Habits of Grace – Monday Meditation from the Presiding Bishop

[March 23, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new video meditation will be posted on Mondays through May.  

Now available: Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry‘s weekly “Habits of Grace” meditations during the #COVID19 outbreak have been built into a new limited-series podcast offering from The Episcopal Church. Simply search “Habits of Grace” in your favorite podcast player, or follow one of the links below to popular apps.

(You can also simply ask your smart device to “Play Habits of Grace Podcast”)

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/…/habits-of-grace-w…/id1503355070

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/Ivlbvix6wwf6xg37ojoqhy562vq…

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2pIBebkhNKBVBayYsGVlA5…

Hello. This past week I came across two passages, one from the Bible, one a poem. The one in the Bible, I was just reading through parts of Matthew’s gospel and was reading through the Sermon on the Mount and got to chapter seven where Jesus says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In this time when we are all called to physically distance from each other, physical, not social, but physical isolation for the good of each other. I’m mindful of the words of Jesus when he said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Maybe that’s a frame for having to live in a time of physical isolation.

The other thing that I came across was a poem. It was in an email from Thistle Farms, a ministry that many of us know, led by Becca Stevens. It was a poem called Pandemic*. It’s by a poet named Lynn Ungar, who’s also an ordained minister, and in the poem she says:

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has become clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Have a blessed week. God love you and keep the faith.

*Used with permission of the author.

Our Church Continues Unabated – Third Letter from the Rector

Dear friends,

It is hard to believe that it’s been only a week since I wrote to you announcing that corporate worship gatherings were suspended through March 29 at St. James’ Church and throughout the Diocese of Maryland.  It feels like it was a month ago, not one week.  So much has happened in one week’s time.  Suddenly we are being called to be the Church in a dramatically different world.

Today (Thursday, March 19th) our Bishop announced that through May 16 we will not hold public worship gatherings in the Diocese of Maryland.  We are at a critical juncture with coronavirus, and it is important for us to not gather in large groups for the next 2 months.  While we cannot gather for corporate worship in our church building, this means we will continue to be the Church in different ways.

Our current circumstance begs the question: what does it mean to be a church?  When we can’t use our church building for corporate worship, can we still be a church?  When our ability to gather together for worship is taken from us, can we still be a church?  When we are unable to receive the Eucharistic sacrament, can we still be a church?

What is the essence of a church?  The essence of a church is what happens when 2 or 3 are gathered together in the name of Christ, whether that gathering is in the same room or through a computer screen or over the phone.  Jesus comes among us when we gather in his name.  That’s when church happens, and in that ‘happening’ we are touched, transformed, loved, lifted up, strengthened, made one – we are the Church.

The Church has continued, unabated, through wars, and plagues, and storms of all kinds, and and will continue, even through coronavirus.  OUR church – St. James’ Church – continues.  Right now, St. James’ Church continues withCompline online; beginning next week, daily Noonday Prayer online; adult forum online; Sunday worship online; calls from the Rector; parishioners checking in on one another; prayers offered for ourselves and others; prayers offered for the world and our leaders; hymns that we sing out loud and in our hearts; prayers of thanksgiving and joy to our God. Yes indeed, the Church continues, St. James’ Church continues and will do so through coronavirus and beyond, praise be to God.

Information for Sunday worship services at St. James’ through Lent, Holy Week services, and Easter will be forthcoming.  For this coming Sunday, March 22, rather than gathering online as the St. James’ community, we will join our Episcopal sisters and brothers of the Diocese of Maryland for worship online at 11 am.  Here is the link:     Worship Together

Friends, continue to worship in the beauty of holiness, continue caring for one another, continue calling one another, continue to say your prayers – in short, continue to be the Church.  Our community and the world need us the Church, especially now in this challenging and difficult time.

In Christ,

Joe+

 

Habits of Grace – An Invitation from the Presiding Bishop

Habits of Grace: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[March 16, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’  Click here for – A new video meditation will be posted on Mondays through May.

March 16, 2020:  Habits of Grace

Hello. Last week while we were all planning and trying to reorder our lives and adapt to the new reality that we are in, I was texting back and forth with the Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, as we often do. And in the course of our texts back and forth, she asked, “Have you ever thought about maybe doing a short meditation each week for the church while we’re in these days of the coronavirus?” I texted her back and said, “That’s a good idea.” And so this week we began what I think will be a weekly short meditation. Just a word or a song, not sung by me, but a song, a poem, a prayer. Just something for the week in which we are living.

I keep a prayer list on my cell phone in the little note section of the iPad and I’ve noticed that that list is increasing. But the reality is while I often always say my prayer time early in the morning, there’s more time even during the rest of the day now. And so maybe the habit of prayer can increase a bit for me and maybe for us.

One of the things that I’m aware of is that consistent habits, what some have called habits of grace, can really be helpful especially in unsettling times. I was watching television and saw where in Milan and throughout Italy apparently, a movement has begun. Apparently at six o’clock every evening everyone who is in their apartment is socializing by coming out on the porch and at six o’clock they begin to applaud. They just start clapping. And everyone claps and applauds as a way of saying thank you to the medical folk who are working, the first responders who are working. Just a way of saying thank you. And then the applause moves into or morphs into a song. And they sometimes sing their national anthem or sing some other song, every day at six. A habit of grace. A way of centering the day. Whatever way you do it, find and keep that habit of grace or those habits of grace that center the day. Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be St. Patrick’s Day. There won’t be a parade, but maybe we can say a prayer attributed to St. Patrick.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Holy Trinity. Through belief in the three-ness, through confession of the oneness, the creator of all creation. So Christ be with me. Christ before me. Christ behind me. Christ within me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ when I lie down. Christ when I sit up. Christ when I arise. Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me. Christ in the eye of everyone who sees me. Christ in every ear that hears me. Christ in the heart of friend and stranger.” *

God bless you. God keep you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”

*Used with permission of Our Catholic Prayers.com. Find the complete prayer here.

The Church is Open for Prayer

Sadly, our church is CLOSED for regular worship services for the foreseeable future.

We are doing our part to curb the spread of COVID-19.

You are welcome to come in and pray.  Our country and our world need your prayers right now.

Check our website for updates concerning the resumption of regular worship services at St. James and subscribe to our newsletter.

Peace and good health be with you.

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