Friday, December 20, 2013

desert travelers

A walk in the desert. A glimmer. Something new, something good, something hopeful. Across the desert a mixed reception. An authority figure, not meeting the eye, but spreading suspicion in the corners of the room. All he says: When you find what you are looking for, let me know. Journey on. And there – did I mention you bear gifts of value beyond measure of money? – you find the beginning of a new order of the ages, in nascent glory.

Who are you? Wise ones from the East? Naomi and Ruth? Joshua? A family from the land across the desert?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

the kingdom of Heaven is upon you!

Sometimes I wish this calendar would go faster. I wish it was already Christmas – already Epiphany, to tell the truth – and the baby and the shepherds and the angels and the wise men had already come, and we were across the desert of Advent and we were safe at home on the other side.

An image: a way through the desert, a straight path, that we must travel to get home; a river, that we must get into, before we get home.

But we are not home yet. We have, at this present moment, a desert yet to cross – and a river yet to be waded into – before we reach the resting place on the other side, before we get home.

Every transition – and Advent is a time of transition – has three parts: an end, a muddle, and a beginning. And we are in the muddle.

We are in the present moment. Though it is the child of the past, the past is behind us now. Though it is pregnant with the future, the future has yet to come. What we have, where we are, is now – the in-between time, the muddle. We are in the desert, travelers from what has been to what will be. And that is good.

The present moment – in the desert – is where we meet the living God.

Offspring of the past, pregnant with the future, the present moment, nevertheless, always exists in eternity as the point of intersection between time and the timelessness of faith, and, therefore, as the moment of freedom from past and future. – Dag Hammarskjold, Markings (New York: Knopf, 1964: 100).

At the intersection of time and timelessness, now, we see our freedom to take hold of what God is doing – to bring into being in us the coming kingdom.

We are not there yet. We are on our way. We look back and say, for all that has been, - Thanks! We look ahead and say, to all that will be, - Yes!

Now, though, in between, we have some things to do.

What we have carried with us into the present moment we may have to let go of, now. Not with regret, but with gratitude.

So we go to the river. There is a man there. He stands by the water like a prophet of old, like Elijah. And he beckons us forward.

Each of us, all of us, are called to take responsibility, in this moment, to become the people God calls us to be, God made us to be.

The people who went out to see John in the wilderness knew they were not home yet. They lived in the City, the Temple was grander than ever, but something was still missing – something at the center of life.

So like the people following Moses out of Egypt, like the people returning from exile, they traveled into the desert.

Like the people coming across the desert, they come to the river Jordan. It is time to get wet. It is time to come clean – to wash all that away, all the encumbrances of the journey. You don’t need to carry them any farther – you are almost home now. Leave them behind. Come. Start fresh.

The Kingdom of Heaven is upon you. Change your hearts and your lives. The kingdom is being born right now. What does it look like?
How do we get there?

It won’t work to claim an “in” as a birthright. You can’t just make up a bunch of rules and follow them – there is no way to manipulate the system. You cannot crank the God machine until grace pops out.

Bear fruit that shows the change in your lives.

An image: an orchard that needs pruning – clear away the dead branches, so the fruit can grow.

A vision of the future: a fruitful orchard.
A vision of the kingdom: a place of peace.
A vision of what will be: all shall be well.

The kingdom is coming, in this present moment. We can express it in our lives – what does it look like? Justice. Reconciliation. Abundance. Peace.

The proclamation for today is this: Right now, in this present moment, the kingdom of heaven is upon you. Change your hearts and change your lives!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Countdown to Christmas


Countdown to Christmas, eh? Those slow-pokes at the Hallmark Channel finally got around to it mid-October.

Hallmark movie moral: Everything works out. Grandma is content.

Hallmark movie moral, holiday version: Everything will work out by Christmas. Grandma is content.

Every reader of the church calendar knows
  • Dec 25 Nativity of our Lord
  • Mar 25 Annunciation
  • Jun 24 Nativity of John the Baptist 

But alert readers have done the math and know it all begins fifteen months before Christmas:

  • Sep 25  Shut-up Sunday

Angel: Your wife is pregnant.

Zech: Shut up!

Gabe: No, you shut up!


It's in the book, look it up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Creator you called all into being; through your Word you brought all things to be that are, or were, or will be. Creator you called us into humanity; we are called to be your people. Creator you called us into community, to be people of praise to glorify your Name. And you called us through your Son to become agents of reconciliation, working to bring the kingdom of heaven into being in this world.

You called us into the fullness of being, completed in the work of your Word and Spirit. And you called us to bring this completion of creation closer for all creatures, our fellow human beings, and to be stewards of all you have made.

You call each of us to become fully human, to become the persons whom you know and love in aspiration. Fulfill in each of us our common calling and the unique calling of each person. Help us to honor that communal calling – and that uniqueness – in one another.

You call each of us to journey through our life, closer to you, passing through, as you will, nascency, infancy, youth, adulthood, seniority, and the completion of life in death. Help us to become in each part of our lives fully your own people, as you have intended us to be.

Help us to rejoice in your creation as we develop in our capacity to serve and enjoy the world you have made. Guide each of us in times of folly and of wisdom; help us discern in each other and our selves how you would have us to be.

And at each stage of our lives you call us into ever-developing relationships with you and each other. May we in all our lives, together and alone, from beginning to end, grow into the fullness of life, gathered through Jesus your Word into the one community of heaven.


Saturday, August 3, 2013


Transfiguration 2013

Up the mountain to a vision of glory. Down the mountain and back to work. That is where he led them.

Jesus had just been having a conversation with them. What are people saying about me? He’d asked.

They say you’re Elijah or one of the prophets come back. Come back to save us, come back to lead us.

But who do you say that I am? You are the Messiah.

And then he tells them that it means that he will suffer and die. Are you with me? Will you follow me?

Peter, James, and John, three apostles, go up the mountain with him. It is time for prayer.

And then he goes on ahead, and they see the vision.

Among the ancient prophets of Israel, Moses and Elijah stand out, as ones who spoke with God. Jesus is there with them. All three clothed in white.

And Peter thinks he gets it. He’s close. He sees that Jesus is one of the great prophets of Israel.

It is like the feast of booths – the one where you set up tents to dwell in, while you celebrate God’s presence with the people in the wilderness.

So why not stay here for a while?

But that is not what happens. The cloud descends.

The cloud signals – and covers – God’s presence.

It is the cloud of obscurity, the cloud of unknowing.

It is the cloud of revelation, the cloud of glory.

So no wonder they’re afraid.

When the cloud descends, everything is hidden.

And out of the cloud a voice speaks.

And what it says it said before: this is my chosen Son.

Listen to him!

God calls to them to a higher understanding, a higher purpose, than the one they knew.

They were friends of Jesus, followers of his way. And now they knew who he really was, what he would do.

Jesus was the redeemer of Israel – and more.

This was the midpoint of the story of Jesus’ ministry.

Baptized in the Jordan, calling the disciples and embarking on the mission in Galilee: all that was behind him.

Ahead of him: Jerusalem. The cross, the passion, death.

And then resurrection and ascension.


Here they were at the midpoint, at the crisis point, of Jesus’ vocation.

Would he accept the glory and the passion, the pain and the joy?

Jesus freely accepted the call of God. And he went forward.

To Jerusalem, and glory.

What happened on the mountain was a transfiguration, a change in appearance, one that revealed a reality beyond common knowing.

What happened on the mountain was a transformation, a change in being, which revealed the purpose of God.

We are called into that purpose. We are called into that transformation.

We are called to take our place in the larger purpose of God.

For we do not proclaim ourselves, we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:5a, 6)

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, from the Spirit. (2 Cor 3.18)

We too are in the middle of the story, in the confusion that precedes every transformation. We are in the middle of the story, from baptism to resurrection, from creation to Glory, to the completion of God’s purpose, when our faces will shine as we reflect that image of the invisible God who is found in Christ Jesus, as the light of Christ illuminates us and shines forth from us to a newly lightening world.

Jesus came to embrace humankind in the love of God. He came to proclaim and embody the coming of God’s reign.

And he came to call us into that work.

We are called, ourselves, to be transformed, to be fully his people.

We are called, individually, that we individually might be transformed into the image of the likeness of God.

That we might, in other words, become God’s people as he made us to be, as we are called to become.

We are called, together, that we together might become the agents of transformation, heralds of the presence of God in the world.

We are called, that the world God has made might be transformed into the joyful kingdom it was meant to be.

We are called to be a community of transformation.

We are called to call others. We are called to be church, first, for others – and then, for our fellowship together.

We are called into this holy mystery that we might take part in its working out in the world; as it works out in us, in our lives, in our words and acts.

So we are called for a purpose greater than ourselves. And we are called to live into that great calling which is ours in Christ Jesus.

It starts here.

The kingdom of heaven starts here.

Phil 2.1-4

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

Phil 3.1, 4.4-9

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received ... and the God of peace will be with you.

Phil 4.19-20

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Transfiguration, Exodus 34:29-35 , Psalm 99 , 2 Peter 1:13-21 , Luke 9:28-36 , transitions, Phil 2:1-4, Phil 4:4-9, JRL+

Sources and resources include: Greg Rhodes, Massey Shepherd, John Forman, Susanne Kromberg, Paul Mitchell,  Tom Wright, Herbert O'Driscoll, Rob Voyle, ...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A note from the Rector

It has been my joy to serve as pastor, priest, and teacher for Saint Alban’s Church since the first of Advent 2007. During that time together I have presided at worship and vestry meetings, preached and taught, visited people at home and in hospitals, and conducted baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

We have shared together times of sorrow and times of joy. After next Sunday someone else will take up these duties, and I will return this fall to full-time academic work, to finish up my doctoral studies.

My wife Sarah and I have been blessed by our time with this congregation and will always remember our ministry among you with affection and gratitude.

Blessings to all in Christ Jesus and may you continue to journey into a future with hope.

Father John

Saturday, July 20, 2013

baked beans

I checked with my mother about this story. 

One time early in their marriage my mother wanted to prepare a fancy meal for my father, but the pot roast got burned in the oven. 

He told her, “Honey, I’d just as soon have baked beans.” 

He only needed one thing – which was, I think, her company.

But, she said, he really did like baked beans.

Jesus says to Martha you only need one thing. Sounds like one dish, maybe. No need for a fancy meal. Let’s just be together. 

But he goes on to say: Mary has chosen the good portion, and for that reason it will not be taken away from her.

Attending to the guest is the heart of hospitality. It is the best part of being a host.

And that is the part that Mary has chosen. She will listen to what the Lord is saying.

What is going on here? She is feasting on the Word – the host for that feast is Jesus.

We become what we are called to become as we attend to what the Lord is saying, and allow our actions to come out of that centering place, that Word.

“Organizations journey toward their image of the future” (David Cooperrider). For the church our image of the future must first and last be an image of Christ, of the fulfillment of his word in the world. 

That fulfillment is his prophetic kingdom come to be.

2013 July 21
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Saturday, July 6, 2013

“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Looking up from the New Town in Edinburgh toward the Castle atop the Royal Mile, I could hear a bagpiper in the gloaming. When I took the tour of the Castle the next day, I saw Saint Margaret’s Chapel, commemorating her returning Scotland to the strong roots of its faith in the 11th century.

I saw something more recent too: a large building, one of the most prominent on the top of the hill – a sort of mausoleum or temple, a sacred space of some sort.

It was a war memorial, a remembrance place, dedicated to honoring those sons of Scotland who had given their lives in the First World War.

All around me, when I went inside, were books, large books, inscribed with the names of the fallen. There were men attending who explained the index.

 In those books somewhere in large letters you could find the name of one person in particular. If you stepped back you could see them all – names written in the books of honor.

We don’t know about each particular person, how they lived or how they died. They died not knowing if their cause would succeed. We do know that they served. And their names were written in the books of honor.

What we encounter repeatedly in the Bible is the image of a book in which names are written: the book of the covenant, the book of life.

In this Gospel’s telling today, it is the book of those who went forth to love and serve the Lord, by proclaiming and living the Word, so that they could say, to those they passed, receptive or inhospitable, that the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.

That is what matters – to serve. Faithfulness, yes, even in unfaithfulness to repent and return to serve.

Now how did Jesus send them out? What tasks did he set before them? He sent them to prepare the way – by bringing healing and good news to places he himself purposed to go. They were in that sense sent on in advance.

Go — go urgently — without staff or spare sandals or knapsack for provisions. Go – even into a foreign land, Samaria. Go – depending on the people who receive you.

Go – depending even more profoundly on the Word of God, on the message I send with you.

That becomes your family, that becomes your identity, and that becomes your home: the message of the Kingdom of God that you carry with you.

This utter trust in the Word of God can be demonstrated in small and simple ways – remember now Naaman the Aramean, the great general of Syria, sent by his king for healing.

This adventure began when someone listened to a small voice – the voice of a slave girl, a captive from Israel, serving Naaman’s wife. “If only he could see the prophet in Samaria,” she said, “he could be healed.”

Her mistress listened to this voice of a little one – one easily dismissed as of no power or influence, a slave after all and merely a child – but she listened and the great and mighty were changed.

For the king sent the general, and the general, with mighty expectations, went forth, ventured out of his own land, for healing from a stranger. He was outside his territory, and even his family, and soon without even the dignity of his position.

Go tell him to jump in the river Jordan, said the prophet from inside his house.

Eventually the man did – he was persuaded to take this small step that really was a great leap for a man of his kind.

It was an adventure into obscurity, a humbling – and with that journey completed he became as a little child – and came to know and worship the living God.

The story continues: “Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’” (v. 15a)

Remember now those 70 others that Jesus sent out – these are not the disciples whose names we know. Their names are written in the heavens and that is their glory.

We do not know who they were. They need not have been the mighty of the Earth. Some of them could have been as obscure as slave girls and children.

But we know they went forth and we know the message they proclaimed: “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you.”

If we can hear it,
If we can welcome it,
If we can make it at home with us,
If we can show it, and
If we can carry it forward into our world, then we can say it too:

“The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you – today.”

May it be so. Amen.


CProper9 2013
July 7
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 9: 2 Kings 5:1-14. Psalm 30. Galatians 6:1-16. Luke 10:1-11, 16-20.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Father John

Father John is a Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate. A graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, he has completed the Certificate of Graduate Studies in Pastoral Leadership through Seattle University and is a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

For freedom Christ has set us free

Centuries ago and thousands of miles from here a group of men met in a small room on a humid summer afternoon and made a momentous decision: to declare independence from the legitimate government of their country. It was the 4th of July.

They said out loud what other people fought for, worked for, lived for, and died for: independence and freedom. They won their victory. The struggle continues. It continues today, under different names and in different places.

Sometimes it seems something small. Small to our eyes. Sometimes it seems far away.

Even this past week freedom has been gained and lost. Here in the States it now so often seems to be about individual freedom.

We often ‘declare our independence’ for self-centered reasons.

Or we forget how precious a gift it is, to be free.

Years ago I had a neighbor who read the local paper every day. Once as Election Day came near, I casually asked him, who would you vote for? And he reminded me of a reality, when he said in reply, I have not voted in my entire life.

Why was that? I knew why. He was South African and he was not White.

Today his sons are grown and they vote.

We have freedoms others can only imagine: freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of worship, freedom of speech.

The list goes on.

But the most precious freedom we have is freedom in the spirit.

For freedom we are made free. We have that freedom in Christ.

Through his work. His sacrifice. His life.

We are free – free not only from something, but also for something.

We are free – for the gospel, to build the kingdom of God, to live the message that Jesus lived.

We are made free for a purpose.

To proclaim the kingdom of God and to build it in our lives, our families, our homes, our communities, our world.

We build it – by how we act, with one another.

We show it – in the fruits of the Spirit. We show it in our actions, in our work.

In faith working through love.

Acting with patience, forbearance, gentleness, generosity, and hospitality.

Putting aside the shackles of slavery – the binding of our souls by intolerance, prejudice, gossip, slander, envy, jealousy, bad faith and worse dealing – we live into freedom.

And in freedom we begin to live into the kingdom of God.

It shows the ways we treat each other – especially behind each other’s backs. It shows in how we treat strangers – even when they do not know we are there.

It shows – in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – all the fruits of the spirit.

That is the good news we bear – the good news that for freedom Christ has set us free.

The good news that bears fruit – what we say and what we do that brings forward the kingdom of God.

Let us then lay aside lingering attachments to the life we have left behind – enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, – all the obvious works of the flesh – and those that are less obvious as well.

We know that badmouthing is negative prayer – we do not need to experience it again.

What we need to experience is the gift of grace – giving it, and receiving it again, in a cycle of love that we neither initiate nor conclude.

What we need to experience we also have the joy of sharing with others – that they too may know the gifts of the spirit, the fruit of the spirit, in working for the freedom Christ has given us.

For freedom Christ has set us free – not for our own freedom only but for the freedom of all.

That is what we celebrate today. That is what we are called to live into, tomorrow.

That is the work we are called to do. The work of faith – faith working through love.

Let it be so. Amen.


2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20. Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Luke 9:51-62.

"Badmouthing is negative prayer"--Paul Lee.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

the people we are called to become


A centurion, commander of a hundred soldiers, is a man familiar with authority. This centurion sends a group of Jewish elders to Jesus, to vouch for him and make a request. He does not come himself, he says, out of respect. His request is socially correct – even since it comes through people who have lower social status than he in the Roman order, but in Jewish eyes are worthy to approach the Rabbi.

Master come and heal my boy, my servant.

Notice that they, like he, are making a request, not for themselves, but for some one else. Every one in this community is looking out for someone else’s welfare, not their own.

But then the second group of messengers arrives: friends of the centurion, his social equals, who bear the message for him.

I am not – I the Roman official, the benefactor of the Jewish people – I am not worthy to receive you under my roof. But only say the word: let my servant be healed.

The centurion knows authority: he has it. And he had thought, at first, he knew whom he was addressing. But then it began to dawn on him just who he was dealing with.

He recognizes an authority like no other. And he is not trying to make a deal; he has nothing to offer. All he can do is trust – and let go, leave the matter in Jesus’ hands.

It is not about giving up his own authority, but about humility, charity, obedience, servanthood, gratitude, and awe.

At first he acted within his authority, in the context of the community, for a purpose greater than himself. So far he is laudable, a good man. But then he goes farther. He puts his trust, his faith, in Jesus, without condition.

This will not be transactional – Jesus does not, cannot owe him anything, and he can give Jesus nothing worthy in return. He is asking for grace; it is an act of faith.

The faith of the centurion is built on the faithfulness of God toward humankind, faithfulness represented in Jesus. That faith is not conditional, and it is not misplaced.

Awe, reverence, obedience, humility, joy, and peace – these are the fruits of this faith.

The centurion recognized in Jesus authority like no other. It is not something you can hold onto for yourself. Jesus himself did not hold onto anything. It is not that kind of universe. He himself shows us the way: putting faith in the Father, trust absolutely, that all shall be well, in the Father’s hands.


The church cannot become again what it used to be, but it can become the church it is called to become. We cannot, not any one of us, be again what we once were but we can become the people we are called to become.

A church is a community in which we can experience that transformation, the becoming what we are called to be, in the company of friends, and to participate in the work of the Holy Spirit, for eventually that transformation will embrace the whole world.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.  Amen.    (Ephesians 3:20, 21)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Re: Thursday evening special Vestry meeting 7pm Parish Hall

Monday, April 15, 2013


While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

Uncertainty, doubt, fear, and even anger: this is where he left them, wasn’t it? He had been taken from them, against their will but apparently according to his, and crucified. He was dead and buried. And then he rose again. He came back. Only this time to – leave again.

But that is not their reaction. They rejoice with him, they are exceedingly glad, and they await the fulfillment of his promise patiently blessing God. They wait.

What he gave them: teaching – all the Scriptures regarding the Messiah, from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings – must be fulfilled. In him? In you!

You must go forth and proclaim – you are my emissaries: and this is what you must proclaim: repent and forgive.

The imperial envoys would have a message too: triumph and hegemony, the prince of peace in this world has conquered this world, and now there is peace and quiet. And we can do business in a friendly environment like that. That is good news, gospel, as the world sees it.

Jesus sends his messengers with a different message, a different set of proclamations than any Caesar ever gave: he gives a message that will not gain you the whole world but it will give you your souls.

Repent – turn – convert; and forgive – as you are forgiven.

Then you will be free. Then you will be made whole. Then you will be entering the kingdom that even now is coming in power.

And this power is the power of the Word, of the promise.

“Let it be with me according to your Word.” Way back at the beginning of the story, the good news as Luke tells it, that is what Mary said: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

According to your Word. Not simply will – as Father Andrew pointed out to me this Easter season – not will, as we might interpret it; but Word, as we know it. As we know him.

And how do we know him? We know him in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers, in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, and in every act of service to the unknown stranger and the ones in need among us:

I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you made me welcome,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you cared for me,
I was in prison and you came to see me. (Mt 25.35-36)

I was in despair and you came and brought me hope.


Hope. That is what they are holding onto. Not riches, fame, or glory, not a particular way of doing things, or of being together. Things are not going to be the way they were. They are going to be different and they are going to be better. Beyond belief.

They have faith beyond faith, formed in doubt. They have gone through a period of struggling as so many of us do. As we all do.

Faith grows in strength as it is transformed through the process of doubt and rebirth.

Baptism is a miniature of the process: we die to the old way, we are immersed in a period of not-knowing, not-being, and we emerge, we begin to emerge, into new life.

Transitions are like that. They begin with an ending, and then pass through a neutral zone (a muddle), before they reach a new beginning. It’s sort of like crossing the street in New Orleans. You leave the curb and cross the lanes of traffic going one way, until you reach what they call the ‘neutral ground’, the in-between place where the streetcars run, or there are trees; it’s just a gap between one way of going and another. And then you cross to the other side. But you don’t get to the other side until you leave the first curb, pass through the scary in-between of the naked neutral place, which you’d just as soon skip, and then you can make your way onto new territory.

An end, a muddle, and a beginning. Simple. Difficult.

Jesus does not leave them alone for long, on the neutral ground between his departure and the new arrival. He blesses them and withdraws from their sight not before he assures them of the promise of the Lord: wait here, wait in the city, and God will clothe you with power.

Now why would he do that? Why would Jesus reassure them, sure, but even better, why would God clothe them with power? So they’ll feel safe again, all better now?

Better than that – God gives the ‘power from on high’ for a higher purpose that self: he gives it so that they can fulfill his final commission, and the promise of God.

Remember what he gave them: teaching and a blessing.

All scriptures must be fulfilled, he taught them, regarding the Son of Man. He must suffer, die, and rise again on the third day. And then – something must happen: PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS. That’s your job!

That is Jesus’ final commission to his disciples. All the nations must hear the word: Repent and forgive. Turn and be forgiven. And be released yourself – to live.

Live into the new age now beginning: when God reigns.

We remember his death and proclaim his resurrection, and we prepare the way for his coming in glory.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus. Come; be known to us in the breaking of the bread. Be known to us in the breath of your Spirit upon us. Be known to us in one another in love and be known to us in service to the stranger. Amen.

Ascension, Acts 1:1-11, Psalm 47, Psalm 93, Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:44-53, Ac 1.1-11, Ps 47, Ps 93, Eph 1.15-23, Lk 24.44-53, Joel 2.28-32, Joel 2:28-32, loss and gain, hope, Mt 25.35-36, Matthew 25:35-36, Elysian Fields, neutral ground, transitions, JRL+

Sunday, March 31, 2013

He isn't here, but has been raised. - Luke 24:6

Dear Beloved Children of God:

The women – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the wife of James, and the others with them – go to the tomb of their friend on the third day since his horrendous, humiliating death at the hands of the Romans. The women – in their humble, courageous act – go with spices for his body.

They arrive at the tomb: it is empty. They encounter two men in shining clothes. And they go and tell the astonishing news. He isn’t here, but has been raised.

Imagine – surprise, bewilderment, fear, confusion, and even grief. The apostles react in disbelief – but Peter runs to see for himself.

He isn’t here, but has been raised. Unexpected news, to say the least: it’s difficult to understand; it’s impossible to get your mind around it.

The risen Jesus – who is he? What is going on? What does it all mean? What will happen next? This sudden surge of God’s grace – it is good news, unexpected, difficult to believe, impossible to understand.

What is really going on? Not just the facts, ma’am, but what it means – that is what they, and we, would like to know. Because we want to know what happens next – what will happen next, for them, and for us.

Don’t be afraid, the angels say, when they bring good news. And they tell us it is good news. God has plans in mind for your future, not for your harm, but for good, and full of hope. And what could be more hopeful than the news the angels bring?

He isn’t here, but has been raised. What could be more astonishing, more impossible, more true? But if it is true – then what? Everything must change! And not, my friends, in order that everything may stay the same. All things have changed, for the good, with this good news.

Peter ran to see for himself. Are we running to see Jesus? Can we catch up to this good news? Or will it catch up to us first?

Come worship with us Easter morning – and let us discover together where the good news takes us next.

Father John

Easter Sunday services 8:00 and 10:30 a.m., March 31st.

You are always welcome at St. Alban’s!
The Episcopal Church in Edmonds’ Five Corners Neighborhood

21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds WA 98026

Easter 2013

Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday services 8:00 and 10:30 am March 24th.
Tenebrae March 27, 7pm. 
Maundy Thursday Eucharist 7pm. 
Good Friday liturgy at noon.
Easter Sunday morning – celebrations at 8:00 and 10:30 am.


The empty tomb

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words. When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.

Letter from the Treasurer – March 31, 2013

Letter from the Treasurer – March 31, 2013

In response to a resolution proposed at the annual parish meeting the treasurer posted a written report to the parish on Easter Day.

Here is the resolution, from the minutes of the annual meeting:

Following discussion and questions regarding different budget categories and concern over St. Alban’s continuing shortfall for the past few years, a motion was made by Maryellen Young, seconded and passed as follows:  A written report to the parish by April 1, 2013, be prepared that explains where the $32,241 deficit for 2012 was covered.

Dear Congregation:
This is to let you know where St Albans stands financially.  For several years, 2011-2013 to my knowledge, the Finance Committee has presented and the Vestry has accepted, an unbalanced budget.  During this time the Vestry made no decisions to use dedicated funds for purposes other than what they were given for.  Proper records have been kept of the amounts set aside for these dedicated purposes such as the Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Fund, the Memorial Kitchen Fund, and the St Monica’s Alter Guild.  However, in order to meet the obligations of the General Fund for payroll and expenses such as heat and lights, the cash available for these dedicated funds has been used.
At the end of 2010 we had a positive balance in the General Fund of $9,977.41 and enough cash in checking and savings to cover all the balances in dedicated funds.  Because of the unbalanced budgets in 2011 and 2012 we began 2013 with a shortfall of $36,177.41.  With the current budget we are facing a shortfall of between $54,509.00 and $69509.00 at the end of 2013, depending on the income from fund raisers.
The Vestry is meeting with (the Rev.) Joan Anthony, Canon to the Ordinary, to discuss ways to restore our cash balances and bring expenses in line with revenue.  We expect to present our revised budget and financial plans to the congregation in July.
Penny Curtis, Treasurer

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Day 2013


Imagine her at the tomb, expecting – nothing but death. A dead man. Mary Magdalene, along with Joanna and the other women, had come, in that early dawning, to prepare their master’s body for its final rest.

Nothing there – not even a corpse!

And then the angels.

Terrifying presence, terrifying absence.

—He is not here?
—Why would he be? He is alive, has risen.

This is incredible, it’s indelible, and it is Mary’s first inkling, of revelation of the truth.

Death has been defeated, swallowed up in victory.

We all have experiences of vivid moments— where you when.

When you met Gabby Giffords. Where you were when you heard she was shot.

Diane Feinstein remembers the shooting of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. She was in her office in city hall in San Francisco and a former colleague, Dan White, walked by. “Hey, Dan! Wait a minute…” But he kept walking.

She heard a door close. Shots. And then, she says, she opened the wrong door. Harvey Milk dead. George Moscone dead.

That night an angry crowd gathered on the pavement outside City Hall. Angry, at the crime of hate. And a riot brewed.

Diane came out on the balcony of City Hall, above the front door, outside the room where the killing had taken place. She was carrying a single candle and she was alone.

She spoke to the crowd, calmly. They became quiet. But she never forgot that day or that night.

One person’s vivid experience of terror, loss, and sorrow.

Mary of Magdala would never forget the man she met, walking by the lakeshore or telling a story in a village. She remembered how he helped her come to herself, healed her, set her free of oppression, and helped her to find the way to her true self.

And she followed him, ever since. Then the Hosannas, the cup and the bread, and the Cross.  Silence on Saturday—

And now all her loss, all her grief, magnified, in his absence—

Only to find, joyous beyond believing, he had risen!

Her experience of the risen Christ began. She had known him as well as anyone – and he knew her better than everyone. In him she had found forgiveness, grace, and a calling. A call to be a disciple. The burden of forgiveness. The weight of grace.

He did not leave her to bear the weight of grace alone. And she heard the call to carry his message.

The burden of forgiveness, the weight of grace, the call to life.

How do you experience his presence, the presence of the risen Christ?

I was inquisitive, seeking wisdom, asking questions, until one day, I found all my seeking satisfied in the presence of the Lord.

I woke up early, six o’clock on a Holy Saturday morning, and I thought­— and I caught myself thinking— “Now if Jesus…”

And I smiled, a little half smile. Because I knew. I realized, and admitted, that I knew Jesus was real. And I accepted him.

I prayed and accepted— the burden of forgiveness, the weight of grace, and the call, the call to be a disciple.

And I accepted the yoke of the calling: to be his disciple, to bear his good news into the world, to live it and to proclaim it. I had come to myself, my true self, in his presence.

And knew what it was to be free. And I began to follow him.

He did not leave me alone in this: he gave me companions on the way, and he is with me, through the Spirit, to share the burden, shoulder the yoke, and bear the weight.

We are not any of us alone, because it is a gift to be shared, a story to be told. It is a gift so precious, so priceless, that it has to be given away.

The gift of the knowledge
of the reality
of the experience
of the presence
of the risen Lord.

All of us are seeking the same thing, and the same thing, your grace, is seeking all of us.

Be known to us in the breaking of bread.

Come Lord Jesus, be known to us, be present among us; that we may make you known to the world.