Church and covid-19 update
As Rev. Nathan mentioned in his Christmas Eve sermon, we are living in a time of fear, confusion and uncertainty amid rising cases in this pandemic that just doesn't seem to go away. Through all of this, we must above all remember our commandments to love God and to love each other. We wish to remind you that our services continue to be live streamed on Facebook or from our website, stpaulstjames.org. For now, we will continue our hybrid approach with the live stream and in person worship, where we are following physical distancing (thanks to our new chairs in the sanctuary) and proper masking protocols. We will continue to monitor COVID cases and reassess the situation, and will keep you informed if anything changes.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to either one of us if you have any questions or need help figuring out how to access the live stream!
This Sunday, January 2nd, we are planning a service of Lessons and Christmas Carols. Also, it will be the last Sunday that Andrew Fermo, our assistant music director, will accompany us with his piano. Please join us remotely and do not come to the Church if you are not fully vaccinated AND boosted, or if you have ANY symptom of a cold or allergy (fatigue, sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, etc.). Thank you, and stay well.
Grace and Peace,
Claire and Brian (with the consultation of our resident infectious disease specialist and trusty treasurer, Dr. David Hill)
A nativity scene from 1223 AD
Dear St. PJ’s Community,
I can still feel the deep meditation guided by candlelight and the divine sounds of saxophone, guitar, and the heavenly voices of Tiffany Jackson and Kaley Casenhiser from our “Blue Christmas” service this past Thursday. It was an absolutely beautiful service acknowledging that the holiday season can be filled with grief and loss as well as joy and hope.
In his wonderful sermon, David Tate leaned into this mystery – many of us hold a wide range of emotions all at the same time during this season: memories of childhood happiness, the warmth of family and community, but also the pain of loss and change and death. David pointed out that as Christians, we already know the whole story of Jesus, from the miracle of his birth, to his torture, suffering, and death on the cross - and our faith holds all of this in one. As David reminded us, our Christmas nativity scenes hint at this, particularly in the gifts from the Magi. Myrrh is an embalming oil that symbolizes death. Even at that first Christmas, all of human life, from birth to love to suffering to death, was present in that stable.
This Sunday is the last Sunday of Advent before we prepare for the joy of the birth of Christ, the miracle that God Herself sent Her son to live among us as a human.
A tradition at St. PJs that we will uphold this Sunday is the blessing of the nativity scenes. Since I love learning about stories and backstories of things, I had to look into the history of nativity scenes. In my perusing, I learned that the first documented live nativity scene was staged by St. Francis in 1223 in central Italy. It involved live humans and animals, and was St. Francis’ attempt to refocus Christmas on the worship of Christ rather than on “material things.” PJs has a wonderful collection of scenes of different shapes and styles, that you can view at the back of the church tomorrow and throughout the Christmas season.
So my friends, this coming week let us rejoice in the hope that God came to us as a crying baby in a humble stable to live our human pain and suffering and love and joy!
Peace and blessings,
Warden and history enthusiast
Lift them up to the lord
December 11, 2021
Dear St. PJ’s community,
This past Thursday at St. PJ’s, we held a memorial service for our dear Jill Strawn. It was a beautiful, touching, and inspiring remembrance of Jill. All of those attending were able to sit comfortably while physically distanced, thanks to our new flexible seating with movable pews and chairs. Dozens more tuned in to our live-streaming of the service on our Facebook page. Following the service, a simple yet elegant reception was held in our Parish Hall, with a jazz soundtrack floating above.
Such a service and reception, that are moving, flowing and seamless, happen only with careful planning and execution. From addressing our parking challenges, arranging seating, securing catering, baking and bringing desserts, to setting-up and taking down the live-stream equipment, it was truly a parish-wide effort. Thanking all of the individuals who contributed to pulling it together would essentially require typing out the parish directory. We do need to especially thank Will, Drew, and Tiffany for the incredible music program and their performances. Also our amazing administrator, Crystal Gooding for producing 3 different programs in 2 days, and Sammy Rodriguez, our dependable sexton.
While a memorial service is by its very nature a retrospective, this was also a celebration of life. We celebrated Jill’s amazing life, loves, accomplishments and contributions. But this was also a demonstration and celebration of our Parish life, our strength, our vitality, and our commitment.
Experiencing this type of service in the midst of the “Joy and Cheer” of the Christmas season keeps us in touch with the fact that our lives don’t always unfold according to plan. Many of us have experienced loss this past year, as well as stress, anxieties about the pandemic, loneliness and isolation. On Thursday, December 16th, we will hold a Blue Christmas service at 7:30 pm. This service provides us with a place to bring those feelings, acknowledge them, and lift them up to the Lord.
As we await the coming year, we know that there is uncertainty. We are anxiously awaiting the appointment of our next priest-in-charge. We wonder what direction the Covid pandemic will take. But we also are certain about many things. We are certain that we will grow, certain that we will stay strong, and certain that we will keep moving in the direction that Harlon pointed us. It is truly a blessing to be a member of this Parish, and all one has to do is walk through the doors, or log on.
“Be well, be safe, hold hope, and keep the faith”
Claire, Tudy, Brian.
December 4, 2021
Dear St. PJs Community,
In our Advent Study we are looking at our relationship to God’s creation in the midst of the serious environmental challenges we face. It is noted that God’s creation is beyond our imagination. We are reminded that God, as creator, is pretty wild. God was able to create our world-establishing the delicate physics and biology and chemistry and properties we know not of for all God’s children. We are reminded that it is our place to bring people to knowing this side of God. In Advent we celebrate the coming of the Baby Jesus into our world – to save our world. Who but God would come up with such a wild and unlikely plan and then have it succeed?
Sometimes I despair about climate change. The damage seems overwhelming and the ways to repair that damage seem feeble. Someone mentioned though that during the height of the lockdowns the smog disappeared from the big cities, some lakes and beaches regained some clarity, The roadways were empty. Almost as if the entire world stopped to take a breath. It was like a planet born anew. It can be done. Out of the darkness of the pandemic and lockdown a bit of light shone on what still is possible.
But it all depends on our stewardship of God’s creation. It depends on our helping people to see just how amazing God’s creation is. How wild God is. Bringing them to know this God who is intimately entwined in our lives. This is what we are to do as Church. Show by our actions that we care not only for the planet, but for each and every part of God’s creation.
We adorn the outside gardens with flowers and vegetables celebrating the cycle of life to death to life. We open our doors and space to any and all who wish to enter. We exclude no one. We stand for hope, justice and peace. We visit the frail and isolated. We feed those in need. We provide clothing. We bring worship with more than a touch of jazz to the congregation each Sunday. This brings people into our fold. Then it is our responsibility to nurture and teach them the Good News we proclaim and their place as children of God in the world.
St PJ’s is re-imagining ourselves. There were nearly 80 people in the congregation on Harlon’s last Sunday. That shows the light and life we are sending out. A fresh start, built on the backs of our forefathers and foremothers. Our focus is turned to outside our walls. Serving the Community. Becoming a place of safety and hope for our surrounding city.
God’s wildness knows no bounds. So can ours.
To do this we need your gifts. Certainly, gifts of tithes and offerings. Just as important are your gifts of time and talents. Interweaving one another’s gifts and talents in God’s service brings us into a closer, stronger community. A community that can show God’s love to each of us, each we welcome and the community we seek to serve.
There are pledge sheets as you walk in the church. Or you can go online to the Donate button and give through Give Butter.
PJs Wardens and Vestry