SERVICES & SERMONS

Young Child Friendly Service Service at 8:30 am

We gather for a Rite II Eucharist where all are always welcome.  Children join in the worship and will find activity boxes with art supplies and work sheets having to do with the day's themes.  Everyone gathers around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer and Children of all ages take part in the final hymn by joining in with shakers and rhythm instruments.  At all of our services, dress tends to be pretty casual and we observe what some of our people call a relaxed reverence.  

Family Service at 10:30 am

At 10:30 children are always welcome.  Our service is from the Book of Common Prayer and we have a choir to support the music in worship.  As in all of our services, all are always welcome.  

5:30 pm Celtic Service

Our Sunday evening service draws on our Celtic Christian roots, with an emphasis on God's presence in all of creation, especially in the natural world and in humanity.  Our evening band blends keyboards, woodwinds and guitar to provide meditative music for contemplation and reflection throughout the service.  

 
Sermons

Sermon for 10 Pentecost 

Matthew 14:22-33

August 9, 2020

 “Take heart, it is I!”

I would love to have heard the conversation in that boat. 

The disciples of Jesus had just taken part in an astonishing feast -- an astonishing feat. 

 With five loaves and two small fish, Jesus had had fed a multitude.

So when he sent his friends off ahead of him to the other side,

their conversation might have gone something like this:

                        What just happened?

There would have been more questions than answers

about how their teacher had suspended -- upended -- the laws of nature.

 

But the laws of nature soon put an end to conversation.

All the energy of these well-fed, but weary, men became focused on a single task.

Heads down, backs bent, taking turns grunting at the oars,

the disciples concentrated on one goal:   to get to the other side, straining against an adverse wind.

 

* * *

I don’t know much about this sort of commute, over the water.

When I want to get where I’m going, these days, I hop in my priestly-black Forester.

But there was a time when the most natural mode of travel for me was public transportation.

 

For years, I took the MARC train every day from Odenton, Md., to Union Station, and then the Red Line another five stops.

And I quickly learned the public transportation code of conduct, a code as unyielding as any laws of nature, even before

our current regimen of social distancing.

Go for the inside seat.

Position yourself, and your stuff, so as to discourage any neighbor.

Focus on your phone or plug in a headset.

 And most critical of all: Make No Eye Contact.

 

Over time, on a regular route with frequent riders, the rules may subtly shift, even to the point of conversation.

 

They may also be overcome by an extraordinary event. The event I want to tell you about happened not to me, but to my

son -- though as parents know, that means it really happened to me, too.

 

When Casey was 13, we lived in a small, safe city -- safe enough, I felt, that he could take the city bus from his middle school to my downtown office.  He was doing just that, sitting in an inside seat with his big band instrument, his euphonium, next to him, when out of the blue a group of bigger, high school boys . . . jumped him. One tossed his instrument aside, another pulled him from the seat, then they and their buddies began to . . . beat him up.

 

It hurts and horrifies me even now to talk about these things.  I can do so only because of what happened next.

* * *

What happened next for the disciples came out of the blue, too, in this case, the blue light of almost-morning,

halfway across the blue sea of Galilee.

 

Suddenly, there he was, the teacher they had left behind, Who’d said he would catch up with them later, after he had prayed.

Only it couldn’t be their teacher, because this . . . apparition was striding along on top of the water as if it were

the most natural thing  in the world -- as if it didn’t defy all the laws of nature they knew.And so these brave, but beat-up, sailors cried out in terror.

 

And Jesus heard.

If he had intended to reveal his divinity in his stroll on the sea, in his humanity he heard their plea.

 

And immediately he spoke to them, calling over the wind and the water:

“Take heart! It is I! DO NOT BE AFRAID!”

                                                                       

* * *

Jesus heard when my son, on that bus, cried out. He took a surprising shape, but who else could defy the laws of nature and the public transportation Code of Conduct?

 

While three or four bullies were beating on my son, and the driver was frantically trying to pull over, a tiny woman with a close-cropped Afro rose from her seat and walked up the aisle. I don’t know what she said, but in my imagination it sounds a lot like this:

“Take heart! It is I! DO NOT BE AFRAID!”

 

Somehow, when she approached the little huddle, the beating stopped.  Somehow, the bullies beat a hasty retreat.

Somehow, mercifully, my son escaped with only bruises because Jesus was on that bus.

* * *

 

This week, I was talking with Casey about that incident, which he remembers well, but he does NOT remember the woman who may have saved him.  I only met her later when she testified against the attackers. I think he was too busy trying to survive to see who rescued him.

 

And I think it’s true, too, that often when Jesus shows up, his presence goes undetected.  It’s only in retrospect that we

realize his divinity has reached into our humanity at a time when we needed him most, when we are most afraid.

 

What are you afraid of?

           

You don’t need me to enumerate what there is to fear, to name the adverse winds against which we navigate in these

fraught days  Sometimes, I think, we are so used to the grinding winds of global crisis, and economic peril, and personal anxieties that, like the disciples, we keep our heads down and push on,  barely daring to hope.

           

And yet, friends, we have cause for hope because the Divine Presence, who created earth and sea,

 who formed the laws of nature AND transcends them, has not passed us by.

In the mystery of the Incarnation, God is in the boat with us.

 

In our gospel today, when Jesus stepped into the boat, the wind ceased.  You and I don’t have that kind of power --

to make the bad stuff go away -- but we have been given one that perhaps is even stronger.  We have the power to step into one another’s boats, and to stay there, in spite of the wind and waves.

 

That boat may be a hospital room or a courtroom or a classroom.

It may be a relief effort in Beirut, or a kitchen table where quarantined parents work from home while supervising

schoolwork; it may be a city street where today’s disciples raise their voices for justice.

 

Wherever God’s children cry out, we have the power to carry the presence of God and to say, with or without words,

Against these adverse winds, you do not stand alone.

 

In the name of Jesus, we have the power to proclaim his message of hope:

‘TAKE HEART. IT IS I. DO NOT BE AFRAID.’    Amen.

ADDRESS

703-360-4220

8531 Riverside Rd.

Alexandria, Virginia, 22308

staidansalexandria@gmail.com

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