ALWAYS AVAILABLE. ALWAYS CONFIDENTIAL.
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
(from Mary Oliver’s book of poems, Thirst)
WHAT IS PRAYER?
A very important question that is not always easy to answer …. “It depends on who you ask,” as some might say. Prayer is, at its core, a conversation between a group or an individual and the Divine. Prayer is not unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition but exists, in some form, in nearly every culture on the planet. Our desire to communicate with God is nearly universal, to speak with God about our challenges and joys and to listen as the Divine speaks back. Many believe it is not only possible but essential to have a relationship with God built on prayer, an echo of our yearning for God’s love and possibility that is offered to us by the Divine Light. Prayer may come from a Prayer Book, a poem, or be an outpouring of our own heart’s imagination. We hope that you will find our link on prayer useful and, perhaps, discover a little bit more of what prayer might be for you on this earthly journey with God.
- Rev. George Roberts
We welcome your requests for individual or group concerns and we pray daily for those on our prayer list. We maintain each request for two weeks and extend that time if asked to do so.
A Prayer Request can be made by using the form below.
ADVENTLessons and Carols are offered at St. James Parish during the 10:15 a.m. service on the second Sunday of Advent. A Service of Lessons and Carols taps into the story of salvation through the history of scripture, culminating with the Annunciation to Mary by the angel that she will conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, and usher in a new age through her Child, Jesus. Lessons and Carols, above all else, reminds us that God’s coming among us has long been expected and, in our story, long delayed. “Come, thou long expected Jesus” the hymn sings. We have waited for so long. Lessons and Carols allows us to celebrate the anticipation of Christ’s coming among us, all over again. Come join us for this exciting time of worship and anticipation as we continue to wait for the long-expected Jesus.
CANDELMASOn the feast of Candelmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple. The feast has been celebrated since at least the beginning of the 4th Century, where it is referenced by bishops in sermons of the day that have survived. In 1887, the diary of a nun named Egeria, who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 381 AD, refers to the liturgy of the Presentation in Jerusalem. The feast is often called Candlemas, because light is an important part of the readings, and candles are often blessed and used at the service. The feast was once referred to as the Feast of the Purification of Mary. In Luke 2: 22-40, Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple, 40 days after His birth, so that Mary may be ritually purified. Jewish custom at the time was that women were ritually unclean after giving birth and would be purified 40 days after the birth. While coming to the Temple, Mary encounters the old seer Simeon, who takes the baby Jesus into his arms and celebrates that he has at long last seen the Messiah. His beautiful Song of Simeon (BCP, 135) gives us a glimpse into who Jesus will be. Mary is warned that her heart will be pierced to, foreshadowing Jesus’ death. Candlemas is a celebration of Simeon’s recognition of Jesus, and of Anna’s, and Jesus’ entrance into the community of people who would ultimately become his followers and disciples. God our Father, source of all light, today you revealed to the aged Simeon your light which enlightens the nations. Fill our hearts with the light of faith, that we who bear see these candles may walk in the path of goodness, and come to the Light that shines forever, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. The service begins with us all processing with candles into the church together. People are encouraged to bring candles that they might use in the coming year; they will be blessed later on. As we move through the season after Epiphany and await the beginning of Lent, recognizing and celebrating our Lord, who is the light of the world, seems most fitting.
LENT SERVICESComing soon
HOLY WEEKHOLY THURSDAY Traditionally, the parish keeps vigil, with volunteers who will spend an hour “with Jesus,” through the night, as He goes through His arrest and trial. GOOD FRIDAY Noon service includes short readings, Taizé music, and much time for reflection. At the evening service we observe the Veneration of the Cross, and taking of Holy Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament, honoring Jesus as He lays dark in the tomb. For a fleeting moment, we feel outside the reach of Jesus, who is taken from us and placed into the ground, away from us. The low point of Holy Week, as Jesus dies on the Cross. SATURDAY, THE GREAT EASTER VIGIL At sundown we process into the Church from the front lawn, after the lighting of the Easter fire outside, and begin with the glorious strains of the Exsultet. After readings and remembering Jesus’ sacrifice, we bring up the lights and find the joy of Alleluia again, for the first time since before Ash Wednesday. Childcare will be available during the service. EASTER SUNDAY Jesus is risen indeed! Joy abounds as we celebrate with uplifting music, a renewed altar, and a dedication of our Chapel. An Easter egg hunt will follow the 2nd service, after we have gathered in the parish hall for fellowship and refreshments.
PRAYERS FOR AT HOME
WHAT PRAYER MEANS TO US
Prayer is a time for me to be still, to reflect, and to connect with God. It provides me with a space to be authentic and vulnerable. It is also a time for me to connect with my children, as we recite the Lord’s Prayer together before bedtime.
Wow. That is quite a powerful question. I guess I would have to say that prayer for me begins with the acknowledgement that God is always with me. “I am in God as the fish are in the sea.” Therefore, prayer is lifting my thoughts, both consciously and unconsciously, to this Presence.
I find prayer problematic. When I pray, I deliberately try to communicate with the Divine. This can be verbal and formal when I’m using words found in a text (e.g. BCP, Bible) or signing a hymn or nonverbal such as following a ritual practice, using the sign of the cross, or attending a house of worship designed for prayer. It can be in dance and other arts. It can be an informal conversation. While I understand the BCP and Bible are tools to help us get in the right mind set, I do not see a line between prayer and conversation.
I have trouble with the conviction that it is possible to address the Divine AND that the Divine can and will respond. I do not have trouble believing and thinking that I can address the Divine. No one and nothing can stop me. I have trouble with expecting the Divine to respond. Since the beginning of human beings, billions of human beings have communicated with the spirit world. I wonder how many asked for something and got it. The Divine’s batting average is probably pretty low. It is presumptive to believe that the Divine can be influenced. I also do not believe the Divine is fickle and selective, that is, some prayers are answered and some are not. I also don’t believe in the concept of the “chosen people” but that is a discussion for another time.
I have been deeply influenced by the Roman Catholic tradition, even though I have been a practicing Episcopalian longer than a practicing Roman Catholic. I grew up understanding (or so educated) that prayer was the way to experience something Divine. Prayer involves contemplation and meditation. Meditation is the physical part of getting the body and mind engaged to enable contemplation. Contemplation is to experience something Divine. I know I have prayed when I experience something Divine. I do not expect that something to be something for which I have asked.
Prayer for me is a way to communicate with God on many levels:
To thank him for the many blessings in my life which are innumerable.
To seek comfort and healing for a specific, special someone in need of his grace.
To ask for his all-encompassing guidance, healing and comfort to ALL those in the world in need of his grace.
To ask him to forgive my many sins and to help me be a better Christian.
To ask him to be with someone (or me) as they go through a very difficult time or situation.
To let him know that I love him and so glad that he's part of my life.
Prayer brings me peace and confidence.
Prayer is my way of having a conversation with God.
Prayer is a way of communicating with God, through a conversation, that connects me with Him. It’s a time that allows me to remove myself from the daily noise and quiets my mind to invite Him and His power down to earth into my life. Also , listening to that “ small voice” that directs my life according to His will. Prayer allows me to give thanks for ALL He has provided for me and to also ask for intercession for others. In short , for me , Prayer is a continuous growing relationship with God.
I start each day with three prayers while I walk the dog: The Prayer of Jabez which specifically askes God to bless my family, expand our territory, and protect us from evil - so it is completely a "request" prayer, then I pray the Lord's Prayer, and then I have a conversation with God thanking him, giving him glory and then ask for healing and protection or giving thanks for specific people/events. Throughout all of these, praying allows me to focus on the presence of God in my life and the wonderful forgiveness that Jesus brought to us all. At the end of the walk I am full of thankfulness and hope with a renewed sense of the presence of Jesus in my life. At that point, I am ready to take on the world!! :)