A Letter from Pastor Joe+ Regarding Worship During This Public Health Crisis

The Mission of St. James is to become a thriving community of faith; loving God and our neighbors.

 

March 13, 2020

 

Dear friends,

The rise of a public health crisis brought on by coronavirus is something new for me to behold.

I was talking with my mother last week about all of this, and she said that she could remember as a little girl, in her small town in Mississippi, strong measures taken in response to the spread of polio. She remembers the quarantines, the isolation, the separation, the fear. She also remembers the feeling of “we’re all in this together,” and the caring, and the looking out for neighbor, and the expressions of love. Difficulties and adversity, while none of us wishes for them, they nonetheless seem to always bring out the best in people. It’s what I call grace. God’s grace. Here’s an interesting article about some sociologists who studied this one time:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-disaster-response.html?searchResultPosition=1

In Pre-K Chapel this week, one of the 4-year-old students knocked me on my heels with a couple of probing questions about God. His final question to me was, “why can’t we see God?” Still surprised by his insightful questions, I stammered, “well God is all around us, God is in the heavenly realms, God is right here with us.” And then I regained my footing and I said, “and God is in you, and in me. Where do I see God? I see God in YOU!”

Officials tell us we have likely not seen the worst of coronavirus in this country. But, as people of faith, we understand that we are not alone in this. We of course “are in this together,” with one another, and that is comforting. We are also “in this together” with God. And that is reassuring. God never leaves us. God never abandons us. And God has given us one another, to shoulder the holy work of love. And in this public health challenge, love will continue to abound. I encourage you to continue to reach out to others in love. Limit your face to face visits with people (as will I, Fr. Matt and Fr. Tom, except for those most necessary pastoral situations), but call them, email them, text them, check in on them, look out for them. Let them see God in you.

As Episcopalians, we are keenly aware that God made us with fantastic brains, able to think and reason, and we believe it is ok to use them. And our brains are telling us things we need to do to be safe (washing hands, wiping down surfaces, staying home if we’re sick, etc.). Our brains also tell us that, for the time being, we should not gather together in large groups. If we do, the virus will spread and our health care system will be overwhelmed. We Christians must do our part in helping to mitigate the spread of this virus.

Accordingly, our bishop has directed that we not gather for worship for the next 2 weeks. See the link to his letter explaining this action. This is a dramatic action and it pains our bishop to issue this directive. But, he understands that it is necessary, and that we must do our part in combating the spread of coronavirus.

This does not mean we cannot worship for the next 2 weeks! We Episcopalians are people of the book – The Book of Common Prayer. There are daily office services each of us can utilize alone and in our families. See the link to the online Book of Common Prayer and a link to a web page developed by Susan Robinson, our Parish Administrator, with resources for worship, including a link to the National Cathedral. Also, I will be offering various services on line in the coming days. Check your email often for notices of services and other information.

The parish office remains open. The Academy is not in session (see the Head of School’s letter closing school) but the sextons will be working diligently to clean the building. The church will be deep-cleaned on Monday, March 16th.

As always, I am available by email (rector@saintjames.org) and by cell phone (434-249-3868). Please reach out with any questions or concerns. Pray for one another, our leaders, health care providers, and all who are affected by coronavirus. And know that I hold you in prayer as we go forward together in love.

In Christ,

Joe

Joseph M. Cochran, Rector

 

PS Check the website later in the day March 13th for worship offerings.

Head of School Letter

March 12, 2020

Dear St. James Academy Families,

We continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and take the safety and well being of all members of the St. James community very seriously. This afternoon Governor Hogan and state officials announced that Maryland public schools will be closed March 16 through March 27. In accordance with the state’s decision as well as the recommendation from AIMS Executive Director, Peter Baily, SJA will also close for that time frame. Our COVID-19 Task Force team continues to meet and evaluate new information as it becomes available and will make a decision if we need to close for a longer period of time.

Tomorrow, our faculty will use the time to prepare and plan accordingly for the extended closure and ensure that our academic program will continue. Our goal is to have as little learning disruption as possible and continued education for your child. I am confident that our dedicated faculty and staff will maintain our high standard of learning for your child. For students in grades 5-8, we sent home laptops/Chromebooks, and students in grades PreK-4 took home packets prepared by their teachers. We will provide more specifics about our Distance Learning Plan in the coming days. Families should be prepared to access virtual learning as early as March 23.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me.

I wish you a healthy and safe Spring Break.

 

Warmly,

Charlotte S. Riggs

Head of School

First Lent

The Rev. Joe Cochran, Rector

The Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

February 23,2020

Last Sunday after Epiphany. The Rev. Joe Cochran.

The Gospel of Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

February 9, 2020

The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany. The Rev. Joe Cochran.

Matthew 5:13-20

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”