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 http://www.io.com/~kellywp/index.html

The (Online) Book of Common Prayer http://www.bcponline.org/

Oremus Bible Browser http://bible.oremus.org/

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 (http://stalbansedmonds.org/worship/)

RS Thomas, "The Coming" (http://www.utdallas.edu/~jenelow/RS.html#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 (http://stalbansedmonds.org/worship/):

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