St. James' Episcopal Church
St. James’ mission is to bring people together to be transformed by and to proclaim Christ’s love through worship, spiritual formation, and service.

 

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Rector’s Reflection During Coronavirus
Period of Social Distancing


From The Rev. Meredith T. Heffner
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Contents of this Message 

Rector's Reflection
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We were reminded yesterday of our call to Mental Health Ministries, and its importance in this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Lisa Goodkind, mental health and addiction support group facilitator and advocate, reflected on how to best take care of ourselves as we socially isolate. Today she shares her thoughts about the importance of staying connected to God in our self-care. Lisa offers some great suggestions, and a link is provided below to the National Cathedral and their suggested spiritual resources that can be used at home.

For me, staying connected with you is a big part of staying connected to God. God created us to be in community, and to worship together, and I’m finding life without fellowship and communal worship to be lonely. It’s not that I don’t believe God is present with me in my daily devotions, it’s that I miss the way God reveals God’s self through you.

This is why I am so grateful for the ways we have shown up for one another this past week. Through your emails, participation in Faith Talks and Bible Studies, and our phone calls, I know God is present. May God bless you with this knowledge, too.

Be safe, take care, and wash your hands. God’s peace be with you.

Rev. Meredith
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Taking Care of Our Mental Health, Part 2
By Lisa Goodkind

For me it can be easy to get hijacked by worry and fear. It is helpful sometimes to know this is not just MY fear, it is OUR collective fear. We are not alone. Breathing in for five seconds and out for five seconds ten times is an effective way to calm the central nervous system when fear has taken over.

It is normal for us to experience anxiety right now. The important thing to remember is God is always bigger than our fear. If I get lost in fear, I have come to realize that I am not connected to God. My fear is often a projection of something that might happen in the future. God is NOW. I often put my hand on my heart to comfort myself and acknowledge that God’s love is always there holding me.

So what are some ways we can take care of our mental health and stay connected to God’s love?

Be creative about how we reach out and connect with others and ourselves. Instead of looking at the negatives of not being able to connect in the usual ways, I have found it to be an opportunity to connect in different, deeper ways. When we are talking with peers, friends, and family we can ask, “What is this situation feeling like for you today?” Then, really listen. When we connect with others we can try to lean in with our hearts and offer care and understanding. Sometimes just naming our emotions and feelings can help us move through them. We can help each other not get stuck in fear.

Also, I am finding that instead of focusing on my life situation, I can try to focus on the life that moves through me—the Holy Spirit. Slowing down can be a gift. Self-reflection, prayer, and meditation play a vital role in a successful mental wellness plan. I have been asking myself daily, “Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me or even be part of my life? Am I trusting God?”

It is so important to celebrate the goodness that is here right now. Especially in these times of closed doors, being out in nature can be very therapeutic. Try this exercise. Instead of just walking briskly, engaging all the senses can bring us out of our heads and into God’s presence. Be where you are. Look around and see the colors, feel the textures. Listen to the sounds, the birds. Observe the rhythm of your breathing. Feel the air flowing in and out. Touch a flower. Allow everything to be as it is and acknowledge God’s presence and beauty.

More Resources for Spiritual Practices at Home

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The Light of the World

In Sunday’s homily, I suggested we join the Church of England and place a light in our windows at 7:00 p.m. that evening, to share the light, and to show that the light of Christ will not be extinguished—even now—when the darkness feels so near. Here is the picture of my front window Sunday night.

 
Rev. Meredith’s Survey Question of the WeekWeek 2!
What are you reading? Please send me any book recommendations, and I’ll share the list at the end of the week. Send email to rector@stjamespotomac.org.
 

Don’t Forget to Keep Up with Your Pledge!
In order to keep up with the work of the church, pay our bills, and support our staff, we ask—if you are financially able—that you continue to support St. James’, as you have in the past, by maintaining your pledge and keeping up with your giving. Together, with God’s help, we will make it through. Thank you.


Seven Locks Baptist Church Food Ministry Needs Our Help
The Seven Locks Baptist Church food pantry is short on canned goods and peanut butter. Donations can be dropped off at the SLBC office, located at the back of the white house on SLBC church property. The office is closed, but food can be left on or near the two white chairs near the office door. Please respect social distancing and do not knock or ring the bell. Pastor Kyle will check the porch regularly. Thanks to those who have already dropped off food, and for all who are helping the hungry in our community.
 
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