Archive for November, 2010

The Saint Alban’s crew are even now cheering the Sun Trust Half-Marathon and full-Marathon runners and giving breakfast to the onlookers.  I don’t think I ever have been asked for many blessings at one time.  Apparently, like foxholes, there are not many athiests running marathons!  We’ve gotten a lot of, God bless Saint Alban’s” shouts back at us.  A great day in our neighborhood in Richmond!  Thanks to our parish administrator Ms. SimoneRhodd for organizing this outreach.

Sun Trust Marathon Runner

Now, where are my running shoes?

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Austin Farrer, a name probably unfamiliar to most Americans, was  once described by Bp. Richard Harries (Oxford) as the greatest mind produced by the Church of England in the twentieth century. Farrer+ was renowned as a philosophical theologian. He was also a scholar of the New Testament and a great preacher.

It was at Oxford where Farrer made the most important decision of his life. Although raised in a staunchly Baptist family, when he matriculated at Oxford Farrer was not yet a member of any church.  Farrer found himself inexorably drawn into the Church of England. In May of 1924, Farrer was baptized and confirmed in the Latin Chapel of Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Unlike his near-contemporary C. S. Lewis, Farrer did not experience a dramatic conversion from atheism to theism to Christianity; the choice for him seems never to have been belief or disbelief in God. Rather, Farrer had to decide in which church he could best serve God. Although he never wrote of his decision to join the Church of England, years later his sermon, “On Being an Anglican,” does illuminate the decision of his college days.  It is something to keep in mind as we rebuild an Anglican-Catholic expression here in America:

We are Anglicans not because of the psalms or the poetry of George Herbert or the cathedral, but because we can obey God here. The Church mediates Christ. To be a loyal churchman is hobbyism or prejudice unless it is the way to be a loyal Christian — to see through the Church to Christ as a man sees through the telescope to the stars.

As we approach Advent, we do well to consider the following from a great scholar and preacher:

… God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts and He prepares for man such good things as pass man’s understanding. … It becomes painfully obvious that our crosses will never deserve our crowns. If you want to see a wreath and a cross to match it, you must go as far as the empty sepulcher outside Jerusalem…. Look closely at this cross and there you shall see, like a little jewel laid over the intersection of its arms, whatever cross you have faithfully borne for God’s sake. Alone, it would not be measurable against the glorious cross, but the great arms of Christ’s cross extend the spread of yours and fit it to the heavenly scale.

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On Saturday, November 13th, come out and cheer on the runners in the Sun Trust Marathon whilst enjoying a party with the Saint Alban’s community. We’ll be out with refreshments and noisemakers from frontrunner to last straggler. Join us for a great chance to mingle with the neighbors and share a little breakfast. Come very early due to street closings.
We have been advised the intersection of Bellevue and Hermitage will be closed after 7:30 am and will reopen at 10 am heading South bound only.   The North bound lane will be closed the entire duration of the race. The alley behind the church can be accessed from Hill Monument Parkway or Peakwood (off Laburnum from 64). This is the only option to enter the church.
Come out and enjoy the morning, but remember: Do not feed the runners!

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The Bishop’s Wife

The St. Alban’s family enjoyed its second successful movie night on Friday last. A sumptious chicken dinner preceded a showing of The Bishop’s Wife (1947) is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic comedy feature film starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an angel who helps a bishop with his problems.  Our thanks to all who helped..

We are looking forward to our next family movie night on Friday, December 3, with a showing of the perennial favorite Miracle on 34th Street the 1947 Christmas classic film written by Valentine Davies, directed by George Seaton and starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. It is the story of what takes place in New York City following Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as people are left wondering whether or not a department store Santa might be the real thing.  We’ll see you all at 6:00 pm for a chili supper, with the movie starting at 6:30 pm.  You may wish to bring blankets and/or comfortable chairs.

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On November 7th at 9:30 a.m., St. Alban’s Adult Sunday School will begin a study of the book of Esther.   Based on the LifeGuide study Esther: Character Under Pressure, this nine session course will explore how to develop a godly character in a society that does not emphasize doing right.  The opening class, Getting the Most Out of Esther. will introduce the study and provide study guides for the first chapter of Esther.  Please join us for this exploration of a powerful, yet under-studied part of Scripture.

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Everlasting God, our maker and redeemer, grant us with all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of thy Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection, that, in the last day, when thou dost gather up all things in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of thy promises; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Emyl Jenkins from husband Bob Sexton

Audrey Crabtree Reinbold
Nina Crabtree
Walter Crabtree
Frank W. Collier from Avril Lim

St. Alban
S. Strouther Smith
Cary Berger
Harry Graham
Bishop William J. Rutherford
Bishop John T. Cahoon
Bishop Harry B. Scott
Rosalie Applegate
Barbara Brankley
Paul Bargamin
Ann Syndor
Ted Smith
Summer (Kit) Moore
David Brydon
Daniel Fowler from Ed Darby and Family

Roy and Beatrice Rhodd
Glenford and Lynette Kow
Pauline Rhodd- Cummings
Richard Kow from Simone Rhodd and Family

Herbert Dixon from Mary Lou Baden

James Winston and Annette Magill Nalls
Robert Ward Carroll, II
Catherine Magill Houck and the departed of the Magill family
CAPT John L. Nalls, USMC
Robert F.W. and Edith Ferre Carroll
Endre and Eleanor (Carroll) Brunner
LTCOL Gerald and Alice Parker in loving memory from the Nalls and Carroll Families.

Schenique Alleyne in loving memory from her mother and father

Bianca Barfield from her son Charles

Alice Rawles

Thornton brother of Inez Frazier

William Hood in loving memory from his wife Barbara Hood

Our war dead from Saint Alban’s and her people

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On Saturday, October 30th, the Saint Alban’s Lay Readers held their annual retreat who were joined by readers from Ss. Andrew and Margaret (Alexandria, Virginia), St. David’s (Charlottesville, Virgina); Saint Athanasius/St. Luke’s (Glen Allen, Virginia and re-opening in Goochland, Virginia, respectively) and Saint Matthews (Newport News, Virginia).  The retreatants explored improving their technical skills to improve their ministry, including those “trouble spots” in the Prayer Book rubrics and techniques for improved presentation pf pre-prepared lay readers’ sermons. (Thanks here to Canon john Hollister and Fr. Warren Shaw for providing the grist for the mil!)  As well, the program offered meditations on the deep human need for corporate worship in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church and the functions of prayer, as well as the theological underpinnings of the Daily Offices.

Because many lay readers also serve as adult acolytes, the retreatants reviewed serving basics and altar service at the Low Mass.  Copies of Some Notes on the Conduct of Corporate Worship, and Ritual Notes were on hand for purchase for those who wished to add these useful references to their personal libraries. (A few copies remain for those unable to attend.)

The readers also shared fellowship and compared notes over an excellent breakfast and lunch in the dining room of the Masonic Home of Virginia, and, most importantly, the participants joined in Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion.  The next retreat will again be open to all diocesan lay readers and, tentatively, will include training for prospective readers, serving basics at High Mass, singing and chant, and meditations on spiritual and theological themes.

Our thanks to Mr. Ed Owen of St. Alban’s and the staff of the Home for the use of the beautiful chapel, arranging a private dining room and for the warm hospitality shown the retreatants.

Pictured:  Some of the lay readers at the conclusion of the conference.

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“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesuscanswered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”

-St. John 18:37

Today we honor Christ our King, and pledge Him our love and our obedience. Today we are invited to meditate on themeof Christ as our King and our Lord. The very name of this Feast of Christ the King tells out that we are His subjects, His people, His followers. That’s a bold claim and it challenges us to ask if we really are doing our best to be followers of the King, His sons and daughters. Let’s hold on to that thought.

We don’t like kings. Our nation exists out of a struggle to rid itself of a particularly difficult and arbitrary, and some would say barking mad, English king. We find kings at best quaint, figures of a bygone age. Maybe we look on them with nostalgia. I love this verse from Shakespeare,

“And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”

Or perhaps we hold them a bit a bit silly like that old comic strip entitled The Little King by a fellow named Otto Soglow which told its stories using images and very few words as a mostly pantomime with a rotund bearded
fellow as the vertically-challenged (that would be short)  king.

We don’t keep them in much esteem here in America. As Mark Twain said, “All kings is mostly rapscallions.”  And we’ve come a long way from James I of England who said, state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth: for kings are not only God’s Lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself they are called Gods. Makes you want to get out your musket, doesn’t it?

And so this morning we turn to our king—a king that doesn’t fit any of our popular images, or even those in the history books. Let’s look at a picture of our King—the King of Kings.

In the grey light of a morning, the desert cold just beginning to recede, it was humanlya most vulnerable and helpless hour for Jesus. He stood bruised and bound and bleeding. After a sleepless night during which He had been arrested and dragged from one place to another, roughly questioned by authorities, and now hw stands before the agent of a king, an emperor, actually. He stands before a Roman governor who represented the world-wide power of Rome. The governor asks the prisoner this most audacious question, “Are You a king?” On the surface it looks ridiculous. Here’s the dialogue of an earth shattering moment:

Pilate: “Are You a king?”

Jesus: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this  world then my servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm.”

Pilate: “So you ARE a king?”

Jesus: “You say  I am a king. For this cause I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Pilate: “What IS ‘truth’?”

Jesus said to Pilate, and to all the world, that He came into the world– that He was BORN to reveal truth.  But how does thatremotely fit in to any notion of kingship?

On this October morning when we are called to think on who our leader-our real leader, our king, is. Close your eyes for a moment. Picture that scene of Jesus standing before Pilate in your minds’ eye. What do you see?

If we use a worldly mind-set we see weakness standing before power.  We see a victim standing before the representative of a dictator.  We see a martyr standing before false and wicked injustice.  We see one man with the power of life and death standing before another about to die. But, beloved in Christ, with the eyes of faith we see, we see that, yes, weakness IS standing before power– but the power is NOT with the Roman.  We see one Man with the life of the other in His command, but the one in danger of death is NOT the Man from Galilee.  How can this be?

Jesus the Christ told Pilate several things that morning. He said first, He IS  king!  Second, our Lord said that His kingdom is not derived from nor dependant upon earthly power either to establish or to maintain it. Third, Jesus said His is a kingdom of TRUTH. The King Himself IS the witness of TRUTH.

What sort of king is this, our king? Listen to the epistle reading from Colossians 1:13-30:

For He [God the Father] delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us TO THE KINGDOM of His beloved Son, IN WHOM WE HAVE REDEMPTION, the forgiveness of sins.  AND HE IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, the   first-born of all creation.  FOR BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED, both in the    heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible,  hether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him. AND HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, AND IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER. HE IS ALSO THE HEAD OF THE BODY, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile  all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:1 -20)

Jesus’ majesty is veiled as He stands before Pilate. But the Jesus the Christ is God: He is eternal! All that the Scripturessay of Him as true in eternity, in the future, in the present– were true that day:
1. The image of the invisible God! Holy, loving, patient, pure.
2. The firstborn of all Creation.
3. By Him all things were created, both visible and invisible.
4. All things were created FOR Him.
5. The KING was prior to all things, co-eternal with God.
7. He is the Head of the church.
8. He is the firstborn from the dead
9. Through HIM all things are reconciled unto Himself, since He made peace through the blood of His cross, things on earth and in heaven.

What kind of king is this we hold to? If Jesus IS who the Bible claims Him to be, and He is. If He is King as HE HIMSELF said that day– then whom do you suppose was REALLY on trial the day Jesus was crucified? Pontius
Pilate, with all of the power of an emperor behind him, asked the wrong question that morning. He asked, “WHAT is truth?” He was looking at truth, just as we are facing the truth! He should have asked “WHO is Truth?”

But to this day we Christians–who have been baptized and catechized, who have the Scriptures in how many translations, who know the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed keep asking “WHAT?”!! We
confuse “truth” with our supposed  knowledge of the facts and our interpretations or what we sophisticated modern folks want to plug in to make ourselves comfortable. Too often we fail to see that we cannot know TRUTH apart from the
PERSON who IS truth and who REVEALS truth. And Pontius Pilate, for his part, actually pronounced a true verdict (“I find  NO fault in this Man!”). But, then, he rendered an utterly false and unjust sentence (“You take Him away and crucify Him…”)  Then, the Roman soldiers proceeded to play a game with this King.

The Roman garrison was adjacent to the Temple grounds.  In recent years the pavement has been uncovered in what was the ground floor of that fort. This pavement (Gabbatha)is marked with dimly carved figures, something like a giant chess or checkerboard.  On that checkerboard the common soldiers played a cruel game with the condemned Christ, Christ the King. They crowned Him with thorns and wrapped Him in an old robe and then they gave mocking bows along with all the abuse and resentment that they felt toward their own wicked masters.  But in their shameful ignorance that day they mocked the One Person who is the “glue of the Universe!,” the One who holds all Creation together by the power of His Word!  Jesus was on His way to “make peace through the blood of His cross,” and so “to reconcile all things to Himself!”  And these people did not have a clue!

And this horrifies us. WE would never treat the King that way!  But you know what? We do just that.  Think about it: To do anything less than to acknowledge Jesus as truly Sovereign in our lives is to make a mockery of His kingdom.  Unless we are submitted to Him in every part of our lives and living, then He is not truly the King of our lives.  There is a world of difference between the grace of faith and the arrogance of our human presumption.  To say that we are
Christian when we are not wholly submitted to the King is to take the place of Pilate and ask the question, “WHAT is truth?”,  when we know we should be saying to the One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life, “JESUS IS LORD!”

Our presumption mimics saving faith!  Faith and presumption may look similar. Presumption mimics faith’s confidence and assurance.  But the confidence presumption gives is false, and it will turn into terror before the appearance
of the Sovereign Lord, before Christ the King. To say that we are Christian and then to say that we shall decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, to decide how we will run our lives, to take ourselves into a life apart from divine revelation and apart from the Lordship of Jesus is to mock the King of Kings. We mock even as the soldiers put the purple robe on Him the day He was crucified.

Beloved, Jesus is the chief cornerstone of life for all the Universe!  He is the stone the builders rejected, but when we build on Him we “stand firm” and we “fit in” with all the truth of the Universe.  When we reject Him, He will have to deal with that., for He is King.

We are coming again full circle in the church year, and we sill shortly begin again with Advent.  This Sunday of the  year we call “Christ the King Sunday”  is a reminder that history is NOT simply going around in circles, but that because Christ IS King, one day the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is NOT coming to vindicate OUR way of life, nor OUR interpretation of the content of “truth.”  “Jesus is LORD!”: and when He returns it will be HIS life that is vindicated, and HIS glory that will be revealed!

We are called to discernment NOW!  We are called to faith NOW! We stand with Pilate NOW– where it LOOKS as though we have the power to decide “What shall we do with Jesus?”

I know it seems like a sudden leap forward into the Advent story (and it doesn’t seem possible that Advent is fast approaching) , but we are called to the faith of Joseph, who couldn’t believe the kind of King who was coming, from the line of David the shepherd boy who became a great king.  Joseph had a hard time believing the angel who told him:  “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take  Mary as your wife: for that  which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 20 – 21)

We keep looking for the spectacular, when instead Jesus stands before us in the everyday living of life, in all of our joys and in all of our sorrows, it seems as if HE is on trial for HIS life!  And we keep making life and death decisions for ourselves, when we have the TRUTH Himself ready and waiting to be our own CHRIST THE KING the king of glory who gives nothing other than eternal life!

So this day let us emblazon in our hearts and minds the words of the psalmist,

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.”

Hail, Christ our King. Amen.

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