This week, we will be learning more about Holy Saturday, the day the body of the crucified Jesus lay in the tomb. On Saturday night, Easter Eve, the beginning of the next day for the Jews, Christians celebrate The Great Vigil of Easter, which includes The Lighting of the Paschal Candle, Holy Baptism, and the first Eucharist of Easter. The journey from Crucifixion to Resurrection is made.
During Lent at Saint James’, we are experimenting with a few modifications of the 10:15 Eucharist, such as the use of silence. After Easter Sunday, there will be an opportunity for discussion and feedback with the clergy, Jesse, and worship ministry team. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and questions.
Silence gives us emotional space to consider the ways we have not put our whole trust in God as we prepare for the Confession of Sin. Silence allows us to reflect on the meanings and message for us in the readings, Gospel, and sermon. Holy silence creates God moments throughout the liturgy.
The Season of Lent is a time for us to examine our commitment to Jesus Christ and take steps to be more intentional in our faith as we prepare for Holy Week, when we remember with our hearts the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Our worship on Ash Wednesday asks us to do three things:
- examine the quality of our relationships with God and with the people in our lives, and ask God to lead us into reconciliation,
- practice activities that can move us deeper into our faith journeys, such as contemplative prayer, meaningful fasting, and releasing whatever stands in the way of a fuller faith in God, and
- study and pray God’s Word.
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.
Dear Saint James’ Learners,
I have attached an updated version of the information sheet for “Learning More about Jesus and Holy Week.” On Sunday, March 12, we will discuss Chapters 2, 3, and 4. I have just received another shipment of books and we’ve got room for more participants, so come join us if you are not already on board.
Dear Saint James’ Learners,
54 of you have already registered for our Lenten adult formation course, “Learning More about Jesus and Holy Week,” and we’ve got room for more.
Please scroll down to see the summary of what we plan to explore this season, or click here to download the syllabus.
The course book, The Last Week, is fascinating; it explores the last week of Jesus using the Gospel according to Mark and other historical sources.
One possibility for you is to buy the book and study it, but a better option is to join a learning group for meaningful and facilitated conversation about Jesus’ last week and the ways we revisit that week through our Holy Week liturgies.
“Learning More about Jesus and Holy Week”
March 5 – April 22
- Using the Gospel according to Mark, the authors examine every day from Palm Sunday through Easter Day. The study book is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats for less than $10. The parish is also placing a bulk order. Register for the course at the main bulletin board OR and indicate if you need a book.
Dear Saint James’ Learners,
The next session is our last one for the season of Epiphany. I hope that all of you can attend one of the Sunday learning groups or the Tuesday learning group. Not only will we talk about the final two chapters (only 11 pages!) of our study book, but we will also look forward to the Lent course, “Learning More about Jesus and Holy Week.”
Scroll down to read the outline and study questions for our last discussion group.
Dear Saint James’ Learners,
If you haven’t read the assignment for tomorrow, fear not. If you haven’t attended the sessions lately, fear not. If you feel guilty, have lost interest, or don’t want to be singled out, fear not!
I hope that all of the 80 parishioners who registered for “Learning More about the New Testament” will attend at least one of the two remaining sessions, if not both. The focus of adult formation at St James’ is to know that God is always with us, to be in community, and to continue our journey of learning more about God and how to be more faithful disciples of Jesus. So, please, come to one of the learning groups this week and next week.
I will be covering the book material and facilitating meaningful conversation, and I will do my best to make each session an event in which you will move deeper in your faith and closer to your fellow parishioners.
Attached is the outline for tomorrow and information about adult formation in the season of Lent and Holy Week.
(scroll down for an outline of The New Testament chapter 9 study guide)
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.
Wednesday, March 16
Supper at 5:30 | Discussion at 6:00
Our last Wednesday Lenten discussion will address our responsibility for our planet.
The church (especially the Episcopal Church) has long understood their responsibility for the created world, but has come to that place by very different means. We will look at different biblical perspectives, different theological understandings, and what we at Saint James’ are doing and should do in the future to be better stewards of the fragile earth, our home.
We will also participate in bible study and experience the richness and layers of meaning that come from careful informed study. We will enter into discussion and participate in practical examples of ministries as we ask “what does scripture have to say about it? Why do we do it? Does it help build up the kingdom of God? Is it part of our core identity as the body of Christ?”
Godly Play- 1st-2nd Grade | “The Faces of Easter III & IV
Last Week’s lesson, “The Faces of Easter” Lessons I & II painted a picture of Jesus, from birth through his childhood. Even then he had a clear understanding of the work he came to accomplish. Everything was falling into place for Jesus as was intended by God. He was born to Mary and Joseph, spent his time learning and teaching in the temple. As we move on to Lesson III & IV this week, the children will see the third plaque in the series, the first of Jesus as a grown man, about 30 years old. At this time in his life, Jesus went to his cousin John and was baptized in the Jordan River. After being claimed by god as His “Beloved Son”, Jesus left that place and began his 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. In Lesson IV, Jesus faces enormous temptations while he is in the wilderness. After resisting the temptations of the Devil, Jesus left the wilderness to prepare for the work he was about to do. In the coming weeks, we’ll hear more about his preparation and what exactly that work would be.
Pre K-K & 3rd-5th | Gospel: Luke 13:1-9 “The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree”
Before the Gospel of Luke retells Jesus’ parable about a fruitless fig tree, the story starts out like this. News came to Jesus about some Jewish people from Galilee who come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices but had been killed by the Roman governor’s troops. Jesus asked his audience: “Do you think that these people were worse sinners than all the other people of Galilee because they suffered this way?” He then answered his own question, “No.” But he added, “Unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then Jesus told a parable: A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. Although it looked healthy, with spreading branches and green leaves, it yielded no fruit. The man told his gardener, “For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” The gardener was reluctant to cut the tree down if it could be made to bear fruit. He requested that it be left for one more year and promised to dig around it and fertilize it. Then if it bore fruit, “well and good,” but if not, it would be cut down. The fig tree parable was a call for the people of Israel to repent. The “one more year” requested by the vinedresser meant that Israel still had time. Jesus’ way of telling them, to “get their act together”.
Join us on March 12 from 9am – 2pm for a Lenten Women’s Retreat.
In Preparation for Easter we will focus on meditations on the seven words of Christ on the cross. The words of Jesus will come alive in a new way, perhaps even understanding them for the first time. This will be a time of teaching, discussion, personal reflection, and above all, enjoying each other’s company.
Critty Fairbanks who led the Women’s Fall Retreat will be leading this year’s Lenten Study.
Over the 40 days of Lent, learn about eco-justice (caring for creation and all humans in it) and take action on the issues of waste, energy, water, consumption, and food. Join the Saint James’ Green Team on your Lenten journey by taking this calendar and a mite box, which are available in the Parish Hall. You or your child may choose one thing to take on or give up from the list of actions below compiled by our youth and/or follow the daily devotional adapted from PCUSA Earth Ministries. In our mite box, we will deposit “fines” for not sticking to our chosen discipline or the daily devotional. The boxes will then be collected on Easter Day, and the money designated for a green action.