Pastor’s Blog

Easter Vigil+Easter Lily+Azaleas at St. Stephen Lutheran Church +Ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

Pastor Andy's Musings


Once We Sang and Danced

February 14, 2018
Ash Wednesday and 17 dead (at this point) at a high school in Parkland Florida. "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" -- perhaps while in a high school classroom, because American citizens can buy military assault weapons. Tonight, during our Ash Wednesday worship, we sang Susan Briel's words, which are based on Psalm 137.  It seems to me that her words might be on the lips of grieving families and friends in Parkland: One we sang and danced with gladness, once delight filled every breath,…

Light in the Darkness

December 21, 2017
The darkness is deepest during these weeks, for us in the northern hemisphere.  Dusk comes in the late afternoon.  The sun rises 14 hours later. For some ancient European peoples, the winter solstice was an important time of religious rituals, encouraging the sun to return.  One theory why December 25 was chosen as the date to celebrate the birth of Christ is because the Christ followers co-opted a pagan festival already established on that date!  (According to the calendar then in use, that was the date of the winter solstice.) …

Work, Life, Death: It is All Gift

October 30, 2017
A 15 hour work day yesterday, beginning at 5:00 AM to do final preparations for the day’s worship.  Two festival services – with Karen Ive’s music leadership, combined choirs and wind ensemble, worship done as well as any congregation celebrating Reformation Sunday.  (The weakness might have been my sermon, which was a bit too much of a theological treatise.  One of the choir members, who had to sit through it twice, said, “I got a lot more out of it the second time I heard it.”  I replied that the…

What Do We Do?

August 30, 2017
What Do We Do?   That’s the question that I’m hearing at this point.  What do we do, as followers of Jesus, as we process the hatred and violence that erupted in Charlottesville on August 12?  I have a number of suggestions. First, we must recognize the reality and danger of the racial hatred that is coming from groups that are defending white supremacy in our culture.  We cannot be naïve about this.  According to the FBI, these racial hate groups proliferated in reaction to the last president.  According to…

Giving Thanks for What is Ordinary – Part 2

August 29, 2017
I am still mourning a man I never met. Brian Doyle wrote extraordinary essays about the life of faith.  Some of them are laugh-out-loud funny.  All of them are piercing in their truthfulness.  In many of them, he is poking fun at himself; using himself as an example of the imperfect and inadequate people God calls and showers grace upon and forgives and equips and uses, somehow.  All of his essays come out of his personal experience and his own observations, which mean they describe the experiences of anyone who…

Giving Thanks for What is Ordinary – Part 1

August 28, 2017
Two times, during the 16 years I’ve lived in Williamsburg, a significant hurricane has blown through.  Neither storm was catastrophic.  Each time, many trees were blown down, some houses were damaged, we were without electricity and telephone for a week or more.  We boiled water for coffee and cooked on a camp stove out on the screened porch.  The light of lanterns and candles was inadequate for much reading, so we went to bed soon after dark.  We slept fitfully until about 3:00 AM when, mercifully, neighbors’ generators ran out…

Ordinary Time

July 5, 2017
So, howareyadoin', one month into Ordinary Time? For you and me who are living in the liturgical world, there are two portions of Ordinary Time.  A short period comes during the season of Epiphany (between Christmas and Lent).  Now we’re in the longer portion, which comprises about half the year.  It started on June 11 this year, and it will extend until the First Sunday of Advent, December 3 this year.  (“Ordinary” probably comes from the word, “ordinal”: the Sundays after the Epiphany and after Pentecost are numbered.) Even though…

What Does It Mean to Be Human, as God Created Us to Be?  IV

March 20, 2017
Dorothy Day is one of my heroes.  When she died, in 1980, she was 83 years old.  She was  a founder of the Catholic Worker movement.  During most of her life, she worked to serve the poor in a House of Hospitality, a walk-in center for those without a home, or without enough to eat.  The hospitality was a radical Christian practice, no questions asked.[1] Dorothy Day wrote a great deal about her work.  It was difficult work because so many difficult people came into the House of Hospitality!  Many…