Message from the Rector: 2018 Spring Newsletter

by fr. ben maas

I have been struck recently by how small my world can become, and it troubles me. Why do the relatively insignificant disappointments and tribulations of my children preoccupy my waking hours and even interrupt my sleeping ones? Why can I not recall tossing and turning in my bed over the child who has known nothing but a refugee camp, war, hunger, illness, homelessness, drugs, or violence? Obviously, I know I have the capacity to ache, and not just ache, but to be willing to move mountains for someone. How can I harness that love, that relentless desire to fix, console, and remove obstacles, or better yet, equip to ascend?

I think much of the power of Bishop Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding is that it got outside of the smallness of the moment. Despite the billion who tuned in worldwide, the attention and careful choreography, the considerable pomp, it was simply a moment between two people and their families. Two people found each other, fell in love, and decided to commit themselves to one another. Most of us have known the specific power that love has had on us, the magnetic pull that drew us to our beloved, that made every other person in the room fade away, that seemed to limit our ability to focus on anything but that one person. Curry invited us to think about the nature of that love, its power, its source. He then opened our imagination to think about what could be possible if we could channel that love beyond the smallness of our world.

Continue reading “Message from the Rector: 2018 Spring Newsletter”

Adult Formation Journal: May 10, 2018

Becoming Easter People: Session Six

In the course “Becoming Easter People,” we will learn how the first Christians lived into a way and a community that was grounded in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how deep prayer can be just as important for us as it was for those first believers.

Learning groups meet on Sundays at 9:15 and 11:45 and on Tuesdays at 10:30 in the Reception Room.

All are welcome.

Readings for Session Six

  • May 13 & 15 Acts 16:1-18:21
  • Conversations with Scripture: The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 6 (Optional)
  • Armchair Mystic: Easing into Contemplative Prayer, Chapter 14 (Optional)

Outline of Acts 16:1-18:21

  • Acts 16:1-10 | Timothy recruited by Paul, directed by the Spirit through Asia Minor to Troas.
  • Acts 16:11-40 | Paul and Silas in Philippi.
  • Acts 17:1-15 | From Thessalonica to Athens.
  • Acts 17:16-34 | Paul at Athens.
  • Acts 18:1-17 | Paul in Corinth.
  • Acts 18:18-21 | End of the second missionary journey.

Conversation Guides for Session Six

  • Understanding the Text
  • Was Luke ever a companion of Paul? Explain.
  • How did Paul decide to go to Macedonia instead of Asia?
  • Who were some women that participated in Paul’s mission?
  • Who were the Epicureans and the Stoics?
  • Connecting the Text to Our Daily Life and Church
  • What are the gods of our world in the 21st century that Paul would have addressed?
  • What are some ideas of how our parish does and could proclaim the good news of Jesus?
  • How do you react when faced with hatred and hostility about something you believe in? Can you learn anything from Paul’s example?

Letting God Guide Us through Prayer

“In a way, I, as a pray-er am like an astronomer trying to understand the entire universe I call ‘me’ by visiting that ‘place’ where the Big Bang first banged. Once I do understand it, it is here in this place that my universe must be re-centered. My worlds must be put back on their axes, orbiting around the true Son. For what happens here at this micro-cosmos – this epicenter of my creation – ripples through all my existence. This re-centering is actually a re-perceiving, for God was, is, and always will be God. What is in need of repair, then, is the blindness that keeps me from understanding my divine origins and from experiencing God as the universe wherein my star shines.”

Learning Group Conversation Norms

Honest, open, focused, non-judgmental, shared, helpful, respectful, speak to the group

Learning Group Creed

I am beloved of God. I am on a faith journey with Jesus Christ that touches my heart, and I am grateful to be walking in faith with companions along the way. I don’t need to be right; I do want to be faithful.

Adult Formation Journal: April 27, 2018

Becoming Easter People: Session Four

In the course “Becoming Easter People,” we will learn how the first Christians lived into a way and a community that was grounded in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how deep prayer can be just as important for us as it was for those first believers.

Learning groups meet on Sundays at 9:15 and 11:45 and on Tuesdays at 10:30 in the Reception Room.

All are welcome.

Readings for Session Four

Apr 29 & May 1

  • Acts 9:1-12:25
  • Conversations with Scripture: The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 4 (Optional)
  • Armchair Mystic: Easing into Contemplative Prayer, Chapters 8-10 (Optional)

Continue reading “Adult Formation Journal: April 27, 2018”

Adult Formation Journal: April 19, 2018

by Randolph Charles

Becoming Easter People: Session Three

In the course “Becoming Easter People,” we will learn how the first Christians lived into a way and a community that was grounded in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how deep prayer can be just as important for us as it was for those first believers.

Learning groups meet on Sundays at 9:15 and 10:45 and on Tuesdays at 10:30 in the Reception Room. All are welcome.

Continue reading “Adult Formation Journal: April 19, 2018”

Adult Formation Journal: April 11, 2018

By Randolph Charles

BECOMING EASTER PEOPLE

During the season of Easter, the Sunday and Tuesday learning groups will be learning more about The Acts of the Apostles and the Early Church and will be “easing into contemplative prayer.” We will be focusing on the ways that the first believers experienced the risen Christ and formed church, and we will practice contemplative prayer as a way for us to access that same spiritual excitement of those early Christians.

The only required readings are from the book in the Bible called “The Acts of the Apostles”; however, there are two optional books which I recommend and will be using.

Conversations with Scripture: The Acts of the Apostles, by C. K. Robertson

“The Acts of the Apostles is a bridge between the four gospels and Paul’s epistles, revealing the missionary roots of the Christian story. Here we follow Jesus’ first disciples from their call to be witnesses ‘to the ends of the earth,’ through their initial days of harmony and numerical success, to the challenges they faced as God’s mission imperative unfolded. We discover the leadership changes that resulted from these challenges and the emergence of Paul, the champion who, against all odds, became the church’s chief interpreter to the world of his time.”

Armchair Mystic: Easing into Contemplative Prayer, by Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J.

“This user-friendly book blends theory and practice, gently and concretely taking the reader through the first steps of contemplative prayer. Armchair Mystic begins with the necessary details of time and place to pray, then presents the maturation of the prayer life in four stages. Step-by-step exercises throughout the book provide concrete examples of how to use the concepts discussed. Armchair Mystic will prove invaluable to individuals and small groups who are new to contemplative prayer.”

Click here for the course syllabus.

To sign up for this course, you can email me at randolph@saintjameswarrenton.org or put your name on the registration sheet on the parish house bulletin board. You can also let me know if you want one or both of the books. They each cost $10.

Syllabus: Becoming Easter People

Adult Formation at Saint James’

Adult formation is learning about the faith and being formed by the triune God through the following:

  1. study of religious sources [Bible, Prayer Book, tradition, etc.]
  2. prayer [contemplation, lectio divina, centering prayer, examen, etc.]
  3. meaningful conversation [honest, open, focused, non-judgmental, shared, helpful, respectful, etc.]
  4. participation in the life of a faith community [learning groups, St. James’, The Episcopal Church, etc.]

Learning Groups

The purpose of this 7-week course is to learn more about The Acts of the Apostles and the Early Church and to practice contemplative prayer.

Consider this goal:  15 minutes of Bible and prayer daily.

  • Sunday Learning Groups |  9:15am and 11:45am in Reception Room (Childcare for 5 years and younger)
  • Tuesday Learning Group |  10:30am in Reception Room
  • Home Learning Group | Form your own group of two or more; meet in your own space.

Resource Books

  • Conversations with Scripture: The Acts of the Apostles, by C. K. Robertson
  • Armchair Mystic: Easing into Contemplative Prayer, by Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J.

Continue reading “Syllabus: Becoming Easter People”

Syllabus: Learning More about the Acts of the Apostles and Contemplative Prayer

Adult Formation at St. James’

Adult formation is learning about the faith and being formed by the triune God through the following:

  1. study of religious sources [Bible, Prayer Book, tradition, etc.]
  2. prayer [contemplation, lectio divina, centering prayer, examen, etc.]
  3. meaningful conversation [honest, open, focused, non-judgmental, shared, helpful, respectful, etc.]
  4. participation in the life of a faith community [learning groups, St. James’, The Episcopal Church, etc.]

Learning Groups

The purpose of this 7- week course is to learn more about The Acts of the Apostles and the Early Church and to practice contemplative prayer. Consider this goal: 15 minutes of Bible and prayer daily.

  • Sunday Learning Groups, 9:15 and 11:45 in Reception Room (Childcare for 5 years and younger)
  • Tuesday Learning Group, 10:30 in Reception Room
  • Home Learning Group Form your own group of two or more; meet in your own space.

Continue reading “Syllabus: Learning More about the Acts of the Apostles and Contemplative Prayer”

Notes on Chapter 7: The Heart of Christianity

Learning More about Christianity

The Quotes and Questions for Chapter 7 of The Heart of Christianity are attached. I hope that you will check them out. This is a very important chapter, “The Kingdom of God: The Heart of Justice.” You don’t have to read the book. Just come and participate in the conversation. All are welcome.

Sundays at 9:15 and 11:45  and Tuesdays at 10:30 in the Reception Room

– Fr Randolph

ALL ARE WELCOME!

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 7: The Heart of Christianity”

Lenten Family Nights & Other Programs in Lent 2018

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (BCP p. 265)

Saint James’ Warrenton is offering three activities during Lent 2018 to support your spiritual journey in this season of reflection, and you’re invited!

Lenten Family Nights

The adult formation and family ministries leaders have planned a program of Lenten Family Nights for the people of Saint James’. It will be held on the first four Sunday evenings in Lent: February 18, February 25, March 4, March 11.

Whether it’s just you or you have a whole family in tow, you’re invited to this new program that will deepen our relationships with each other and our faith.

Schedule
  • 6:00 Supper
  • 6:45 Worship
  • 7:00 Program: Adults, High School, Middle School, Childcare
  • 8:00 Good Night

We will begin with everyone gathering for a shared meal at 6:00. Click here to sign up to bring part of the meal. Then we will worship 6:45 with an informal evening liturgy. At 7:00, the High School and Middle School Youth Groups will follow their usual program on the scheduled Sundays. Childcare will be available for all four nights.

The program for adults is based on Brian McLaren‘s new book, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking A Better Way to Be Christian. We will begin with a 15-minute video of Brian speaking and talking with others about the basic points of the book. There is no reading or preparation needed for this program; just come and participate. There will be a facilitator at each table to guide the conversations. We will end the night with a brief gathering and sending forth.

The following is a description of the program we are using, which is called Way of Life.

“Participants learn how shifting away from an outdated system of beliefs to a new way of life based on love can lead to new, more redemptive communities and practices. McLaren challenges participants to focus less on doctrine, more on new ways of reading Scripture, and ultimately on love as manifested in the life of Jesus.”


Adult Formation Learning Groups

Learning groups meet in the reception room every Sunday at 9:15am and 11:45am and on Tuesdays at 10:30am.

These are meaningful conversations about having and living an honest and passionate faith in God.

Currently, we are focusing on the book The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith by Marcus Borg.

To see the syllabus of this learning group, click here. And to see the latest news about adult formation, including discussion questions for each chapter, click here.


Self-Guided Devotion

The book Saint James’ is offering for a self-guided journey through Lent is Ashes and the Phoenix: Meditations for the Season of Lentwhich is published by Forward Movement.

“Threaded throughout with the stunningly visual and visceral poems of Len Freeman and guided by the collects for Lent and Holy Week, Ashes and the Phoenix seeks to lead us through the emotions, symbols, sights, sounds, and scents of Lent. Featuring original woodcuts by artist Jason Sierra, this book is a feast for hungry hearts and weary eyes. If you are seeking a way to answer the Church’s invitation to observe a holy Lent, Ashes and the Phoenix is an excellent companion for your journey to Easter.”

Books available at the rear of the church for $5.00.

Notes on Chapter 4: The Heart of Christianity

Learning More about Christianity

We are currently using The Heart of Christianity, by Marcus Borg, in our adult formation learning groups. I am very excited about this book and the meaningful faith conversations that it invites!

ALL ARE WELCOME!

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 4: The Heart of Christianity”

Notes on Chapter 2: The Heart of Christianity

Learning More about Christianity

For the seasons of Epiphany and Lent, we are using The Heart of Christianity, by Marcus Borg. I am very excited about this book and the meaningful conversations about our faith that it invites! There is a spirit moving within Christianity (and also in other faiths) that is calling us into a more honest and passionate experience of God, and a commitment to be more intentional about letting that sacred experience shape our daily living. “Learning More about Christianity” is an opportunity for us at Saint James’ to walk that path into a deeper faith together.

Fr Randolph

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 2: The Heart of Christianity”

Adult Formation in Advent

by fr randolph charles, priest associate

Our Advent/Christmas book of meditations this year is I Witness: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmas, a Forward Movement publication. Below is a description of the book:

“Many of us have heard the story of Jesus’ birth, but have we lived inside it? Episcopal priest Kate Moorehead invites us to enter the story of salvation with our hearts and minds wide open, experiencing the miracle of Jesus through the eyes of witnesses: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and others. And Moorehead encourages us to bear witness ourselves – both then and now – to the marvel and majesty of a babe born in a manger, of Christ our King. These daily devotionals offer a companion through the seasons of Advent and Christmas and urge us to keep reading, keep listening, keep learning. The story of Christ’s birth can be both familiar and new in each re-telling. Come and see.”

Continue reading “Adult Formation in Advent”

Adult Formation Syllabus: Learning More About Christianity

Adult Formation at Saint James’

Adult formation is learning about the faith and being formed by the triune God through the following:

  1. study of religious sources [Bible, Prayer Book, tradition, etc.]
  2. prayer [contemplation, lectio divina, centering prayer, examen, etc.]
  3. meaningful conversation [honest, open, focused, non-judgmental, shared, helpful, respectful, etc.]
  4. participation in the life of a faith community [learning groups, St. James’, The Episcopal Church, etc.]

Continue reading “Adult Formation Syllabus: Learning More About Christianity”

Notes on Chapter 13: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter THirteen, “Francis: A Natural Spiritual Genius”

Quote from page 191, 204

If your only goal is to love, there is no such thing as failure. Francis succeeded in living in this single-hearted way and thus turned all failure on its head, and even made failure into success. This intense eagerness to love made his whole life an astonishing victory for the human and divine spirit, and showed how they can work so beautifully together. That eagerness to love is the core and foundation of his spiritual genius….

Love is not love until you stop expecting something back. The moment you want something in return for your giving, all love is weakened and prostituted. This is the nature of the divine energy that transforms; it is inherently contagious, and it is holiness itself. This is Francis and Clare.

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 13: Learning More about St Francis and Creation”

(Brief!) Adult Formation Survey

Looking ahead to Epiphany and Lent (January 7th through March 24th, 2018), the Adult Formation Ministry Team wants to have your input on what kinds of learning groups would best suit your situation and schedule.

We have been using learning groups at Saint James’ as a way to provide a structured and supportive environment in which meaningful conversations about our faith can take place.

Continue reading “(Brief!) Adult Formation Survey”

Notes on Chapter 10: Learning More About St Francis And Creation

Eager to loveChapter Ten, “Entering the World of Another: Francis and the Sultan of Egypt

Quote from page 153

The connection that Francis makes with “the enemy” in his lifetime might end up being his most powerful statement to the world about putting together in inner life with the outer, and all of its social, political, and ethnic implications. He also offers an invitation to – and an example for – the kind of interfaith dialogue that provides a much-needed “crossing of the borders” so we can understand other people at even basic levels. Like few other incidents in his life, Francis’s meeting with the Sultan of Egypt took him far beyond the usual saccharine portrayals of him. Francis’s kind of border crossing is urgently needed in our own time, when many of the exact same Christian-Muslim issues are at play all over again.

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 10: Learning More About St Francis And Creation”

Notes on Chapter 6: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter Six, “An Alternative Orthodoxy: Paying Attention to Different Things

Quote from page 81-82

One of the earliest accounts of Francis, the “Legend of Perugia,” quotes Francis as telling the first friars   “You only know as much as you do.” His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy (“heterodoxy”). For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship.

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 6: Learning More about St Francis and Creation”

2017 Stewardship Letter from the Senior Warden

Dear Saint James’ family,

As your senior and junior wardens, we are writing this year’s annual pledge campaign letter. Newcomers and visitors reinforce what we all feel when they observe that we are a church that radiates meaning, purpose and vitality. The vestry bears the responsibility for the finances of the church, and as their officers, we can state with confidence that our budget is designed to support what makes Saint James’ exceptional.

Continue reading “2017 Stewardship Letter from the Senior Warden”

Notes on Chapter 5: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter five, “Contemplation: A Different Way of Knowing

Quote from page 61-62

I believe the very foundation of what we mean by holiness or, in this case, mysticism, is that [Francis and Clare] knew and loved from a different source; they knew by participation in a Larger Knowing that many of us call God. Or, as Paul says, “They knew as fully as they were known” ( 1 Corinthians 13:12)

This kind of shared knowing, which is nothing but full consciousness is what many of us mean by contemplation. True contemplatives surrender some of their own ego boundaries and identity so that God can see through them, with them, and in them – with a larger pair of eyes. It is quite simply a higher level of seeing, and, if you do not like the religious language, you can just call it consciousness, or deep consciousness. But you still have to let go of your small, egoic self to get there (John 12:24). “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Conversation Question

  • What could you let go of and how could you let go in order for you to experience a closer union with God?

Continue reading “Notes on Chapter 5: Learning More about St Francis and Creation”