St. James' Episcopal Church
514 Abbott Avenue
Ridgefield, New Jersey 07657
February 12 ,2023
We’re back!.... It seems like a lifetime since we were all able to gather together in this place. Although many things remain the same, some things may seem very different. That is because they are, many changes have taken place since March, 2020.
The world has changed with the introduction of a microscopic virus named Covid-19. It was a “Force Majeure” in many senses. A force majeure is generally used as a term in contract law, literally meaning “overwhelming” or “superior” force, but is more commonly thought of as a force beyond anyone's reasonable control or prediction. While some in the scientific community had warned of a possible pandemic, no one could have predicted the effect that it would have on our own personal world. I certainly would never have imagined a complete shutdown of businesses, schools and most especially, church.
Yet, that is exactly what happened. All of a sudden, we had to scramble to rethink how we were going to do the simplest of things. If the church was closed, how were we going to have worship service? How were we going to have Vestry meetings? Fortunately, with 21st century technology, we were able to live stream worship, have Vestry and other meetings on a virtual platform. We thought, “Okay we can do this!”
Then on May 1, 2022 Father Mariano Gargiulo retired. Even though we knew it would happen, it still felt like an overwhelming force. Again, we had to rethink how we do things. The easiest way to think about it was a “hard reset”. Like a computer, we need to reboot and go back to factory settings. Those settings go back further than pre-pandemic. They go further back than before Father Mariano was called to St. James’. They go further back than when Father Bancroft was Rector. Even further than Father White.
We need to go back as far as the very beginning. When a group of English farmers got together to form an Anglican congregation. Meeting together for a prayer service, most likely in someone’s living room before the church was built. They had no idea at that time what the church would look like in fifty years or a hundred years and most especially in 150 years. They were just “doing church”.
That is what we are doing now, we are doing church. We gather every Sunday for worship, in person and online. Morning Prayer may look a little different than what we are used to, but we are making it our own and continuing traditions in new ways. We read the Necrology on All Saints’ Sunday and we celebrated Advent with a service of Lessons and Carols. We also had a Parish Family Christmas Party, and decorated a tree together. We held a kind drive for North Porch collecting diapers and personal care items and delivered them at convention.
Now, we will continue to do church. On the first Sunday of Lent, we will begin our Lenten Program of “Readings and Reflections”. It will look different than anything we have done before. We will take time during our Morning Prayer Service to reflect on the readings of the day. The topics of reflections will be announced the week before and advertised on Social Media, so that everyone can participate in the discussion either in person or online through the comment section. We will also be participating in the Ridgefield Good Friday Journey Walk. We will have Palms on Palm Sunday. On Easter Sunday, we will have Holy Communion at 1pm.
Most of us are familiar with the popular quote by Alexander Graham Bell: “When one door closes, another door opens.” However, many of us forget how this quote ends: “but we often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones open for us.”