W E L C O M E !!!

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? (James 2: 14 )
Faith + Works = Abundant Life (Christianity 101) 

Joyce at the Farmstand
Joyce's Faithful Work at St. James
Brothers and Sisters in Christ

September is usually a month of beginnings for me. Students return to school.  Church choirs begin singing again in Sunday morning worship services. The NFL and collegiate football seasons commence rather after Labor Day. Crowds rush to get to Friday Night High School football games. There's nothing quite like the smacking of pads and mashing of bodies as a running back goes around the end for a first down to remind me that autum is here. This year, I'm finding more pleasure in observing parents wave goodbye to their elementary school children at bus stops in Covedale, Westwood, and Delhi as the red sun rises in the East on weekday mornings. Summer shifts to autumn and the annual cycle of church, social, and academic life cranks up once more.

This September however feels uniquely different. It is more of an ending than a beginning this time around. I feel this way because someone very important to St. James and to me is departing from out midst.
The Rev. Joyce Keeshin' s compassionate ministries, engaging wisdom, and gracious presence toward everyone in this community will end in just a few days. We won't hear Joyce Keeshin's voice from the pulpit or altar following this Sunday. Her allotted time here with the parish is concluded.

Her departure saddens me even as I  ponder
hopefully what new opportunities will unfold for her elsewhere. What's next on her horizon? My mind races to other concerns too.  How will we get by without her? What it will be like here at St. James once she is gone. What beginnings must occur when she is gone next week? Our faith and works as a Christian community will indeed need to become something new as the lights in her office become dim.  


Joyce initially began her ministry here in 2012 when she joined us as a seminarian.
She spent a great deal of time becoming connected to people and getting to know St. James' story.  She finished her studies at Bexley Hall and was then ordained as a transitional deacon in 2013. One year later,  Bishop Breidenthal ordained her to the priesthood. It simply fascinates me that these past three years have passed so quickly and Joyce's ministries have flourished in so many ways.

Joyce led numerous committee meetings. She offered a variety of spiritual retreats. She preached and presided at worship. I enjoyed watching her mature each time she spoke and celebrated. She's visited this parish's members late at night, on weekends, and supported many of you who were suffering with grief and illnesses. She laughed along with many of us during Westwood Works' beer gardens. She loved spending time with children.  Her stories of her own emotional experiences resonated with mine.

Undoubtedly, the parish's Purpose and Vision team completed its work in such a spectacular manner because of Joyce's consultative and pastoral expertise. Perhaps most importantly, Joyce has deeply and faithfully lived into her work while she has been here. This time with St. James has not been about completing some sort of residential checklist. She bonded with people. What strikes me most when I think about her is the "maternal" love she offers to everyone. Her greatest gift is the deep well of Christlike sincere appreciation, respect, and kindness that she offers to people.  

Joyce Keeshin - Spring 2015

Joe, Gayle, and I joined Joyce for a farewell celebration earlier this week. We were chatting about what lies ahead. She isn't sure. I heard her say that she felt a need to complete what she needed to do here at St. James before moving on to whatever may be next. She essentially doesn't know where God will take her. What's happening now, today, this week, here at St. James is most important. She comprehends the importance of being here, now, and nowhere else.

We all commented on how uncomfortable it can be not to have a plan for the next step of a journey, especially when it involves our work and our livelihood. I heard Joyce mention that she is excited about some opportunities to offer spiritual direction at Christ Church Cathedral and that she will be publishing some educational materials. She's also excited about spending more time with her family, especially her granddaughter, in Utah. I'm glad that her way forward is not completely unlit. It's best not to be at the bus stop by one's self early in the morning.

There are a couple simple, elementary-school lessons about Christian living that I have learned about from Joyce. First, as the author of the Epistle of James states: faith and works (good deeds) are interwoven with one another. Our baptism in Christ's life, death, and resurrection beckons us to live unconsciously into offering ourselves and our lives to other people and their needs. Joyce goes out of her way to be gracious and an instrument of Christ's love, assuredly in deeds well beyond words.

Second. the Christian life is not a straight and knowable path. A devoted Christian won't always comprehend or even desire to know what her or his journey possesses. This path beckons us to believe in God's providence beyond our vision. We may not know what will happen tomorrow or two months from now. Yet, The Holy Spirit urges us to continue proclaiming Christ Jesus' gospel to everyone we encounter. Joyce's persevering faith and earnest belief in God's goodness is a saintly example for all of us to adopt.

I beckon everyone who reads this note to join St. James' extended family as we say thank you and farewell to Joyce. (this coming Sunday, Sept. 6th). Joyce will preach and preside at worship and the church will then celebrate with a reception following worship. Please pray that her beginning in the next phase of her Christian life may be joyous and fruitful. Pray too that St. James will continue its Christian pilgrimage with thanksgiving and hopefulness. May God bless us and keep us all well as this time of pilgrimage with Joyce ends and the parish continues on faithfully as Anglican disciples of Christ on Cincinnati's West-side.

Blessings Along The Way, Jim+

This Month's Communicator

Make sure you check out this month's awesome "Communicator."

Outreach Spreadsheet
Outreach Team Opportunities
What idea has your name on it?

Last Sunday, I preached on the connection between words and actions. My inspiration was James' teaching to be "Doers of The Word."

I have also been inspired by the emerging work coming out of the parish's various Purpose and Vision teams. I'm especially interested this week in the Outreach team's spreadsheet of suggested opportunities. I mentioned a couple of them such as forming community groups or hosting a quasi-TED talk."

I invite you to click on the Outreach spreadsheet link  and check out what idea motivates you to get involved.  Then, just don't think about it....contact John Eby and let him know that you're interested in making the parish's vision become more than words. Your involvement in prayer, word, sacrament, and deed is essential!