It’s hard to believe that only a few months ago, we were enjoying gentle breezes, lazy beach days, and Sunday worship at the Chapel.
Thanks to additional advertising, Sunday attendance was strong with many new faces. We heard some great preaching from a number of millennial and gen-x clergy and seminarians. We also had lively patio conversations that never got rained out!
One Sunday, I posed this question to our gathered community: Have you ever considered the Chapel of St. James the Fisherman as a gift? That’s how I think of it. We are stewards and keepers of one of God’s most holy places. I also consider it an amazing gift to spend summers on the Outer Cape. Every summer morning, I looked out at the water and gave thanks for this beautiful and fragile landscape.
I also gave thanks for my neighbors who work so hard as stewards and keepers of this place:
• The shellfish men and women who harvest our oysters, clams, lobsters, and mussels
• The deep-sea fishermen and women who bring us bluefish, striper, tuna, and swordfish
• The farmers who raise our local fruits and vegetables
• The bakers who make our bread and blueberry muffins
• The cooks, waiters and dishwashers who work in our restaurants
• The shopkeepers, cashiers and drivers who stock, sell, and deliver items to meet our every need
• The women and men who clean up after us • The yoga and exercise teachers who stretch our bodies
• The doctors, nurses and vets who take care of us when we’re sick
• The painters, sculptors, musicians, and artists who feed our spirits
• The lifeguards, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs who keep us safe
For this place and all these people, every Sunday we offer thanks. But that’s not enough. As the prophet Micah says to the seeker who asks what is required of her, God has told you what is good and what is required: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. Do, love, and walk are action verbs that demand we help our neighbors. Thus, as the Letter of James reminds us, faith without works is dead.
With so much challenge and crisis facing our nation and our world—it’s hard to figure out what to do—what action to take. Being a person of faith in today’s world is about thinking globally and acting locally. We need to be informed about the big picture and engage with others to solve those big, complicated issues. We also are called to take meaningful action in our own communities, even our summer vacation communities.
For most of our 60 years in Wellfleet, the Chapel of St. James the Fisherman has been committed to the practice of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God by supporting programs and services that benefit the lives of year-round residents and seasonal workers on the Cape. Thus, we aim every year to donate 50% of the offerings we receive directly to groups that support those in need in Wellfleet, Eastham, Brewster, Truro, and Provincetown.
This past year, we gave nearly $30,000 to thirteen community organizations that serve the Outer Cape. These are the people and programs that assist those who live with physical, mental, and spiritual challenges: isolated and lonely seniors who need help, support, and companionship; workers who can’t afford Cape housing costs; abused women who have nowhere else to turn; the sick and injured who require medical care on the outer Cape; the hungry who need food; local children and youth who can’t afford summer camp; yearround residents who need energy assistance in the middle of the winter; and those living with dementia.
This past summer, we held our second Outreach Sunday. Our community outreach partners stood in a sacred circle around God’s table and told us about the social service needs of the Outer Cape and what they are doing to address changing needs. Before and after worship, the patio bustled with agency exhibits and lively conversations. And because of your generosity, we were able to give each organization an additional donation of $500 over and above their annual grant. To say that it was well-received would be an understatement. As a reporter from The Provincetown Banner wrote: “The announcement was met with thunderous applause.”
On the last Sunday in August, the Vestry reviewed our outreach grant requests. This year, with your continued generosity, we hope to donate a total of $32,000 to our community partners. Supporting them is one concrete way that this Chapel practices our collective faith and reminds each and every one of us of our obligation to do the same. It is also a way of saying thanks for the gift of this place and those who keep it running.
The Chapel of St. James the Fisherman is needed more than ever before. People are hungry for spiritual meaning in their lives and desperate for places of hope and healing, refreshment and renewal, even on vacation.
Our contributions to the Chapel really make a difference in the lives of both summer visitors and year-round neighbors. So I hope that you will join me in a generous year-end donation to St. James so that we might continue this important tradition. And I encourage you to remember Wellfleet and the Outer Cape in your daily prayers.
Until we meet again, be safe, be well, and may God bless you!
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind