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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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Trinity Sunday

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05.22.16

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

Series: Pentecost

Speaker: The Rev. Deborah Meister

 

            Last fall, I went on pilgrimage to Ireland with a group of laypeople and clergy. At our last dinner together, we got to talking about our lives, and one of our priests commented, “I’m not sure I want to stay in parish ministry.” Another replied, “I’m not convinced by the whole model of parishes. I mean, they worked well enough in the past, but what if they’re not the shape of the future? What comes next?” Our leader, who seemed a bit scandalized, asked, wryly, “You all work in parishes, and you’re questioning them?” I chimed in, “We’re all being driven crazy by parishes!” and our end of the table dissolved into laughter. But here’s the thing: that was only part of what I wanted to say. If I could have completed my thought, here’s what I would have said: “We’re all being driven crazy by parishes, and that’s the point of them.”

             Many of us don’t want to see it that way. We want to hold on to an image of our parish as a cross between an ideal family and “Cheers,” this place where everyone knows your name. In our heart, we want the parish to be the ultimate loving community, the place where our needs are known even before we name them, where they are met before we ask, where others will be unfailingly kind and supportive even if we act out in harmful or destructive ways, where everything will be forgiven. (I’d like that too, actually.) But that’s not a parish, that’s a womb. And it could not be more different from the churches described in Scripture or even from the community gathered around Jesus himself. Those were not communities of cotton wool cushioned in Charmin. They were communities of accountability. And they were ordered for one purpose, and one only: that their members might grow in Christian discipleship.
            My own image of a parish is different; it comes from my childhood. When I was a little girl, my favorite store was in Old Town, Alexandria, down by the harbor, on the right. It sold rocks, which I collected avidly. The best thing about it was a huge green machine, crouched in the corner like a cougar. It was a tumbler, and you could put any rock in there, and it would be transformed from a lumpy, misshapen, inert thing, into a smooth, rounded, shining stone. It did that work through friction: inside that machine were other stones: pebbles, grit, and sand, and as they were thrown against one another, all their sharp edges were taken off, until the beauty that was in them was set free to shine.

            That’s what parishes are for:  they are communities in which we are thrown up against one another until our imperfections are sanded away. They are supposed to knock us out of the center of our hearts and to allow God and others in, open us to patience and tolerance and generosity and self-restraint. In the past, the parish would have been one of many communities doing this work. People lived in small towns or tiny agricultural hamlets, places where you could not escape one another, even if you disliked one another. But here in the big city, we can evade one another easily: change trains, change jobs, change partners, and someone we have seen daily for years just vanishes from our lives. We are all too disposable. So the parish and the family are what’s left to do the hard work of making us human.

            Today is Trinity Sunday, the most dreaded preaching day in the Christian year, when your clergy are supposed to convince you that an arcane doctrine no one understands actually matters. Well, I do believe it matters: it matters because it is true, and there is value in knowing what is true at the level of what orders the universe, and it matters because it shows us the shape of our common life. It teaches us is that God exists in the interplay between persons, and if we are made in God’s image, that’s how we are constituted, too.

            Martin Buber claimed, “I was a Thou before I was an I.” He meant that, for each of us, who we are is given: given not only by God, but also in the gaze and touch of our parents, siblings, friends, given when, utterly helpless, we were lifted and held and fed. If we were lucky then — if we were very lucky – the gaze that met our clouded eyes was one of tenderness, a look that told us we were infinitely loved. If we were not lucky, then we met eyes filled with anger or resentment, or no one picked us up at all. That, too, told us something about ourselves — something deeply untrue that takes a lifetime to unlearn.

            If you go to Florence to see Michelangelo’s David, you will find him standing at the end of a long gallery, finished, beautiful, immaculate. But on either side of that gallery are other sculptures: images of slaves struggling to be free. I do not know whether they are unfinished or whether Michelangelo planned them like that, but each figure is a flash of humanity — an arm, a leg, the thrust of a well-muscled torso — still emerging from the thick, unfinished block of stone. And we are like that, even the best of us. Our humanity, the image of God that is deep within us, is buried in so much other stuff: old injuries, festering resentments, opportunities not given or not taken, broken hearts, squandered trust, the mere fact of being overlooked or ignored, over and over again. It takes a skilled master-workman to chisel us into freedom. And we are God’s chisels — our relationships, the way we impinge on one another — us, and the grace of God we mediate every Sunday in this sanctuary.

            And if we are God’s workmen as well as God’s works in progress, how ought we to interact with one another? {pause} Theologians tell us that the Trinity is a model of perfect self-giving, and it’s easy to imagine that as perfect harmony and sweetness, but I am not so sure. Certainly, when Jesus walked among us, there were signs of tension in that harmony. The night before he died, Jesus went to the Garden of Olives and he knelt down and prayed, “Father if you are willing, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) Did you hear it? Jesus’ will and the Father’s were not the same; there was a difference between them, a difference so great that Jesus was in “anguish” and sweat was pouring from him like “great drops of blood.” (Luke 22:44) And then, later, the cry from the cross: “Why have you abandoned me?” If this was harmony, one of the lines had gone silent. The chord was broken.

            The ancients envisioned the Trinity not as music, but as dance, and the difference matters. Dance is made, not of similarity, but of difference. The ballerina does not float to the sky without the danseur who remains anchored to the ground. The two who join hands and lean back from center are one another’s balance. The dance opens in the space between people who are moving in dissimilar ways: they learn to engage one another, complement one another, support one another by their very otherness. In the same way, we must learn mutual appreciation, the art of give-and-take. That thing the other person is doing, that thing that means nothing to you, is very bit as necessary to our common life as the work that sustains you, and each must be given time, attention, and resources to succeed — even if that means we have to give up some of what we love so that someone or something else can flourish. This friction is necessary for our growth; it is not meant to lead to hardness or bitterness, but, rather, to self-giving generosity and mutual trust. At the end of his prayer, Jesus added, “Yet not my will by thine be done.”

            The hard truth at the core of Christianity is that life, health, grace, love, joy, all emerge out of sacrifice. St. Paul puts it like this: “our old self [must be] crucified with Christ so that [what holds us in bondage] might be destroyed. And we must no longer be enslaved to things that are broken.” (Rom 6:6) We get there through a process, a process of difficult surrender: we surrender the messages we learn from the human gaze for the true love that is found in the gaze of God.

            St. Paul put it like this: our lives with one another produce “suffering, and suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5) A monk adds, “To give that supreme grace to each one of us, God stops at nothing. There are times in which He will turn the whole world upside-down if thereby one single soul may come to resemble the divine Son more. That’s all He wants, that is all He can want.”[1]

            Each Sunday on this altar, the world is turned upside-down. The boundary between earth and heaven is rent asunder; bread and wine become body and blood, and God enters the world anew. When we taste that Communion, we are not just remembering something that happened long ago. We are changed, shaped a bit more in the image of God. Not just by one another, but by the direct, unmediated action of grace upon our souls. Christ offers himself to us so that we might offer ourselves to him and to one another. That offering is not without cost; it comes at supreme cost. But through it, we, with our clumsy gestures and sticky fingers, are invited to touch the priceless things of God.

            I’ll leave you today with a story about what that might look like in a real, human community. There was in Brooklyn a boy named Shaya who lived with a learning disability. One day, he and his father saw some kids playing baseball, and the boy wondered whether they would let him play. His father has some misgivings about this, but he asked, and the kids said,  “We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."  By the time they came to the ninth inning, however, the game had turned around. The team was down by only two runs and the bases were loaded. Still, the boys gave Shaya the bat. He didn’t even know how to hold it, but the other team’s pitcher, realizing he was not made quite like the other boys, moved close and threw a soft lob, so he’d have a chance to hit it. He missed. The pitcher came even closer. Then one of Shaya’s team-mates came and held the bat with him. This time, Shaya made contact, but the ball went low and straight to the pitcher. Instead of throwing the ball to first base, the pitcher threw it to the outfield, while everyone yelled, “Run to first base, Shaya!” He’d never done that, but he made it. By then, the right fielder had caught the ball, but he, too, threw it deliberately wide, while Shaya ran to second and then, prompted by the opposing short stop, who took his shoulders and pointed him in the right direction, to third. Finally, the boys on both teams abandoned their positions and ran behind Shaya, chanting, “Shaya, run home!” and he ran home and was lifted on the shoulders of the boys from both teams. They told him he was a hero, that he’d won the game, managed a Grand Slam.

            Many days later, Shaya’s father gave a speech and asked, “"Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God's perfection?" The other parents were appalled into silence. Then he answered, ”I believe, that when God brings a child like this into the world the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child." 

            How, then, should we live with one another?

 

 

[1] They Speak by Silences, by an anonymous Carthusian.