St. James the Less
Episcopal Church

Holy Eucharist - Sunday, 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.  - Saturday 5:00 p.m.     411 West Due West Ave., Madison TN  37115     615-865-4496

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Priest’s Pondering

(Editor’s Note: This poignant message was written shortly before Father Rob’s death. We thought it was a fitting final message to the parish.)

November has many significant events on the official church calendar. We start with All Saints' Day, then conduct our Annual Stewardship Campaign, observe Thanksgiving at our Annual Parish Thanksgiving Feast, and close out the season of Pentecost with Christ the King Sunday on November 26th. (We also have another treat I shall mention at the close of this article, so keep reading!

What do all of these events have in common? Gratitude and celebration. God continually does great things for us, his children. Every Sunday is a wonderful participation in that truth.

All Saints' Day reminds us of our sainthood. We tend to be hesitant to accept our saintly status, but it's time to accept the truth. You are a saint! We also remember the saints who have gone before us. These may be folks who helped raise us in the faith or the "official" saints who have days named in their honor. Regardless, sainthood is a gift from God, and we give thanks for it and celebrate it!

Our Annual Stewardship Campaign and our observance of Thanksgiving are also times of celebration and gratitude. We contemplate the many spiritual, financial, and material gifts that have been so kindly and wonderfully given to us by God. We are not worthy of such benevolence, and we certainly have not earned it. God is good, and we respond by being faithful, thankful stewards of the bounty.

Another wonderful aspect of our identity is that we are inheritors of the Kingdom of God. Again, this is a gift. It came at great cost as Christ sacrificed himself for our place in that kingdom. One day we will be joined with our king in paradise forever! We contemplate such with humble thanks and joy!

Now comes the extra treat: Another opportunity of celebration and gratitude in November is the baptism of Clara McFarland on November 12th. She is the granddaughter of Tony and Mary Jane McFarland and the daughter of Matthew and Sarah McFarland. She is another gift from God in so many ways!

The days may be shorter, and the season may seem somber with the leaves falling in November. In the church........and at St. James' is a different world. It is time for gratitude and celebration! RSC+

Forward Day by Day Daily Meditation

Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, grew out of the determination of the General Convention in 1934 to counter a period of anxiety, distrust, and decline in the Episcopal Church with a "forward movement" charged to "reinvigorate the life of the church and to rehabilitate its general, diocesan, and parochial work." Daily meditation is available online by clicking HERE.

Weekly Meditation

A Meditating Priest: 11/14/17                                                    Randy Hoover-Dempsey+

I read a fascinating article this morning that I want to share with you. It was titled “Tune in Tomorrow” by Antonia Case. Here’s the way this brief article begins:

“I remember some time ago standing outside a video shop and watching a mother with her twin daughters inside. The woman was chatting to the video shop owner while her daughters, drifting aimlessly behind her back, had turned to face a television set elevated on a wall. A flat screen projected a common Hollywood scene of two men fighting to the death.

I mentally conjured up a re-enactment of this same scene, but this time in real life. So we have a mother quietly comparing DVD options while behind her two grown men punch, kick, headbutt, and bash each other.

Now had this happened in real life, we could fairly well predict a mother’s reaction to finding her treasured children inside this house of horror: she would desperately whisk them away to safety. Perhaps later, she’d ask them to relate back the experience just to ensure they weren’t experiencing some form of post traumatic stress. No mother wants her nine-year-old daughters to carry around that sort of experience for life.”

How is what we watch related to how we think? How is our understanding of morality affected by what we watch? How are we affected by the videogames we play in which we actively participate in fantasy scenarios that are increasingly life-like?

These are questions I have thought about a lot as a parent, an elementary school  teacher, a priest, and as a person who sees the same things you see on screens both big and small. Aren’t these important questions for us to consider in our lives as followers of Jesus?

I am reminded that the second commandment is: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:4ff).  This is a biblical warning about the images that we store in our heads.

Kathy and I watched our ten-month-old granddaughter take an iPhone off a table and proceed to turn it on and look at the screen. On the one hand, we were amazed at the skills she had to do this. On the other hand, I was very worried about what this meant for her and our future lives.

Here’s the link to the article: