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