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  • June 26, 2020

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Rector's Update: Resting in God's Presence

Dear Beloved of St. James’,

Over the months I have noticed a change in how people respond to the question, “How are you?” I used to hear, “I am busy,” followed by a recitation of the projects and tasks one was involved with. I have noticed that recently the response has changed to, “I am tired.” This change in response is both significant and telling. We are tired. Living in momentous and stressful times can be soul draining. None of us can be certain how the future will unfold.

Stress is in the air we breathe. Even Jesus was not immune to stress. He was often seen escaping to a quiet place to restore his own soul. When asked how to pray, Jesus encouraged his followers to find an alone place and be honest about our needs before God praying: “Give us this day our daily bread.” As much as we’d like to store up everything we need for the future, we cannot. The point of his teaching is that we must learn to lean into God day by day. This is a relationship of trust and our way forward.

A few years ago, Dr. Jim Guy of the Headington Institute in Pasadena taught a forum at St. James’ and explained how best to respond to traumatic events. His advice to the class was to limit watching the news to once a day. It is tempting to continue to be drawn into watching the news but constant exposure to traumatic situations can lead to increased trauma, anxiety, difficulties with coping, feelings of fear and hopelessness - none of which is helpful or healthy. While being aware of all that is taking place, we must also be protective of oneself and especially young children.

Brother Nicholas Bartoli of the Society of St. John the Evangelist recently posted similar advice. He writes: “One of the very best gifts we can offer a troubled world is letting ourselves rest in God’s presence. If you feel yourself caught up in a cycle of fear, anger, and despair, as you digest all the latest news of a world and people in crisis, you owe it to yourself and the world to be kind to yourself, and take a break. And even Jesus needed to be alone every now and then, so you know you’re in good company.

In a world inundated with news 24-hours a day, here are some helpful tips on being a peacemaker, beginning with making inner peace:

  • Set limits on the consumption of news media, videos, etc. Consider taking a Sabbath from all kinds of media, for a day or even longer.
  • If you have trouble setting limits, put notes on the devices you use reminding yourself to ask “Is what I’m doing now nourishing for my soul?”
  • Practice noticing patterns in your thoughts and feelings around consuming traumatic news, and take a break when needed.
  • Make a list of things that bring you hope, peace, and joy, and practice them.
  • If you feel called to do something, then do something! Consider even the smallest gestures that could turn hopelessness and anxiety into action.
  • Make time for silent prayer, and practice letting God take on the cares of the world while you rest in God’s presence.

In addition to taking care of one’s soul, clear and accurate Information regarding the spread of COVID-19 is important. Please read the most recent letter written to the congregation by Dr. Lucy Jones. We are blessed by Lucy’s expertise and willingness to share her insight.

Notice for Sunday, June 28

We will be joining our Bishop this coming Sunday for a diocesan service at 10 a.m. The service will be streamed live on Bishop Taylor's Facebook page as well as the Diocese of Los Angeles Facebook page (this is a public page and does not require a Facebook account to view). The service will also be available on the diocesan website here.

We will return to our usual Sunday Service on July 5th.

Youth Center at St. James' Summer Offerings

Youth Center Director, Susanne Nava will be teaching:

Storytelling 101, ages 10-15

June 27th-July 3rd, 3:00-4:00, via Zoom, tuition $60.

We will create our own stories inspired by graphic novels.

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Cooking! ages 10-14

July 13th-17th, 3:00-4:00, via Zoom, tuition $60, (ingredients not included).

We will create 5 planned treats during the week, all completed within the hour, so we can eat together!

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Acting, Monologue Workshop: ages 11-17

July 20-24- 3:00-4:00, via Zoom. Performance, Monday July 27th 7:00 pm via Zoom

This class will help you pick a monologue and prepare it as you would in a professional acting studio. The class will culminate with a Zoom performance for invited guests. Tuition $80

For members of St. James and for those registered for the YC in the fall, all three classes can be bundled and offered at a discounted price of $175. For more information, visit the Youth Center website here.

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As we enter this next week together, let us remember to hold one another in our prayers. May your life be blessed!

The Rev. Canon Anne Tumilty