Sunday, February 28, 2010

got to see the stars again

Greater love hath no man than to attend the Episcopal Church with his wife.
Lyndon B. Johnson

The story goes that when Lyndon was in the White House he would go out on the balcony and look up at the gray Washington sky, and say, "I've got to see the stars again."

He'd get Air Force One fired up and off he'd go to Texas - to a place where you can see the stars at night.

Abraham was wrestling with a vision one night - and a worry - he wondered if he would have any descendants. God promised - but he was an old man and his wife Sarah was getting on in years.

"Eliezer of Damascus will be my heir," he said.

Abraham was not sure of his future. He did not know what was next.

He thought it was the end of the line - for him, and for his family.

And then he heard the word: Go outside, look at the night sky.

So he got up and went out - wrapped himself up somehow, put on some sandals maybe, and went out into the desert night.

He looked up at the night sky.

Count the stars - or try.

Just so many will your descendants be: beyond count. Beyond human knowing. Or worry.

And more they will be than your own offspring - for God will make children of the promise from all the peoples of the earth.

We may wonder if we are at the end of the line, one way or another. No children, maybe - or no future. No one to pass our legacy on to.

But then remember: Jesus said that God could raise up children to Abraham out of stones.

Even stones: How much more will God raise up children to us out of the waters of mercy, the bread of hope, the wine of compassion, from the altar of his love?

As children of the promise, the promise made to Abraham and all who follow him in faith, we are all gathered together in the arms of God - as Jesus said, as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

We are all under the mercy of God - and his mercy endures forever. He looks after us, provides for us, cares for us - as the psalmist sings, The Lord is our shepherd.

He leads us now, and he will lead us home. The divine liturgy takes us from Ash Wednesday through Lent to Good Friday, and beyond - to Easter and the unimaginable joys of the resurrection.

We look forward in our own journey through life to find its completion not in death but beyond it in eternity, in the presence of our Savior. He will gather each of us under his wings, turn by turn, until we are all home and safe.

... but he is already here with us, in this life, sustaining us, guiding us, gathering us, transforming us, sending us, through the Spirit, who leads us into all truth.

Almighty God, we thank you for this place built to your glory and in memory of Alban, first martyr of Britain:

Following his example in the fellowship of the saints, may we worship and adore the true and living God, and be faithful witnesses to the Christ, who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. AMEN.


St Alban's Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Washington


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Deeper into The Waters of Baptism

During this Lenten season on Wednesday evenings between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week we gather at St. Alban's for evening worship at 6 o’clock – followed by a simple soup potluck supper, and a study & reflection hour from 7 to 8 o’clock.

For our worship together we have a rich treasure house to draw upon - Taizé chant, from an ecumenical community in northern France. It is meditative, repetitive, and inviting. While singing the same words over and over may seem on paper like a profligate way to spend time, in worship experience it turns out to create a quiet time, a quiet space - just what we want to give people this Lent.

Early in the service we have a reading to set the tone, such as:

Isaiah 26:7-9

The way of the righteous is level;
O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and your renown
are the soul’s desire.
My soul yearns for you in the night,
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

The readings deeper in the course of the service will be tied to the Baptismal Covenant, the theme of the study and reflection hour later in the evening. The Baptismal Covenant is found in the Book of Common Prayer (p. 304-305). The first session, in February, we will have been considering the covenant as a whole - and the following weeks we can take up each of the five promises in turn (covering the last two on the fifth week.) You may attend any of the sessions or all – they will each have something different to offer.

The five questions lay before us an invitation to live in keeping with God’s holy will and commandments – and walk in them all the days of our lives. Here are the five questions:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

And the answer to each?

I will, with God’s help.


--Fr. J.

The 2010 Lenten Wednesday series runs February 24th, and March 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th. Come worship with us at 6 o’clock, share a simple potluck supper at 6:30, and join us for an hour of study and reflection from 7 to 8 o’clock.

St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds WA 98026 (425) 778-0371