Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Worship Services

On Christmas Eve we will celebrate the birth of the Christ child with three festive services.

Dec. 24 at 3pm – Christmas Eve Pageant

Bring the family and enjoy the reenactment of the Birth of Jesus. All children are encouraged to participate. Please arrive 15 minutes early for your child to be fitted for a costume. No prior rehearsal needed. The pageant includes the singing of familiar Christmas carols and is woven into the celebration of Holy Eucharist. This service is especially geared toward preschool and elementary age children but a joy to all!

Dec. 24 at 5:30pm – Family Service

At 5:30 we will have a festive yet more informal and abridged (than our late service) Christmas celebration as we incorporate our youth into the worship service.   This service is intended for individuals and families whose children have aged out of the pageant (upper elementary and up) but find the hour of the late service…. well…just a bit too late. The service will also include Holy Eucharist and the singing of familiar carols.

Dec. 24 at 10:15 – Carols & Vigil

This service is one of, if not the, most beautiful and holy services of the church year as our choir leads us in carols as we sing out that Christ is born! Carols begin at 10:15, followed by the service at 10:30.

Dec. 25 at 9:30am – Christmas Day Eucharist

Let’s rejoice together on Christmas Day with an informal service as we remember the reason we celebrate Christmas. This service is a great way to celebrate Christmas Day with your parish family.

Christmas Week Worship Services

Dec. 21 at 7pm – Blue Christmas Service

A Blue Christmas Service or a Longest Night service acknowledges that Christmas is not always met with joy and celebration. Sometimes it can be difficult to participate in the glad carols and merriment of our Christmas services. This service provides an opportunity to light candles acknowledging the people we miss, the pain or emptiness we may feel. In lighting the candles we proclaim Christ’s presence and that foundational truth from that first chapter of John that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”. We sing carols more reflective of Christmas hope than joy, we offer prayers for healing, we break bread together and (of course) we support one another.

Following the service there will be opportunity for continued prayer in the chapel and coffee and dessert in the parish hall.

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Table Talk: Week of December 18, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

We have lit three candles ─ for hope, for peace, and for joy. Today we add the fourth candle ─ the candle of love. With this flame we signify the love of God that surrounds and fills us at all times, but that we recognize in a special way in the Christmas story. There is no greater power than love. It is stronger than rulers and empires, stronger than grief or despair, stronger even than death. We love, because he loves us.

(All four candles are lit.)

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Table Talk: Week of December 18, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

We have lit three candles ─ for hope, for peace, and for joy. Today we add the fourth candle ─ the candle of love. With this flame we signify the love of God that surrounds and fills us at all times, but that we recognize in a special way in the Christmas story. There is no greater power than love. It is stronger than rulers and empires, stronger than grief or despair, stronger even than death. We love, because he loves us.

(All four candles are lit.)

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Bread Baking: Christmas Edition is This Friday, December 16!

Food for Friends – CHRISTMAS Bread Edition is Coming up THIS Friday, December 16, Starting at 3pm!

We had a very successful Thanksgiving Bread Baking project this year, baking over 700 loaves of bread in about nine hours a few weeks ago – thank you to the volunteers who partnered with us on that project.  We had so much fun that we’ve decided we couldn’t wait a whole year to do it again!  We are partnering with Fauquier FISH to provide loaves of bread for their Christmas food basket project later in December.

Mark your calendars for Friday afternoon / evening December 16. 

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Table Talk: Week of December 11, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

Reading

We have lit the first two candles, one for hope and one for peace. Today we add the third candle, the candle of joy. We see joy all around us – in the children, the lights, the music, that gathering together. But how often do we let our preparations or our memories push joy aside? Joy is like an underground spring that wells up within us, but joy requires intention, deliberate cultivation. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised. So today we open ourselves to joy, trusting that God has already planted it in us. So we give it care and offer it to share.

(The first, second and third candles are lit.)

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Update on Family Ministries

Sunday School

Thanks again to all of the parishioners who have stepped up to teach this year. We are very grateful and there has been a smooth transition as our new teachers have taken over.

As we head into the Advent season, the Sunday School students will be preparing to welcome Jesus into the world. On the first Sunday of Advent, everyone will be making Advent wreaths to bring home and use. Our Table Talks will include the readings done in church and also in Sunday School, and each week as we light the candles there will be questions that you can use at home to discuss the meaning of the candles and how we can prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord.

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Advent & Christmas Worship Services

December 11 at 4pm – Christmas Concert

This year’s program will feature the Saint James’ Adult Choir, Handbells, Youth Chorale, as well as a guest string quartet. The music ranges from plainsong, a chorus from the Messiah, to newly composed music, and it is  supported by scripture readings that chronicle the story of Christ. A reception with seasonal treats will follow the concert.

Dec. 16 at 11am – K-5 Christmas Pageant

Join us for the annual Saint James’ Episcopal School Elementary Christmas Pageant.  Students will re-enact the nativity of Jesus Christ with costume, song, and prayer. It’s a beautiful program and you shouldn’t miss it! It will be streamed too.

Dec. 21 at 7pm – Blue Christmas Service

A Blue Christmas Service or a Longest Night service acknowledges that Christmas is not always met with joy and celebration. Sometimes it can be difficult to participate in the glad carols and merriment of our Christmas services. This service provides an opportunity to light candles acknowledging the people we miss, the pain or emptiness we may feel. In lighting the candles we proclaim Christ’s presence and that foundational truth from that first chapter of John that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”. We sing carols more reflective of Christmas hope than joy, we offer prayers for healing, we break bread together and (of course) we support one another.

Following the service there will be opportunity for continued prayer in the chapel and coffee and dessert in the parish hall.

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Fr Randolph’s Reflections on Advent

Advent, in so many ways, is a strange and countercultural concept. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is probably the busiest of the entire year. Our calendars are filled with both enjoyable and challenging events – parties, family, friends, meals, travel, presents, sorrow, depression, memories, reconnecting, year-end deadlines, semester exams, anxiety, high expectations, disappointments, deep emotions, faith commitments, relational responsibilities, practical worries, hope and joy for the future, celebrations of life… the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting.

In our culture, the month before Christmas is fast and active, but the Church calls us to slow down and wait during the season of Advent. What a concept! Waiting may be just as important as acting. Of course, we will always spend a much greater portion of our day doing things, but waiting is also a critical part of our lives – waiting for clarity, waiting for the right moment, waiting for a response, waiting for inspiration, waiting for someone.

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Table Talk: Week of December 4, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter. 

Reading for the Second Sunday of Advent

Last Sunday we lit the first candle─the candle of hope. Today we add the second candle, the candle of peace. We light it knowing full well that peace is elusive, and in some parts of the world, it is almost completely absent. Yet in this season of Advent, we trust that God is never absent from us. God is always preparing something new. And even where there is war and discord, whether between countries, within families, or within our own hearts, God is present, gently leading us to new possibilities.

(The first and second candles are lit.)

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Gingerbread House Making & Spaghetti Dinner on December 7

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7th @ 5:00 PM

Join us for this annual event of family fun!

The cost will be $10 per gingerbread house, and $5 per person for dinner (no more than $20 per family for dinner).

Let us know how many houses your family will need so we can be sure to have it available for you.

Fill out the form below to sign up; there is also a sign-up sheet outside the parish hall.

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Table Talk: Week of November 27, 2016

As your children learn about Advent and the story of Jesus’ birth in Sunday School this season, we encourage you to continue the conversation at home. Each week, we will provide you with the reading done in church for the lighting of our Advent Candles and questions that can be used to discuss them. You can use them as you light your own candles or simply as a conversation-starter.

Continue reading “Table Talk: Week of November 27, 2016”

Adult Formation for Advent & Epiphany

Advent Begins This Sunday!

The Season of Advent begins this Sunday, November 27.

Your Adult Formation Discernment Team is inviting and encouraging the entire Saint James’ Parish to read and discuss What Are You Waiting For?, a book of brief daily Advent meditations written by Christine McSpadden, an Episcopal priest, and published by Forward Movement.

The Formation Team is providing a free copy to the first 100 parish households who commit to reading the daily meditations (two short pages) and discussing them in a group setting before or after worship on Sunday, or with a group of friends sometime during the week.

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Advent Reflections: December 25th

advent reflections (2)For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas! Our waiting is over.  Christ is born, those who lived in a land of deep darkness—them light has shined.  I hope that as you enjoy this glorious day; as you open those thoughtfully given presents, as you enjoy time and break bread with loved ones, that you remember the world earth-shattering truth of this day.  God has broken down all barriers between God and God’s people.  

I find one of the most powerful truths of Christ’s birth is that this is not just the unfolding of God’s divine plan but an defining act of God done “for us” and “to us”. “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us”.   God became like us, took on all that it meant to be flesh, blood, and the hardest part – all that bound within.  And God did it for us, like a parent backing away from the stove, getting up from the desk, crouching down and meeting their child’s pain eye to eye.   God our “Wonderful Counselor, [our] Mighty God, [our] Everlasting Father, [the] Prince of Peace” walks this journey right beside us.  

Merry Christmas!

– The Reverend Ben Maas

Advent Reflections: December 24th

advent reflections (2)“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:1-20 7

And so we have come again, to this holy night. The night when Mary gave birth to the most extraordinary child, promised from before time; to heal the nations, to heal the sick, to rescue us from our own propensity for evil and destruction.

Jesus, set down gently in the midst of it all, wrapped in bands of cloth by His loving mother whose heart would grow, whose heart would break. Because that is what happens when love comes down among us, and we, unlike the innkeeper, find room for Him in our hearts.

In all that you do today, in the hustle and bustle, in the joy and in the sadness, in the excitement and in the disappointments, take a moment to be still. To be still, and to recall why we celebrate this night. Join the Holy family in the stable, gathered around the manger, where God became for us a tiny child, the wonder of birth, of new life, of hope for this day and confidence in life everlasting.

Holy One, on this night fill us anew with the awe and wonder of your love for us. May we find time in our lives for you today and always, Amen.

– The Reverend Lyn Youll Marshall

Advent Reflections: December 23rd

advent reflections (2)For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. – 2 Peter 1:16

Have you ever witnessed something so incredible that you knew you had to share with others, but you knew they wouldn’t believe it? This is one of those moments found in 2 Peter. The stories being shared are so incredible that the people they’re being shared with can’t even begin to fathom what they mean. So obviously to them, that means they must be false.

That didn’t stop people from sharing the message of Jesus, and it shouldn’t stop us. We’ve been gifted by God with sight. Sight to see the incredible world he created and the “fearfully and wonderfully made” people all around us.

We ARE eyewitnesses of his majesty.

– Anonymous SJEC parishioner

Advent Reflections: December 22nd

advent reflections (2)My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. -Luke 1:47

What a profound and commanding statement!

Think about it. Do you, do we, do I have the capacity to feel such love and passion for our Lord? While we ‘believe’ in God, and we are ‘thankful’ for all God has given to us, only God’s full unconditional love for us could create such deep emotions and conviction.

To take one’s ‘Soul’ to ‘magnify’ the Lord, and to have your ‘Spirit’, your deepest and truest essence,‘rejoice’ in the Lord – must be one of the greatest feelings we can achieve here on this earth. I can only scratch the surface with my imagination of what awaits us in His kingdom.

– Anonymous SJEC parishioner

Advent Reflections: December 21st

advent reflections (2)The Lord was pleased, for the sake of his righteousness, to magnify his teaching and make it glorious. – Isaiah 42:21

Any time I hear the word “magnify”, I think of glorify, and my mind quickly shifts to a particular story. So it’s appropriate that both magnify and glorious are in this same sentence.

For the sake of space, I must paraphrase this part of the story, but over the years I have used a book called “The Three Trees” during children’s homilies starting on Christmas Eve throughout Lent, and ending on Easter:

Three small trees were growing on a hill. One tree wanted to grow to be a great treasure chest fit for a king and the greatest treasures in the world. The other a sailing ship to be taken on great adventures, and the other wanted to grow so tall that when everyone saw it they would see it pointed to God.

The first tree was excited at first when it was cut down and taken to a carpenter where it saw great  furniture and chest being made. A short time later, however, the tree was cut into boards, nailed together violently, and placed in a stable filled with feed for the animals. The tree was devastated because it now knew it would never hold the greatest treasure in the world.

Until one night, the barn door flew open and a young man and woman came inside where the woman had her child. The tree knew there was something unique about this child as the mother wrapped her son in bands of cloth and place him gently inside the feed box that was filled with hay.

The tree now knew that he WAS holding the “Greatest Treasure in the World”

Sometimes we have ideas of how we want to glorify God, but if our hearts our open to it, he may use us in a way we may not have planned.

– John Knouse

Advent Reflections: December 20th

advent reflections (2)And Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. -Luke 1:45

So Mary, a young teenage girl, is engaged to a carpenter. Like all “good” girls of the time, she was a virgin. And we know that a woman’s marriageable worth, at the time, lay in her lineage and her virginity. Out of nowhere, this angel comes along and declares that God has seen her faith and she’s going to bear the savior of the world. And according to Luke, everything sort of goes swimmingly — Elizabeth’s child leaps in the womb, blessings and faith are happily professed, Mary says a lot of profound things …

Just one question, what happened to the rest of the story? I imagine Mary, who was said to be “perplexed” had a great deal more than that going on in her young head. How many teenagers find life an easy and simple ride to begin with. Add a vision, an out of wedlock pregnancy, a strained relationship with her fiancé and a forced journey to the mix and you more than likely had one freaked out teenager. And how exactly did the talk with her family go, “well, mom and dad, there was this angel, and …”

It’s complicated – like our lives are complicated, and yet we’re told there was great faith. Somehow in all of this, she stood strong.

Perhaps faith happened in one swift moment as the text implies. But I’m guessing it actually took time to deal with all those intense feelings — fear, joy, anxiety, anticipation — time to sort through the complications and time before she gave this tangle over to God. I wonder if her faith came to her, as faith comes to so many of us, because she believed that only God could make sense of this great upheaval and radical change in her life. It had to be a tough and emotional journey. And here’s what I think about this untold part of the story. The idea of struggle makes her faith all the more beautiful, all the more “blessed,” because it makes it understandable.

– Dorothy Smith, Senior High Youth Leader