Sunday, January 29, 2012

Presentation 2012

Jesus is the Light of the World – and today, the feast of the Presentation, we celebrate him – the light of the nations, and the glory of his people. 

This is the last feast in the series that anticipates and celebrates the birth of the Christ Child, from the joyful expectations of Advent, the feast of the Nativity – Christmas itself, to the feast of the Holy Name eight days later on January 1st, the visit of the Magi who proclaim him King of the Jews and present him with gifts, to this feast 40 days after Christmas, when we remember that Mary and Joseph presented him, the first-born son, in the Temple.

Jesus is the Light of the World – and Simeon the righteous and Anna the prophetess are there in the Temple to tell them so.

He is the One all Israel has been waiting for; indeed, the whole world has been waiting for him.

For he is the hope of the world, the One who brings light that is life to all people.

As the Gospel of John says in its very first chapter,

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

Those were dark days for Israel and any glimmer of hope would have been welcome. But here was more than a glimmer – here was the source of light and life itself come into the world.

The Word that was from the beginning became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory.

This is the glory for his people. This is the light for the world. This One who came into the world: Jesus, the Christ Child whom Simeon embraced:

At last! At last! Now I can go in peace, knowing God is fulfilling the promise:

The promise of Salvation – healing, wholeness, help and hope, and liberation from the bondage of sin, the ultimate oppressor;

The promise of Redemption – no longer will God’s people live under the unbearable burden of sin;

The promise of Atonement – for God has reconciled all to himself in this One, this promised Child.

The child of the promise –

whom you have prepared for all the world to see, a light to enlighten the nations,  and the glory – the shining forth in praise of God – of the people of God.

(The Lord is our light; whom then shall we fear?)

This child, Simeon goes on to say, will see the rise of some and the fall of others – and those who will fall will not be happy. Even in this moment of joy there is a warning:

Jesus is Redeemer and he is Judge.

He is Judge – that is, the bringer of Justice – the one who establishes righteousness in the realm of God – and

the road to justice,
the road to freedom,
the road to righteousness and peace,

is not an easy road –

it will lead to the Cross,

and beyond, beyond Death, to victory even over Death,

to the final reconciliation of all people to God in his Son.

Through Christ, through this Child, the world will be judged and made right in the reckoning, and it will be led to freedom.

Anna prophesies that the redemption of Jerusalem, the renewal of God’s city, will come through this same infant.

40 days old! and already a legend – no, more than that: a living promise, a word of fulfillment.

The night is past and day is dawning – the new day illuminated by the light of Christ.

He is the light of the world, and he calls us, come and follow me!

Come and follow me! How then shall we follow him?

How shall we bear forth that light that is life?

How shall we let the light of Christ shine forth  
from us, from this place, this gathering of God’s people?

How shall we let the light shine – the light for the world?

We begin to look at what Jesus said of his own ministry, his own work in the world, that he calls us to follow him in doing.

As he says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to those who are blind, to set free the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s jubilee.

And this Scripture, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, began to be fulfilled even in the reading.

The day of the Lord is dawning. The light has come into the world. How shall we show him shining –

-      in our lives?
-      in our hearts?
-      in our ways, of doing, and being, in the world?

That is the challenge that we face today.

Let us be carriers of his light.
Let us each take up that illumination that lasts forever,          and is not quenched,
that the light of Christ may shine forth from us,
         for all people.

Feast of the Presentation 


Saturday, January 28, 2012

the promise of peace

God is with us & we with him: that is peace.

It is accomplished through the work of Christ, in his birth, in his death, in his resurrection, in his ascension, and in his sending of the Spirit.

It is accomplished in his birth as he entered the world, took on flesh and dwelled among us.

It is accomplished as he took on mortality, and in his death witnessed to the truth and atoned for the sins of all people.

The peace of God is accomplished in his resurrection, as Christ rose again on Easter, victorious over death, bestowing life on all.

It is accomplished in his ascension, as he ascended to the seat of power at the right hand of the Father.

It is accomplished as he breathed holy Spirit on his disciples, that we might bear witness to the truth and become the messengers of the good news.

All nations, all peoples, will share in the covenant promise. The way to life is through trust in God and in Christ. That is where Thelma is: secure and at peace - in the presence of the living God, the One in whom she put her trust, the one in whom we put our hope.

God has promised us: he says, I will be your God and you will be my people. I will give you the water of life from its source: and I will provide for you as from a font of living water, eternal life, of the new creation, beyond the reach of death.

He invites us to live life in the Spirit – to life continuously flowing from its source in God, like a never-ending spring flowing forth from the heart of God.

All are welcome at this spring. All are welcome in the heart of God. All people will share in the covenant-promise of God. All will be at peace. All will be under the mercy, in the presence of the Lord.

The invitation is there before us.

In faith we can take hold of hope, live into the promise, and know that God himself welcomes us as his own beloved children, as he welcomes Thelma.

So let us now with bold confidence in Christ, offer our prayers to God, addressing him as Christ himself taught us, as Our Father…



Memorial Service for Thelma de Long (1911-2011).


Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's a walk of nine hours and a quarter from Nazareth to Capernaum: do you think Jesus walked it before that day he called the fishermen? 

Mark 1:16-20

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side; He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: ‘Follow thou me!’ and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.

Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (New York: MacMillan, 1956), p. 403.

Luke 5:1-11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Donald Hall on old age

However alert we are, however much think we know what will happen, antiquity remains an unknown, unanticipated galaxy. It is alien, and old people are a separate form of life.... They can be pleasant, they can be annoying -- in the supermarket, these old ladies won't get out of my way -- but most important they are permanently other.

Donald Hall, "Out the Window", Personal History, The New Yorker, January 23, 2012, 40.


Disturber (a poem by Kate McIlhagga)

Disturbing stranger,
you call and we follow.
You call, and we leave behind
the nets of our past lives;
the things that bound and held us;
our old selves and our regrets.

For calling and disturbing,
for surprising and making new,
for moving us toward wholeness,
we thank you Lord.

Kate McIlhagga

from Around a Thin Place: An Iona Pilgrimage Guide, Jane Bentley & Neil Paynter, eds.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Themes for Sundays and Holy Days

Lectionary Themes, Epiphany – Trinity 2012

Jan. 1     The Holy Name: Luke 2:15-21 
Jan. 8     Epiphany: The Visit of the Wise Men Matthew 2:1-12 
Jan. 15   Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael John 1:43-51 
Jan. 22   The Call to Discipleship Mark 1:14-20
Jan. 29   Presentation: Jesus Is Presented in the Temple Luke 2:22-40 

Feb. 5     Proclaiming the Message Mark 1:29-39
Feb. 12   Spreading the Word Mark 1:40-45 
Feb. 22   Ash Wednesday: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Feb. 26   The Baptism of Jesus & The Temptation of Jesus Mark 1:9-15 

Mar. 4    The Cost of Discipleship Mark 8:31-38
Mar. 11  ‘My Father’s House’ John 2:13-22
Mar. 18  ‘For God so loved the world…’ John 3:14-21
Mar. 25  ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ John 12:20-33

April 1    Palm Sunday: Mark 11:1-11  & Mark 14:1-15:47
April 5    Maundy Thursday: John 13:1-17, 31b-35 
April 6    Good Friday: John 18:1-19:42 
April 8    Easter Day: Mark 16:1-8
April 15  Jesus and Thomas John 20:19-31
April 22  Jesus Appears to His Disciples Luke 24:36b-48
April 29  ‘I am the Good Shepherd’ John 10:11-18

May 6     ‘I am the True Vine’ John 15:1-8
May 13    ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ John 15:9-17
May 20    The Ascension of Jesus Luke 24:44-53
May 27    The Coming of the Holy Spirit John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

June 3     Trinity Sunday: John 3:1-17
June 10   The True Kindred of Jesus Mark 3:20-35
June 17   The Mustard Seed Mark 4:26-34
June 24   Feast of Saint Alban, First Martyr of Britain Matthew 10:34-42

January 17, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012


First of all I’d like to thank you for coming out to the celebration today. The weathermen predicted an inch of slushy snow. So thank you for making the effort.

Thirty-one years ago today it was snowing in Washington, D.C. It was a light snow falling gently through a gray sky. A colleague and I were walking across the Mall at lunch time and past the Washington Monument we came upon a small gathering – small by National Mall standards.

There were thirty or forty thousand people standing in the snow, listening to Elihu Harris and other representatives from Congress, to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and to remind us what he meant to our nation and the world.

Stevie Wonder was there and sang a new song, Happy Birthday to Martin, written for the occasion. We can still sing the song – and now we have a holiday – Martin Luther King Day.

But why talk about Martin on a snowy day in Edmonds, Washington, thirty-one years later?

The gospel reading after all is about the calling of Jesus’ first disciples … and that is why!

Nathanael was the quietly faithful one – we next hear his name in the accounts of the Resurrection. Philip is the one who broke the news of the Messiah to the nations, by teaching the Ethiopian eunuch, the vizier of the kingdom of Meroe, all about Jesus, and baptizing him then and there. For all we know that Ethiopian, who went on his way rejoicing, was the first to bring the gospel to Africa. Well done, Philip. Good and faithful, Nathanael.

What does this have to do with Martin – and me?

Well, in 1955 Martin was a fairly successful person, who had recently taken a pretty good job at a nice church in Montgomery, Alabama. May be the disciples Philip and Nathanael had pretty good lives too. But they seemed to be searching for something – or someone – more. So – “we have found the one – the one we have been searching for.”

I suspect Martin was searching for something too. And it found him!

Rosa Parks in 1955 was a nice churchgoing lady who rode the bus to work, and home again at the end of the day. If you have ever been sitting on a crowded bus late in the evening, ready to go home, when one of these ladies comes down the aisle looking for a place to rest her feet, you know what tired looks like.

But back then, in Montgomery, Alabama, you had to move to the rear of the bus unless you were white. And if you weren’t white, and a white person wanted your seat, you had to get up and give it to them.

But this time, in December 1955, something happened.

Mrs. Parks sat down. She sat down in the front part of the bus. Even though she was black.

The driver told her to move. A white person wanted her seat. She did not get up.

Soon it was all over town.

“Every body can sit any where on the bus – or we won’t be on it at all.”

This caused some consternation – throughout the community.

And Martin Luther King, as a respected local pastor, was asked to speak – to say why. Why justice needs to roll down like a river just as much as buses need to roll down the street.

Since that day things began to change – for Martin, who was called to something more than Sunday-morning piety, more than success, to preach good news to the poor and justice to the mistreated.

And things began to change – for the people of Alabama – and for us, too.

What had happened? Martin had stood in his pulpit in front of the church facing his congregation. But now he and his church were facing outward – toward the world, where they were needed, where their witness was needed: their hearts, their hands, their faith, their prayers, their walk with the Lord hand in hand with the people of their city.

Like Philip and Nathanael, we seek something more, we are called to something more, than simply to be “Israelites” of no guile.

Like Martin we are called to something greater than our own success.

Even – like Rosa we are called to put aside our own quiet life – and join something larger. We call it the Kingdom of God.

What is the Kingdom of God to look like here? How will we seek it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a feast of light

Candlemas, if you look it up, has lots of traditions and celebrations tied to it. For one, if you got the prize in the Epiphany cake, you get to bring the tamales and menudo to the feast on Candlemas (Candelaria). Another custom is to take down the last of the Christmas holiday decorations the night before. And the last of the Christmas revels cease. It's a quarter of the way to summer already. But it all comes back to Jesus. Our Lord, presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, is greeted by the prophet Anna and the righteous, devout Simeon. At last! At last! they say. The light that lightens all the world is come among us at last. Now I can rest my soul and go in peace. And so Candlemas, the feast of the blessing of the lights, is the feast of the Presentation, a major feast, a feast of our Lord. It is more than the end. It is the last feast of the great season begun the first Sunday of Advent, with its highest feast the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas). It is more than the end; it is a turning point. It is the beginning of something new, the beginnings of the dawning in our minds and hearts and lives in, yes, ordinary time, of just what that great season means: the light has come and lives among us. It is the light of all. Hallelujah! Now we go forth into the world, sent forward with the light shining before us on our path.

Illumine our way, O Lord: may your Word be a lamp to our feet and light on the way. Amen. 

We celebrate the feast of the Presentation, Candlemas, this year (with the bishop's permission) on the last Sunday in January.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Epiphany 2012

I am so glad that we can celebrate this feast today - the glory of God revealed. Arise! Shine! For your light has come... and the Magi show us that the light is for us - we outsiders - outside Israel, outside the campfire, strangers, marginal people, Gentiles, foreigners.... No one is "Stranger" to God. We are all included, all invited, all welcome, into the glory that is the Light of God. Jesus was the epiphany, the manifestation, the showing-forth, the revelation of God's glory, light, and love. You and I are the epiphany - the ones who show God's love - today. What kind of epiphany are we? What kind of God do we make manifest? How do we show the love of God - and share the love of God - and celebrate?

In this place, in this time, here and now, how is God leading us? How is God calling us, forth from our familiar places, to the brave new world that shines with God's glory?

The Magi were strangers, traveling from far away, seeking the One born King of the Jews - seeking the Good News, the good news for all people: Christ our Savior is born, the Messiah is come, the redeeming of the nations and revealing of glory to his people.

How shall we make manifest God's glory in our lives? How shall we seek and follow God's leading as individuals, as a church, as a nation, as people of prayer who are first and last God's beloved children?

As we go forth from this place, sent by God's grace into the world, to love and serve him, in the Christ we meet on the road, let us seek to see God at work in the world, to see Jesus our Lord in the light of sunset, in the face of the unknown who is not a stranger but truly our brother.

Let the Light shine in us, through us, for the glory of God. Amen.



Sources include: Robert D. Fuller, Homilies from the Heart, Year B (KAN, 2010)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Saint Alban's Vestry

Saint Alban's Vestry sets policies and allocates resources to support the mission and ministries of the church. When we set an item on the agenda for discussion and action we undertake to identify what action to take, who will take the lead on making it happen, and when they will report back to the vestry. If additional resources or assistance are needed we can seek to supply them.

For 2011 the vestry agreed on three mutual ministry objectives with the rector: stewardship of finances - address the budget deficit, stewardship of facilities - develop and begin to implement a comprehensive maintenance and renovation plan for our buildings and grounds, and stewardship of people (human resources) - ready a team to send to the diocesan College for Congregational Development.

In 2012 we will need to carry forward these goals and work under the guidance of the Spirit to bring into being in our community the Kingdom which is the Reign of God. We will need to identify Saint Alban's charism, its gifts and mission, as it seeks to become the good news to the people in our town. We will need to identify what policies and resources we will need to bring to bear - to assist in the work that God is calling us to do, here and now, where we are, as his disciples and as God's beloved children.

We pride ourselves on our welcome and on how well we take care of our own - now it is time to claim as our own, as God's own, not only our selves (our souls and bodies, our livelihoods and professions and gifts for ministry) but our neighborhood, our community, our towns, our state and nation and world.

What is going to happen as we seek to fulfill God's purpose in our lives?

Do Not Worry

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. 

(Matthew 6:25-34)

Saint Alban's People

Saint Alban's People seek to live out the vows of their Baptismal Covenant by bringing forth into the world around them the evidence of the Good News of Jesus the Christ. The vows of the covenant read:

The Baptismal Covenant

Celebrant      Do you believe in God the Father?
People          I believe in God, the Father almighty,
                 creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant      Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People          I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
                    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
                        and born of the Virgin Mary.
                    He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
                        was crucified, died, and was buried.
                    He descended to the dead.
                    On the third day he rose again.
                    He ascended into heaven,
                        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
                    He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

     Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People          I believe in the Holy Spirit,
                    the holy catholic Church,
                    the communion of saints,
                    the forgiveness of sins,
                    the resurrection of the body,
                    and the life everlasting.

Celebrant      Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
                 fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant      Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
                 you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant     Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
                 News of God in Christ?

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant      Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
                 your neighbor as yourself?

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant      Will you strive for justice and peace among all
                 people, and respect the dignity of every human

People          I will, with God’s help.

(The Book of Common Prayer, 1979, 304-305) 

Saint 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.

Matthew 28:16-20

The Commissioning of the Disciples

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Matthew 22:36-40

The Great Commandment

‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

John 13:34-35

The New Commandment

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

A question for Twelfth Night

A question for Twelfth Night: What is God bringing into being tonight? What is God bringing into being where you and I live? What is striving toward Edmonds, waiting to be born? How is the holy Spirit at work, blowing where it will, filling and inspiriting - and blowing over - so that the new can be born in the midst of old trials, temptations, fears, desires, hurts, failings, diseases, triumphs, joy?

What can we do to help?

What were they seeking, those Wise Men, those Magi, from the East?

In the East we saw his star and we have come to pay him homage.
Where is the one born king of the Jews?

Soon we will sing our Nunc Dimitis - shall we go gladly into that good night, saying that now we can depart in peace, having seen the coming of our savior, the one born to bring to the people of God a sense of his glory - and to all the nations, showing forth the glory and the revelation of God's loving presence among us?

"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
(Luke 22:29-32)