Wednesday, December 29, 2010

With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Dear Beloved in Christ:

The days are getting shorter and darker and colder, and yet there is something growing every day, coming closer every day, becoming brighter and warmer every day: the coming of the Christ Child.

God’s self-giving love is shown to the whole world in his beloved Son, and the joy and peace that he brings us from God the Father, so that we, believing in him, may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God comes down to us at Christmas; we anticipate this joyful event every day of Advent, and spend the season of waiting and watching in preparation for his coming into our lives and hearts.

As the days grow closer, as we reach the fulfillment of expectation in the joys of Christmas, we remember those we love, those near us and those far away, those who came before and those who are yet to come, and we think of the other people that God loves, that he knows and we have not known, and we bring them all before the Lord’s Table.

We offer our prayers and thanksgivings for the blessings we have received, and our intercessions for those who have gone without. We remember them, and know that even if we forget, God has them close to his heart. We know this, because Love came down at Christmas.

God has come to us, in the person of a person like ourselves, a little one, an infant, helpless and wailing, like any other; defenseless, humble, a servant. And yet in this very moment he showed his glory— glory not as the world knows it, but glory in the strength of the Spirit of God, a glory that is so strong it can give away its power, so bright it can carry through the dark, and so big that it can make itself as tiny as a whisper— a still, small voice, through which God can speak.

Join with us in welcoming our King in praise and thanksgiving. Come celebrate Christmas with us.

From the smallest of voices to the loudest hosannas, in the songs of children and of angels, we gather each year at this time, to thank God for the gift of hope, of joy, of peace, and of love, that we know in Christ: unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…

Glories stream from Heaven afar,
Heavenly Hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!

Merry Christmas to you, and the blessing of God rest upon you this holy night.

The Rev. John Leech, Priest and Rector

St. Alban's Episcopal Church
21405 82nd Place West
Edmonds, Washington 98026

Christmas Eve 2010


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Card

And the angel said to them "Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

JOY great JOY for all people - this is the good news of Jesus Christ; the news that comes to us from Bethlehem - from shepherds and angels: good news for all people - for unto us a child is born, a son is given - and we know the love of God is with us this Christmas - because at Christmas love came down from heaven - the eternal Word became human and came among us to live - to live and to bring us life: Jesus - the name Jesus - means God saves. God saves us - for life in abundance. God saves us - to give us life as it is meant to be lived - in the full knowledge of the glory and the power, the tender affection and loving care of the one who made us, the one who came down at Christmas.

May we as we live and learn to know this love, learn to share it among ourselves, with our neighbors and friends and those beyond our doors - the hungry, homeless, poor we may be, our friend may be, others certainly are - let us share with them the joy of Christmas, in the kindness we show, the love we share, the joy we know: good news of great JOY

Be with us Lord in the breaking of the bread, the sharing of the cup, the proclamation of your love. Amen.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Come worship with us this Christmas season

Saint Alban’s Christmas Worship Schedule

Friday evening December 24th - Christmas Eve

4pm Family Eucharist with Children's Pageant (Shepherds! Angels!) All children are invited to participate.

10pm Festive Eucharist - Lessons and Carols, Communion, Silent Night

Saturday, December 25th - Christmas Day
10:30am Holy Eucharist

Sunday, December 26th - The First Sunday after Christmas

9am Holy Eucharist

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 - Epiphany Sunday

8am Holy Eucharist (traditional)
10:30am Holy Eucharist (modern) with... perhaps... a visit from the Magi

Sunday, January 9th, 2011 - Baptism of our Lord
Holy Eucharist at 8am & 10:30am

You are always welcome at Saint Alban’s Church
21405 82nd Place West (near Five Corners), Edmonds WA 98026
(425) 778-0371


Christmas Letter 2010

Dear Friends in Christ:

Over the centuries people have puzzled over the great mysteries of the Christian faith. In modern times the most difficult to accept has perhaps been the resurrection. The idea that someone dead could live, that there could be life beyond the material, that a new thing could be wrought when this clay has turned to dust, all this is too much: too much for God to offer, too much for us to take. After all if there is anything scholars are sure of it is this: he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He died.

And yet he lives. And we can live too, if we find our lives restored to us by giving them up to him. It is a mystery.

The mystery the Middle Ages found hard to bear was this: he died for us, he died for us. So astonishing was this reality they put it constantly in front of them, on the rood screen, on the altar, in the ciborium, all was Christ, and him crucified. How could this be? And yet it was.

Ancients pondered a primal mystery: God became human and with us came to dwell. Living among us was the living Word of God. Incarnate: he took flesh. In this mystery God’s compassion shone through the veiled world, an everlasting dawning in the darkest night.

No despair was there: hope shone. No fear was there: only faith. No hate was there: only love. And so they found themselves dumbfounded.

Simple shepherds had seen what brought confusion to all their philosophy. There at the inn, poor travelers’ child; there among the humble, the creatures; there on a night cold with the steel tramp of soldiers, the hard stare of the tax agent, the turned shoulder of the temple official, in a time beset by Imperial entanglements, unavoidable; there came into the world the - not invincible, not invulnerable, but somehow inexorable - exemplar and origin of love.

Into a stable, a simple byre, where night was quiet but for breathing, where night was warmed with animal heat, out of sight of the Big World, a small child lay, wrapped up and ready - to scream! to cry! to smile! to slumber sweetly. A baby - of all things - in which dwelt the heart of eternity, the beginning of the end of this world’s pain, its longing, its loss. All it yearned for was there, newly borne upon the world.

Before this mystery, beyond all reckoning, where philosophers feared to look, in the humblest of places - a child was born.

Christ the Savior is born. And we fall on our knees, as shepherds did, as all creatures will, and say our Alleluias with the rest, our humblest gift our best.

With the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Fr. John

Christmas 2010


As a Christmas present to the class, during its last session before the Christmas break in 1981, Dr Robert Goeser read aloud to us - about a baby - from the Martin Luther Christmas Book, Roland Bainton, ed. (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 1950).


Saturday, December 18, 2010

An unlikely house for the word of God

In Poland there is a meetinghouse, very large, that looks from the outside nothing like a church: there is no steeple, nothing specially setting it apart. It could be a warehouse, a factory, or a meeting hall. Inside, however, rank after rank of galleries provide seating for thousands. The acoustics are perfect. At the front you can hear the choir and in the choir they can hear you, clear as day, as if you were not far apart at all. It is one of three Protestant meetinghouses in that town; all that were allowed.

Last summer during a Sunday service they performed Bach’s Magnificat – an unlikely setting for the song of exaltation, for heralding the coming birth of the world’s Savior; as unlikely as a stable or a manger to host the birth of the Son of God. And yet there it was, as it is, now, in meeting house, warehouse, factory, or stable: God’s word comes to us, to be with us where we are, to quicken our hearts, enliven our faith, and transform our lives – into things of glory.


I don't think so, said Ahaz....

O God, make speed to save us: O Lord, make haste to help us.

What if he doesn’t show up?

What if he does?

Imagine what it was like. Ahaz, king of Judah, sees himself being surrounded. The king of Israel – the northern kingdom - and the king of Damascus have formed an alliance, to counter the giant power of the time, Assyria. They want Ahaz, and Judah, to join their alliance.

I don’t think so, says Ahaz.

So they plot his overthrow, and to replace him with a puppet king.

Isaiah the prophet tells Ahaz not to worry – soon all these people will be dead and gone. Do not put your trust in earthly powers…

If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.

Ask for a sign, Ahaz, anything at all, high or low.

I don’t think so, says Ahaz.

I will not ask, and I will not test the Lord.

Exasperated with Ahaz’ intransigence, the prophet says fine, God will give you a sign anyway, by himself.

A girl is going to have a baby.

A girl is going to have a baby! That’s all you got?

My kingdom is about to be overrun – by my friends, thank you very much – if my enemies don’t get here first.

Maybe (he muses) I should cut a deal…

And he does. Ahaz cuts a deal – with Assyria, and becomes a vassal to their king, and Judah a client state of the Assyrian Empire.

Ahaz did not listen to Isaiah or ask for the sign – or see the sign – of God’s promise. He gave up.

If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.

Assyria absorbs the Northern Kingdom, the kingdom of Israel. Not long after, within a generation, Babylon captures Judah and its people, its leaders, go into exile and slavery.

Centuries go by. Now the people of the promise are under the thumb of Rome and its client ruler Herod.

A prophet went to Ahaz. An angel comes to Joseph.

Joseph was troubled. His betrothed was pregnant.

A girl is going to have a baby.

That’s the message the angel gives him.

A girl is going to have a baby.

Your girl.

What should he do?

The angel - the messenger of God - says to Joseph, don’t worry. Marry the girl. Her child will be the savior of his people. He will be the truth of the prophet Isaiah, “God is with us.”

Joseph says, Amen.

And so it was – and is.

Obedience, not fears, carries the day. Joseph accepts the promise and acts to carry it to fulfillment. In faith he takes Mary as his wife. And as the angel commanded he names the child Jesus, which means, GOD SAVES.

Jesus – Joshua – Y’shua: GOD SAVES.

And so the Holy Family begins its journey – its journey of faith, where the word of God led them. They travel where Israel traveled, down to Egypt to exile and return, and they come to settle down in a village in the north country called Nazareth.

From there the word goes out – the living Word, Jesus: GOD SAVES.

And he does. And he will.

God is active in the world, moving his people to salvation, moving them from despair to hope, from insufficiency to prosperity, from fear to freedom.

God saves. Joseph believes it –

May we like Joseph welcome the immanent birth of the Christ Child. May we welcome the news that something extraordinary is being borne into the world at Christmas. May we husband the bearers of that gladness, and nurture its small beginnings until great things are done.

Fragile, powerful, the gift of grace comes towards us –

Shall we respond like Ahaz? I don’t think so.

Or shall we respond like Joseph? And follow the message of the Lord.

Restore us, O God of hosts; shine upon us and save us. Let your hand be upon the Son of Man, the one you have sent. Give us life that we may praise your name.

Paul served Christ as a messenger, an apostle,
sent forth for the good news of God,
good news of the Son of Man,
the Son of God,
the one through whom we receive grace,
the one who sends us out into the world with good news,
who calls us into obedience,
who calls us into belonging,
who invites us to be his own,
and who gives us the strength,
the grace,
the peace,
to be his people,
to live in faith,
and stand in faith:
living into his promise,
our assurance is this:
God is with us.

You and I are called
to belong to Jesus,
to spread the good news,
to live the good news,
to be the good news of Jesus,
in this place,
in this time,
to each other,
to the people around us,
to the world beyond –

We are called
and we are promised:
God is with us.

Restore us O God of hosts, show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved, and we shall live to praise your name. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.


Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Beauty Ranch

2010 December 5, Second Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-7 & 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12,

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: source of all being, eternal word and holy breath of God: Amen.

About a hundred years ago a man rode into a valley - and looked around him. It was a beautiful place with views of majestic mountains and hills covered with that tawny grass we know in summers in much of the West. He saw that things could grow here - with nurture and water - this would be a good place for a ranch, and grape vines, and fruit trees.

There was a farm house and he built a barn. He planted an orchard and a vineyard. On the porch and in the study of the house (and probably on his walks and rides around the ranch and its environs) he carried on the profession he'd brought with him. The ranch prospered, the vines and trees bore fruit.

Other people moved into the valley and followed his example.

He built his dream house - with a good architect, solid rock and great hewn timbers. It was to be a place for friends and family to gather - to enjoy the good green earth - and when you rode up the hill to it you would get an impressive view, of the house and the orchards and fields around it, through the tall trees guarding the road, and once you got up to the house itself, the magnificent vista looking out over the hills and towards the mountains beyond and around it.

Fruit still grows to ripeness there.

Descendants still take an interest in the old place - people come to see it from time to time.

Jack London lived to see his dream house built - but he did not get to live in it.

It's no longer there - what is there are some of the trees he planted, the fields he cleared, some of the outbuildings, and oddly enough the little old house that was there when he started. Jack died on the porch of that house of uremic poisoning - after a full life lived well and passionately, his kidneys failed.

He left behind him a legacy not only for family and friends, for the readers of his words, but for the community. The people who came into the valley with him and before him - he acknowledged the primeval people of the place - and new people who come into the Valley of the Moon to this day - all benefit from what he did.

It's not so much what he built or how long it lasted - it has a lot to do with what he grew and harvested - it has even more to do with what he planted - and how he carried others along in his mission.

His mission was to establish a peaceful growing place - a place to live, a place to grow, a place to share in the abundance of the earth. It fostered his own creativity - he wrote every day, on that porch, five hundred words - it fostered a growing, creative life-sharing community - a tradition of how to live a good, generous, big life.

Of course he is gone now: the descendants of John Griffith London are not the big men in the valley (though they are still around and still keep an eye on the orchards and fields). What you see is new and old: continuity-in-change and change-in-continuity.

Remember the best of the past and look forward to the future - bring into the present moment the freedom God has given you - and go forth from this place, a place of God's abundance, in abiding love, strengthened, renewed, refreshed, and ready.

Preserving the past or its memories alone won't preserve it. Won't keep it alive. Won't nurture new growth. Won't bring life.

Another John, Lennon, found that out: life is what happens while you are making other plans.

The legacy is not in the building - the life of the community, the church - does not stay in the building - it reaches out. It has to do, yes, with what you have grown and harvested - in thanksgiving time we celebrate that. It has even more to do with what you have planted - and what the people coming new into this part of the world make of it - of what you have planted - and even more of how.

Whether the old place still stands or not, in the valley, it lingers in our memory: a sturdy place of shelter, of welcome and of beauty; an achievement and a monument of achievements past, but more than that a guidepost and landmark to guide our feet into the paths of peace.

Where will you go now, O people of God - how will you serve and what will you grow? What will you nurture? What fruit will you bear and what seeds will you sow?

Are you preparing the ground for new growth? Have you given thanks for the harvest, cleared the ground, and nurtured the soil? Will you be ready for spring?

New growth is coming - a new season on the old ranch - what will it look like? Familiar or foreign, will it be nurtured by remembrance of things past or captured in nostalgia? Will this present moment become a moment of freedom grasped - or forgotten?

What we know is this: God is our guide, our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. God will be there ahead of us as he was before us - planting, sowing, harvesting, cultivating, beginning and beginning again; his legacy is his calling forth into the future his people that true beauty and the fruits of the Spirit come forth and be known upon this earth.

We proclaim the mystery of faith, the mystery of Christ. We remember his death, we proclaim his resurrection, we await his coming in glory We await actively - by seeking strength and renewal; by going forth in peace to love and serve the Lord; by carrying forward his mission in the world; by bearing the fruit of the Spirit - peace, joy, gentleness, and hope; - and by nurturing in others the Word newly planted in their hearts; by seeing in the stranger a newcomer to the valley, a new partner in the work, to welcome.

May we go forward in hope
in the abundance of love
in the renewal of grace
in the strength of faith. Amen.


Jack London, "The Acorn Planters" (play)

Sermon for the second Sunday of Advent 2010
St Alban's Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Wash.


May God who gives grace to us

May God who gives grace to us
give us grace to give others
may God who is merciful to us and kind
bring kindness and generosity into our lives
that we may share the abundant love
of Christ with those around us

May we, seeking to do your will,
find it in serving you; in seeking
you to serve you; & find you in the
face of others, friend and stranger

May we, serving you in
others, find ourselves at home; and
find our home in you.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas is coming!

With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!
Come celebrate Christmas with us!

Rejoice with us this holy season as we celebrate: Christ our Savior is born! Alleluia! Jesus’ birth is a new birth of hope for the world.

Come and celebrate with us throughout the holiday season, from Advent through the festivities of Christmas Eve & Day, through all the twelve days of Christmas, Epiphany pageantry on the first Sunday of the New Year, and beyond.

Children are welcome at all our services; on Sunday mornings, volunteers provide childcare during the 10:30 service.

Christmas Eve – Friday afternoon, December 24th at 4 o’clock, we herald the birth of the Christ Child, in a family Eucharist service including a children’s pageant. (Shepherds! Angels!) All children are welcome to take part. No prior rehearsals needed: just arrive by 3:30 to choose a costume. Stay after the service for hot cider and delicious treats.

Christmas Eve - Friday, December 24th at 10:00 p.m., following an old Anglican tradition, we come together for a service of Lessons and Carols. After this we have Holy Communion, and then by candlelight we quietly sing “Silent Night.”

Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25th, we offer Holy Communion at 10:30 am.

Epiphany Pageant and Eucharist – Sunday, January 2nd at 10:30 am. We anticipate a visit from the Magi (wise people) and their friends. All children are welcome to participate.

Please join us in welcoming the King promised of old, a King not like the world knows, but One who brings among us the very peace and presence of God.

You are always welcome at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church,
21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds, WA 98026 (425) 778-0371


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sources & Resources - Year A

David Adam,
Clouds and Glory: Prayers for the Church Year: Year A (London: SPCK, 1998)
Traces of Glory: Prayers for the Church Year: Year B (London: SPCK, 1999)
Glimpses of Glory: Prayers for the Church Year: Year C (SPCK, 2000)

John Barton, ed. Oxford Bible Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

John Fisher. "Have you seen Jesus my Lord?" (song, 1970).

Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, eds. The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. New York: Macmillan,1993.

Christopher Irvine, The Pilgrims' Manual. Glasgow: Wild Goose, 1997.

Herbert O'Driscoll, The Word Today: Reflections on the Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary: Year A, Volumes 1, 2, 3. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1998.

Nicholas Thomas (Tom) Wright, Matthew for Everyone, ed. 2. London: SPCK, 2004.

Barbara E. Reid, New Collegeville Bible Commentary: The Gospel According to Matthew. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2005.

Fred B. Craddock, John H. Hayes, Carl R. Holladay, Gene M. Tucker,
Preaching Through the Christian Year: Year A (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1992)

Mary Hinkle Shore, Herman C. Waetjen, Richard Eslinger, Melinda A. Quivik,
New Proclamation: Year A, 2007-2008: Advent through Holy Week (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007)

New Proclamation: Year A, 2010-2011: Advent through Holy Week (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010)

The Lectionary Page

The (Online) Book of Common Prayer

Oremus Bible Browser

Sunday, November 28, 2010

a thief in the night

November 28, First Sunday of Advent, 2010, notes for 10:30 sermon:

a thief in the night

that's all I got


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

During Advent we greet the gospel singing verses of the hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel”— based upon the O Antiphons, ancient Latin refrains adapted for our congregational use. In these verses we are singing a 19th century translation of a 12th century version of 9th century lyrics based on the first century words of Matthew which cite the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

These words, so old and so new, bring us right to the present moment - the moment of freedom God has given us in Christ Jesus - and beyond into the fullness of the completion of his work in the world: his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

We greet the coming Christ in a variety of titles, drawn from Old Testament prophecy and writings, from the Torah and from the Gospels. They include Wisdom, Lord of might, off-spring of Jesse, Key of David, day-spring from on high, desire of nations, Son of God, teacher, King of Peace. They begin and end with the name Emmanuel: God (is) with us.

come thou unexpected Jesus
come and set your people free
we have been waiting for you a long time
not for ourselves only; for everyone

the days are cold and brief to begin with
night comes without fail to put an end
to our day’s striving

in the middle of the night
in the cold the dark the forgotten
you come
you come to us, unexpected Jesus
in the least likely moments
of our lives
we’re not ready; we’re always ready

it’s up to us
to open our eyes and awaken
to get used to the fact
to be there when you arrive
ready to greet you
whatever your appearance
however you name yourself,
or are named, this time –
you come to us in so many
guises, so many faces, so many ways
for each of us is made in your image
our souls bear your stamp
not of bondage but of freedom
for your mark, the mark of a
believer in you, that mark is love
If we practice it everyday
we just might find it indelible
when we seek you
we just might see you
when you arrive
we might know you

for the secret is
we are all seeking the same thing
and the same thing is seeking all of us
we may greet you differently
call you by different names
- Wisdom from on high
- Lord of might
- God with us
but we all know we want to know you
as you know us
we wish to be known
in the breaking of the bread
and in the prayers
in the apostles’ teaching
and in fellowship
in our lives our work our hands
our family friends and strangers
we seek you we wish to know you
we want to come to you
but you have already come to us
already but not yet
you are present among us

in the hope in the promise in the
ready way your world is made
to greet you when you arrive
come to us Lord Jesus come and
ransom your people captive to sin
we await you in a foreign land
where we cannot sing the songs of home
unless you are there with us in the
midst of our trials, our struggles,
our fears, the fires of temptation
we await, we anticipate, you
make yourself known to us
reveal yourself, be active, show up
we rejoice and are glad of the
promise of salvation
you will come and help your people
you will come and set us free

come to us Spirit of Wisdom
in you all things have (found) their being
from the beginning you set them in order
all creation bears the pattern
you imposed
you yourself are the light and the path
show us how to be wise in our folly
that we, following you, may find home
Breath of God breathe on us
breath in us
be our guide to life
show us the right way
lead us into truth
the truth of your love
the truth of your light
show us the way and
be with us upon it
God Emmanuel God with us Amen

In ancient times to ancient ones
you gave your ancient law
in a cloud
you hid yourself, in a cloud
you showed yourself – shielding
us from the pure brightness of
your glory and still in the hiding
in the very mystery calling us
beyond it in your light
I AM you said
I am the one who is
I am the One whom Jacob saw
struggling obscurely in the night
wrestling with angels on the bank
of the river
I am the one whom Moses saw
who led him (to be) shepherd of his people
I am the one who Abraham saw
counting the endless stars at night

knowing each star bore your promise
a promise of his fulfillment
in your faithfulness
in the knowledge of your glory
I am the One you said who
saved Isaac from the
ram’s place in the thicket
I pulled him out and sent
him on his way
not an abject sacrifice
but an obedient servant
A Son like my own giving my self
I am the One you said
who sets you free
who leads you now
from despair to hope
from sin to grace
from death to life
Come to us Lord Jesus

and lead us by unexpected ways
and hidden paths that we
may know you in the
full pleasure of your glory
you give us sustenance and hope
on the way
you give us the bread we need today
and the promise of tomorrow
of a Kingdom there beyond our hope
beyond our plans
beyond our believing
even what we know is to follow you
what we know is you are the way
make us ready
keep us awake
that we may see you
or not seeing you
greet you all the same when you come
and Do come O Lord thou unexpected Jesus

Come home to your homeless people
that we may find our rest in thee
Call us to your home to be your people
make us restless until we rest in thee
not in our own ways
our own deeds
our own knowledge
that are foolish lost false failing
without you
they are without meaning
But with you and in you
and with you
may we follow on the journey
the path to life
and in every step on the way
may we be coming to know you
even if we know it not
be with us in doubt
be with us in faith
be with us
Lord Jesus



As John Wesley, the preacher and hymnodist, lay dying, he lifted his arms and rejoiced, “The best of all, God is with us.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21)



The Hymnal 1982, (New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, 1982) Hymn 56.

The Hymnal 1982 Companion, Raymond F. Glover, ed., (New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, 1994) Hymn 2.

A Theological Word Book of the Bible, Alan Richardson, ed., (New York: Macmillan, 1950) esp. “Emmanuel” by J. Y. Campbell and “Magnify” by J. S. McEwen.

The Hymnal 1940 Companion, ed. 3 (New York: Church Pension Fund, 1940, 1951)

Sermon for 8 o'clock,
2010 November 28, First Sunday of Advent,
St Alban's Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Wash.



Friday, November 26, 2010

Hound Dog

Holy, holy, holy, perfect Lord of Hosts,
heaven and earth are full of the holiness of your glory.
You have created all creatures with your word.
You carry them all without being weary,
and feed them all without ceasing.
You think about them all without forgetting any.
You give to all without being diminished.
You water all the earth without running dry.
You watch over all without sleeping.
You hear us all without neglecting any.
While your presence fills every place,
they have told us about you in a way we can receive.

--An Ethiopian prayer;
From Richard Marsh,
Black Angels: the Art and Spirituality of Ethiopia


Loving God,
our beloved pet and companion, Hound Dog,
is on his final journey.
We will miss Hound Dog dearly
because of the joy and affection
Hound Dog has given to us.
Bless Hound Dog and give him peace.
May your care for Hound Dog never die.
We thank you for the gift
that Hound Dog has been to us.
Give us hope that in your great kindness
you may restore Hound Dog in your heavenly kingdom
according to your wisdom, which goes
beyond our human understanding. Amen.

Adapted from Will I See My Dog in Heaven? by Jack Wintz, O.F.M. (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2009)

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP, p. 504)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Expecto patronum!

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on
the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within
the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit
that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those
who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for
the honor of your Name. Amen.

Harry Potter, in one of the movies, waves his wand and calls out: Expecto patronum! – which is Latin for “I expect my protector” — in other words, I want my Savior! (Or, in Harry's case, "I wish my mum and dad were here.")

Harry conjures an apparition of joy and hope as a defense against dark evil – by remembering, or imagining, the best thing that ever happened to him – in his case, the possibly false memory of his parents talking to him.

That’s it. No God. Just Mom and Dad.

Jesus is not that kind of savior.

And he is not that kind of hero.

The leaders scoff at him,
the soldiers mock him,
the first criminal abuses him –
all because he does not save himself.

The second criminal looks at the same man, the same one all the rest do – and sees: He is the King – and this proves it!

When, not if, you come into your kingdom, remember me.

Through the Cross comes Glory—

Look at what happens, look at the contrast:
they bring Jesus to the Skull-place, yet he promises Paradise;
they crucify him, yet he promises New Life;
they scoff, mock, abuse him, yet he prays: forgive them.
He is taunted—save yourself! if you’re the King.

Yet he stays. He is King.
Through the Cross comes Glory.

He lays down his life for his people—
as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep —

though they know him not—
they don’t know what they’re doing—

except: in his Crucifixion, not even in his Resurrection,
the second criminal sees him for who he really is—
and knows to call upon him, even then, for Salvation.

Now let’s look at who he really is,
who he is revealed to be,
in light of the Cross, the King—

all that Zechariah proclaims,
all that Paul promises—

is here in this moment of humiliation –
that is a moment of glory;

of pain, of loss of life— and yet of light and life and hope— even joy.

Paul says it: I rejoice in the Cross of Christ.

It is no longer I who live but him only— in me.

In him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

God chose to be God-with-us, Immanuel:
to take on flesh and walk among us,
to accept Death at the hands of sinners—
who did not realize what they were doing—

all this so that we could be redeemed—
and the world could come to know its true ruler:
in him we find peace and true fulfillment.

In him – in following him, in accepting his endurance of the Cross – we come to share in his hope, the Resurrection, too.

It’s a mystery, that, not like in the movies, true salvation comes not through rescue but through – grace.

True life comes through the Cross to us, in him—

What do we do with this? How do we glory in the Cross of Christ?

First, by giving thanks—
by sharing in the meal that remembers his gift of life to us and to all creatures— by sharing the good things of this earth as they come to us.

By bearing the fruits—

by producing the harvest in our souls— of the Spirit—

in joy, peace, patience, forbearance, charity, and true unstinting love.

By giving God the glory—

To you, O Christ our King and our God, belongs all power, dominion and authority in heaven and on earth. Come, rule in our hearts, and help us to forward your kingdom on earth.

You are the King of Glory, the eternal son of the Father; we give you praise for you have conquered the darkness of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

We offer you our obedience; we give you our love, and seek to live to your glory.

Lord, grant that your church may be an instrument for the coming of your kingdom on earth.

We pray for all who are seeking to bring peace and good will to the earth.

May your kingdom come: in us as in heaven.

We ask this in your holy name, Jesus Christ our Lord, living and reigning with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

David Adam, Glimpses of Glory (SPCK, 2000).

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on
the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within
the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit
that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those
who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for
the honor of your Name. Amen.

Let the King of Kings rule in your hearts and fill you with peace. The peace of the Lord be always with you: and also with you.

Rejoice that the Lord is King. Serve the Savior with gladness and love, seek his will in all that you do, confess him as Lord, praising his holy name; and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.

David Adam, Glimpses of Glory (SPCK, 2000).

Sources and Resources:

Herbert O’Driscoll – 10:30 Service January 31, 2010 - Sermon (

RS Thomas, "The Coming" (

2010 November 21, Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King,

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Canticle 4 or 16
The Song of Zechariah
Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1: 68-79
Colossians 1:11-20
Luke 23:33-43


Friday, November 19, 2010

Readings for Advent and Christmas 2010

2010 November 28, First Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

2010 December 5, Second Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-7 & 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12

2010 December 12, Third Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 146:4-9, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

2010 December 19, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 7:10-16, Psalm 80:1-7 & 16-18, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25

2010 December 24, Christmas Eve – 4pm, Children’s Pageant, Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-20

2010 December 24, Christmas Eve – 10pm, Lessons & Carols, Genesis 3:8-19, Isaiah 9:2-7, Isaiah 11:1-9, Luke 1:26-38, Luke 2:1-7, Luke 2:8-20

2010 December 25, Christmas Day, Isaiah 62:6-12, Psalm 97, Titus 3:4-7, Luke 2:1-20

2010 December 26, First Sunday after Christmas, Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 147, Galatians 3:23-25 & 4:4-7, John 1:1-18

2011 January 2, Epiphany Sunday, Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7,10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

2011 January 9, First Sunday after the Epiphany, The Baptism of Our Lord, Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

2011 January 16, Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

2011 January 23, Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1 & 5-13, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23

2011 January 30, Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

2011 February 6, Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 112:1-9, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20

2011 February 13, Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

2011 March 9, Ash Wednesday, Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, Psalm 103, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6 & 16-21

2011 April 22, Good Friday, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25, John 18:1-19:42

November 18, 2010.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

O come O come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Words: Latin, ca. 9th cent.; ver. Hymnal 1940, alt. (trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866) et al., 1851)

Music: Veni, veni Emmanuel, plainsong, Mode 1, Processionale, 15th Cent.; adapt. Thomas Helmore (1811-1890)


Hymn 56, "O come, O come, Emmanuel", in The Hymnal 1982 (New York: Church, 1982).

Alan Richardson, ed., A Theological Word Book of the Bible (New York: Macmillan, 1950)

During Advent we greet the gospel singing verses of Hymn 56, "O Come O Come Emmanuel" - O Antiphons, an ancient Latin hymn, adapted for our congregational use. In these verses we are singing a 19th century translation of a 12th century version of a 9th century hymn based on the first century words of Matthew (1:23) which cite the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (7:14). These words so old and so new bring us right to the present moment - the moment of freedom God has given us in Christ Jesus - and beyond into the fullness of the completion of his work in the world: his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. We greet the coming Christ in a variety of titles, drawn from Old Testament prophecy and writings, from the Torah and from the Gospels. They include Wisdom, Lord of might, offspring of Jesse, Key of David, day-spring from on high, desire of nations, Son of God, savior, teacher, King of Peace.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Keep calm and carry on

Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

In the name of the one true living God, source of all being, eternal Word, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

What a glorious place the Temple was. What a gracious sign of the abundance of God. What a — temporary, fleeting, mortal thing. All those stones so beautifully crafted, lovingly polished, chosen with discerning eye, mounted with pious care — all gone now, turned to rubble, turned to dust, or recycled: lost. Not one stone left upon another. Just a retaining wall is left. That’s the way we see it now: one wall with cracks in it. That’s the way Luke’s readers would have seen it. Already then in the year 70 the Roman Legions of Vespasian under the generalship of Titus had reduced the Temple — and the people of Israel — to ruin.

That’ll show ’em. That’ll show ’em who’s boss. Won’t it?

Jesus told the people admiring the Temple, back in the year 30 or so, that the Day was coming — the Day of the consummation of time; the Day when all this would come to a head. And he told them what it would mean — what was really going on beneath the surface.

What was happening on the surface would be — what we pray about every week: war, civil strife, and natural disaster.

It will look like the beginning of the end of the world, but don’t panic. Keep calm and carry on. It’s the end of the beginning. It’s a birth pang of the new creation— and you are the midwives.

As Herbert O'Driscoll said to us in his sermon at the 10:30 Service January 31, 2010 (

In a time of great change, you can be mourners of the past or midwives of the future.

And Jesus calls his church, calls you, and calls all of us together, to be midwives.

Jesus calls us forward into a new creation.

He is promising something that he has already got hold of, and he has already experienced. He is the first of the new born, the first fruit of the struggles of birth of the new creation.

Nothing you may be called to go through will be more than you can in the Spirit endure.

Know this: that he has already gone before, and he has sent the Spirit to comfort and guide you on the way.

Whether you face death alone in this life’s course, through disease, accident, violence, or other causes, or whether you are among those, as so many are to this day, who are called into martyrdom for the faith, he will be there with you. As he has gone through all this before.

They arrested him. They persecuted him. They brought him before a king and a governor.

He took the opportunity to testify, to tell the truth to the powers of this world.

And he was put to death.

In his footsteps have followed disciples, saints, martyrs, and living witnesses to the truth: witnesses to the truth of God and the reign of God.

Remember the story of Alban: his hospitality, his faith, his courage, and his steadfast hope. Remember his faithful witness and testimony in the face of persecution. He was arrested. He was brought before a judge. He confessed, and he was condemned for his confession. Steadfast to the last, he was a witness to the one true living God who created all things. And his witness is a witness that endures.

It endures because he and we are called into a better building project than Herod’s.

We are called, ourselves, to be built up as living stones into the body of Christ.

Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5, NRSV)

You are the people of God, chosen and called. The hope that is in us, the hope instilled in us by Scripture, fed in us by the Holy Meal of the bread and the wine, and nurtured in us by faith, comes to fullness in the work and witness we have as the people of Christ.

We are his hands and his feet in the world in this place and in this time. We are his voice of encouragement, his welcoming embrace, and his faithful witnesses.

The one true living Church that endures all things is the faithful fellowship of believers.

Gathered and going forth in the name of Christ, with the Word of Scripture and the water of Baptism, the Bread and the Wine of the Holy Meal, with each other and with the Spirit,

Carrying on, embracing and holding fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which God has given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.

And you will say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.


LORD God Almighty,
we look for you, we long for you; we watch for you, we wait for you.
Give us wisdom to know you and courage to serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.

LORD, we ask you to give strength to all who are weary; strengthen our faith in times of trouble, when there are wars and rumors of wars, when there is famine and earthquake, may we continue to put our trust in you and to work for the coming of your kingdom.

We pray for all who are victims of war, earthquake, floods, famine, fire, poverty, injustice, and tyranny; for the homeless, the destitute, and the unemployed. We remember all who have lost vision and hope.

We give thanks for the coming of your kingdom; love will triumph over hatred, war will be no more. We pray for all who have entered into the fullness of your glory and for all our loved ones departed. The Lord is our strength. He alone is our salvation.

[David Adam, Glimpses of Glory (SPCK, 2000)]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will I See My Dog in Heaven?

Monday in the Grace Cathedral Gift Shop in San Francisco, Sarah picked up a book.

Will I See My Dog in Heaven?
by Jack Wintz, O.F.M. (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2009)
offers Three Prayers of Blessing for Any Animal, Fish, Bird, or Other Creature:

Scripture Reflection

"[Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17, NRSV)

For Any of God's Creatures

Blessed are you, Lord God,
Maker of all living creatures,
On the fifth and sixth days of creation,
you called forth fish in the sea,
birds in the air, and animals on the land.
You inspired St. Francis to call all animals
his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless this animal (these animals)
gathered about us.
By the power of your love,
enable him or her (them) to live according to your plan.
May we always praise you
for all your beauty in creation.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures.


For One or More Sick Creatures

Heavenly Creator,
you made all things for your glory
and made us caretakers of this creature
(these creatures) under our care.
Restore to health and strength this animal
(this pet) that you have entrusted to us.
Keep this animal (this pet)
always under your loving protection.
Blessed are you, Lord God,
And holy is your name for ever and ever. Amen.


For an Animal that Has Died or Is About to Die

Loving God,
our beloved pet and companion, Hound Dog,
is on his final journey.
We will miss Hound Dog dearly
because of the joy and affection
Hound Dog has given to us.
Bless Hound Dog and give him peace.
May your care for Hound Dog never die.
We thank you for the gift
that Hound Dog has been to us.
Give us hope that in your great kindness
you may restore Hound Dog in your heavenly kingdom
according to your wisdom, which goes
beyond our human understanding. Amen.



Monday, November 1, 2010

the year's turning

You know when it’s fall. You know when it’s winter, and springtime, and summer, and fall again. That is the Earth's natural year, the round of the seasons. It follows the sun, as our planet’s course through the heavens brings us closer and then takes us farther away from that stellar source of light.

Seasons vary from place to place, from time to time: we know them not by clock or calendar but by the rhythms of life and light. There are measurements of course: solstice and equinox, and halfway between these, the quarter days. These have been codified by calendars, to give us a handle on what is happening to us as days grow shorter or lengthen.

The ancient Celtic calendar included not only the winter and summer solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes but also the days halfway between them, which they called the quarter days. Imbolc, the festival of light, comes at the first of February. Beltaine, associated with fire, is May Day. Lughnasa, feast of the air and wind, is August 1st, and last – and first – quarter day is Samhain, associated with the element of earth. Last, and first: because Samhain, which occurs over All Saints’ Eve and the first of November, marks the end and the beginning of the Celtic year.

The year, in this imaging, begins in darkness, when the seed in the ground, planted earlier, begins to take root and grow. Something is ended; something new has begun. It is like our understanding of death and resurrection. It is a harvest time for past things, looking back, and, looking forward, to what is already but not yet come into our world, a time of hidden new life.

The Christian year, and the Church calendar, reflects the seasonal rhythms of the natural cycle of the solar year – and it shows us that in its own cycle of feasts and fasts. All Saints Day and the feast of All Faithful Departed (in Mexico, el Dia de los Muertos), November 1st and 2nd, give us a chance to give thanks for what we have received, from what – and who – have come before. They give us a chance to pray for what is to come.

All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee— words of David, how appropriate now, as we celebrate the ingathering of pledges and the offering of our own blessings back to the source of all blessings, God who creates, redeems, and sustains.

At the beginning of the liturgical year, four weeks before Christmas, we move into Advent, the season of preparation. Just past the winter solstice comes the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. We celebrate light and life and the incarnation of the holy one of God. The celebration continues through the twelve days of Christmas season, and the feast of Epiphany, into January’s Epiphany Sundays, including the Baptism of Our Lord.

Things begin to change when we celebrate Candlemas (Candelaria in Mexico). It’s a perfect reason for another party, as we remember the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, completing the cycle of the birth of our King. In some traditional cultures, the winner of the prize baked into the Epiphany cake brings treats for all to share on this day (let’s see what happens here).

There is a shift now, remembering the water of Baptism and the coming themes of death and resurrection, as we prepare through Lenten discipline for the great events of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Eve and Day. Fifty great days later – eight days after the Ascension – is the feast of Pentecost.

Breaking into the midst of the Lent/Easter/Pentecost cycle is the feast of unexpected news, the revelations of the Annunciation, on March 25, just after the vernal equinox.

We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of baptismal promise, and the growing body of Christ’s faithful people, through summer and into fall. The summer solstice comes just around the feast of our patron, Saint Alban, and just before the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24 (six months from Christmas).

St John said, ‘he must increase, I must decrease’ - and now indeed the days slowly shorten, imperceptibly at first, until the season’s quickening accelerates into autumn, harvest, and the eve of All Saints’ appears once more on the horizon of our year.

What season of the year, you may wish to ask yourself, fits your spirit? Where do you find resonance with your own spirituality? Are you in a season of anticipation – of the Advent (the coming) of Christ our King, of preparation – the long desert trek of Lent?

Does the Incarnation fill your heart with quiet longing, with loud rejoicing, with the sureness of peace, the future of hope, the promise of love, represented by Christmas?

Have you welcomed the new into the kingdom of your heart, giving due obeisance, like the three kings of Epiphany, to the presence of the true ruler of the universe – however humbly he appears now to our eyes?

Are you in the middle of summer days, in the long green season of Pentecost, watching things grow and helping them along, anticipating the fullness of fall’s harvest celebrations?

Are you in Easter, full of the reality of the risen life in Christ?

All these things are possible to you – and may come in their turn.

You are invited into relationship with God, in each season of the year, and in each chamber of your heart.

You are beckoned by God, through Christ, into relationship with the eternal Word and holy Spirit, who together with the Father, the source of all Being, are the One true home, the One true light, the One true timeless reality that lies beneath and beyond all our days.

Come into celebration – come in quiet or in laughter, in sorrow or in delight; come to Christ at harvest and planting, breathe in the Spirit in summer’s air and winter’s, and walk with God in every season of your life. Come with us on the journey together. We are one family – the household of God. And you are always welcome under His roof.



Marcus Losack, “Celtic Spirituality and the Pre-Christian Tradition”, Lecture in the Chapel of the Ascension, Markree Castle, Co. Sligo, May 22, 2007.

Herbert O'Driscoll, Prayer Among Friends.

Hugh Stevenson, "The Secularization of the Calendar", St. Patrick's Grapevine, Newsletter of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, Kenwood, Calif., July/August 2010.

David Marshall.

Tom Cashman.

Nora Chadwick, The Celts.

Caitlin Matthews, The Celtic Book of Days.


For the Gospel Grapevine, parish newsletter of St Alban's Episcopal Church, Edmonds WA


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Readings for Sundays and other Celebrations

Beginning on November 28, 2010 – the Sunday after Thanksgiving – we will be in Year A of the three-year cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary (Episcopal Church version). Matthew – begins with begats – furnishes most of the Sunday readings from the gospels this year.

Learn more about the Lectionary on the Episcopal Church website ( You can find the readings on The Lectionary Page (

On Christmas Eve, at both 4pm (Shepherds! Angels!) and 10pm (Silent Night, Holy Night) services, we will use the readings for the first celebration of Christmas.

On Christmas morning we will use the second set of readings for Christmas Day.

We will celebrate the feast of the Epiphany (3 Kings) on January 2, 2011.

On the first Sunday after Epiphany we will celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord.

The plan for the last Sunday in January is to celebrate the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a feast also known as Candelmas or Candelaria.

After Pentecost the Revised Common Lectionary gives us a choice between two tracks of readings from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Let’s stay on track one, the semi-continuous track; in year A it features the major stories of Genesis and Exodus.

Saint Alban's Episcopal Church
21405 82nd Place West
Edmonds WA 98020
(425) 778-0371


Sundays in November

All Saints’ Sunday is the basis of our celebration on November 7th. We remember and thank God for the saints of the past and celebrate with those present with us today.

The Sundays just before Advent are a season of anticipation – they focus on the Kingdom of Christ.

This culminates in the feast of Christ the King, on the Sunday just before Thanksgiving Day.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes: a celebration of Celtic spirit, story and song

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

(that’s céad míle fáilte in the Irish)

Would you like to hear a good story?

Good stories are part of a ceilidh – an evening’s gathering to share stories and tales, poems and ballads, songs and music, among your friends and neighbors. It’s a Celtic hootenanny in other words. It’s a spontaneous celebration including everybody’s gifts.

Listen to the music, join in the laughter, sing along with the songs. Tell your own story. Come along to the ceilidh – at St Alban’s on Friday evening October 22nd, we’ll be gathering in our parish hall around 7 o’clock. If you’d like to bring some dessert to share please bring that as well. And let your friends know: all are welcome at St Alban’s church.

Saturday, October 23rd, we’ll continue the celebration of Celtic spirit, story and song, in a day’s teaching and music-making with Tom Cashman, Carla Pryne, and Tara Ward. We’ll begin at 9:30 – have a cup of tea, or a mug of coffee. Brett’s Catering will provide lunch. We’ll close with a Celtic Eucharist.

Carla Pryne is rector of the church of the Holy Spirit on Vashon Island; she is a co-founder of Earth Ministry. Tom Cashman teaches spiritual formation and Celtic spirituality in the Mars Hill Graduate School. Tom and Carla led a pilgrimage to Celtic Ireland and Scotland last year.

Singer-songwriter Tara Ward is worship architect for the Church of the Beloved (

It’s all part of “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes” – our harvest-time celebration of the bountiful goodness of God.

Register for $30/early-bird price is $25 before October 14th. Call the church office at 425-778-0371 or email or register online at – we’ll be glad to see you!

St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds, Washington 98026


Monday, October 18, 2010

'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'

There are places you can get to in life, positions you can fill, status you can gain, prizes you can win, by following the rules, checking the boxes off the list, getting the signatures in the right spaces on the forms, and satisfying the tribunal.

There are places you can't.

There are rewards you cannot earn, standards you cannot meet, and tribunals you cannot satisfy - not on your own.

"For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."
(Luke 18:14)

As St. James says,

God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

(James 4:6)

When I joined the Boy Scouts I tried to follow the rules - spoken and unspoken. I was very taken with the Boy Scout Handbook, and tried to instill its precepts in my self like holy writ. I learned to recite the Scout Law, the Scout Oath, and the Scout Motto.

And I followed the rules. You can see in my copy of the Boy Scout Handbook checkmarks against each of the steps to become a Tenderfoot Scout, then a Second-Class Scout. And on it goes...

There were all sorts of very useful rules and instructions. They were helpful - if you kept the purpose in mind.

The purpose was, to my fourteen-year-old mind, to learn the skills to have fun - safely - in woods or on water.

We learned how to canoe, to hike, to camp, to cook outdoors over an open fire, to make the fire, to chop the wood. We learned first aid, surveying techniques, and woodcraft.

We learned a lot of things - to have fun, safely and skillfully, and to be changed. We became better boys - on the way to becoming better men. We learned how to work together. We learned how to lead. We learned how to follow, even when somebody confused leading with bossing other boys around. We learned how to make our way on our own, when that was necessary.

Of course you are never really alone.

(Even Eagle Scouts need help from the other boys.)

God is always walking with you.

And of course you will never make it, on your own. Not to the place that really matters. Not to becoming the person that you were really made to be. You can't - and you don't have to. You weren't made to. You were made to walk with God.

For He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8)

If you are wondering how to find God's will for your life - there it is. Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

Or, to put it another way - one of Jesus' favorites - you can sum up the whole Law for living in two phrases:

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

(The Book of Common Prayer, The Holy Eucharist, Rite One)

Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God? Oh! Is that all?

It'll only take a lifetime to learn.

And a good lifetime it will be.

For we are not made to make it on our own - despite all the strivings of the earnest but overconfident Pharisee, neither he - nor any one of us - is able to exalt ourselves.

He did all the 'right' things - checked all the right boxes. He tithed, he fasted. He gained position, and won status for himself. He had forgotten the purpose. He just wanted to make it to the top. But - nobody makes it on their own.

You cannot get into heaven by pulling up on your own bootstraps.

The repentant tax collector knew this. He may not have lived a good life - in fact, he was sure he hadn't, and repented for it - but he did know this:

All he was able to offer, all he had, was humility, a prayer of humble access before the Lord.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.



For the Lord is good, and a merciful maker of righteousness:

Our sins are stronger than we are, *
but you will blot them out.

Happy are they whom you choose
and draw to your courts to dwell there! *
they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house,
by the holiness of your temple.

Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness,
O God of our salvation, *
O Hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the seas that are far away.

(Psalm 65:3-5)


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bread from Heaven, Bread for the World

Today I'm going to tell you how to vote. I voted yesterday, so I speak from experience.

First, pray.

Then, inform yourself about the issues, candidates, and ballot measures.

Pray some more.

Guided as always by sacred Scripture, Christian tradition, and your God-given reason, make your choices.

Then, go to the polls.

Or, if you have an absentee ballot, get that out. Read all the instructions.

You're going to need a pencil - or a pen will do.

Mark your ballot.

Here's how you vote: take your pencil (or pen) and fill in the gap in the arrow next to your selection.

Then, put your ballot in an envelope and drop it off at the library, or mail it in.

Then, keep on praying.

Everything we do as Christians begins and ends in prayer. This counts with what we do at home, at work, at play, and at the polls.

Voting is one way we can play our part as citizens - as Christians involved in the world - and I commend you for it.

There are other ways you can influence public policy.

Let me tell you part of the story of Art Simon and Bread for the World, the Christian citizens' lobby on behalf of the hungry. It began in Art's parish on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, a neighborhood of tenement housing full of poor, and hungry, folks.

Like many congregations, the one Art served was involved in direct assistance to the poor in its neighborhood, and contributed to relief and development work overseas. But Art could see that something more was needed - and something could be done about it.

At that time our government policies on hunger were - a start, but not nearly enough, and sometimes misguided. For Christians, God's care for the poor is a basic reality - and a call for all of us to be involved in.

Out of Christian conviction, based in Biblical faith, a group of people began to form an organization, a citizens' lobby on hunger based on Christian motivation. They were, from the start, nonideological and nonpartisan.

"We assumed that neither political party has a lock on the truth."

Do I hear an AMEN?

And so they made a beginning. There were people to invite and questions to answer.

Why should an organization on world hunger deal with political and economic issues? Precisely because we want to show the link between hunger and poverty, between hunger and injustice. People are usually hungry because they are terribly poor. Enabling hungry people to feed themselves means dealing with the root causes of hunger. That requires us to help shape government policies, for U.S. policies often vitally affect the world's hungry. BFW wants to organize citizen participation from within the churches on their behalf.

Arthur Simon, The Rising of Bread for the World, (Paulist Press, Mahway, N.J., 2010) p. 78.

When I first heard of Bread for the World I was in college. Older Christians - age 20 or so - were signing people up to fast for a day. We donated what the food service would have spent on our dining hall food for that days' cafeteria meals - and we were, somehow, glad to give up, for a day, the priveledge of eating them.

A couple of years later I heard a sermon that raised a lot of questions. In fact, that's all it was - 20 minutes of questions.

Dom Helder Camara had traveled all the way up from Brazil to speak at the closing service of the Concerts for the Hungry at Grace, the Episcopal cathedral in San Francisco.

He asked us: Are you aware of hunger? Are you aware of hunger in your own country, city, neighborhood?

And in answer to the question, how about moving to Brazil to work with the poorest of the poor? he said something that stuck with me. Here it is.

As an American citizen you are one of the most powerful people in the world. You may not feel powerful yourself - you may feel poor - but because you are citizens of the United States, you can have immense influence around the world.

You can do it, right now where you are. You can vote - and you can influence public policy. You can join your voice with others on behalf of the poor and hungry. You can work together, support a common effort, and make a difference.

You can make God's kingdom of peace and of mercy and justice come alive in the lives of people around the world.

Be persistent. Be persistent in calling for justice, like the persistent widow.

Be part of the solution.

And - keep praying.


God our sustainer, we ask you to pour your powerful Spirit into all who are empty this day: Fill the hearts of persons who are troubled. Fill the minds of men and women who are confused. Fill the stomachs of your children who are hungry. Fill the souls of people who are feeling lost. Fill the lives of all who need you, but do not know you. May your Spirit fill us all to overflowing, dear Lord, and may we be inspired to share our abundance with others, so that there will be no more empty hearts and minds, stomachs and souls. We pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ, who fills lives with your endless grace. Amen.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Thankful Samaritan

CProper23 2010
Pentecost XX

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem…

Have you ever felt like a foreigner? Have you ever been a foreigner? I was a foreigner once – in Scotland. It was the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and they were celebrating in a garden in Edinburgh. “The foreigner,” I heard some one call me – and I was. I could enjoy the party but I could not share the pride – she was not my Queen – or the status of subject, citizen, member of the kingdom.

The Samaritan probably knew he was on foreign ground, but it didn’t matter much. He was an outside everywhere he went, as were the other nine. They were lepers – outcast – sufferers from a malignant skin disease were treated as unclean, and they were shunned. It would take a miracle to restore them to health and to community, to the common life.

It would take the action of the living Lord. There was nothing the Samaritan could do about his condition, except – call on the Lord, obey his command, trust and hope.

As Jesus went by on the way to Jerusalem, the ten lepers were crying out: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. They kept their distance – they were lepers, unclean – and Jesus said to them, as it says in the Law to do (Leviticus chapter 14) “On the day when he is to be cleansed he shall be brought to the priest.”

As they went, as they began to obey, they were cleansed. That’s the first part of the story. Ten called out, ten were healed. What they knew of Jesus, what had been proclaimed to them, the hint of the good news that they’d heard, was enough to bring them into earshot, to give them the temerity to call out to be cleansed, to be freed of their immediate plight.

Martin Luther said something pretty amazing about these people. Here is what he said:

“For tell me, who had given these lepers a letter and seal that Christ would hear them? Where is there any experience and feeling of his grace? Where is the information, knowledge or certainty of his goodness? Nothing of the kind is here. What then is here? A free resignation and joyful venture on his imperceptible, untried and unknown goodness. Here there is no trace in which they might discover what he would do, but his mere goodness alone is kept in view, which fills them with such courage and venture to believe he would not forsake them. Whence, however, did they receive such knowledge of his goodness, for they must have known of it before, be they ever so inexperienced and insensible of it? Without doubt from the good reports and words they had heard about him, which they had never yet experienced. For God's goodness must be proclaimed through his Word, and thus we must build upon it untried and inexperienced...”

But one of them knew that something more was here – that more than a miracle was present. The healing was the sign of life present in the person before him. He saw, he perceived, he knew – he was in the presence of the very Word of God. And so, he turned, he gave glory to God – shouting loudly, he threw himself at the feet of his Savior, thus confessing him to be Lord – the source of salvation, hope and health, the source of life.

And in gratitude he gave thanks. He responded to the word of God and the grace of God with thanks and praise.

And he was a foreigner. He was a stranger, an alien.

And Jesus brought him home to a place he never knew before: the kingdom not of this world’s way but the kingdom of heaven, where God reigns: the place, the time, even now occurring, where God sets right what has gone off course, when God brings to fulfillment the original purpose of creation – in the thankful Samaritan, in you, and in me.

May his grace be at work among us; may he heal and renew us. May his peaceable kingdom be established in the midst of us; may we know the joy of his service. May we too, like the thankful Samaritan, in obedience follow his command; but knowing he is doing for us more than we could ask for – imagination fails us – may we see him at work in the world, may we turn to him in thanksgiving, may we give glory to God in thanks and praise, may we rise up as his people, renewed refreshed restored reborn; and when we go on our way may we go forth rejoicing in the confidence of faith in a gracious God.

The Lord is your strength and your salvation; in him alone is wholeness and peace. The peace of the Lord be always with you.

The goodness of God the Father go with you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ protect you. The guidance of the Holy Spirit of God ever lead you. And the blessing of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Peace and blessing from David Adam.

Luther quotation from Jami Fecher.

Ideas from Alan Richardson, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Herbert O'Driscoll, David Adam, New Proclamation commentary series, New Collegeville Bible Commentary series, Fred Craddock, Sharon Ringe, Keith Fullerton Nickle, Tom Sine, Ryan Marsh, Michael Ross, Kari Reiten et al.


The Kingdom of Heaven compared to a Grain of Mustard-seed

The Kingdom of Heaven compared to a Grain of Mustard-seed

by Christopher Smart

Then did he to the throng around
Another parable propound.
So fares it with the heavenly reign
As mustard-seed, of which a grain
Was taken in a farmer's hand
And cast into a piece of land.
This grain, the least of all that's sown,
When once to full perfection grown,
Outstrips all herbs to that degree
Till it at length becomes a tree,
And all the songsters of the air
Take up an habitation there.

Christ laid (at first an infant boy)
The basis of eternal joy;
And from humility, his plan,
Arose the best and greatest man,
The greatest man that ever trod
On earth was Christ th' eternal God,
Which as the branch of Jesse's root
Ascends to bear immortal fruit.
From contradiction, sin and strife,
He spreads abroad the tree of life;
And there his servants shall partake
The mansions, that the branches make;
There saints innumerable throng,
Assert their seat, and sing their song.

Christopher Smart (1722-1771)


Thursday, October 7, 2010

images of skookum

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus

St Francis began as a fabric sales rep - can you imagine a father calling his son Frankie so that he would embody the French fashions he (the father) was trying to sell? But that is what Francis' father did - decked him out in fine clothes, gave him the gear and the purse, to entertain the young nobles of the town - lead them on their revels - until Francis saw something else: a vision.

It did not come to him quickly. It came after many trials. He was involved in a civil war between his hometown and the town across the valley and became a prisoner of war. He tried to enlist in the Crusades but turned back after giving his fine armor to a poor knight. He fell ill and recovered. He prayed and sought guidance. He served the poorest of the poor. He made a pilgrimage. And then while he was praying in the little lost church of San Damiano, derelict and sad, in front of an icon of Christ crucified, he received his commission:

"Rebuild my church - which as you see is falling down."

So Francis went to the warehouse of his father, loaded down his horse with fine fabrics, rode to the next town, sold good and horse, and walked home in a happy spirit. He offered the proceeds to the priest at the ruined church.

That was not enough. His father came after him - he hid but was caught. His father haled him in front of the bishop in the town square: "I want back from you everything you have had from me."

All right. He did. Francis stripped himself bare and laid all his clothes at his father's feet. He was naked, as naked as the day he was born. All those fine clothes were gone.

The bishop quickly covered him with his cope. Francis found shelter in the bishop's house. There in the garden on a trash heap he discovered a worn-out cloak that the under-gardener had discarded. He chalked a cross on the back and gladly put it on.

If you remember the first day of the week when the women walked down in the early light to the tomb, to dress the body of Jesus with spices and herbs - how Mary saw a man there, who asked her, whom do you seek? She turned to him, and begged,

"If you know where they have taken him, please tell me."

She mistook him for the gardener. He must have just scrounged something up that he could put on so he was covered against the cold.

Francis must have known what garment he was putting on - it was a sign of resurrection, of a new life beginning for him - and for the church.

From that early beginning he began to build a new life out of old bones, a new church out of old stones, turning what had been a ruin, as desolate as the city of Jeremiah, in to a new house for God.

His own life had reached a turning point and passed it. What had been broken was blessed, transformed, and offered, given as a gift to God. All it took was a little faith. Something new began to grow.

Increase our faith! The apostles said, and Jesus replied, if only your faith were as big as this - a grain of mustard - you could just say the word and anything could happen.

Francis started with something very small: a kernel, a grain; and from it built a life lived in abundance. Scarcely would it seem had he anything and yet he had all he needed: faith in a gracious God.

What he did with the small beginning was more than rebuild a little church, more than make a safe place for himself and his friends. He spent the rest of his life in worship, witness and service. Francis and his companions spread out across Italy, Europe, and the world - preaching the new life in Christ.

They rebuilt the body of Christ through word and example that enlivened the faith of the people. Francis and his friends gave us the gift of reliance on God, the love of all creatures, and the gift of making peace.

When we celebrate together the Eucharist we remember Christ and his work in the world - not only in our own time but also in times past and times to come. We remember saints of the past, witnesses like Francis to the Word's redeeming power, and we look forward in hope to a future filled with grace, the grace we experience today in the gift of the Great Thanksgiving, the Eucharist, celebrated in remembrance of God's gracious abundance, his gift of himself in the person of his Son, unstinting and unsparing beyond measure or dessert, giving himself that we might have life eternal and share it with generosity, hospitality, courage and love.

The Prayer before the Crucifix at San Damiano

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith, certain hope and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out Your holy and true command.

Blessing to Brother Leo

May the Lord
bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you
and be merciful to you.
May He turn His countenance to you
and give you peace.

of the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, from the website of the Order of Friars Minor, the brother hood that he founded:

* 1181 (Summer or Fall) Born in Assisi, baptized Giovanni di Pietro Bernardone at the request of his mother Pica, called Francesco by his father, Pietro di Bernardone, a rich cloth merchant.
* 1199 – 1200 Civil War in Assisi. Many noble families flee to Perugia.
* 1202 (November) War between Perugia and Assisi. The latter is defeated at Collestrada. Francis spends a year in captivity (falls ill) until ransomed by his father.
* 1204 A long period of illness and convalescence.
* 1205 Francis sets out to join the army of Walter de Brienne. Returns after a vision and message in Spoleto. Beginning of a gradual period of conversion.
* 1205 (Fall) Message of the Crucifix at San Damiano, Conflict with his father.
* 1206 (January or February) Trial before the Bishop.
* 1206 (Spring) Francis nurses the lepers at Gubbio.
* 1206 (Summer) Returns to Assisi and begins to rebuild San Damiano; end of conversion process; (Summer to January or February) He repairs San Damiano, San Pietro della Spina and Our Lady of the Angels “Portiuncula”.
* 1208 (February 24) Francis hears the Gospel for the Feast of St. Matthias.
* 1208 (April 16) Bernard of Quintavalle and the priest, Peter Cattani join him. Others follow.
* 1208 – 1209 (Fall and Winter) Francis is assured of the pardon of his sins and the growth of his fraternity. They go out two by two to preach penance.
* 1209 They return to the Portiuncula and Francis writes a brief Rule for himself and his eleven friars. They receive the approval of Pope Innocent III in Rome. The friars return to Rivotorto and then to the Portiuncula.
* 1212 (Palm Sunday night) Reception and investiture of St. Clare at the Portiuncula. After a stay with the Benedictine Nuns, Clare moves to San Damiano.
* 1215 Francis at Rome for the IV Lateran Council.
* 1216 Francis receives the Portiuncula Indulgence from Pope Honorius at Perugia
* 1217 (May 5 – Pentecost) General Chapter of all the friars at the Portiuncula. First mission outside Italy.
* 1219 (May 26) First friar missionaries leave for Morocco.
* 1219 (June 24) Francis sails for the Holy Land.
* 1219 (Fall) St. Francis meets with the Sultan.
* 1220 First Franciscan martyrs: the friars killed in Morocco.
* 1220 Cardinal Hugolino appointed Protector of the Order.
* 1220 Francis resigns as General Minister and friar Peter Cattani appointed.
* 1221 Peter Cattani dies and at Chapter Bro. Elias becomes the Vicar.
* 1221-1222 Francis goes on a preaching tour throughout Italy.
* 1223 Francis goes to Fontecolombo to write the definitive Rule for the Order of Friars Minor. The Chapter discusses it and further changes are made until its approval by Pope Honorius III in November.
* 1223 The first Christmas Crib midnight Mass at Greccio.
* 1224 The long retreat of Francis at La Verna where he receives the Stigmata.
* 1225 His eye problems turn worse and he stays for a while at San Damiano with St. Clare and the sisters. At the insistence of Bro. Elias he undergoes medical treatment but without improvement. Almost blind he writes his “Canticle of the Creatures”.
* 1225 – 1226 Francis goes to Fontecolumbo where the doctors cauterize his temple in an unsuccessful treatment. At Sienna he takes a turn for the worse and dictates a short “last will”.
* 1226 (September) Staying at the Bishop’s house in Assisi, Francis knows that he is dying, writes the Testament and asks to be brought down to the Portiuncula.
* 1226 (October 3) Francesco dies at the Portiuncula in the evening.
* 1226 (October 4) He is buried in the church of San Giorgio.
* 1228 (July 16) In Assisi, his friend Cardinal Hugolino now Pope Gregory IX canonizes Francis.
* 1230 (May 25) Transfer of the Saint’s remains to his tomb in the new papal basilica of San Francesco.


This is God's House

Be welcome to this house
Whosoever you are -
Whether of the household
Or of another way,
Or wanderers or deserters,
Be welcome here.
But you who are of the household
Pray for us now,
For us and for all sinners,
Here or departed;
That mercy draw us all
One little pace
Nearer to love's unveiled
And dazzling face.

Collected by Keith and Lee Oles at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Saffron Waldon, Suffolk.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance

"God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance,
so that by always having enough of everything,
you may share abundantly in every good work."
(2 Corinthians 9:8)

Dear friends in Christ:

"Happy Fall!" someone said to me the other day. Autumnal equinox was just hours in the past, and the weather sure had changed. We faced a gray cool day of soft rain.

My neighbor had greeted me with humor: and a sense of what was happening. At this time of year we see seasons change. It's harvest time, in orchard and vineyard, field and garden. We celebrate that. We give thanks and share God's abundance. It's a new year in schools and colleges. We celebrate that.

We look forward with anticipation as new things begin, even as the year's pace quicken, leaves turn, and the air is fresh and cool.

Creation celebrates a change of season - and so does the church. At this time of year, particularly, we gather to give thanks and share God's abundance. We give thanks for God's abundance shown in the harvest and in our own lives. We celebrate with hospitality and welcome the gift of each other, friend and stranger. We share God's abundance in joy, showing in our lives the gratefulness we feel in our hearts for all that God gives. For all we have, we receive from God; when we give, we give of his own.

This year our stewardship team invites us to rejoice and give thanks: God’s Promise is Abundance. When we present our offerings in the Holy Eucharist, we are celebrating God's abundant grace and responding in generous thanksgiving.

There is a Native American word, skookum - which means good, special, best, and gives us an image of bountiful goodness. That is what God gives to us: bountiful goodness. And that is what we return to God: a gift of the best of ourselves.

When we give, we offer a sense of hope in the future, an affirmation of continuing relationship with Christ's Church and a forward-looking faith in a generous God. Please consider prayerfully what God is calling you to share from the abundance that he has given you. What we call a 'pledge' is no more than this: an offering of intention. Your pledge helps us in planning for the future.

In all things we turn to God, knowing that what we give and what we have and what we will someday see, comes from God.

On Sunday, November 7, we will offer all our pledges on the altar in thanks giving for God’s many blessings. [Please return the enclosed card in the envelope provided, by mail or in Sunday's collection.]*

May God bless you in this season of harvest and thanks giving, and in the coming year.


Fr. John

October 2010

St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds, Washington 98026


*Stewardship team reports that ..."all the Stewardship Letters and Pledge Cards went to the Post Office this morning." (Wednesday, October 6, 2010)


Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Back in 1980 I worked in Washington, D.C., and I walked to work.

I started out in Georgetown on Que Street, crossing the Buffalo Bridge walking east to Dupont Circle, then down Connecticut Avenue to the corner of Lafayette Park, past Decatur House and Blair House, crossing at the light, then along Pennsylvania Avenue down to 13th Street N.W. As I crossed at that stop light I came onto the sidewalk in front of the White House.

There was an old lady who wore purple, who needed a safe place. She found it in front of the White House. As I walked by each morning on my way to work farther downtown, I would see her there, huddled against the fence, in the corner between it and the guards' station. She was there every morning that fall (1980).

I checked once, with the guard, an eye check, just a nod: yes, he knew she was there, and yes, they looked out for her, every night. And every morning I would walk by. She was cold but she was safe.

Lazarus lay at the gate of a big house too - but he was starving. He would have gladly gathered up the scraps discarded by the rich man's guests.

He was invisible - or more truthfully, ignored.

The day came when that rich man died - and discovered that he wasn't safe.

Fortunes were reversed. All of his life was built on the pleasure principle - he lived well and trusted to his wealth to bring him safety. But that was all gone now.

"Let goods and kindred go; this mortal life also" - he wasn't ready for that.

All that was left was what he could have always counted on - the justice and mercy of God - but he'd counted on something else: Mammon, that is, worldly wealth or power or status - any one of those things that people place between themselves and reality, themselves and the true God, themselves and the reality of the life that is really life - the life of obedience ot God.

Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, he says - did he still not get it?

His next request: send him to my brothers, my closest kindred, so they may be spared this agony. At least give me that.

But the estate tax is 100% - it's all gone and worthless now.

What lasts? What lasts but the promise of God?

Jeremiah discovered the promise held in the most desperate circumstances. Jerusalem was under siege - the mighty army of Babylon was encamped beneath its crumbling walls.

He had told the leaders of Israel there was no point - they had no chance to defeat this army. God would remold Israel, remake it - break it if need be - and only in God would they find safety. Certainly they would not find it in their own prowess.

Jeremiah relied on nothing less than God's promise when he insisted on buying a plot of land for full price, in full public view - when he could have driven a hard bargain, or just forgotten about it.

His city was under siege and he knew there was no hope to be found in the walls and troops defending those walls - the mighty army around them was bound to come in - and sure enough they did. (Jerusalem fell, and its leaders went into exile in Babylon for seventy years.)

But before that day the Lord sent a message to Jeremiah and through the prophet to the people: there will come a day beyond that day. Beyond defeat, the death of your hopes in common defenses, there will be a new era - and houses and vineyards, and fields will once again be valued and purchased here.

Bury that pot for now - it contains what must be preserved: the due dull formula of commerce of course but now commerce serves a holy purpose - not for its own sake but for something beyond human striving - it points, a sign of God's eternal faithfulness: there will come a time when all will be made right and all will be well.

Paul tells Timothy start living now like that day is almost here: anticipate the return from exile, the coming of the true king, the day of the Lord.

All things will be set right - put your trust in God.

What fouls people up is not wealth or poverty - what fouls people up is the eager striving, the craving, the wanton desire, the desperate need, to get more and then more again, that leads to destruction.

What you have - what you have been given - you have been given in trust, to use to the glory of God.

If you must pursue anything seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, seek godliness, faith, love, and gentle endurance - it is in these that the path to true riches lies.

What you have before you is imperishable - take the transitory things as a way to work good in the world, be rich in good works, generously sharing God's abundance, so that you may grasp at last the true inheritance: the life that is really life, in God's presence.

Jeremiah bought the field his kinsman offered to show that the land of promise was going to see the fulfillment of God's purpose. You can live that way - it's not safe but it's good.

There is an old woman who lives in the desert - she sold her house in the foothills and moved far away from the city to a ranch outside a small mining town. It's near the border - the southern border.

Sometimes people come to her house out of the desert - they are sick, they are tired, they are poor, they are hungry, they are old - or young; and she takes care of them.

Lady, please, the Border Patrol says, don't - they are worried about her safety.

But she does - so far, safely.

But I think she know that it may not always be safe for her, but that is not what she is thinking about: it is not safe for them now. - and so she goes on loving, unstintingly.

It's a careless, reckless love - like the love of God for his people.

For we are the ones in the desert, crossing from desolation to hope.

We are the strangers who are welcomed, that are welcomed by God.

May God bless us in careless, reckless ways, in the abundant love of his Son, who gave his all for us - who, having more in his possession than the richest of rich men ever had, gave up his seat at the side of God and took on our humanity, and came to us, God in the flesh, that we could have life and have it abundantly.

Good and gracious God, all that we have comes from you; make us sensible of your grace in all our dealings with each other and with your whole creation.

Grant that we may reflect your generosity in our lives and do your will here on earth that we may come to rejoice in your heavenly kingdom,

through Jesus Christ our Lord who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.


Do good, be rich in good works, generous and ready to share, live in peace with all. The peace of the Lord be always with you...

Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God who abounds in love for you and all people; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.


Prayer, peace, and blessing by David Adam, from Glimpses of Glory: Prayers for the Church Year, Year C (SPCK, 2000).

Insights gleaned from Herbert O'Driscoll, Fred Craddock, Sharon Ringe, Tom Wright, and other sources.