An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 3/20/21

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Dear Members and Friends of St. James,

What you next read comes as reminders as we enter into the most solemn period of our liturgical year.

  • A message from our bishops, sent two weeks ago to clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese.
    “As we look towards Holy Week and Easter, we know that traversing those holy days once more with distancing restrictions is a deep disappointment.  We believe, however, that such restraint is precisely reflective of Christ’s Maundy Thursday mandate to love one another and the Good Friday message of sacrifice.  Incremental regathering in the long Easter Season will be a true experience of renewed life and a rich blessing!”

As unusual circumstances require appropriate reactions, so it is with:

  • Palm Sunday, 28 March.  Because of how the coronavirus can be transmitted, St. James will this year not distribute palms curbside.  This was also the case last year.  The Chair of the Altar Guild, with my complete concurrence, made a reasonable decision that such monies can be used on the occasion of our reopening or saved for Palm Sunday 2022. 
  • The Triduum (Holy Three Days) begin on Thursday, 1 April.  [Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday] may be observed within our individual families or by joining streamed liturgies of the Cathedral of St. Paul.  Appropriate liturgies and prayers may be found in our Book of Common Prayer.
  • Easter Day, 4 April: We are advised, once again, to join via streamed liturgies with other Christians in our diocese who are able to offer such liturgies, or visit on-line celebrations of this holy day at the National Cathedral
  • Pastoral Visits in Easter Week: Because of the increased rate of vaccination in our Commonwealth and among our parish membership, myself included, I am now permitted to make in-person visits.  It would be my privilege and great joy if you would care for me to call on you for a private celebration of the Eucharist, observing at all times the guidelines established by the CDC and by our diocese.  N.B. Communion would be in one-kind only, namely in the bread.  A simple reply, with date and time, to this email would be sufficient. [Note: please call the church, in advance, if you aren’t a parishioner and wish this service.]
  • Donations to local Food Pantries:  During our Clericus meeting this week, a fellow priest reminded us of the need to continue, and increase if possible, our support for those in need.  Whereas we have traditionally thought of donations primarily at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are reminded that this pandemic has stretched and/or essentially eliminated budgets of innumerable families in our respective areas, causing them to become more dependent on food banks.  Please donate, as you are able, but know the organization to which your donation of funds goes.

Let us pray.

  • The Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
    Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.
  • For the Harvest of Lands and Waters
    O gracious God, who opens your hand and fills all things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world; let your Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show your loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and save us from selfish use of what you give, that men and women everywhere may give you thanks; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
  • For those caring for the sick
    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 and remain with you and those whom you love this day and for ever. Amen

Your humble fellow traveler in The Way