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