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.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity

St Alban's Episcopal Church celebrates three of the Principal Feasts of the Church later this spring, on three successive Sundays in May. The feast of the Ascension, May 12, we remember Jesus' final words of farewell to his disciples and the promise to send them the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, May 19, we celebrate the arrival of the Spirit and the beginning of a new chapter in the story of God's love for humankind. On Trinity Sunday, May 26, we ponder the mystery of an ineffable God who can be Creator, Savior, and Spirit of Truth all at the same time. 

Celebrations on Sundays at 8:00 am and 10:30 am. You're always welcome at Saint Alban's!

St. Alban's Episcopal Church, in the Five Corners neighborhood of Edmonds, 21405 82nd Place West. 425-778-0371 Facebook: "St Albans Edmonds"

Passion Stations

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John (18:1-19:42)

Opening Prayer:

    God of power and mercy,
    in love your sent your Son
    that we might be cleansed of sin
    and live with you forever.
    Bless us as we gather to reflect
    on his suffering and death
    that we may learn from his example
    the way we should go.

    We ask this through that same Christ, our Lord.


    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

1.  The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

    grant us your strength and wisdom,
    that we may seek to follow your will in all things

    grant us the courage of our convictions
    that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

2.  Jesus before the High Priest

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Peter Denies Jesus

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing round it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

    grant us your sense of righteousness
    that we may never cease to work
    to bring about the justice of the kingdom that you promised.

    grant us the gift of honesty
    that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

3.  Jesus before Pilate

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’

    grant us discernment
    that we may see as you see, not as the world sees.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

4.  Jesus Sentenced to Death

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

    grant us patience in times of suffering
    that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise.

    grant us strength of purpose
    that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

5.  The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
‘They divided my clothes among themselves,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.’
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    grant us merciful hearts
    that we may bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

6.  Jesus’ Side Is Pierced [The Lance Thrust]

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’

    grant us trust in you
    that when our time on earth is ended
    our spirits may come to you without delay.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

    Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

7.  The Burial of Jesus

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

    grant us your compassion
    that we may always provide for those in need.

    Lord Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Crucem Tuam (Berthier)

Closing Prayer:

    Lord Jesus Christ,
    your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven
    and reconciles all people to you.
    May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries
    follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven
    where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit
    one God, for ever and ever.


The prayers are based on those used in the Stations of the Cross celebrated by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991. They are presented here as an alternative to the traditional stations and as a way of reflecting more deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Christ's passion.

A period of silence should be observed between the Scripture reading and the prayer. Between the sections, all may sing a verse of the Stabat Mater (At the Cross Her Station Keeping - traditional) or an appropriate antiphon, such as Parce Domine (traditional, various settings) or Crucem Tuam (Berthier, GIA).

Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo:
ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.
Spare, Lord, spare your people:
Be not angry with us forever. accessed February 23, 2013.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday 2013


Imagine one disciple there at the table.

Think about her. There at the meal. Maybe more people than food. But they are there for the celebration.


Your father Abraham followed the way of the promise.

You were strangers once in Egypt, God told you he would bring out of there, and Moses led us out of bondage into freedom.

Again: God will bring you out of Exile and bring you home.

Remember – and celebrate.

There is some one young there, the youngest, who asks: Why is this night different from any other night?

And Jesus responds – but differently from what you expect:  Because this night the promise is coming into fulfillment.

Moses led the people to freedom. But that’s not it – that’s not the end of the story. That’s not the whole promise.

Return from Exile – a path through the desert – restoration, certainly, but that’s not it – that’s not the end of the story.

This Roman rule and its collaborators – surely that’s not it!

No – God’s kingdom is coming into being, as we speak, as we act, to remember, to celebrate, to bring forward into the present what was ancient history, lost time. That’s it.

Here it is – now beginning. Do you see it?

But wait. Before the day dawns on the new reality, something must happen, in between. This chalice cup – take it: with blessing it is no longer merely a remembrance cup. It is calling into our reality what is eternal.

Something has to be gone through first, something ugly and lonely. You won’t drink this cup again with me until it’s over. This very night... It will not pass by me.

I must accept it: if God wills.
And I fear
He wills.

And I obey.

Tears, sweat of blood, pain I cannot imagine: yet accept it.

I will be gone; you left behind. Drink this cup; eat this bread. You will never be hungry. You will never thirst.

For I will—
And have—
For you.

This bread, my body. This cup, my blood.

Take and drink. Now. If you can.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

palms and passions

Palm Sunday 2013 

How are we at welcoming Jesus? How are we at being welcomed by Jesus? For it is Jesus who is hosting us today. He is host of the Royal Banquet, the Last Supper, and the Paschal Feast.

What does it feel like to come to his table after hearing this gospel today?

(Imagine what it would be like if you were one of the people in the story.)

A number of times here I have preached at funerals on “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And I have assured you that he is the way: that he was there for you, with you at your beginning, he will be there with you at the end, he is there with you always, and he will be there with you at the hour of your death.

When we suffer loss or grief, or face the prospect of the hour of our death, Jesus says, in effect, “I’ll walk you all the way through.” I will be with you.

He will be with you on this side of the veil and at the other end of the road. He is there always for you. And yet, who was there to see him through?

Who walks him through? Who walks with him through this horrible time?

In his fascination, his terrible fascination, Peter comes closest – close to the fire but afraid to get burned, close enough only to warm himself, and betray himself and be recognized.

And the Lord had said to him, at the table, Look, Peter, you are going to abandon me. You are going to fail and fall short. But my Father and I will not abandon you. You will recover – you will come to yourself – and come back, and when you do, look to these other ones, make sure they’re okay, help them pull out of it. (And after the Ascension we learn that he does.)

“Strengthen your brothers.” You who are weak, and fallible, yourself. You, who know what it means to fail, to betray, to feel a longing to be true to me again.

What does it mean to us the to come to this table after that, after hearing that? We like Peter are frail of character, of virtue, easily frightened away.

“Fear is all around,” as the Psalmist says, and yet – One is faithful, one in whom we can put our trust: “My times are in your hand.”

We are fallible, frail, and undependable. And he is faithful.

How does it feel to come to the table after you hear this gospel?

Call is still there. Challenge to be in the Lord’s service, to proclaim his death until he comes, even though we know we are among the betrayers. The fallible ones who let him down. We don’t mean to – but we do.

And yet we are forgiven.

And we are welcome at his table.


Who am I in this story?

Imagine yourself in this story, in this place.

Member of the crowd. Servant, one of the people in the courtyard of the high priest, warming your self at the fire. Soldier. Centurion. Thief. Executioner. Peter... Yourself.

The Liturgy of the Palms, Luke 19:28-40, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29;
The Liturgy of the Word, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11,Luke 22:14-23:56, 

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Ellen Sasahara sent me a copy of a book she had designed: St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography by Philip Freeman (Simon and Schuster, 2005). Together with the sermon by Herbert O'Driscoll given at Saint Alban's Church, Edmonds, Washington, January 31, 2010, it was the primary resource for this day's preaching. I did not stick to my notes. These are the notes I walked away from:
When the world came to an end, it was the summer of the year 410. Rome fell – civilization was erased. A century and more before, Roman officials had executed a Christian martyr in Britannia, one Alban. Then Constantine took legions to the continent and won the imperial throne. But now a century after these events Rome crumbled before the onslaught of a Visigoth horde.

Arthur held together some promise of hope in Britannia. He called it Logres – kingdom of the Grail. And Ninian set sail for the north, Galloway in Caledonia. On the shores looking west and north to Hibernia, however, Irish pirates came across the water and they brought chains. They came for slaves.

One son of a patrician house, now we call him Patrick, was too near the shore, and he was taken. He found himself far across on the other side of a strange island and it was not until he was a teenager (and more) that he left the sheep he’d been set to herd – and walked away, across the island and back across the sea – but to a new future.

He fetched up in a monastery started by Martin of Tours, and he learned a new depth of Christian hope and practice. He was going to be a priest.

Strangely enough it was, then, that this trafficked human, enslaved by the Irish, saw in a dream his calling: to serve those who’d enslaved him, to free his captors. “Come here and walk among us!”

So to Ireland Patrick sailed. He even sought reconciliation with his old master. And he became a champion, confronting the evil of the slave trade, human trafficking.  When in turn Irish Christians, ones he himself had baptized, were captured by British Christian slavers, he wrote an excoriating letter, naming and rebuking one Corocticus, making a plea (a strongly worded one) that the slave-master set his fellow Christians free.

Patrick and other mission bishops brought the gospel to fertile soil in Ireland. They were a people ready to receive the word, and it quickly grew, in part because of the form, or lack of it, he used to carry it.

The world had come to an end, the Roman world, and there was little left to hold onto, few elements of the sacred, clad lightly in poverty – not wealth.

But he embraces that poverty, poverty of worldly means, as he taught people to embrace the only things that mattered, that remained (and as long as we have these, Herbert O’Driscoll taught us, we’ll be all right).

These are just a few things – look at the postcard – six words to define the church – and here are six: story, water, oil, bread, wine, people.

We are the water oil bread wine story people.

We have the gospel – the story of God’s love for humankind, the Spirit’s restless seeking for our souls.

We have the baptismal waters and the oil of Chrism (“you are sealed as Christ’s own for ever”).

We have bread, the bread we need, and wine – sustenance and reminder of the Godly provision of Christ our Savior.

And we are the people imbued by the Spirit, called and gifted to tell the story, immerse and bless, share the Table’s abundance, and – gather others in. For these gifts are not ours to keep to ourselves – they take us, break us, transform us, and make us ambassadors for Christ.

And we love to tell the story, and spread the news. He whom Mary wept over and anointed and served is the One who shed more than tears for us, who died indeed and rose to new life, that he might take us with him, and with us others, that all may be reconciled to God, all be freed.

Working for the simple physical liberation from slavery of trafficking victims, we work also for the liberation of souls – even of those who enslave.

May we live into this costly freedom, heed God’s call, and follow the dream of our own calling, that we may come over and bring Jesus even to those once separated from us by far more than a sea. May we be one in Christ, reconciled to one another God through the power of the Spirit, and the work of our Savior, in whose name we pray, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8
Fifth Sunday in Lent

Herbert O’Driscoll – 10:30 Service January 31, 2010


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Poor Wandering One

Poor Wandering One (Gilbert & Sullivan) from "The Pirates of Penzance"

For shame
For shame
For shame

Poor wandering one
Though thou hast surely strayed
Take heart of grace, thy steps retrace
Poor wandering one

Poor wandering one
If such poor love as mine
Can help thee find true peace of mind
Why, take it, it is thine

Take heart, no danger lowers
Take any heart but ours
Take heart, fair days will shine
Take any heart, take mine

Take heart, no danger lowers
Take any heart but ours
Take heart, fair days will shine
Take any heart, take mine

Poor wandering one
Though thou hast surely strayed
Take heart of grace, thy steps retrace
Poor wandering one

Poor wandering one
Poor wandering one
Take heart, take heart

Take any heart but ours
Take heart, take heart

Take heart, no danger lowers
Take any heart but ours
Take heart, take heart
Take any heart but ours

Take heart

Prodigal Son

Look at the hands, reaching out in compassion. Look at them, reaching out in mercy. Look at them, reaching out in love.

Look at them. Look at them with joy, not sorrow, with gladness, not anger, with happiness, not jealousy, with peace, not hate, with love, not fear.

Look at them, the father's hands.

Reaching out to the wayward son, comforting him, bringing him home.

He was lost, and is found; was dead, and is alive; was blind, and now he sees!

The elder son - where is he? In the shadows? Is he the observer, cloaked in red like the father? Does he look on this embrace with gladness? Is his heart melting?

The father reaches out to the elder son as well. All that is mine is yours... but he who was lost is found. Can you join the celebration?

The Homecoming, by C. P. Snow, creates an image of returning again to the same place, the place he started from, and finding it for the first time a homecoming to a place of peace, of rest, of joy.

What was once feared, or regretted, or a source of sorrow, has now, by stint of infinite striving, become a place of welcome.

Devastating loneliness, wandering, ashamed, lonely, desperate and destitute, the younger son comes to himself: greed and lust are spent. But he is not worthy to be called a son.

Outraged, angry, jealous, hard of heart, the older son looks on without compassion or mercy. Calling him, the father extends the same grace.

Prodigality and abundance are two different things. The extravagance, the wandering wastefulness, the vagrant reckless pride and conceit of the poor wandering one.

The overflowing plentiful affluence - wealth, even - of the father's gift of love. His forgiveness is infinite in value, beyond price or measure.

God's forgiveness is abundant, but not wasteful, not really. Wandering it may seem to be - but it is we who wander, and we who are welcomed home.

It is we who in our turn are called to welcome others.

That is what Paul is on to, in his letters to the young church of the Corinthians: we are reconciled, now we are agents of reconciliation for others.

We do not simply come home. We turn, and in our turn, embrace.

These two boys - the sons - in the beginning have no sense of the value of what they have.

John Newton, writing of his sister-in-law, said, "She knew whom she believed. She possessed a peace past understanding and a hope full of glory." ("Narrative of Eliza Cunningham" by John Newton, in the third volume of a collection of tracts published by the American Tract Society of New-York, n.d.)

She possessed greater wealth than either son knew he had, at the beginning of our story today. The older son had the presence of his father; the younger, his generosity. But neither really realized the true gift they had in their hand, all the time: the unlimited, unmerited grace, the boundless mercy and love, the endless compassion of a loving Father: the overflowing joy of his love, his gladness, his delight in them. They did not have to earn it; they could not: it was there all the time.

That overflowing love - perhaps they, and we, can come home, and know it again for the first time. So we can come home through Jesus, meeting him again as if for the first time, when we open/reopen ourselves to his overflowing love.

Father of all,
    we give you thanks and praise,
    that when we were still far off
    you met us in your Son and brought us home.
    Dying and living, he declared your love,
    gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.
    May we who share Christ's body live his risen life;
    we who drink his cup bring life to others;
    we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.
    Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,
    so we and all your children shall be free,
    and the whole earth live to praise your name;
    through Christ our Lord.

(Post-communion prayer, Common Worship, Church of England, Holy Communion, Order One. accessed March 9, 2013)
Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Meditation on Fathers, Brothers, and Sons (New York: Doubleday, 1992)