Table Talk: Week of March 18, 2018

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story. Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion. Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development. What a gift to provide a child! Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

Muscle Memory & The 5th Sunday in Lent

In our 3rd – 5th grade classroom, the children talked about the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31, verses 31-34.

We are constantly learning. There is a need to practice what we learn to become better. The more we practice, the easier a skill becomes. We also know what it’s like to memorize something and know it “by heart”. Sometimes we teach our bodies to do an action without even thinking about it – such as clapping. Sometimes we practice something over and over (such as the Lord’s Prayer) – soon, we know it by heart.

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Message from the Rector: 2018 Winter 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.

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Table Talk: Week of March 11, 2018

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story. Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion. Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development. What a gift to provide a child! Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

Amazing Grace & The Fourth Sunday in Lent

In our 3rd – 5th grade classroom, the children talked about what it is like to earn things. (rewards for good grades, places on teams, money for doing chores)

Unfortunately, children already tie their sense of self-worth to what they have earned and they observe this in the adult world too. It is a challenge for Christians of all ages to accept God’s grace as an unearned, unmerited gift of enduring acceptance, love and mercy. Grace is God’s loving mercy for us, no matter what.

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Table Talk: Week of February 18, 2018

Whether or not your children were able to make it to Sunday school, you can still engage them in this week’s story. Please read the summary, look up the story online, in your bible, or a children’s bible, and begin the discussion. Increasing your child’s biblical knowledge will be foundational in their faith development. What a gift to provide a child! Adults also reap the benefit of digging in deeper to these stories.

Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat by Simon de Myle
Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat by Simon de Myle, 1570

A Fresh Start

This Sunday, was the first Sunday of Lent. Sunday’s Sunday School lesson focused on a reading in Genesis (Genesis 6:5-9:17) – the children will embrace how God’s covenant with Noah gives all people hope for second chances.

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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.

Photos: Ash Wednesday 2018

“Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism.

“It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

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(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.

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Adult Formation Journal: Holy Saturday

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.

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Worship and the Power of Silence

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.

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Message from Fr Randolph: Adult Formation in Lent

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:

  1. examine the quality of our relationships with God and with the people in our lives, and ask God to lead us into reconciliation,
  2. 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
  3. study and pray God’s Word.

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Message from the Rector: March 2017

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.

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UPDATE: Plan for Adult Formation in Lent

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.

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Plan for Adult Formation in Lent

“Learning More about Jesus and Holy Week”

March 5 – April 22


Study Book

The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’ Final Week in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan

  • 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 randolph@saintjameswarrenton.org and indicate if you need a book.

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Adult Formation Journal: February 23

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.

Faithfully,

Randolph

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Adult Formation Journal: February 18

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)

Faithfully,

Randolph

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Lenten Reflections from Fr. Ben

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.

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Final Lenten Supper

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?”

What Your Children Learned: February 28

youthchorale-6

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”.