A Stewardship Message from Scott Christian

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.”

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Scott Christian’s Reflections on his Holy Land Pilgrimage

SSJE HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE

April 20- May 1, 2016 // Personal Reflections by Scott Christian, member of Saint James’ Episcopal Church, Warrenton, VA & the Fellowship of St. John, Cambridge, MA

Scott in the Garden of Gethsemane

Two students asked a rabbi, “Why does God command us to put the word of God on our hearts. Why did God not say to put God’s word in our hearts?” The rabbi responded, “We are commanded to place the word of God on our hearts because our hearts are closed and the word of God cannot get in. So God commands us to place the word of God on our hearts. And there it sits and waits for the day when our hearts will be broken. When they are broken, then the word of God will fall gently inside.” This parable was shared early on by one of our leaders, and this pilgrimage indeed broke open my heart. We talk of God-moments in our lives; these were God-days.

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Margy Eastham’s Reflection on Saint James’

It would not be possible for me to tell you about my experience within these walls without including each and every one of you. I have grown up in the Saint James’ community, and been fortunate to call this church a second home. It has been a place where I have found clarity in my life – Ben and Lyn have conveyed a perpetual sense of both comfort and peace in the most difficult of times.

While I could tell you about any number of experiences during my time at Saint James’, one comes to mind that is perhaps most familiar. After a horseback riding accident nearly a year ago, I was flown to Fairfax INOVA Hospital, where I was committed to ICU care for nearly two weeks. Distraught does not begin to describe my family in light of our sudden move to a hospital room. Within hours, Ben was there, providing support when my family had more questions than answers.

In the weeks that followed, my Saint James’ family was in my hospital room, bringing meals to our home, praying each Sunday, and checking in constantly. The outpouring of love was almost exhausting – but something I would not trade for the world. I am constantly reminded of the love and support I found in a time of need – something that sustained my family through a most difficult time.

As we enter into this season of gratitude and giving, I ask you not to forget about the family you have here. Saint James’ has been an incredible force in my life, as I am confident it has been in yours. Much is at work within these walls, and I invite you to be a part of it.

Marionette J. reflects on Saint James’ Warrenton

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I am privileged to share a bit about what my connection to St James has meant in my life.  In doing so, I honor the generous spirit that thrives here.

In the fall of 2013, two friends invited me to come with them to an early Thursday morning service in the St James’ chapel.  Environmental stewardship was among the topics to be addressed during the discussion that followed the sermon.  Approximately twenty people were present.  There was an easy give and take of ideas.  The group seemed to be very inclusive with no rules of engagement or hidden agendas. The whole environment seemed to be one of mutual trust and caring. Ben invited us to come again.

At that point, Ed and I were trying to figure “where to from here?”  Having lived forty minutes north near Fairfax for over thirty years, we had recently moved to Warrenton.  We hadn’t been energetic about finding a new church family.  Adjusting to being fully retired – away from old friends and familiar routines – was more challenging than we had imagined it would be.

Setting aside Thursday mornings as a peaceful time of quiet thought in the chapel has added a new dimension to our lives.  It has also connected us with other programs at St. James.  The breakfast discussions often raise thought-provoking questions that I mull over later.  Sharing spiritual matters over a long period of time has led to friendships that I cherish.  I love our Thursday morning group!

The folks we’ve met in this church are wonderful.  The first time we attended a Sunday service, we were warmly greeted by a gracious couple who later took us to the Parish Hall for coffee.  They also gave us information about church sponsored programs and activities.  At a glance, we could readily see that St James’ outreach is substantial.

Our spiritual leaders are extraordinary people.  Ben and Lyn are both very gifted communicators.  Their complimentary strengths enhance Christian education for all.

We are fortunate to have talented members within our congregation who present programs and classes.  We benefit from their expertise.  Last week’s Evensong Service is a recent example.  Jesse and the choirs obviously prepared extensively for that delightful evening.  If you were not present, you missed a treat.

On a lighter note, we love the Cafe!   It’s a delicious way to visit between services.  

St James’ is a healthy, supportive and joyful community of searchers.  Caring relationships serve those in need – both here and also beyond these walls.  Treating others with the same level of respect, care and concern that we wish for ourselves is our intention.

St James’ has a rich 200-year-old tradition of interpreting God’s love in the world.  I treasure my connection with this vibrant congregation and with the memory of those who preceded us.

During this season of gratitude, we do indeed have much for which to be thankful.