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.