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”
by Fr Ben Maas
Despite the fact that I have not turned a shovel of dirt or driven a nail, there is something remarkably satisfying about watching the expansion take place. I make it a regular part of my day to see the progress. Even before the first sign of construction, I reveled in the enormous hole that provided a glimpse of what would eventually fill the space. I have had a childlike enthusiasm on those big days when walls or floors are poured. Now with the basement formed and the foundation of what will be the new school entrance in place, I can practically envision the completed wing. I find myself looking over the construction sign with the completed rendering and then at the site, attaching finished walls, windows, a roof, etc. Even on the occasions where weather interrupts work or those days that just don’t show remarkable progress, I still find myself looking out the window and appreciating how far we have come.
Continue reading “Message from the Rector: 2018 Winter Newsletter”
Last week, I found myself at a concert, actually in a friend’s living room. The performer was an Irish acoustic guitar player whom I had never heard before he was introduced. In my more frequent concert-going days, I pretty much saw everyone on my bucket list from long-time legends to bands that faded into or never escaped obscurity. Despite extensive exposure to live music, I was mesmerized by this person’s guitar playing. I am sure part of it was the intimacy and vulnerability of playing within inches of a gathering of strangers.
Continue reading “Advent Letter from the Rector”
Dear Saint James’ Family,
As a child, a significant rite of passage during our summers in Vermont, was that leap from the top rock of the cliffs above Lake Champlain. We would prepare for that harrowing moment by years of jumping from the various lower outcroppings. As thrilling as any of the lower jumps might have been, there was nothing quite like that moment when through deep breaths and wobbly knees, we gathered up just enough will, courage, and encouragement to raise our front foot off the rock, close our eyes, kick off with that back foot and just fly through the air. At that moment the fear meets exhilaration and pride and then after what seems like an eternity, our feet would break the water’s surface and the coolness of the lake would consume us.
Continue reading “2017 Stewardship Letter from the Rector”
As I write this Monday morning, I am still buoyed by Sunday’s church picnic at Jimmy’s and Gina’s. It was good for my heart to see well over 100 parishioners, new and established of all ages, there to enjoy a beautiful day, to celebrate their connection to Saint James’, and to show their appreciation and affection for Gina.
While pleasantly distracted, much of me feels compelled to use this medium to express my heartache, solidarity, and prayers for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and to discuss the divisive events that unfolded two weeks earlier in Charlottesville. In fact, many times on Sunday, I was struck with the difficult dichotomy between the absolutely perfect weather and beautiful bucolic setting in Virginia and the grey skies, torrential rains, downed limbs and power lines, and rising waters in Texas.
Continue reading “2017 Fall Newsletter: Reflections from Fr Ben”
by fr. ben maas
Nearing the end of our Shrine Mont retreat, I grabbed a cup of coffee early Sunday morning and headed into the woods to walk a bit and gather my thoughts for the impending service in the shrine. I passed the labyrinth and the stations of the cross and decided that I had enough time to reach the cross (located atop a tower on the mountain’s peak). It’s not a long hike, but you get high enough to look over the tree line at the valley below. Reaching the summit, I enjoyed a gentle breeze and the last sip of now barely lukewarm coffee, looked over the valley, and was struck by juxtaposing revelations.
Continue reading “Message from the Rector: 2017 Summer Newsletter”
Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Holy Week so special! So many hands go into every service and every church activity – you can learn more about our clergy, music programs, children’s ministry, ushers, acolytes, altar guild, flower guild and so many other parts of the Saint James’ community throughout our website.
Below you will find photos and video of each service in Holy Week, and Scripture readings for each day of the week. We know that Holy Week can be an overwhelming time, with so many services and so many stories packed into such a short time. We hope that you will reflect on each day, and the power of each moment, at your own pace.
Continue reading “Holy Week 2017 Recap: Photos, Video & Scripture Readings”
A Saturday or so ago, we gathered for a family movie night. We settled upon the movie, October Sky, based upon the book Rocket Boys. An interesting aside, the exact same letters that form “October Sky” also make up “Rocket Boys” (Try it and see).
The movie is about Homer H. Hickman, Jr. and his friends’ interest in building rockets, but it is about much more than that. In Coalwood, West Virginia life was pretty much tracked for you at a young age. If you were a boy growing up there, you attended school long enough to test your football acumen or settle for life working in the depleted coal mines.
Homer quickly established that football was not going to be his route out of Coalwood, but he was equally certain that life in the coal mine was not for him. As trapped as Homer felt in Coalwood, his friends’ tracks seemed even narrower, as their family systems were wrought with instability, alcoholism and abuse, or profound poverty.
Continue reading “Message from the Rector: March 2017”
To the Saint James’ Church family,
In Fr Ben’s letter that we all received last week, he concluded by praying that we had “experienced the joy of adventuring with our Captain, Jesus Christ.” As I have thought about his prayer for us, it occurred to me that “adventuring together” has been the leading edge of Fr Ben’s ministry with us for the last three and a half years. Here are excerpts from Fr Ben’s first letter to us in February, 2013:
“One of my passions in ministry is forming loving Christ-centered communities committed to the care of one another and respectful sharing and appreciation of differences.”
“I love inviting people into living a fuller more gratifying life, more consistent with the life they were created to live.”
“Finally, I am convinced that the mark of a healthy, faithful parish is service to others. The work of the church is squarely to meet the unmet needs of a community.”
Continue reading “A Stewardship Message from Scott Christian”
While we are starting a new program year, much feels like an extension or culmination of where we have already been.
We continue to celebrate our bicentennial year with a service in September taken from the 1789 Prayer Book. Our annual Gala in October will celebrate the light we have been in the town of Warrenton and the exciting and important ministry ahead. And we will celebrate our place among the communion of saints with an All Saint’s organ recital and choral evensong. It has been a rich experience to learn more about our history, the people and the pivotal events, and see our place in God’s still unfolding story.
Continue reading “From the Rector | Fall 2016”
An opportunity to hear about Scott Christian and Father Ben’s trips to the Holy Land.
Please Join us Wednesday, June 8th from 7-8:30pm for fellowship, refreshment and the chance to view images and hear stories from Scott and Fr. Ben’s trip to Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Galilee, Bethlehem, and more. Continue reading “Fr. Ben and Scott Christian Discuss their Holy Land Experiences | June 8”
On Sunday as I sat down after preaching, I realized I had cut to the end a bit prematurely (probably not a second too soon for those in the pews).
The gospel was the “parable of the prodigal” and I had neglected to respond to the very reasonable resentment of the elder brother. As an oldest sibling, I was surprised by my own omission. As the story goes, the younger brother had prematurely demanded his inheritance, 1/3 of his father’s property. His father liquidated assets to meet this impudent demand. The younger son squanders the entire sum and comes back prepared to grovel in hopes of, at best, being taken back as a farm hand. We gave due attention to the father’s lavish, foolish, even embarrassing response.
Continue reading “Lenten Reflections from Fr. Ben”