Habits of Grace

Habits of Grace, May 29, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[May 29, 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 meditation will be posted each week through May. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.

May 29, 2020:  Pray for the entire human family

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In the book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew scriptures, the text says,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die . . .
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance

Jesus in Luke’s gospel said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall laugh.” This coming weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the last weekend in May, we will join with people of all faiths, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and people of good will to observe a time of grieving. To mourn those who have died from COVID-19, to pray for them and for their loved ones, to pray for all who are sick of any disease or condition, to pray for the entire human family.

It is a weekend of grieving, of collective and national grieving ecumenical and interfaith. And we will join together with brothers and sisters and siblings, who pray to God in different ways, but who share with us all a common humanity created by one creator. This weekend we join with them, and as we do so I would invite you to join in that prayer in your congregations and personally. But I wanted to share with you a prayer that was composed for this weekend, jointly composed by Lutherans and Episcopalians, for the feast of Pentecost in the midst of pandemic.

God of all power and love,
we give thanks for your unfailing presence
and the hope you provide in times of uncertainty and loss.
Send your Holy Spirit to enkindle in us your holy fire.
Revive us to live as Christ’s body in the world:
a people who pray, worship, learn,
break bread, share life, heal neighbors,
bear good news, seek justice, rest and grow in the Spirit.
Wherever and however we gather,
unite us in common prayer and send us in common mission,
that we and the whole creation might be restored and renewed,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all, the entire human family in those almighty hands of love.

Interfaith Remembrance

An invitation to Episcopalians to join in an interfaith remembrance of all who have lost their lives to COVID-19

May 22, 2020

From the Presiding Bishop (Video and text)

 

“On the last weekend in May, The Episcopal Church is joining with other faith traditions (Jewish, Muslim, and Christians who are Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical) in remembrance of all who have lost their lives to COVID-19. All are invited to offer prayers of grief, of lament, of support, for those who have died, for their loved ones and all who grieve, and for the healing for the human family and our world at this time.

A number of faith leaders came together this week, and decided that the last weekend in May, we would invite members of our various congregations to offer prayers of grief, of lament, of support for those who have died, for their loved ones and all who grieve, and for the healing of our nation and our world at this time. And so, in the last weekend of May, which is the weekend of Pentecost, I would invite us, as the Episcopal Church, and all of our congregations, in ways that are appropriate to our communities, to offer to join with Jews, Muslims, Christians who are Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical, who have decided to come together to pray for those who have died, and for all of us who grieve, and to pray for the healing of our nation.

You can do this in any way that’s appropriate, as part of the prayers of the people, very simple part of the prayers of the people, or in some other way that is appropriate and fitting for your community. But however you do it, let us pray to the Lord our God, that he may hear us, that he may hear our hurts, and that God may heal our land.

God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”- Bishop Curry

ENS – One way Episcopalians can incorporate the gravity of the pandemic into their worship is by praying a new collect, composed by a team of Episcopalians and Lutherans, called “A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God.”

Written “to unite us in common prayer and revive us for common mission” during this crisis in the spirit of Pentecost, Curry and his Lutheran counterpart, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, invite congregations to pray it from Pentecost through the first Sunday in September. In addition to expressing a shared desire for renewal in a troubling time, the collect also commemorates nearly 20 years of full communion between The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The collect will be used in Washington National Cathedral’s Pentecost service, during which Curry will preach.

One way Episcopalians can incorporate the gravity of the pandemic into their worship is by praying a new collect, composed by a team of Episcopalians and Lutherans, called “A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God.”

Written “to unite us in common prayer and revive us for common mission” during this

A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God

God of all power and love,
we give thanks for your unfailing presence
and the hope you provide in times of uncertainty and loss.
Send your Holy Spirit to enkindle in us your holy fire.
Revive us to live as Christ’s body in the world:
a people who pray, worship, learn,
break bread, share life, heal neighbors,
bear good news, seek justice, rest and grow in the Spirit.
Wherever and however we gather,
unite us in common prayer and send us in common mission,
that we and the whole creation might be restored and renewed,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Show Us Your Mugs!

We see all kinds of things in Zoom worship:  coffee mugs and plates of toasts, dogs waiting to go out, endless cats walking past the camera.   We’re borrowing an idea from Father Tim Schenk, who invited his parish to hold up their “mugs” at Sunday worship. For Pentecost we want to see your “mug”.

We want a photo of your mug in front of your mug – send to the church office. We’ll be posting a random selection in the e-news, creating a page here on the website, posting a few on our Facebook page.

Share your mug!

Sunday after the Ascension

May 24, 2020 The Rev. Joe Cochran

The Gospel: John 17:1-11

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

Mother’s Day Homily – Joe Cochran+

The Gospel: John 14:1-14

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

Optional parts of the readings are set off in square brackets.The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 3,2020 The Rev. Joe Cochran

The Gospel: John 10:1-10

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Saint James Online Worship Continues

Statement from the Rev. Joseph M. Cochran, Rector:

On Friday May 15 at 5 pm, the State-wide stay at home order issued by Governor Hogan will be lifted, allowing localities to move toward re-opening as local conditions warrant.  Baltimore County continues in a stay-at-home posture, with businesses and houses of worship remaining closed.  The Bishop has made it clear that any steps toward in-person worship in a parish of the Diocese of Maryland must be pre-approved by the Diocese and that our denomination will proceed at its own pace.  Therefore, we at St. James continue to look to our governmental authorities and our Bishop for direction.  The Vestry has formed a committee to develop plans for parishioners at St. James to return to in-person worship and other gatherings.  Our return to in-person gatherings will be achieved in phases, and over a long period of time.  So, for the time being, we continue to worship online.  Please continue to participate in our online daily worship and Sunday worship offerings.  We will keep you posted on developments.

Habits of Grace – May 12 2020

Habits of Grace, May 12, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry
[May 12, 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 meditation will be posted on Tuesdays through May. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.

May 12, 2020: Our time is in God’s hands

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Hello to everyone who is kind enough to watch and listen to Habits of Grace. I just wanted to give you an alert, not a spoiler alert, but just a simple alert that when you listen to this video you will hear in the background the sound of construction at the elementary school on the other side of our backyard. We’ve listened to the video and you can hear it. But I just wanted to let you know that that noise that you hear is remodeling a school so that little children can go to a school that is modern and nice and meet and right so to do. God love you and you keep the faith.

I don’t know about you, but one of the things that has been a bit confusing during this pandemic has been sort of a discombobulation or a confusion about what time it is and what day it is. I found myself on more than one occasion just asking someone, “What day is today?” There’s a Psalm in the Hebrew scriptures, Psalm 31. It’s actually quoted in the service of Compline, which is a late night prayer service, and it’s also quoted by Jesus on the cross. It says this:

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame:
deliver me in your righteousness.

And then it goes on and says,

(Lord) Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold;
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me. . .

Into your hands I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me,
O Lord, the God of truth.

On the cross Jesus quoted this psalm as he commended his life into the hands of the father. Into thy hands I commend my spirit. But as the psalm goes on, later on in the psalm it says, “My times are always in your hand.” It may well be that if we have little reminders as the day goes on, we will have a sense of time not determined by a clock but determined by God.

In Psalm 55 the Psalmist says, “In the morning, at noonday and at evening I cry out to you, oh Lord.” Maybe a little habit of grace during this time may be a moment of prayer in the morning, another one at midday, and another in the evening, whether using a prayer book or just a moment to pause and be silent. Whatever way you do it take a moment – morning, midday, evening. Father into thy hands I commend my spirit. For my times are always in your hand.

In 1931 a man named Thomas Dorsey composed a hymn, the words of which and the song have been a long-standing favorite with many people. Lyndon Johnson, President Johnson asked for it to be sung at his funeral. Martin Luther King asked that it be sung at his funeral. Mahalia Jackson sang it. Aretha Franklin sang it. B.B. King played it and sang it. Tennessee Ernie Ford sang it. Johnny Cash sang it. It was composed by Thomas Dorsey living in a time when his times were very much discombobulated. His wife died in childbirth, both she and the child died. In his time of grieving he wrote the words of the hymn that say just simply, “Precious Lord take my hand.”

My times are in thy hand, oh Lord. Father into thy hands I commend my spirit this morning, in noonday, and in the evening.

God love you. God bless you. May God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

Habits of Grace: Look for the Helpers

Habits of Grace, May 4, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[May 4, 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 meditation will be posted on Mondaysthrough May. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.

May 4, 2020Look for the helpers

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Hello, this is the week of May the third in the year of our Lord 2020. This past week, for some reason I thought of Mr. Rogers, who once said that his mother told him when he was a little boy and he asked her about scary things in the news and about difficult and painful things in the news. And his mother gave him some simple advice of how to handle that. She said to him, “Always look for the helpers.” I have a sneaking suspicion that signs of God’s continued watchful care, signs of hope, are in the helpers.

This past April 27, was the 100th birthday of one of those helpers.

Captain Tom Moore, retired Royal Air Force, celebrated his 100th birthday. But even of more significance than that, earlier in April, Captain Moore who had just had hip surgery and who was 99 at the time, began trying to raise money for the health system in Britain. And he hoped to raise about a thousand pounds by walking and asking people to give on a website. Well, he raised more than a thousand pounds. In fact, between the beginning of April and his birthday on April the 27th he raised more than $40 million. People from all over the world gave money to support and help the National Health System during this crisis. People from all over the world, from England itself. Mr. Rogers’ mother was right. If you want to see the hand of God, even in the midst of the most difficult times, look for the helpers.

There were helpers who raised $40 million and there was a helper named Captain Tom Moore, retired Royal Air Force, who turned 100 last week.

There’s a prayer on the website of the Episcopal church under the COVID-19 response that prays for the helpers.

Compassionate God, support and strengthen all those who reach out in love, concern, and prayer for the sick and the distressed. In their acts of compassion, may they know that they are your instruments. In their concerns and fears, may they know your peace. In their prayer, may they know your steadfast love. May they not grow weary or fainthearted for your mercy’s sake. Amen. [EOW2, 93]

Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. God bless you and keep the faith. Amen.