St. James the Less
Episcopal Church

Holy Eucharist - Sunday, 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.  - Saturday 3:00 p.m.     411 West Due West Ave., Madison TN  37115     615-865-4496

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Priest’s Pondering

Our Vestry does not meet during the summer months, so we met in

September to catch up and make our plans for the remainder of the year. How long did it take for us to meet? Approximately 40 minutes!

That was shocking to me. As I have mentioned to many of you, our church seems on auto-pilot these days. We have our regular cycle of feasts and fasts, as well as our regular ways of observing them. I am not faulting us, but it does seem we have a comfortable, predictable way of life.

In October we will enjoy a hayride and picnic at the home of Rick and Cindy Webb on Sunday, October 22nd. We will feed the homeless on October 29th.

In November we will have our Annual Stewardship Campaign on the first 3 Sundays and our Annual Thanksgiving Potluck on Sunday, November 19th. We are grateful that Tony McFarland will head our pledge campaign once again.

In December we will revisit the Salvation Army Angel Tree and have our regular Christmas Eve services after a solemn time in Advent.

Thinking further ahead, I have already scheduled speakers for next June! Now that is crazy, but I never have claimed to be sane.

So can we go ahead and close the book on 2017? Hardly. We still have 3 months left to go! No telling what lies ahead despite our predictions and desires. One thing I have learned about God: He is not into predictable comfort. That being noted, whatever lies ahead in the remainder of 2017 will be VERY interesting for sure!

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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

At the beginning of the summer I received an invitation to join a neighborhood list service. It combines the 48 subdivisions of Bellevue into one communication unit via the internet. It is very helpful with recommendations for home repairs, finding lost animals, and other community news.

As people respond to the various posts, I see a plethora of personalities. Some people seem to find joy in life, while others are harsh and critical. No matter what is posted, there is always someone who finds fault with it, while there is also someone who rejoices in the new revelation. I generally do not respond, so I guess my view of life is questionable to others, and I believe that is the case with the majority. (We have our good & bad days and keep it to ourselves!)

So why are some people crusty, harsh, and critical? Since I don't really know those folks, I can't say. My guess is that their lives have been difficult. They probably carry a great deal of pain. Fear and hurt cause them to lash out at others. Maybe?

So why are some people joyful? Maybe they've had easy lives? I seriously doubt that. Everyone suffers, but perhaps they've chosen to grow beyond their hurt and pain. Do some people suffer more than others? I believe so, and I never have understood that unfortunate truth about our humanity. That will be one of my first questions to God.

When we think of God giving us free will, we think of our daily capacity to make moral decisions. We can choose good or evil, as the choices come along.

However, when it comes to our perspective on life, free will has an even deeper dimension. How do we choose to respond to hurt and pain that have affected us for a lifetime? How do we choose to accept success and prosperity?

I regret I cannot actually know the neighbors on the list service. I can see how they respond to various issues, but I don't really know the people. That's the unfortunate aspect of the internet. We don't really know our neighbors anymore.

Since the internet is a fairly new phenomena, it'll be interesting to see its long-term effect on our culture. Will it join us together, or will we sit at homes staring into our screens as grouchy people who can verbally bully one another and get away with it?

Free will says we have a choice, not only about moral decisions, but about our perspective on life. With that freedom, I'm going to ask God for help in shaping my perspective and how I respond to other people. Next time we make renunciations of evil and affirmations of good in the baptismal vows, I will say even louder, "I will with God's help!" I  pray that my neighbors (on the internet and elsewhere) can somehow do the same.

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