Sunday, January 6, 2019

Epiphany 2019

Readings for Today.

Listen to the Sermon.

Have you seen the big star that the downtown Seattle Macys puts on the building for the Christmas season?  I wonder if they would loan it out one of these years for Epiphany. If we put it up on the church, do you think wise people would come here seeking Jesus?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

1st Sunday after Christmas

Readings for Today.

Listen to the Sermon.

I have to confess that my heart sank when I walked into Fred Meyer on December 26.  The Christmas carols that had been background music since at least Thanksgiving were already replaced with easy listening - and they were clearing the Christmas merchandise to make way for Valentines.  

Sunday, December 23, 2018

4th Sunday of Advent

Readings for Today.

Listen to the Sermon.

I love the image of Mary traveling dusty, rocky roads to visit Elizabeth.  Was Mary on foot? Riding a donkey? Mary, young and recently pregnant by the Holy Spirit, on her way to her kinswoman Elizabeth.  Elizabeth, married to the priest Zechariah and old enough to be past child-bearing, is 6 months pregnant with John who-will-become-the-Baptist.  Both are unexpected pregnancies.  They have so much to talk about!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

3rd Sunday of Advent

Readings for Today.

Listen to the Sermon.

[Sing, from Godspell]
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.  (x2)

Here it is the 16th of December, there is so much still to do to prepare for Christmas!  Just 9 days left to
Finish (or perhaps start) shopping for the perfect gifts
Plan a delicious Christmas feast
Shop, cook and clean for said feast
Attend, or maybe throw, a party or two
Find an appropriately festive outfit to wear to that party
Decorate the house
Bake Christmas Cookies
Prepare for guests or travel

Phew!  I’m exhausted just making the list.  And, when we pause to think about it, all of those things get us ready for celebrating Christmas.  But how many of them prepare our hearts to receive our God, who comes to be among us?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First Sunday of Advent

Readings for this week.

Listen to the Sermon.

Happy Advent!  Today marks the beginning of a new season and a new year in the church calendar.  There’s some comfort in a new year, in starting the calendar over. We know what’s coming in this season and the next, what to expect in the four Sundays of Advent, followed by the 12 Days of Christmas, culminating in the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.  Of course, there’s a lot to do as we prepare for God’s arrival in the world, but it’s something we anticipate with hope rather than fear.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Feast of St. Hilda

Readings for Today.

Listen to the Sermon.

I was waiting to pick my kids up from school this week, talking to another parent, and she asked me if I love my job - and with delight I said, “Yes, I really do love my job.”  Her next question was whether we would have a big Thanksgiving service. Her question made me think about what kinds of celebrations people associate with church. This time of year, it brings to mind gratitude.  I told her that we will have a Thanksgiving service and I don’t know how big it will be. The better answer I came up with later, of course. We celebrate Thanksgiving EVERY WEEK at our church.

Our life as a community of faith centers around the time we come together for worship on Sunday mornings.  We come to hear God’s living Word, to reflect on our lives and God’s call to us, to pray for one another and for our world, to ask for forgiveness for the things we have done and left undone.  We gather with friends and strangers, drawn together in our shared experience, in music and ancient words and symbols, and in the hope and peace we find in them. We celebrate Thanksgiving in the Eucharist - a word which literally means ‘thanksgiving.’  

When we share in Eucharist, we give thanks to God for the blessings of our lives here and now - and for so much more!  Our Eucharistic prayers include thanksgivings, among them:
  • for God’s greatness as Creator and Source of all;
  • for God’s unfailing presence to all people throughout time - even when we walked away from God;
  • for God coming to know our human experience in the form of Jesus;
  • for Jesus’ willingness to be vulnerable and die so that we might know the power of God’s love to overcome all hate and violence; and
  • for our place in the great throng of faithful saints.  
Listen closely when you hear that long prayer before Communion, and you’ll hear all those elements.  Maybe, like many things we hear and digest, you also hear more gratitudes in our prayer, added by your heart and imagination - and those are good, too.

This Sunday, those thanksgivings take an extra dimension as we add in the Feast of St Hilda, baptizing baby Jackson, and our pledge ingathering.

Let’s start with Hilda, one of our patron saints.  Hilda lived in England in the 7th century. Brought up in a king’s court, Hilda’s early life was comfortable.  Baptized at 13, she entered the convent at 33, and soon became known “for her wisdom, her eagerness for learning, and her devotion to God’s service” [1].  Hilda established the abbey at Whitby, with a rule of life that included justice, devotion, chastity, peace, and charity. Because of her wisdom and prudence, kings and other public figures often sought her advice.  In 663, the abbey at Whitby hosted a now-famous synod or meeting where the bishops of England gathered to decide whether to follow Celtic or Roman customs. Hilda is remembered as ‘mother to all who knew her’ because of her encouragement of every person, from kings to stable boys, to pursue their gifts, to learn, and to serve God.  

What we know of Hilda’s rule of life seems to echo our reading from Ephesians this morning: “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

In this congregation, dedicated to Hilda, we share those same values about encouraging every person, every beautiful and unique child of God, to pursue every gift from God, to live into our calling, into a fullness of life that includes learning and serving God.  We know ourselves to be connected with Hilda as a faithful saint, a member of the heavenly host, with whom we are promised a place in God’s eternal kingdom because of our baptisms.

Which leads us to baptism - and today we celebrate that Jackson will join us as a full member of God’s eternal and forever family through the sacrament of Baptism.  As Jackson joins this family, this community of St Hilda St Patrick, we remember that in October we spent some time during Sunday services naming our gratitudes about this community.  We wrote them on a colored cards and offered those gratitudes to God as part of the offering of our lives for God’s work.

Some of the things we love about St Hilda St Patrick are its wide welcome of all people, the sense of community and family that cares for one another, the invitation of our worship - and so much more.  I am giving the original cards of our Love Notes to Jackson, as a baptism gift, to remind him and his parents about this community which pledges to love and nurture him as he grows into the full stature of Christ. Our Love Notes have also been transcribed into a beautiful, frameable document - and there is one for every family as you leave church this morning.

In a few minutes we will renew our baptismal promises as Jackson makes his for the first time.  We will once again commit ourselves, with God’s help, to striving to love and cherish all of life and creation as God does.  We will promise to return to the God who waits eagerly for us, whenever we stray. We will remember that we too were baptized into the body of Christ, to die to our human impulses that draw us away from God, and to live knowing ourselves God’s chosen and beloved children, called to co-create God’s kingdom here and now.

And then, having welcomed Jackson into our holy family, by water and the Holy Spirit, we will offer our whole selves to God in thanksgiving for all that God gives us.  Eagerly and generously, God blesses us. With that same eagerness and generosity, we offer our whole lives - all that we are, all that we think, do, say and have, to God.  We make that offering every week - and this week we make it intentionally by offering our 2019 financial pledges to God.

With God’s blessing, our generous and prayerful pledges will empower the ministry of St Hilda St Patrick in 2019 to continue to be a place of restful worship, a family of open and affirming welcome, a community of learning, and a body for serving Christ in all persons, advocating for justice and peace.  If, in your heart, God is calling you to change your pledge - or if you forgot your pledge card this morning - there are extras in the Narthex. One of the ushers would be glad to help you find one and a pen.

This week, especially, we dwell in our gratitudes, in how our many gifts from God bless us and transform our lives toward love.  Thanks be to God for this community, for the examples of faithful saints like Hilda, and for God’s abundant and unending love for us.  


[1]  “November 18: Hilda of Whitby, Abbess, 680,” Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 as proposed to General Convention 2018 (New York: Church Publishing), 577.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

25th Sunday after Pentecost

Readings for Today.

Listen to the Sermon.

Good Morning, St Hilda St Patrick!  I am so grateful to be here with you this morning.  My heart is literally bursting with love and gratitude for all the ways being in ministry with you blesses me, helps me continue to learn about being a priest, about having healthy balance in my life, about being a mom and wife – and that paycheck helps too.