Update to Regathering

April 19, 2021

Beginning April 18, we have resumed indoor Sunday worship at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., with many safety protocols in place. Both services include a Zoom component so that as many of our congregation as possible can gather. Those who wish to gather in person will need to register in advance. If coronavirus conditions worsen, we will reconsider this plan.

 

Please be alert to coronavirus trends, your own safety, and that of others. If you have any worries, please 

"Stay home, Stay safe, Stay connected."

SERVICES & SERMONS

 

Sunday Worship

Holy Eucharist Rite II 9:30 am Service

We share the classic eucharistic liturgy as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, along with contemporary adaptations from time to time. Even with Covid protections, our worship is both joyful and reverent. Holy Communion is available to all and, during this time of health concerns, is administered with special care. Those who join us online, rather than in person, are invited to a spiritual communion. Though we are not permitted to sing together at this point, we are inspired by the recorded music of our choir and an occasional in-person soloist. Prayers for the community and the world bind us together as we follow the Lord's command: "Do this in remembrance of me."

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Celtic Service 5:30 pm  Service

 

Our Sunday Evensong 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  musicians blends keyboards, woodwinds and voices to provide meditative music for contemplation and reflection throughout the service. The service includes poetry, silence, scripture and a short meditation, healing prayers, and candlelight.  We encourage those attending on Zoom to prepare your own spaces at home and have your own candles ready to light at the appropriate time. 

Attendance in person requires signup (link provided in our Saturday E-News). Attendance on Zoom is provided following the link that appears in our Saturday E-News. If you want to be added to the E-News list, please subscribe at the bottom of the page.

 
 
Sermon

John 10:11-18

4 Easter - 4/25/2021

St. Aidan’s Alexandria

Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales

Interim Rector

The Good Shepherd. If we had stained-glass windows at St. Aidan’s, it’s a safe bet that at least one of them would depict a gentle Jesus, clad in a long, white robe cradling a lamb in his arms. In the background we’d see the green pastures and still waters of the psalm we prayed this morning, and perhaps a table set with a banquet and cup that runneth over.

 

You and I might not agree with the stained-glass artists’ standards of beauty, but I think we would admire their attempts to capture and reflect the beauty of the Good Shepherd.  For Goodness is Beautiful[1] – in fact, the Greek word kalos can be translated either way. The Good Shepherd is the Beautiful Shepherd, and while beauty has many faces, it always attracts. We are attracted to beauty, and we are attracted to goodness, because in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words, we are “made for goodness.”[2]

 

Perhaps that’s why we are so horrified when human beings, “made for goodness,” turn toward evil instead. We recognize the ugliness of a knee pressed into George Floyd’s neck until he died. We condemn the centuries of systemic racism that led to that act and so many, many others like it. Like the jury that convicted his murderer, we experience a special horror when the perpetrator of violence is one charged to “serve and protect,” who becomes, in the Gospel of John’s metaphorical world,  not just the hired hand who abandons the sheep to the wolf, but becomes the wolf.

 

There will be one flock, one shepherd, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. He means to be that Shepherd himself. He means to attract people to himself by his very goodness – not to erase all differences in a bland assimilation, but to respect and cherish the differences until the flock – until WE – begin to respect and cherish one another, with all our differences, gifts, and goodness.

 

Goodness attracts. You know this in your own life. When you encounter someone truly good – you don’t just want to be near them, you want to be LIKE them.

 

Jesus wants you to be near him, but even more, he wants you to be LIKE him. If that sounds impossible, let me tell you a little story,

 about a story I told years ago to a group of children

and the story one of them told me, back in my home parish in Odenton, Maryland.

 

Sitting in a circle with my little flock in a Godly Play room, I opened a gold box that just might have a parable inside —because gold is very precious and parables are more precious than gold. Together we examined each felt piece and constructed a landscape. Then the story began:

 

“Once there was someone who said such amazing things, and did such wonderful things, that people began to follow him. But they didn’t know who he was. Finally they just had to ask – and once when they asked him who he was, he said, “I am … the good Shepherd. I know each one of my sheep by name, and they know the sound of my voice…”

 

Elizabeth listened and watched intently, as the Shepherd led the sheep to the good, green grass and the cool, clear water, and went before them to the dangerous places, to show them the way to go through.

 

Then the story changed. I put away the Good Shepherd and took from the box another figure – the one called, in today’s gospel, the hired hand; or in Godly Play, the Ordinary Shepherd.

 

“The ordinary shepherd,” I said, “does not know the sheep by name, so when he takes them from the sheepfold, they scatter and wander. And when the wolf comes, the ordinary shepherd runs away. But the good shepherd (taking him from the box again ) . . . the good shepherd stands between the wolf and the sheep. The good shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep, so they can come safely home."*

 

With sighs of satisfaction, we put away our parable, and the children began to do more active work. Elizabeth, for her work, decided to retell this parable, and I was privileged to be her student. Carefully, she took the pieces out of the parable box, laid them out in front of her and moved the good shepherd into position. I waited for her to line up the sheep behind him.

 

But Elizabeth had another story to tell, a parable perhaps given to her by the Good Shepherd.

 

Because before she moved the sheep into place, Elizabeth took out the Ordinary Shepherd and placed him behind the good shepherd – right behind him, as close as a shadow.

Little did Elizabeth know that at that time, I was struggling with a call to leave my journalism career and begin the path to ordained ministry. But how could I? How could I ever be good enough?

 

Without words, Elizabeth was teaching me that¾though I am most ordinary¾if I stick close to the Good Shepherd, and watch his ways, and listen to his voice, I may share in his work.

 

So can you – so DO you, in your own particular ministries.

Remember that word kalos?, the one that means beautiful and good? It also means model. “I am the model shepherd,” Jesus says. “Watch what I do. Do what I do. Love one another, and let your God-given goodness shine forth.”

 

If you have any doubts about your own capacity for goodness, stick close to that model, beautiful, good shepherd.

Will we be perfect in our following? Of course not. But as Bishop Tutu reminds us, perfection is often the enemy of the good. If we truly follow our Good Shepherd, we will serve and protect all those he loves, not resting until the races in this nation are reconciled, until there IS one flock, bound together by the goodness of God.

 

That is a good and beautiful vision, a vision you are made for.

YOU are made for goodness. And YOU,

 in your unique goodness, are more beautiful than any stained-glass window.                                                                                                                                                         Amen.

[1] The opposite need not be true – beauty does not always indicate goodness!

[2] Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, Made For Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference (HarperOne; Reprint edition (February 20, 2010)