Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stewardship Letter 2011

October 4, 2011

Dear Friends in Christ:

One of the most revered saints in the Christian calendar is Francis of Assisi. We celebrate his feast every October. We remember his generosity, his gratitude, and his desire to follow and imitate Jesus Christ. Early in the thirteenth century he gathered together the “little brothers” (Friars Minor) who followed a simple rule of life. They prayed, preached – and begged. They were “mendicant” friars, which meant that every day they sought donations for charity and for their own needs.

One of the most beloved of the early friars was Brother Juniper. Brother Juniper was patient and kind and humble. He knew Brother Francis tried to imitate Christ and to follow in His footsteps. But Brother Juniper thought himself too lowly to follow Christ directly. So he tried to follow Francis as Francis followed Christ, and he did it step by step. Francis moved his right foot, Juniper moved his right foot, Francis moved his left foot…

Another time, when Brother Juniper was visiting a small priory, all the other friars had to go out for some good reason and left him to prepare the evening meal for their return. “It’s too bad,” he said to himself, “that every day somebody has to go out and collect donations and cook when this is all a distraction from their prayers. I can take care of this need for the next two weeks.” So he went out and begged up a storm – into pots he had collected he poured water and into the water went whole chickens (un-plucked) and fresh eggs (un-shelled). When the friars got home there was Brother Juniper dancing around from pot to pot stirring his amazing concoction. And then he served up his feast…

The Brothers could not be angry, not for long. They rejoiced in their brother’s simple good will and generosity. And of course they dined out on the story for many a year.

Reflecting on his brother’s example of extreme gratitude, radical hospitality, and wild simplicity, Saint Francis exclaimed, “O! That we had a forest of such Junipers.”

We are not nearly so simple or systematic as the humble Brother Juniper. But we can rejoice and celebrate God’s abundance in our own way and feast on gratitude for God’s care and love for us. Whether we are giving for the feast in thanks or receiving from it with grateful hearts, we know that all we have is from God. And for that we rejoice.

Would you like to share in the feast? Would you make a gift toward our feast of gratitude this year? We promise not to cook it all at once … but we do plan to stir something up!

St. Alban’s Church seeks to be a welcoming, Christ-centered community committed to sharing Christ’s love, empowering people to grow spiritually, deepening our relationship with Christ and living out our faith in our community and the world.

The Rev. John Leech, Priest and Rector

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church
21405 82nd Place West
Edmonds, WA 98026
Phone: 425-778-0371

(Stories from the life of brother Juniper as told by his little brothers, and retold in English by Raphael Brown.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Oh, what the heck. It sounds simple enough to me! Throw this in the pot:

God willing
my/our intention is to make a financial contribution to St Alban’s Episcopal
Church as an offering of thanks to God for all he has given.

My/our prayerful commitment to a giving plan for 2012:
__$............................. per week
__$............................. per month
__$............................. per year
Name: ……………………………………………………………………………………
Address: ………………………………...……………..…………….…………….……..
City, State, Zip: …………………………………………………………….…………….
Telephone: …………………………………………………...…………………………..
Email: ……………………………………………….……………………………………
How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me?
Psalm 116:10 (Book of Common Prayer)
__I/we prefer not to have envelopes for my/our weekly offering.
__I/we would like to include St Alban’s in my/our estate planning.

Please respond by November 6, 2011 (our celebration of All Saints and blessing of offerings)
Let us join in giving thanks for God's abundance.
St Alban’s Episcopal Church, 21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds WA 98026
(425) 778-0371


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Some time when I was a kid I found in our garden near the orange tree in the back yard a rusty old button that said, "I like Ike even better."

My dad was there, gardening, and he explained to me what it was.

Besides starting a long project of collecting campaign memorabilia, up through the evening of the California primary in 1968, it stuck in my mind as an image.

Now it seems to have another meaning.

We have long lived with an Eisenhower-era model of the church.

We cannot last the course much longer if we just try to string it out - to maintain the legacy as it were in a time capsule (remember those?) - we have to have a living church with a living future.

We draw deep on roots of the past. We just cannot live there.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Extreme Gratitude

Eight hundred and thirty years ago in a small hillside town in Italy a woman named Pica Bernardone gave birth to a son and had him baptized Giovanni. When his father got home, from a long business trip into France, he announced that the boy was going to be called Francesco – “the little Frenchman.” We call him Francis, of Assisi.

His father had big plans for Francis. He made him a fashion plate, a walking billboard for his business of selling imported fabrics from France. He sent his son to the best schools so that he would mix with the elite of the town and of his generation. And sure enough Francis, a personable sort, made friends among the nobles’ sons and made his father’s fabrics fashionable. He led his friends through the town on celebratory excursions, leading them in singing the popular Provencal troubadour songs.

Young men in Italy then were in the midst of interesting times – full of the romance of the Crusades and rumors of more local wars. Francis began to have aspirations to adventure and to knighthood. His father decked him out in fine armor and sent him off to join the army of a famous warrior. But this was the first time he was to incur his father’s displeasure. Francis saw a poor knight, too poor to afford his own armor and horse, and Francis – with Quixotic generosity – gave him his. He traveled home – to an uncertain reception.

Later Francis had a vision of a small nearby church, San Damiano. The open-eyed figure on the Crucifix above the altar of the decrepit sanctuary seemed to be gazing directly at him, and calling to him, “Rebuild my church, which as you see is falling down.”

Francis went to his father’s warehouse, loaded a fine horse with fine fabrics, rode to the next town, sold both goods and horse, and walked back with the proceeds of the sale. He tried to give the money to the priest at San Damiano, who, suspecting trouble ahead refused it. Francis threw the money in a corner.

When his father got home … wrath! The old man went looking for Francis to visit his vengeance upon him. When he caught up with him he had him hauled in front of the town, the bishop and God and all, and demanded Francis return to him everything he had received from him. Francis complied.

Completely. He removed all his clothes, and piled them at his father’s feet. At that point the bishop intervened, wrapping his cope around Francis and leading him off. Later Francis found in a corner of the garden a discarded cloak – perhaps he mistook it for the gardener’s – and, chalking a rude cross on the back, wore it with joy.

His career was launched. And so was the rebuilding of the church in Italy. Francis rebuilt the church not only of rocks and mortar but of the living stones of his brothers and sisters, including some of those very same fashionable young men who had joined him on robust adventures in the past. Now he and they became troubadours for God. And they sang of joy for the goodness of God’s creation, and gave back – with extreme gratitude – all they had received from the Father from whom all things come.

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory,
and the honor and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong
and no human is worthy
to mention Your name.
Praised be you, my Lord,
with all Your creatures.

Thanks to the Rev. Lance Ousley, Canon for Stewardship and Development of the Diocese of Olympia, for the good conversation on Holy Cross Day about Francis of Assisi and stewardship. We celebrate the feast of Saint Francis on October 9th this year.

(“The Canticle of Creatures” by Francis of Assisi)
September 14, 2011.

For the Gospel Grapevine, parish newsletter of Saint Alban's Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Washington, October 2011.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Stewardship at St. Alban's

Stewardship at St. Alban’s Church

As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of the gifts that God has entrusted to our care. Part of this calling involves putting those gifts to work to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can do that through our stewardship and planned gifts to Our church.

While stewardship does indeed involve giving away money, it is more than philanthropy. Just as Christians are called to worship in community, participate in Eucharist, serve the poor and needy in the wider world, and share the Gospel with others, we are called to be good stewards, to thank God by giving back a portion of what God has given to us.

Stewardship teaches that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. We are, therefore, stewards of God's gifts during our lifetime. Discerning and carrying out God's purpose is the primary purpose of our lives. The gifts we have been given are to be used for that purpose. The primary role of the church is to guide individuals in development of their vocation as Christian persons, to discern the mission of their lives and the use of their resources in accomplishing it.

Ways to be Grateful, Glad and Giving

At St. Alban’s, there are many ways to be grateful for the many gifts we receive from God, glad for the many blessing in our lives, and giving of our love, our work, our prayer, and our good fortune.

Community Outreach

On the first Sunday of each month we take up a special collection to benefit area food banks, in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and north Seattle. On the third Sunday of each month we take up a special collection for outreach, offering support to an organization that benefits the local, global or church community in some way. On the second Sunday of each month, the undesignated (“loose”) offering goes into the rector’s Discretionary Fund.

The Hands-on Committee invites everyone to join them in working directly to benefit the needy in our communities, through volunteer opportunities for direct service in various community organizations.

Annual Stewardship Campaign

In the fall we host our annual stewardship campaign where we ask for pledges of financial support for the upcoming year. This year our campaign will begin with the Bishop’s visit, Sunday, September 25th, when we all celebrate the Eucharist together in one combined service at 9:00 a.m. After coffee he will lead us in a congregational meeting on stewardship.

The month of October will feature many ways to pledge support for St. Alban’s Church and ensure you are grateful, glad and giving. Our fall campaign will conclude on Sunday, November 7th, with an ingathering and blessing of pledges.

As you can see there are many ways to give to the church and through the church to help the church continue to serve the needs of our community and create apostles in Christ. If you would like to serve on the stewardship campaign team or give to the church in another way please contact senior warden Kären Ford or any member of the stewardship committee. You may also contact our church office for more details.

How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me?

Psalm 116:10 (Book of Common Prayer)

—Your Stewardship Committee: Kären Ford (Chair), Karen Cresse, Eric Hanson, Susie Nichols, Morrie Tugby.

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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years After


What do we feed our hearts? What do we feast on?

Do we feast on freedom – or fear?

What is on the menu for today? What are we consuming?

What are we taking in to ourselves?

What do we seek for sustenance?

Do we feed on fear, anger, revenge – or peace and reconciliation?

What is on offer today, here, is the same as always –
and that is good news.

Peace and reconciliation, through bread and wine, the body and blood.

Ten years ago we woke to an unhappy morning.
It was 5:46 AM Local Time.

We rose in
shock and disbelief
witnessing events we could not control,
that seemed doomed to loop through our minds endlessly,
repeated as if present not past,
images indelibling themselves onto our minds.
Planes crashing, towers falling.

And then maybe after a few days
another possibility offered to us,
after trauma’s initial stages:
we could weep with grief,
we could grind with anger,
we could resolve on revenge –

or on some succor to the victims and families,
to reach out in compassion and try to understand –

not only how this evil could be
but how good could be found in those far from us,
different or the same.

Ten years after, now – do we feed on memory hardened and fermented into vinegary bitterness?

Do we try to forget?

Do we try to live?

Do we feast with gratitude for the gift of God’s merciful love? For Christ in the Eucharist, for the love shown in his gift of himself, in life and death and life again?

Bread and wine are not what it means –
they are how its meaning,
that life offered and given, that death and that resurrected life –
is conveyed to us.

To give us sustenance: that we may feed on him in our hearts
with faith and with thanksgiving.

Do we welcome the Christ hidden in the other? –
in those of whom Jesus said:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

(Matthew 5.3-10), The Beatitudes


Thursday, September 1, 2011

a place of your abiding

What is it that we have to pass on? What is it that really matters? What is it that will last beyond ourselves into the future of the promise of God?

On vacation last summer, as Sarah and I were resting by the riverside, we saw coming up the river a young woman in a large-brimmed straw hat, standing in the middle of a canoe, with a pole in her hand. It was our cousin Mary and she was poling her canoe upriver. She looked, Sarah said, like a picture that could have been out of the 19th century - had she been wearing a long dress instead of a more modern boating costume.

And it was true; Mary was poling up the river just as she had been taught by her grandmother, whose own mother had indeed, pole in hand, in long tweed skirt, a Liberty print blouse with a Peter Pan collar, and a cardigan sweater - and pearls, traveled up that same river, standing in a canoe, propelling herself with a pole.

The skill was taught them by an Ojibwe river guide and canoe builder named Laroque. Great grandmother learned, then grandmother learned; then Grammy taught her daughters and grand daughters. And the knowledge of the river and the skill of the pole were passed along, a living tradition, from generation to generation.

A living tradition is something we pass along, something that gives strength, something that gives skill and even power, to those coming along.

The first disciples, the witnesses to the life and death and resurrection and ascension of our Lord, passed along what they had seen and what they had heard, what they had touched with their hands and embraced in their arms, to those who came along after them. And what they received they also passed on. To you.

What we have received we must also pass along. And we must decide what matters, what matters most, and that is what we must make sure to share with the new generations that are coming along.

What is it that matters most to us? What is it that will last?

Herbert O’Driscoll spoke to us about this in the middle of winter last year: What we know, what we have received, as church, as the family of God, always sustains us –through these several elements: the sacred Word, the story of the love of God for humankind; the water of Baptism, in which we receive a sign of new life in Christ; the wine and the bread, transformed for us and, received in faith, transforming us into the body of Christ; and then the gift of each other, that Body of which we are all members; and - the Holy Spirit, in which all this lives and moves and has its being.

These are things that we have received, that we live by, that we pass on to the next generation. These things are all gifts given us to give others, to share with them the grace and peace of God.

What we have to pass on is a living faith in a living God. It is renewal, it is new, it is life itself: it is life in Christ, not the old way of law and sin and death, but the way forward into life in Christ, into the kingdom of God that begins now, that indeed is all around us.

Bill Lewellis, a friend of mine, once explained that in the Celtic way of looking at things there is such a thing as a 'thin place', a place where the veil between this world and the next, the earthly realm and the heavenly, is thin and easily passed through. It is as if there were a membrane between the everyday and the eternal, and it is permeable somewhere, sometimes.

Then Bill went on to explain that the 'thin place' is really anywhere we are open to the Spirit, and anytime our hearts are open to Christ. That is where the eternal breaks through to the everyday, and transforms it: where our hearts are open and when we are present to the abundance of grace.

This place, where you and I are now, can be a thin place – a place of God’s abiding.

So is it we have to pass on?

Something that lasts. Something that abides.

We have a pretty good idea, of what lasts: the things we have spoken of, the word, the sacraments, the fellowship, are things that bring us closer to God and carry us forward together in God's mission and God's purpose.

All of these things come to us in the gift of the Spirit. And it is the abiding promise and presence of God that shows us what really lasts, what really gives life meaning. Some things will pass away, good things as they are, for when the time for them is over, they will fade away.

We know that; we look for the things that last, that are our greatest gifts to pass on to those coming along in our midst and coming after us.

What are these lasting gifts?

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

May we live by faith, walk in hope and be renewed in love,
and if it is your will,
grant that this place of your abiding
continue to be a sanctuary and a light.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through Jesus Christ.


For the Gospel Grapevine, parish newsletter of Saint Alban's Church, 21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds, Washington, 98026 (425) 778-0371