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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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What Kind of Sign Is This?

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01.17.16

What Kind of Sign Is This?

What Kind of Sign Is This?

Series: Epiphany

Speaker: The Rev'd Emily Griffin

Tags: christian, episcopal, sermon

Sermon – What Kind of Sign Is This?
The Rev. Emily Griffin – 1/17/16
Isaiah 62:1-5, I Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11

 

            Is this really what we need today? There are days when our Gospel reading seems spot on, and other days when the thread connecting then and now is a lot harder to see. And frankly, today I’m not sure how many of us are up for a wedding feast. Today some of us feel a little like Jesus in response to his mother’s comment about the wine running out: “What concern is that to you and to me?” In my mind, that’s not a rude question. It’s an honest one. Surely, there are more pressing matters at hand. After all, we’re talking about the One whose mission was to bring good news to the poor, to let the oppressed go free. Especially on Martin Luther King weekend, isn’t this serious Jesus the One we need? If we have to hear about Jesus the miracle worker today, can’t we hear about him relieving the affliction of someone who is desperately ill? Can’t we hear something that will help us shift the focus off ourselves onto people who truly need our help? Who really cares about him changing water into wine at a wedding?

Well, I’m guessing it meant something to the family hosting the wedding. Perhaps we can start there. Weddings, both then and now, are a time when we try on our best selves, when we hope that the pictures won’t reflect the fault lines trembling just beneath the surface. We understandably want everything to be beautiful, every guest to walk away feeling full, if not a little impressed with what we’ve been able to create. It doesn’t sound so different from church, does it? And particularly in the ancient Near East, the ability to host a wedding feast was a matter of honor and pride. Honor meant as much to them then as success means to us now. So running out of wine wasn’t just a social faux pas; it was a cause for shame. There are some who say that Jesus’ action here was an attempt to remove shame, that he was serving a serious and dignified purpose after all – and therefore, it’s OK to like this story, no matter how small or trivial it may seem in the face of say, world hunger or structural injustice.

I do think that was part of it. But he could have done it in a more reasonable and measured way, couldn’t he?  I mean - he doesn’t just fill in with a few cases of Yellowtail or Barefoot Merlot. He provides more wine than these folks will ever be able to consume on their own, and it’s a better quality than anything they could have imagined. We’re told by John, our Gospel writer, that this rather strange moment was the first of Jesus’ signs for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, that it was a revelation not just of power, but of glory.

So where is the glory here - for us who are seeking a sign now of the ongoing presence and loving-kindness of God? There are plenty of instances in the Gospels when Jesus demonstrates power over nature; we don’t need this story for that. Likewise, there are countless times when he uses his power to serve justice. That’s not what this is about either. We might not understand how he feeds 5000 people all at once, but at least we can tell ourselves that he’s feeding the hungry. But here in this moment – turning useful water into world-class wine – fundamentally, it’s not about meeting basic needs or fulfilling some kind of moral obligation. What happens here is more fun, more joyous, more about the party than that; here the point honestly seems to be joy, the continuation of the wedding feast even when we’re not sure that should be our concern, not just consuming the gifts God offers us but savoring them for once. Could it be that God truly cares about our enjoyment, our delight in the good things of this world? Or even more astounding, that God might actually take delight in us?

The prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading claims exactly that. And it was as hard for his original audience, some 600 years before Jesus, to swallow as it is for us today. They, like us, knew what they’d done and left undone. And in their case anyway, the shame was visible. After boasting that they’d always be safe because God was on their side, they were humiliated by the Babylonians and sent away from their homeland for decades. As the years passed and nostalgia set in, they’d forgotten just what had been done to their temple. They kept hope alive by remembering the Jerusalem that was, with its glorious worship space and seemingly impenetrable walls. Yet the city they eventually returned to looked nothing like the land of their dreams. The walls were still black with soot from fires set during the siege. Rebuilding would be hard, painful work. They didn’t know where to start, and they weren’t sure they felt like trying.

Imagine how today’s words from Isaiah sounded to them. After all that shame and disgrace, of fearing that God had finally given up on them, this is what they’re told: “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD…You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate. You shall be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you.”

“The LORD delights in you.” Delight isn’t something we normally associate with God. Love and faithfulness, yes (we hope), anger and grief, sometimes, but delight? It seems – well, too optimistic, perhaps even too naïve for God. We tend to think of God in more reasonable, measured terms – decidedly not like a bridegroom hopelessly in love with his bride, willing to risk foolishness and even heartbreak for the privilege of having her by his side, come what may. Too many of us know the fallibility of such human love. Yet that’s the image Isaiah gives us today. Honestly, that might be harder for us to picture than Jesus turning water into wine.

What are we meant to do with such images – with a God who insists on offering us wine when we’re not sure we deserve water, who persists in loving us and finding cause for delight in us precisely when we feel the most vulnerable and exposed and unlovely? We could dismiss such notions as romantic nonsense, I suppose, and get right back to the business of serving others, whoever “they” might be, but I’m not sure that gives God enough credit. We might at least consider the gift, not to mention the Giver, before we decide we’re not worthy.

Or perhaps that’s not our problem. Perhaps we’d prefer to be on the giving end of things; maybe we’re not comfortable admitting that there is no real line between those who need and those who don’t. We like focusing on others sometimes because it keeps the focus off our own fault lines. Sometimes the last thing we want to do – as individuals or as a community - is look in the mirror; we’re afraid of what we might see if we slowed down long enough to consider how God might actually see us. Even if God is hopelessly in love with us now, what happens when our true selves are revealed?

I’ve spent a long time this week struggling with this imagery. As someone whose parents have been married three times apiece, I know all too well the imperfection of the metaphor. Still, it was a lot easier preaching these passages before I got married. Now that my own wedding is several years behind me, I see things in my husband now that I couldn’t have seen back then – and wouldn’t have wanted to see. More to the point, I see things in myself now – pettiness, coldness of heart sometimes - that I never would have admitted then, even if I knew they were there. There’s too much history now to pretend that it was all as lovely as we tried to make it look on our wedding day. How can this precious, fragile, earthbound love possibly reflect God’s love or God’s delight in us?

Well, I suppose it depends in part on how we define beauty and how we experience joy. If beauty admits no brokenness or change over time, then it is an unreachable standard and a hopeless fantasy. And if joy depends on its constantly being felt, then perhaps it is illusory. But if the beauty God sees in us allows for the possibility for things to be built and rebuilt, melted down and refashioned into a more textured, more complex whole, that holds the past gently alongside the present, then it’s not such a stretch that God might still find us beautiful. And if joy is allowed to be greater than the measure of our feelings in any given moment, then perhaps it’s still within our grasp.   

Perhaps there’s more to this wedding imagery than we originally thought. If nothing else, it points to the fact that our story as the people of God is not over yet, and that the truth of God’s love for us is not dependent on what we can see on the horizon at this moment. It points us to a future we can’t see yet and tells us that while transformation is not inevitable, it is possible – if not in our time and strength, then certainly in God’s. Come to think of it – that kind of vision – of a God committed to loving us and seeing beauty in us even when we can’t see it, who seeks not just our survival but our joy – it’s not so different from the vision needed to work for justice. Joy and justice – it’s not an either/or. We can have both. But here’s the trick. Both require us to receive as well as give and admit that whatever transformation needs to take place – it’s not just for “them,” whoever they might be. It’s for us too.

In the meantime, if you’re still looking for a sign, if you’re willing to accept a miracle, then join us here at this table. Let the bread and wine, broken and beautiful, be your sign today, a tangible sign of the ongoing presence of a God who will never leave or forsake us. Welcome to the feast. It may be precisely what we need. Amen.