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    { We're Glad You've Visited }

    We welcome you and invite you to enter into a deeper exploration of a community that shares the love of Jesus Christ with each other, our city, and the world. It takes more than a few words to describe a parish, but there are two things we can tell you right away: we are committed to Jesus Christ and from that commitment flows our care for one another and our ministries. In every ministry and program, we at St. James' Church on Madison Avenue at 71st Street invite you to enter more deeply into the life we share in Christ. We hope you will join us.

    The Rev. Brenda G. Husson, Rector

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    { Sundays }

    8:00 a.m.  |  Holy Eucharist (Chapel)

    9:10 a.m.  |  Holy Eucharist (Church)

    11:15 a.m.  |  Choral Eucharist (Church)

    6:00 p.m.  |  Candlelight Communion

    WEEKDAY WORSHIP
    Mon. - Fri., 8:00 a.m.  |  Morning Worship

  • { Getting Here }

    LOCATION: Madison Ave. between 71st and 72nd Streets

    GET DIRECTIONS: Click here to get directions via Google Maps

    MAP FOR EMAILING OR PRINTING: Click here for more map options

    OFFICE PHONE: (212) 774-4200

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    { First Time Families }

    We've found that St. James' mix of rich Anglican tradition and innovative, fun family worship and programming is just the right recipe for helping kids know God's love.

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    When you come to church at St. James', you can expect to find...

    SPACE TO PRAY. Our services include hymns, prayers, and time for silence, as well as Communion and sermons that connect our Scriptures to our lives.

    SPACE TO BE YOURSELF. Worshipers at St. James' come from many different places, backgrounds, and perspectives.

    SPACE TO MAKE CONNECTIONS. Whether it's your first time or your thousandth, there's always an opportunity to get better connected with God and one another. Join us at coffee hour or stop by the Welcome station on your way out. We look forward to meeting you.

Distraction, Retreat, Intentions, Prayer

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On December 21, 2012, ten St. James’ parishioners went on retreat at Holy Cross Monastery near Poughkeepsie, New York.

Though it was a swift visit, less than 24 hours, it was by all accounts a meaningful one. On the night they arrived, the group met to contemplate four subjects proposed by Bowie Snodgrass, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries: “distraction,” “retreat”, “intentions”, and “prayer”.

These reflections are offered by parishioner Emilie Oyen.

Distraction            

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I loved everyone in the room immediately. I knew some of the people in the room quite well, and others I had just met, and I loved them all truly. I loved the formal, upstairs room at the Monastery where we were meeting. I loved the cold windowpanes, the quiet fireplace, and the antique smell of a space that’s accommodated a century of peaceful visitors. I loved being at the monastery just before Christmas. I loved having 24 hours with no demands, no Mummy? Mummy!? Mummee! Errands were beyond my reach---- it was just books, food, sleep, a river, and the reassuring call and response of monks chanting in worship.

But there was a little problem and the problem was this: I had left New York, but New York had not left me. Four days until Christmas! Errands, beyond my reach! I had a million things to do or Christmas would be ruined! Who finds stillness four days before Christmas? “Is that why so many people are drinking herbal tea?” I wondered as we gathered upstairs after dinner, “to find calm?” Well, a lukewarm suggestion of chamomile would do nothing for my colossal issues, I knew, and anyway I hate tea. I hate the way the limp string hangs over the lip of the mug, the way it adheres to its damp, white, clingy tag. But here, on retreat---an herbal tea drinking situation if ever there was one---everyone was drinking tea. There was mint tea, chamomile, lemon… all different teas. People sipped their tea as we talked in the upstairs room, and the sips were followed by little gulps, and the sound of the little gulps made me want to sort of tear my eyes out.

That’s not true. I didn’t care about the tea, just as I didn’t care about the woman I passed in the common room who was wearing fuzzy, bright, striped socks. There’s always one wearing the fuzzy “retreat” socks on retreat, I thought to myself. Do CEOs wear fuzzy retreat socks on their retreats? I would think not. Should I be on a CEO-retreat? Perhaps I should, or perhaps at some posh hotel lobby in Chicago waiting for a client, drinking a martini and dashing a memo off to corporate wearing a suit and conservative legwear. Isn’t that where I should be?

Isn’t it?

It was 8pm. The conversation in the room was over and I had less than 24 hours to find inner piece. Let these niggling thoughts and petty distractions go----they were going to ruin everything! I had to chill out soon, I had to chill out now! because if I didn’t chill out now I would return home and regret that I hadn’t found a little peace while on retreat. I had to stop thinking these annoying things. But how? How do you stop thinking?

Retreat

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“When I attend a concert, I think of past concerts I have attended. When I attend a retreat, I think of all my past retreats.” Bowie said during our gathering, inviting us to think about the eternal timeless of a place.  

The past casts its light on the present, commenting on and informing my every step (“This room seems better than my last room.” “There were less people here before.”) until the present eventually lifts up out of the judgments, sheds the comments, and becomes its own experience.

The next morning I woke up and heard the bells for Matins. I didn’t move though. When I got up later I had breakfast in silence and then returned to my room. I recalled the past retreats in my life (spiritual, writing, weeks on a mountain and a month in the woods) as I watched the train, far off on the other side of the river, heading to New York City. It slinked across my bedroom window. The train was a slender silver line across the window, moving along the grey morning, above the grey river, beside the brown hills. I attended Holy Eucharist, and read all morning. Later I walked down to the river, picked up some garbage in the freezing cold and found a flat stone shaped like a heart. The sky reminded me of boarding school. I drank two cups of coffee. The tree outside my window was over 200 years old I bet; it was genuine and amazing. The room was old too and felt like 1945 when life was less cluttered. It snowed a little during lunch. The train’s long, mournful horn before the bells for Vespers, just before sunrise, during Matins and after my walk was the train horn that came across the town harbor as a child, the commuter train coming out from Boston.

“Be aware,” Br. Robert Sevensky said at the orientation when we arrived. “Someone once said that a spiritual life is simply about being aware.”

Intentions

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Bring your intentions. They will probably change.

You might, if you are from New York City and achievement-oriented, bring three books to read for the first night. You might have the intention to catch up on sleep and also to attend every service, of course, and also get to the root of one or two of those problems that have been plaguing your life the last few months. You might plan to take a walk, or perhaps to seek guidance from a brother, or maybe write a letter to an old friend. You might go there because you just need a little space to change your life. But it is possible that, in the end, you will stare out the window at the old tree and the river.

“God has invited each of you here for His own reasons,” Br. Robert told us. “If you are called to sleep, then sleep.”

Prayer       

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O Gracious God, we gather here together to walk in prayer, sleep in prayer, hold hands in prayer, be silent in prayer, and converse in prayer. We pray for each other and for our friends and family. We worship in prayer. We bless this food. We bless this time. We watch the river and walk the labyrinth, listen to the horn of the passing train and listen to the bells ringing, we drink tea together and we do all this in your name.

On the car ride back to Manhattan, we listened to some stories about how we met our husbands. We talked about church, and how to polish silver, and the ships our grandmothers came to America on, and the countries from which they came. The rural towns quietly passed by in grey and concrete, with colored Christmas lights on some town halls, and someone in the car always pointed out the church. The river came and went. We each gazed out the windows at the passing towns, the river, and the bare trees while stories were told that reminded me of reading on a staircase landing; ivy in the summer; weddings guests walking to the reception; sculptures left behind in old countries; red dresses; china; suitcases and silver.

And when I got home and opened the door, the children jumped up singing, Mumeee!! Hello! I said, and out of the darkness and the silence, I was ready to receive the joy.

 

“Holy Cross welcomes guests on retreat, offering time to enter into prayer and reflection, helping to deepen one’s sense of communion with God, nature and with others. The Guest Houses, the Monastery Church of St. Augustine, and the Monastic Enclosure are located on 26 magnificent acres on the west bank of the Hudson River.”

 

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