Morning Prayer, March 15, 2020 – 10:00 am

Please join us for the office of Morning Prayer live at 10:00 am on our Facebook page.  To follow along, the liturgy is available for you in pdf format here.

St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that we are all one body (Ephesians 4:4).  Even though we are separated, we are still one body in Spirit as disciples of Jesus, and one way that Spirit is manifested is through our worship and through our common life of prayer.  I hope you will join us.

If you are not able to be with us at 10:00, the video will be available for delayed viewing soon after the service ends.

Lenten Programming at St. Alban’s

  • Our custom at St. Alban’s is to change some of our practices, most often around our common worship life, to reflect the penitential significance of Lent. We will continue some of those changes at our 10:15 service to the more penitential prayers of Rite I (beginning on page 324 in the BCP).  This year, to provide more choice, our 8:15 service will be using a rite from the Church of England’s supplemental “Common Worship.”  The sense, intent and meaning of the words are essentially the same as Rite I used at our 10:15 service, only in contemporary language. The first Sunday in Lent our worship will begin with a solemn procession around the nave as we pray the Great Litany (the first Latin work from the Roman Catholic Mass translated into English by Thomas Cranmer).  The remaining Sunday morning services in Lent will begin with a recitation of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) or the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)
  • During Lent we will be introducing a practice of lay-led healing prayer during Sunday morning worship. Individuals from a team of lay people in our parish who feel called to a ministry of healing prayer will be stationed in the back of the church near the blue candle and Mary of Jerusalem icon. After receiving Communion, our prayer team members will be happy to pray with anyone who would like prayers for support, strength, courage, healing or for any need. In the season of Lent, lay-led healing prayers during Communion will take the place of healing prayers that have been offered by the clergy during announcements. If you would like a clergy person to pray with you at another time, please contact them to make arrangements.
  • We continue our tradition of a Lenten Wednesday Evening Program – this year a study of the Book of Hebrews (click here for more details). Wednesday evenings at St. Alban’s will offer:
5:00-6:00 pm Private Confession in the downstairs chapel
6:00-6:30 pm Stations of the Cross in the nave
6:30-7:00 pm Soup and salad dinner
7:00-8:00 pm Presentation on the Book of Hebrews

Lent Madness – The “Saintly Smackdown” Returns!

“What are you doing for Lent?” In the run-up to the church’s holy season of repentance and renewal, this question echoes in parish halls and dining rooms, pews and study halls.

One exciting answer to the proverbial question is … “Lent Madness!” That’s because, for the eleventh straight year, people of faith the world over are filling out brackets and gearing up for the 2020 “Saintly Smackdown.” 

With its unique blend of competition, learning, and humor, Lent Madness allows participants to be inspired by the ways in which God has worked through the lives of saintly souls across generations and cultures. Throughout Lent, 32 saints will battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Based loosely on the NCAA basketball tournament of a similar name, this online devotion pits saints against one another in a bracket as voters choose their favorites throughout this penitential season.

Here’s how to participate: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about, and then vote, to determine which saint moves on to the next round. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; 8 advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

This year, Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. This year’s saints include heavyweights such as Patrick, Harriet Tubman, Clare of Assisi, Hildegaard of Bingen, Joseph, and Jude, along with many lesser known yet equally inspiring people of faith. The competition kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 27, with an epic battle between Thomas More and St. James the Less.

The full bracket is online at the Lent Madness website and, while not necessary to participate, we have copies of The 2020 Saintly Scorecard in the St. Alban’s narthex. This companion guide includes biographies of all 32 saints, a full-color bracket, and information about how to fully participate.

Why focus on saints during Lent? Like us, their vision may not have been perfect — and they had their share of blind spots. But what binds them together, is a strong faith in Jesus Christ and a willingness to serve him amid the circumstances of their own day. They saw the face of God with perfect clarity and shared God’s love for the world in their own ways. If we allow them into our lives, the saints can serve as a deep source of spiritual inspiration. 

This year’s Golden Halo winner will join illustrious company. Previous winners were:

  • George Herbert, 17th century English poet, 2010;
  • C. S. Lewis, 20th century British writer and theologian, 2011;
  • Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus, 2012;
  • Frances Perkins, 20th century American public servant, 2013;
  • Charles Wesley, 18th century English preacher and hymn writer, 2014;
  • Francis of Assisi, 13th century monastic and advocate for the poor, 2015;
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20th century German theologian and activist who was killed by the Nazis, 2016;
  • Florence Nightingale, 19th century nurse and social reformer, 2017;
  • Anna Alexander, the first African-American Deaconess in the Episcopal Church, 2018; and,
  • Martha of Bethany, the Biblical sister of Mary, 2019.

If you’re looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, join the Lent Madness journey. Lent needn’t be all doom and gloom. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to get closer to Jesus Christ?

Facebook Live streaming of Morning Prayer services

If you’ve happened to be online the past two days, and missed the Facebook Live stream of the daily Morning Prayer service, it’s NOT YOU! For some reason, our Facebook Live capability — the interface we use daily — has disappeared from our post options. We are still searching for a reason and a solution.

We hope to be back up and running before long! Stay tuned…

Fr Paul

Celebrating the Communion of Saints

One foggy evening, when I was stationed in West Germany, I was driving through a fairly rural part of the countryside, when I noticed a rather eerie glow off to the right side of the road. As I got nearer, I realized that I was approaching a cemetery, and each grave was marked by a burning candle. I had passed that cemetery any number of times, but I had never seen it so beautifully illuminated. I later discovered that a local tradition was to place a lighted candle at the grave of loved ones on November 2nd – The Feast of All Souls’, or as we Episcopalians now call it, “The Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.”

Two venerable and beloved Church feast days happen this week – The Feast of All Saints’ and The Feast of All Souls’. All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, is one of the principle feasts of the Church Year, and is set aside as the day when the Church remembers the saints of God – known and unknown. It is one of the few Feast Days that, when falling on a day Monday through Saturday, can be moved to Sunday (and, incidentally, it is one of the four Sundays especially appropriate for baptism.)

While the origins of All Saints’ Day aren’t known, its roots probably go back to the 4th Century, when a feast for all the martyrs was observed in May. It wasn’t until around 735 that Pope Gregory III declared a Feast of All Saints on November 1. While the Feast of All Saints’ celebrates the saints of God, known and unknown, who have died, All Souls’ Day celebrates relatives and loved ones (the “rest of us” faithful whose lives do not merit a day on the Church Calendar) who have died. All Saints’ and All Souls’ became inextricably connected – sometimes being called Allhallowtide or Hallowmas season, being observed on November 1 and November 2, respectively.

The Western Church began their observance of All Saints’ with a service of Vespers on the evening before, which would be All Saints’ Eve, or All Hallows’ Eve. It isn’t much of a stretch to see how simple, superstitious and pagan folk might embellish a commemoration of the departed with stories of tormented souls of the dead, demons and other evil spirits – becoming the festive day of Hallowe’en we’ve come to know and love.

The Feast of All Saints’ is especially important in the Episcopal Church. We often speak of “the Communion of Saints,” and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day remind us of our belief that all Christians that ever lived, are living, and will ever be, are bound together in one Communion – the Body of Christ. All Saints’ and All Souls’ celebrates this bond as we continue the ancient practice of praying for the saints who have gone on before us and acknowledge that those saints in heaven are praying for us.

Please join us for our observance of The Feast of All Saints’ on Sunday morning, November 3rd, at 8:15 and 10:15. We will be observing The Feast of All Souls’ with a solemn Evensong on the evening of November 3rd at 7:00 pm. All are invited to attend this beautiful sung service, and to bring photos of loved ones who have departed this life and light a candle as a silent and visible prayer for them.

The October Issue of The Word

Page 1 of October 2019 IssueCheck your mailbox for the latest issue of The Word, the St. Alban’s print newsletter — or feel free to download a PDF copy here. (If you’d like to be put on our mailing list, just use the contact form here to tell us you’d like to receive our mailings and be sure to include your complete mailing address.)

In the October 2019 Issue

Father Jeff on stewardship: “Just like the unmarked merchandise at your local store, there typically isn’t a price tag on the ministries and activities at St. Alban’s – but what we do comes with a price. The real cost of our ministries is difficult to pin down, but our Stewardship Committee works hard to accurately reflect the cost, and value, of what we do together at St. Alban’s.”

Father Paul on autumn activity: “As we move into a new season of ministry, there will be new challenges. Change is never easy. Now, more than ever, we need to be gracious with one another. The opportunities before us will stretch us in uncomfortable ways; but if we are bold and faithful, our work will bear much good fruit.”

Deacon Teresa on our Sleepy Hollow Nursing Home ministry: “I remember how hesitant I was when Fr. Jeff sent me to lead a service and how surprised I was that it drew me in. We would love to add new volunteers. Talk to anyone who serves there about moments that have touched them and have shown them God more fully.”

Plus the latest construction updates on our new kitchen; our stewardship committee ponders “Wonder in All”; tons of photos, and lots more!

Download the PDF here.

September 16: Ninian, bishop, and missionary to Scotland, 430

Today, September 16, the Episcopal Church joins the people of Scotland in remembering St. Ninian: “Apostle to the Southern Picts.”

O God, who by the preaching of your blessed servant and bishop Ninian caused the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Ninian was a Celt, born in southern Scotland in about 360, and is regarded as the first major preacher of the Gospel to the people living in Britain north of the Wall–that is, living outside the territory that had been under Roman rule. He is said to have studied in Rome (note that he is contemporary with Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine), but was chiefly influenced by his friendship with Martin of Tours, with whom he spent some considerable time when he was returning from Italy to Britain.

It is probable that he named his headquarters in Galloway after Martin’s foundation in Gall.  At about the time of Martin’s death in 397, Ninian built a church at Galloway, in southwest Scotland. It was built of stone and plastered white, an unusual construction in a land where almost all buildings were wood. He called it Candida Casa (White House) or Whithorn, presumably after Martin’s foundation at Tours. Archaeologists have excavated and partially restored his church in this century.

From his base at Galloway, Ninian preached throughout southern Scotland, south of the Grampian Mountains, and conducted preaching missions among the Picts of Scotland, as far north as the Moray Firth, He also preached in the Solway Plains and the Lake District of England. Like Patrick (a generation later) and Columba (a century and a half later), he was a principal agent in preserving the tradition of the old Romano-British Church and forming the character of Celtic Christianity.

Our information about him comes chiefly from Bede’s History (Book 3, chapter 4), an anonymous eighth century account, and a 12th century account by Aelred. Aelred is writing 700 years after the event, and is for that reason rejected as untrustworthy by many critics. However, he claims to rely on an earlier account, “written by a barbarian.” This suggests that he may have had an authentic record by a member of Ninian’s community in Galloway.

Hagiography by James Kiefer. Read more.

September 4: Paul Jones, bishop, 1941

Today, the Episcopal Church honors The Rt. Rev. Paul Jones, bishop.

Paul Jones was born in 1880 in the rectory of St. Stephen’s Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Yale University and the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he accepted a call to serve a mission in Logan, Utah. In 1914, he was appointed archdeacon of the Missionary District of Utah and, later that year, was elected its bishop. Meanwhile, World War I had begun.

As Bishop of Utah, Paul Jones did much to expand the church’s mission stations and to strengthen diocesan institutions. At the same time, he spoke openly about his opposition to war. With the entry of the United States into the war, the Bishop of Utah’s views became increasingly controversial. At a meeting of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Los Angeles in 1917, Bishop Jones expressed his belief that “war is unchristian,” for which he was attacked with banner headlines in the Utah press.

As a result of the speech and the reaction it caused in Utah, a commission of the House of Bishops was appointed to investigate the situation. In their report, the commission concluded that “The underlying contention of the Bishop of Utah seems to be that war is unchristian. With this general statement the Commission cannot agree…” The report went on to recommend that “The Bishop of Utah ought to resign his office,” thus rejecting Paul Jones’ right to object to war on grounds of faith and conscience.

In the spring of 1918, Bishop Jones, yielding to pressure, resigned as Bishop of Utah. In his farewell to the Missionary District of Utah in 1918, Bishop Jones said:

“Where I serve the Church is of small importance, so long as I can make my life count in the cause of Christ…Expediency may make necessary the resignation of a bishop at this time, but no expedience can ever justify the degradation of the ideals of the episcopate which these conclusions seem to involve.”

For the rest of his life, he continued a ministry within the church dedicated to peace and conscience, speaking always with a conviction and gentleness rooted in the gospel. Bishop Jones died on September 4th, 1941.

Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (Church Publishing, 2019.)

Vacation Bible School 2019 – Monday

This year’s Vacation Bible School looks to be one of the best!  With 50 kids registered, and some amazing adult volunteers signed on to lead and help out, our hallways and classrooms were jumping this morning!

Day three of the Youth Mission Trip to Hurley, VA

Breakfast on day three was courtesy of Harry’s team.  Harry and crew delighted us with biscuits and gravy and fried June apples.  Landon and MacGregor picked the apples the day before during some down time on their worksite.  Most of the kids ate cereal.

Harry’s team continued their work on the bathroom project, redoing some old plumbing and working on a shower surround.

George’s team (with Allison and Liv) began working on a wheelchair ramp and plans to have their work finished Thursday.

Meanwhile, the painting crew finished scraping (thanks to Darius’ dogged determination to get every last loose bit of paint off the house!).  Unfortunately, an afternoon downpour slowed their worked considerably.

After an hour break under the shelter of the front porch, the crew was able to put a coat of paint over the entire house but weren’t able to finish the project.

Pearl, the owner of the house, was very pleased with her freshly scraped and painted house.  Today (Thursday) may be a short work day as part of our team (Ted and MacGregor) are helping load a shipment of USDA food that they’ll be delivering to the Center around noon, and all hands will be necessary to unload the truck.