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Welcome

Welcome to St. Alban’s Church! Every Sunday, and most days in between, people gather in this place to worship, to learn, to grow, to share the joys and struggles of our lives, and to seek God’s grace in the midst of our lives. We do not come because we have it all figured out, but because we are seeking light on the way. We come as we are and welcome one another.

On this website, you can find information about our worship, our classes for people of all ages, membership at St. Alban's, and about how we seek to make a difference in this world. We warmly encourage you to join us for a Sunday service or for some of the many other events that happen here. You belong at St. Alban’s.

Please fill out this welcome form to connect with us.

Contact us with any questions. Call (202) 363-8286 or email the church office.

 

Service Times

SUNDAY SERVICES (after Labor Day through May)
8:00 a.m.       Holy Eucharist: Rite I (spoken)

9:00  a.m.      Holy Eucharist: Rite II

                        Children's Chapel

11:15 a.m.      Misa in Español (Little Sanctuary)

11:15 a.m.      Holy Eucharist: Rite II (Rite I during Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter)

WEEKDAY SERVICES
Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday, 9:00 a.m.  Daily Morning Prayer

Tuesday, 7:30 a.m.                                    Holy Eucharist: Rite II

Directions

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church is located next to the Washington National Cathedral at the corner of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues in the northwest section of the District of Columbia.

From either direction on the north loop of the Capital Beltway/I-495 follow signs for Route 355/Wisconsin Ave south toward DC. St. Alban’s is located on the left just before the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW. Make a left onto Lych Gate Rd before you reach Massachusetts Ave. As you enter the drive, the church will be on your left and Satterlee Hall and the Rectory on the right. Stay on Lych Gate until it becomes Pilgrim Rd.

From any Virginia main in-bound thoroughfare (George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395, Route 50, I-66), follow signs to Rosslyn and take the Key Bridge from Rosslyn north across the Potomac River into Georgetown. Go right on M St, left on Wisconsin Ave. St. Alban’s is located on the right just after the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW. Make a right onto Lych Gate Rd after passing Massachusetts. As you enter the drive, the church will be on your left and Satterlee Hall and the Rectory on the right. Stay on Lych Gate until it becomes Pilgrim Rd.

Parking is available on Pilgrim Road Monday-Friday after 3:30 pm and all day Saturday and Sunday. Parking is also available in the Cathedral’s underground garage for a fee Monday- Saturday and for free on Sunday.  You may also park on neighborhood streets according to DC parking signs.

What to Expect

Visiting a church for the first time can be a bit daunting. So we have tried to put together the answers to some of the questions you’re likely to have and to ensure that you find a warm welcome here. Click on the questions to learn more.)

How do you worship?

What time are services on Sunday morning?

How long do services last?

Where can I park?

Do you offer programs for children?

What should I wear?

Do you have provisions for the differently-abled?

For Your Kids

Children’s Ministry

At St. Alban’s Parish the formation of our children is a high priority.  While we know that a significant amount of a child’s faith comes from the home, we aim to provide excellent children’s formation throughout the year to complement the formation that is ongoing in a child’s life.  Our goal is to help children easily point to the love of God in their lives.

Worship: Children’s Chapel meets at the start of the 9:00 a.m. service in Nourse Hall. Children join the congregation in "big church" at the Peace, in time for Eucharist.

Education: All church school classes resume the Sunday after Labor Day with our annual Open House. Instruction starts the following Sunday. 

Nursery care: Child care is available from 9:00 to 11:05 a.m. during the program year (September to May) for infants and children under 3 who aren’t quite ready for our 2s & 3s class.

Learn more about Children's Ministries


Youth Ministry

Four teen groups participate in formation classes at St. Alban’s on Sunday mornings.  We use the nationally recognized Episcopal curriculum “Journey to Adulthood," or J2A.  J2A has two guiding principles: 1) Manhood and womanhood are gifts of God; and 2) Adulthood must be earned. This is a strong program with over 50 youth participating, many of whom engage in a wide variety of ministries at St. Alban’s. Two or three adults mentor each of the groups for two years, sharing their own faith journeys and forming strong bonds of fellowship with the participants. 

Worship:  St. Alban’s Teen Service Fellowship starts at 9:00 a.m. and is a separate service just for our teens held in the Little Sanctuary at St. Albans School. This interactive service offers teens time to talk about life, the Gospel, and to celebrate Eucharist together.  The teens return to "big church," before heading to their classes at the conclusion of the 9:00 a.m. worship service.  Friends are always welcome.

Learn more about Youth Ministries

The Episcopal Church

As Episcopalians, we follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe God is active in our everyday lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and with each other in Christ. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the gospel, and promotes justice, peace and love. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all of its members.

We uphold the Bible and worship with the Book of Common Prayer. We believe the Holy Scriptures are the revealed Word of God. In worship we unite ourselves with one another to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God's Word, to offer prayer and praise, and to celebrate the Sacraments. The Celebration of Holy Eucharist is the central act of worship in accordance with Jesus' command to His disciples. Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians, not only members of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion with 70 million members in 165 countries.  The word "Episcopal" refers to government by bishops. The historic episcopate continues the work of the first apostles in the Church, guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church. Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops. 

We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person. We welcome all to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church.

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The First Sunday of Advent

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11.29.15

The First Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent

Series: Advent

Speaker: The Rev. Deborah Meister

 

            Advent is a time of anticipation, a time when beautiful sights and good scents and acts of kindness tumble over one another, so that we are caught up, asking, “What will happen next?” Except that this Advent, it feels more like, [tone of trepidation], “What will happen next?” And so maybe we are in the right frame of mind to hear Jesus’ words this morning:“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth distress among nations ... People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world.” (Luke 21:25-26) Normally, these are hard words to preach in the pulpit of an Episcopal church. We are a rational people, a comfortable people, a brave people, not a people given to alarmist tendencies and vague fear. This year, however, is not like other years; this year, these words seem to speak to our times, don’t they? And that’s an alarming thing, because they are part of a genre called “apocalyptic,” and when the apocalyptic starts to make sense, that’s a bad sign, friends!  A few years ago, I was reading Revelation, and I realized it no longer seemed crazy to me. It was the most alarming experience I had that whole year. A baaad sign.

            Most of the sections of the Bible that are considered crazy are apocalyptic: Revelation, parts of Daniel, parts of Zechariah, certain sayings of Jesus’. These are works written for desperate times, times when the world seems out of joint. In normal times, people put their trust in the sheer strength of the ordinary: the cycle of seasons, the goodness of people, the regular workings of government (good, bad, or indifferent). Surely, we think, things will just work out.

            But when they do not work out, when the bad news seems unlikely ever to end, when good people perish without reason at the hands of the wicked, when government seems impotent or predatory, when drought devours the harvest and flood erases cities and towns, then people look toward God as their last, best hope. And they start to write strange works, often in coded language so that they have plausible deniability if the agents of power come calling, works which are framed by the conviction that God will intervene in power to save the righteous believers from all the forces of evil that are arrayed against them. That’s why I said it was a bad sign when these works begin to make sense, because they are written for a time of despair -- despair in the power of human beings to set the world in order again. 

            Jesus spoke his apocalyptic words right before he went to cross; that’s why he says, “when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28) That’s right: your redemption. Your salvation, not your destruction, for at the heart of these words lies the unbreakable conviction that we are already citizens of the Kingdom of God, the one “kingdom that cannot be shaken”, come what may. (Heb 12:28) When Jesus speaks these words, he already knows what is coming: his death on the cross, the death that brings life to the world.

            Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the start of the new church year, and so it is fitting that Jesus tells us to look for the signs of the times, at what is drawing near. Look at the fig tree, for just as it sends forth leaves in spring, the kingdom of God is being born among you. And yet, what is this kingdom of God we anticipate? This is not a question without import in our world today.

            Scripture gives us two primary images of the Kingdom, images that are not consonant with one another. On the one hand, it is the kingdom of the pure: the small group of those who have been righteous in the eyes of God. In the last few weeks, our daily prayer readings have been taken from Maccabees, which embodies this vision, and I have to say, I found them distinctly unsettling. The story is a simple one: after the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was carved up among his closest friends, and Israel found itself under the control of Antiochus Epiphanes, a pagan ruler who was determined to spread his own culture and wipe out the practices of God’s chosen people. And so he planted Greek institutions in Israel: gymnasiums, schools, and theaters, and many of the Jews liked them, erased the marks of their circumcision, and abandoned their own religion.[1] Then Mattathias arose, a righteous Jew, and he and his sons refused to abandon their faith.  Instead, they rallied the remaining faithful Jews in mountains and in forests, waged battle against Antiochus, regained control of their land, purified the holy places, and re-established the Temple in Jerusalem. Mission accomplished!

            It is a story of divine triumph, but reading it, in these times, I found myself wondering: how is this story different from the story that ISIS/Daesh tells itself? After all, they would say that they are waging war in the name of their God against a form of Western cultural imperialism that has led their own people to abandon their traditional practices, adopt foreign customs, and debase their religion. And their goal is nothing less than the re-purification of the land they believe is theirs, by gaining control of the land, abolishing common practices, slaughtering people who do not interpret the faith as they do, and enforcing compliance with religious law. My point is this: that narrative is in our Bible, too, and we have to admit that it’s there.

            But it does not control us or our lives, and it does not guide our interpretation of the whole, because there exists alongside it a competing vision, which is not a tiny kingdom of the pure, but an expansive kingdom that gathers the all peoples of the earth into harmony. Listen to these words from Isaiah: “In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord...that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’” (Is 2:2-3) Isaiah predicts a future in which all peoples will turn to Jerusalem, will study the law of God and be united in peace, “beating their swords into plowshares” (2:4) and forgetting the terrible arts of war. Later, he is even more explicit: “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and the Assyrians, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.” (Is 19:24-25) Third with the Egyptians and the Assyrians, each of which had at times been enemies of Israel. And yet, here God claims these alien peoples as God’s own, saying, “my people,” “the work of my hands,” and “my inheritance.”

            These two visions exist side-by-side in our scriptures, except that as Israel moves further into monotheism, the vision of the kingdom of the pure begins to wane, and the claims that God is god of all the earth gain strength. For if there is only one God, then all peoples are God’s, without exception. The question becomes whether they know it and how they live it.

            The theologian John Zizioulas has written provocatively on what it means to be in right relationship with those who are different than ourselves (which is everyone). (There’s only one You.) And he writes that fear of the Other is original sin, for when Adam and Eve rejected God himself, who was Other than they were, they set in motion a world order in which the Other is seen as an enemy and a threat rather than as one to be welcomed. (Communion and Otherness, 1-2). Think about it: if we reject God, the Other who is entirely good, how likely are we to welcome one another, who are rather...spotty. But Zizioulas does not stop there; he continues by looking, not at what we have made of the world, but at God, who is three-in-one. And he writes that because God is Trinity, otherness is necessary to unity. Too often, we fall into the trap of acting as if unity requires uniformity, but the truth is that we can be united to others only if they differ from us, because if they don’t, they are us. It is precisely this work of reaching out to those who are different that Jesus did when he took on human flesh, reaching out of his godhead into our humanity, so that we could make of him a bridge and find our way back to God and to one another.

            That’s a lot of theology to lay on you on a Sunday morning (when many of you are still in a turkey coma), but the thing is, it matters. It matters because our world, our country, and our culture are becoming a battleground between those who wish to bring about a reign of the pure, and those who wish to embrace the other. ISIS, Al Queda, the racists, the people who want to expel immigrants and keep out refugees, the people who wish to make Christianity the law of our land, what are they seeking if not a culture in which people look like they do, dress like they do, and conform to their values in all ways? And we -- we who cling to a different hope, we who believe that all are God’s children, that each person deserves a fair chance to make a good life, that peoples who differ from one another and disagree with one another can nevertheless learn from one another and live together in peace -- we have to realize that this inclusive outcome is not inevitable. The future is in God’s hands, but we have a duty to witness to the love of God, which is extended not because of who we are, but in spite of it: the love that is offered to each and every human being, messed up and broken and confused as we are, because what matters in the end is not who we are, but who God is.

            And so, beloved, this is my prayer for you at the turning of the year: “may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all... that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (I Thess 3:12-13) Amen.

 

[1] You may be wondering how one erases the marks of circumcision; I have no idea!