Drawing Closer to Jesus | A Letter from the Dean
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September 04, 2017
With Labor Day behind us, I wanted to write to you as we enter the new "program year", and schools and offices suddenly have that focus on the fall that says "business as usual" after the summer break. And the reason I wanted to write is to invite you, as a beloved member of our community at St. James Cathedral, to use this fall to draw closer to Jesus. And, in particular, I want to encourage you to do that in two specific ways.
Knowing Jesus in Mark's Gospel
The first way is to engage in the Bible Study that is going to be the backbone of our fall program at St. James. At the request of a number of parishioners, I have designed a Dean's Forum program more closely based around Bible study, and it will be devoted to helping us get familiar with the Gospel of Mark. Come December, and the start of the new liturgical year, our Sunday gospel readings each week will be drawn from Mark, so it will be good for us to have a sense of familiarity with this evangelist's particular perception on the story of Jesus.
Mark is also the shortest, and, almost certainly, the oldest of the gospels. That says something particular about the picture of Jesus that Mark creates for us, and I invite you to immerse yourself in this picture week by week.
So, the program for the Dean's Forums this fall will consist of two introductory talk/workshop sessions this coming Sunday and the following week. There will then be seven workshops led by the cathedral clergy on different portions of the gospel, and this will come to a very glorious climax on the second weekend of December, when we have invited a distinguished actor to give us a solo performance of the entire gospel, as well as a talk on Mark as a work of literature.
To help you immerse yourself in Mark, whether or not you join us on Sunday mornings, I would like to commend to you a wonderful translation and commentary on the gospel, Mark for Everyone by N.T. Wright
The full schedule for the Dean's Forums is shown below. What I would ask of you now is to let us know if you are hoping and intending to take part in the weekly workshops in October and November. These need a degree of preparation on our part, and we need to make sure we have appropriate resources for those taking part. (This does not mean that you will be turned away if you have not registered -- or that, by registering, you will be "in trouble" if you do not attend every single week! It is just to give us a broad feel for numbers.)
Knowing Jesus in Worship
Starting on Monday, September 11, we are introducing Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer into the life of the cathedral and St. James Commons at 8:45 a.m. each weekday morning. Morning Prayer is a simple, Bible-based act of worship that lasts around 15 minutes -- and it is the most wonderful way of helping put God into the structure of your day. The roots of this service are in the cycle of prayer that Saint Benedict devised for his monks, and it is something that most of our sister cathedrals both in this country and around the world delight in offering.
I am hoping we can gather a small community of people who will make a regular commitment to being present at Morning Prayer on each day of the week. If you felt able to aspire to such a commitment, please email Cynthia Moore by clicking here. All will be welcome, of course, whenever you are able to join us.
In addition, as you will know, we celebrate the Eucharist each lunchtime at 12:10 p.m. Again, this is a fairly brief service, usually lasting little more than around twenty minutes, and it brings us the opportunity of encountering Jesus in Word and in Sacrament.
Both these services will take place in the cathedral, where we have very much enjoyed holding our weekday worship throughout August. If you have never been to a weekday service before at St. James, I urge you to find an opportunity to do so. It is a different experience than a Sunday morning, and it is a wonderful way of helping keep Jesus in the center of your life during the pressures of the "working week".
So, as the secular world resumes that focused sense of business this fall, I hope you will use this opportunity to draw close to Jesus with newfound commitment, and enter the more fully into the life of study and prayer we are offering at St James.
Your priest and friend,
The Very Rev. Dominic Barrington
Dean of the Cathedral