pain, a world far from wholeness, give us, O Source of all that is good and true and holy, the courage to say: There is one God in heaven and earth, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

*O Eternal Source of peace, bless our country, that it may always be a stronghold of peace and its advocate among the nations.  May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes.  Strengthen the bonds of friendship among the inhabitants of all lands, and may the love of Your name hallow every home and every heart.  We praise You, Eternal One, Source of peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who together with the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns one God.  Amen

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

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 traveler in The Way

P.S.  As promised last week, I report that I have received the first dosage of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19.  There were no side effects, other than the temporary soreness that accompanies every inoculation.  Massachusetts moves ahead according to an outlined schedule, and I implore you to follow the state’s guidelines.

*adapted from Shaarei Tefillah L’Shabbat (Gates of Prayer for Shabbat: a Gender Sensitive Prayerbook