Looking back to 1981, my first steps into St. James’ were urged on by my need for an Episcopal Church. Between the Air Force, graduate school, and new jobs, I had sporadically attended church for seven or eight years. And boy what a change – a new Prayer Book – the words I was so familiar with were replaced with (really) more modern language. And the change for me also was that this was a new parish for me – I knew no one here. St. James’ was the closest Episcopal Church to where I was living at the time. As is common here now, I was welcomed into the Church – I was welcomed by many folks, even some from Idaho, my home state. That was a long time ago. Why do I continue to choose St. James’?
I felt loved, included, so I participated. How could these “strangers” love me? They didn’t know me. So Jesus was looking out for me? Suddenly I was an usher. Then I was asked to join the choir. Somewhere along the line someone asked me to read the lessons at the later service. So Jesus had it in for me? Between the choir and the Sunday lessons I read, it started to sink in about Jesus loving me, us. Love one another as I have loved you. Probably I had lived that “saying” on a superficial level, a personal level, without really understanding it, because that was the way I was brought up – in Twin Falls, Idaho, by my parents and at the Church of the Ascension. Then I had no choice as a child, but now I do have a choice. And what do I choose?
After all these years at St. James’ have I become part of St. James’ – a different Episcopal Church? People say St. James’ is different, and I don’t notice it because I’ve been here so long. It seemed different to me back in 1981, but I did not know why or how different. It did not matter then because I was accepted as I was then. Can I say that Jesus saw to it that I was accepted so I would be accepting as well? Maybe those activities in which I participated grew Jesus love in me so that in some way or other I can pass on his love to others. St. James’ is where I choose to worship. Sure, I’m comfortable here, St. James’ is my base, my stronghold. Now, the question is, “How do I use my base to bring Christ into the world?” Following Jesus is easy and difficult at the same time. I know the way, but can I follow the way? St. James’ community helps me so I choose St. James’.