News Author: The Rev. Canon Lisa Hackney-James
March 31, 2020
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Let Us Pray by the Rev. Canon Lisa Hackney-James
Frequently in the Gospels, we read of Jesus retiring to a solitary place in order to pray. Especially in times of trouble, Jesus often retreats into the wilderness, or up a mountain, to be alone in order to open himself to God, to be nourished in prayer: to engage the presence of the one who sent him, his heavenly father. As followers of Christ, we, too, are meant to draw near to God in prayer, seeking connection with the one who has made us and sustains us. Along with the challenges that we currently face, social distancing may actually encourage us in our imitation of Christ in this way: it requires many of us to retire to quiet places, driving us into a social wilderness of sorts. Yet in that isolation we may find the deep silence we need to become more fully aware and welcoming of God’s presence in our lives. Whether our current environs are ones of solitude, or domestic chaos (thinking of those working from home while providing childcare), we find ourselves in times where we have plenty of people for whom we wish to pray: for our families friends and neighbors, and for ourselves.
At St. James Cathedral, we will be collecting the individual prayers of our parishioners and publishing them on the cathedral website so that our whole cathedral community can join together in lifting up the concerns of our cathedral community. Please join your fellow cathedral members in offering the names of those for whom you wish to pray, and then use the list published on our website to guide the prayers that you offer in your own time of daily prayer. Even if you have not been in the habit of solitary prayer, you can begin with the simplest form: setting your mind and heart towards God, and simply speaking the names of those on our prayer list. God will know what to do with your intentions. We may be physically set apart from one another for a time, but together we can act in solidarity with one another and pray with one resounding voice.
If you wish to add another person to the published prayer list, please obtain their permission to do so. On the first of the month we will turn a fresh page and begin collecting names again. You are welcome to add the same individuals for as many months as is helpful.
March 20, 2020
in which he assures the Christian community that nothing can separate them from God’s love:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
I have returned from a sabbatical leave that turned out to be a bit shorter than planned! I am grateful to be back with you and joining with my colleagues in ministry in responding to the remarkable circumstances in which we find ourselves. Not even two weeks ago, as I was preparing to go away on sabbatical leave, I experienced some anticipatory grief knowing that it would be a challenge to be away from this community of people that I treasure for several weeks. As it turns out, I simply could not have imagined what was to come. That soon, all of us would be undergoing a time of physical separation from our church home; that we would be facing an indefinite time away from our beautiful cathedral, yes, but all the more so from the community of wonderful souls that make up this place. The fact that this separation comes at a time of significant personal and societal disruption makes it particularly hard to bear.
One of the most urgently felt needs during a crisis, great or small, is the desire for the human connection that we so happily experience with one another at St. James in ordinary times. And while we are physically apart for a time, we remain members of the Body of Christ. We belong to God. We belong to each other.
To maintain our community connections, members of Cathedral Chapter, the Invite Welcome Connect leadership team, and the cathedral clergy will work to be in touch with all those who are part of the St James family. We will be reaching out by phone and other means to check-in in the coming days and ask how it is going with you and your loved ones. I expect that when we emerge from this time apart and rejoice to gather again in person that we will be more closely knit, having developed new and deeper connections along the way.
Looking forward to being in touch and remaining connected!
March 05, 2020
"After the services this Sunday morning, Lisa will begin three months of sabbatical leave, during
which time she will be away from the cathedral and utterly out of contact with all matters
concerning it. Sabbaticals are a normative part of the terms and conditions under which clergy
are employed in many denominations, and, in the Episcopal/Anglican world, are routinely
offered in both The Episcopal Church and the Church of England. During her time away Lisa will
be doing some reading, traveling, resting and generally recharging her batteries, and she will be
back with us in mid June. Please hold her in your thoughts and prayers that this will be useful
and fulfilling time for her - and please do not seek to make contact with her during her time
away. Pastoral or other concerns should be directed to me or Anna during this period."
- The Very Rev. Dominic Barrington, Dean of the Cathedral
This coming Sunday’s services will mark my final round of celebration with our cathedral
community before I head off for some time away on sabbatical leave. As Dominic has
mentioned, sabbatical leave is a discipline of the spiritual life that allows for deep rest and
renewal in the service of God and the church. Sabbatical and sabbath share a common
linguistic root and a common purpose: disrupting the regular rhythm of work- in order that God
might ‘get at us’ in different and sometimes surprising ways.
Some of you may have heard me in recent days sounding a bit reluctant to disconnect from my
daily duties in the midst of all that is happening in this marvelous place! Simply put: I love being
a part of this community-- and am energized by all that God’s Spirit is accomplishing in and
through us, and so it is difficult to simply stop and step away. Ultimately, however, I am grateful
for the vision and leadership of our Dean and Chapter in the building up of this community’s life
and mission, including their commitment to making provision for staff and clergy sabbatical
leave. I know the wisdom of the model, and I intend to make the most of this gift.
While my plans are still evolving, they currently include some time in the mountains in Boone,
North Carolina where I look forward to a workshop retreat with one of my favorite poets: David
Whyte. My husband Alan and I plan to take some time for an epic road trip through the great
American West – to take in some of the natural wonders, and hopefully to catch a bit of the
desert in the bloom of Spring.
I am encouraged to know that I will be in your prayers, and you will remain in mine. I will return
to life at St James in mid-June and look forward to comparing notes on what God has been up
to – both in my time sabbatical time away, and in this vibrant and God-soaked community!
From the Rev. Canon Lisa Hackney-James