August 27, 2022
Dear PJs Community,
When you enter the beautiful sanctuary of the church of St. Paul and St. James from the large, main doors on Olive St., then come through the small vestibule area (or “narthex” in church-speak), and step onto the gorgeous new floor, the first thing you are met with is an array of majestic wood arches. This wooden structure and the cabinetry below are our columbarium.
If any of you have taken a few moments to read the unassuming note perched on top, this is what you will read:
“A columbarium is a final resting place for the ashes of the dead.
Since the beginning days of the Christian Church, the preferred place of burial was within the church itself, where the faithful gathered on a regular basis. At St. Paul and St. James, we have chosen to connect with that practice by the building of this columbarium. In 2003 we contracted with the architectural firm of HBD/Cram & Ferguson and with master woodcarvers in Colombia, South America who fabricated the cabinetry and wooden screen. We were able to incorporate the architectural drawings of one of our earlier parishioners from the 1970’s, Augusta Breed, which provided the inspiration for our inclusion of the baptismal font in this space as well.
Here all the saints gather, the living and the dead, both present or held in sacred memory. Here we are buried in Christ and we live in Christ. Here the faithful continue to gather in worship and celebration as living community today.”
Within the columbarium, there are 72 niches, or compartments, that can hold cremated remains. There are already several that are filled by people who chose to have their resting place be among our community of faithful at St. PJ’s. We honor their memory every time we walk through those wooden arches.
A committed Vestry member recently realized that we did not have a formal process currently in place for people who would like to reserve a niche. We only had some document drafts that had never been gone over or officially approved by the Vestry. From this inquiry, the Columbarium Committee was born. Agatha Zichichi-Evans, Susan Yates, and Joy Burns, with the help of Tudy Hill, our Minister of Pastoral Care, and Crystal Gooding, our Parish Administrator, worked diligently to assemble and streamline new documents for the columbarium.
Thanks to their hard work, we now have a clearly laid-out process if you or a loved one would like to be interred in our columbarium, or would like to reserve a niche for eventual future use.
All the documents are attached here (click on the blue buttons below to download them), and will soon be made available for download on our website. You can also reach out to the parish office at 203-562-2143 to request paper copies.
The next time you step into the church, take a moment to pause at the columbarium. Remember those who have gone before, and listen for that chorus of saints, past and present, that rings through eternity.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servants with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Still awake and still alive
August 20, 2022
Dear PJs Community,
The end-of-summer breeze and cicada songs are starting to fill the air. Even for those of us who are long out of school, or who are in school but not on a schoolyear schedule, there is a shift in the air leading up to the back-to-school season. For some, it is a time of transition and anticipation, starting new things, shifting into new patterns. For others, it is a more subtle shift in the surroundings as students move into town and kids go back to school.
Here at PJ's, we're starting to look ahead to the future. Our new priest, the Rev. Stacey Kohl, will start after Labor Day! We are beginning to think about our annual Homecoming service that we're planning for September 25th, as well as an official launch to our Capital Campaign so we can make some much needed upgrades to our beautiful building and continue making it more accessible to our community.
In times of excitement, of change, of anticipation, of stress, of turmoil in the world, it can all feel like too much. But may we rest assured that as long as we are here, awake and alive, we have a God who is always with us, always loves us, and always gently urges us to strive for peace, seek justice, and love each other.
I'm sharing with you a poem that came to my email inbox this week that spoke to me. Today we are still here, still awake, and still alive, and that is a blessing.
What We Do—Now
By Ellen Hagan
— after Gwendolyn Brooks
We mourn, we bless,
we blow, we wail, we
wind—down, we sip,
we spin, we blind, we
bend, bow & hem. We
hip, we blend, we bind,
we shake, we shine,
shine. We lips & we
teeth, we praise & protest.
We document & we
drama. We demand &
we flow, fold & hang
loose. We measure &
we moan, mourn & whine
low. & we live, and we
breathe. & some of the time,
Tonight, I am here. Here
& tired. Here & awake,
sure, & alive. Yes here &
still, still here, still & here
& still awake & still still
“What Do We Do—Now” Copyright © 2016 by Ellen Hagan. Poem reproduced via The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database by Split This Rock.
Peace and Blessings,
Claire Cody, co-warden
August 13, 2022
Dear PJs Community,
Our sermon this week will be something different than what we are used to. Rather than a typical sermon, we will be led in reflection and meditation by Sarah Hill. Sarah and her husband, Isaac Mukwaya, are our resident yogis, and they led our Yoga and Meditation series during Lent. Those who were able to attend all agreed that it was a deeply meaningful experience to be on the floor of our sanctuary, moving, meditating and discussing certain passages from scripture.
Our service this week will also be something different than what we are used to. Our long-term "supply +" priest, Rev. Nathan Empsall, is away. He is engaged in the important work of confronting the anti-democratic, racist forces of Christian nationalism. Since there will be no priest present to celebrate the Eucharist, we will have a "Morning Prayer" service.
Also, the Gospel reading for Sunday shows us a side of Jesus that is different than what we are used to. In Luke 12 we find Jesus in a foul mood.
"I Came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindeled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on five in one household will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law,
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
The Rev. Kate Heichler, in her Water Daily blog, writes: "It's hard not to see these texts through the lens of the deep divisions in our country and world. We get a sense of danger and deep disappointment. If division is what Jesus was after, he'd be happy in America at this moment in our history. We are defined by many thing other than our divisions, but our fault lines keep gettin more pronounced, our positions dug in, fissures widening. This cannot be God's will for us, can it? From where we stand, it appears he is referring to his spiritual battle with the forces of evil and the human structures and systems that allow evil to have it's sway. Jesus did come into this world to do battel with the powers of evil - that is the fight he wants his followers to join him in. Each time those who would be his disciples capitulate to injustice, tolerate intolerance, benefit from systems rigged in favor of the white and wealthy, fail to love our neighbor as ourselves, we recede from that fight. And every time we make a different choice, an inconvenient or even sacrificial choice, we help usher in the reign of true peace Jesus brought into this world."
This is why Rev. Nathan's work is so important and why we will pray for his safe return. Read more about it here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/author/rev-nathan-empsall.
I would like to share this prayer excerpted from a poem by Mary Oliver:
God of the soil, from which and for which we live:
Grow in us the faith to trust in your care even in the midst of pain. We are never alone,
even in your midst, and yet so often we seem astray and estranged.
God of the earth, grow in us the resolve and capacity to be agents of healing love and liberating justice. Amen.
Brian Fillmore, co-warden
August 6, 2022
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
This week, we are excited to welcome the people of St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church for the other half of our “summer sharing” endeavor! We will be having outdoor social time after the service to mingle with our guests and build community!
PJs Wardens and Vestry