God will not give up on any of us

14 Pentecost/Year C

September 15, 2019

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14;1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10


I came across a very old gospel hymn this past week in the hymnbook we use at the Pioneers’ home for the Wednesday morning communion service. I’ve been spending some extra time there the past couple of months due to a couple of their regular pianists being out on medical leave. They usually play every week for the Wednesday morning service, and the gospel music time afterwards, and on Thursday nights.

When I was looking through the hymnbook to choose the 2 hymns to sing this past week at the Wed service, the title of a hymn, The Ninety and the Nine caught my eye. When I returned to my church office, I looked up the hymn to check out the lyrics and music, and I listened to a few recordings of it. And as music almost always does for me, it brought home the message of today’s gospel for me, reminding me, yet again, of God’s never-ending and relentless, outpouring of love, compassion, and mercy for me, and for all of his beloved people.

I was reminded while reading the lyrics of this old, old hymn, written in 1868 and put to music in 1874, that no matter how many times I have messed up, sinned, and wandered far away from trusting in the love and mercy of God, God never gives up on me. He never gives up on us. He will do whatever it takes to find any of his flock who have wandered off from the Shepherd’s care and find themselves lost for a time… He will keep looking and searching for those who are lost, and when he finds them, he will bring them back home, rejoicing, “I have found my sheep!”

Sometimes, we, ourselves may not even know we are lost…it’s often easier to point out others who appear to be lost, and label someone else as a sinner…but we are not so ready to admit to ourselves, our own sin, our own shortcomings, our own failure to fully trust and believe that God calls us beloved.

When we repent, we free ourselves to be loved by God, and we free ourselves to go out into the world to seek those who are lost, or feeling alone, …those who God sends us out to love, and welcome them home….our family, our friends, our neighbors, our enemies, and strangers….

God will not give up on any of us:  He will keep looking and searching for those who are lost, and when he finds them, he will bring them back home, rejoicing, “I have found my sheep!”

This is good news, indeed! Good News that has been proclaimed for over 2000 years in the scriptures, and in the lives of those who believe in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ… In Jesus, we have a Shepherd who has shown us what it means to be relentless in love, compassion and mercy…In Jesus, we have a Shepherd, who has given us hope and strength to follow him, in seeking out ways to love and care for one another…never giving up hope, never giving up on someone else’s worthiness, never giving up, on listening for their voice, never giving up on the dream of God’s beloved community….where all will know the love and power of God’s love, to bring healing and hope in all of our lives again, uniting us and reconciling us to one another…as a community, a family…where all are loved and welcomed home, where we will all rejoice together, in the presence of the angels of God, in this life, and in the life, yet to come.

By our Baptism, as followers of the Way of Christ, The Way of Love, we are being called to be part of the search party now…

"How many of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?

In God’s kingdom, in God’s family…every person is loved and valued and of worth. Never give up, in remembering that about yourself….and never give up, in searching for his beloved and bring them home.

God will not give up on any of us:  He will keep looking and searching for those who are lost, and when he finds them, he will bring them back home, rejoicing, “I have found my sheep!”


Hymn: The Ninety and Nine (words by Elizabeth C Clephane, 1868;  Music by Ira D Sankey, 1874)

1 There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold,

but one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold —

away on the mountains wild and bare,

away from the tender Shepherd's care, away from the tender Shepherd's care.


2 "Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine; are they not enough for thee?"

But the Shepherd made answer: "This of mine has wandered away from me,

and although the road be rough and steep,

I go to the desert to find my sheep, I go to the desert to find my sheep."


3 But none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed;

nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed thro' ere he found his sheep that was lost.

Out in the desert he heard its cry —

sick and helpless, and ready to die, sick and helpless, and ready to die.


4 "Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way that mark out the mountain's track?" "They were shed for one who had gone astray ere the Shepherd could bring him back."

"Lord, whence are thy hands so rent and torn?"

"They're pierced tonight by many a thorn, they're pierced tonight by many a thorn."


5 But all thro' the mountains, thunder-riv'n, and up from the rocky steep,

there arose a glad cry to the gate of heav'n, "Rejoice! I have found my sheep!"

And the angels echoed around the throne,

"Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own! Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!"


Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

Recovery Month Sermon

13 Pentecost/Year C

Sept 8, 2019

Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33


Opening prayer: Loving God, as we come before you this morning, give us open hearts and open hands. Make us eager to hear your voice and seek your guidance. Open our minds to your ever-present spirit that is always moving within and around us. Open our spirits to your nudging and open our lives to your love.

. ~ posted on The Minor Keys.   theminorkeys.blogspot.ca


Sometimes Jesus’ words come off sounding quite beautiful and lovely…nudging us gently to follow him….Other times…not so gentle…and beautiful sounding…

Today’s gospel reading…is one of those “not so gentle” messages about what it means to follow him. Jesus has some harsh words for those who say they want to follow him, and be his disciple. "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. …none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."

Jesus certainly has a way with words sometimes…words that always manage to catch one’s attention…he has a way about him…that brings us uncomfortably close to the truth…his words can be pretty shocking at times, sound pretty radical, sound impossible, and pretty much turn upside down, anything we thought we understood about him, and what we really think we are doing, when we say yes…to following him…

Jesus always seemed to have a large crowd gathering around him…There seemed to be plenty of people who were travelling with him from place to place…eager to hear what he had to say…

But every once in awhile…he stopped what he was doing…turned around and looked directly at those who were following him…and questioned them…

He wanted to know, if they realized fully who it was they were following…where they thought he might be leading them…

He wanted to know, if they realized…that following him…meant going all the way to the cross with him…he told them more than once…that the Son of Man would be killed, and on the third day He would rise again.  But the disciples…didn’t seem to understand these words…or perhaps they didn’t want to hear what he was saying… when he began to talk about his death…

They couldn’t get past the harsh words. They seem to stop there. And then go back to their own version of what it is they were doing, in following Jesus. And perhaps, just brush it off.

But Jesus’ invitation to follow him, and be a disciple means that we trust in Him enough…to follow him all the way to the cross…and stay there with him, face the hard stuff, acknowledge the death, be there in the quiet and unknowing of what’s next…Trust in his hard words of truth…because as we have the benefit of knowing now…death does not have the final say…because Jesus did rise to life again on the third day…so that all of us…could also be transformed into new life with him.

Following Jesus is hard…but, in considering the cost and the value of all of God’s beloved children…striving to love one another as Christ has loved us….every step with Jesus, with our brothers and sisters is so worth it…

I am particularly thinking of our brothers and sisters who are struggling with mental health and substance use disorders….it can often be a long and difficult road to recovery…but with the support of people along the way…hard and difficult is not impossible…

September is National Recovery Month. It is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national observance held every September to educate the general public that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. This observance celebrates the millions of people who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover.

 It also serves to help reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.

The 2019 Recovery month theme: “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger,” emphasizes the need to share resources and build networks across the country to support recovery. It reminds us that mental and substance use disorders affect us all, and that we are all part of the solution.


There are several things happening in Sitka as part of recovery month. This past weekend, was a walk in recognition of suicide prevention efforts…and many people walked, to remember a loved one who has died by suicide.

Next weekend, Sitka counseling is inviting the community to come out and walk for recovery…a chance to celebrate those in recovery from mental health and substance use related issues…and to spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. (SCPS)

St Peter’s will hold a special prayer service on Sept 18, in recognition of Recovery month.

At the end of the month, there will be a community Recovery Month Potlatch…

Every day, here in Sitka, there are AA/NA groups, and other support groups available to those in recovery and for their families and circle of support…

Those in recovery need support from the whole community. (not from just the counselors, the medical establishments, the mental health practitioners).  They can’t do it themselves, their family cannot support them all on their own…it takes all of us to seek to be educated, and seek ways that we can walk with people on the long road to recovery.

Following Jesus is all about community. It’s all about finding ways to walk with each other through the hard times, and the joyful times. It’s all about trusting Jesus to know, that when he walk with him, he will not only lead us to face the difficult issues in our lives, but he will lead us beyond that into a new life…transformed by the love of God into a new creation

I could imagine Jesus walking right alongside with all those on the road to recovery as they face the very hard stuff…and go through the difficult period of transition and transformation to a new life ….

And as brothers and sisters in Christ…I imagine Jesus is inviting us to follow him…to really think about what it means to be a disciple of Christ…trusting in Him, going wherever he leads us…going all the way with him….doing whatever it takes…to love one another, as Christ as loved us….but not only following Christ alone, but in community with one another.

That’s where the fullness of life begins and ends and begins again…in following Jesus, all the way….walking together with our brothers and sisters…all the way….trusting in the way Jesus is leading us…into newness of life…and God’s everlasting grace and glory….

Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #144 Where He Leads Me

1          I can hear my Savior calling, (x3)

            "Take thy cross and follow, follow me."

            Refrain Where He leads me I will follow,(x3)

            I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.


2          I'll go with Him through the garden, (x3)

            I'll go with Him, with Him all the way. Refrain


3          I'll go with Him through the judgement, (x3)

            I'll go with Him, with Him all the way. Refrain


4          He will give me grace and glory, (x3)

            And go with me, with me all the way.  Refrain


Rev Julie Platson, St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church, Sitka, AK



Recital to Inaugurate Gift Piano at Church

Recital to Inaugurate Gift Piano at Church

By SHANNON HAUGLAND Sentinel Staff Writer (Sept 3, 2019)

A topnotch classical musician, a 100-year-old Steinway and the beautiful acoustics of a historic Sitka church will share the spotlight Thursday at a recital to celebrate the donation of the piano to the Sitka Summer Music Festival – and the community.

“For 100 years old, it’s really definitely a good piano,” said Alfredo Oyaguez Montero, who will be a guest pianist at the upcoming Autumn Classics series. “The keyboard is great, responsive. The acoustics of the church help.”

Oyaguez will play a recital 5:30 p.m. Thursday as St. Peter’s Episcopal church welcomes the Steinway Model 0 to its new home. The recital is free and open to the public.

The piano was donated to the festival by Linda Kumin, a festival patron from Anchorage, who had it crated up and shipped to Sitka in June. Festival Executive Director Kayla Boettcher said the gift presented the organization with the opportunity to partner with St. Peter’s to provide it with a permanent home.

For the 45-minute program, Oyaguez plans to select pieces that show off the beauty of the instrument, helped by the acoustics of the historic church at 611 Lincoln Street. As he spoke to the Sentinel today Oyaguez said he was still fine-tuning the program for Thursday, but that it should include some standard German fare as well as pieces by Spanish composers, including Astor Piazzolla. Oyaguez’ home is in Mallorca, Spain.

Oyaguez gave solid reviews to the instrument, which was built about 100 years ago at the Steinway factory in New York. Pianos are affected by age, but Oyaguez said the New York Steinways have a reputation of being more resilient than those manufactured in Hamburg, Germany.

  As to this particular piano, Oyaguez commented, “I found it very comfortable and rewarding to play on it.”

Since its arrival this summer the Kumin piano has been played at special programs as well as at regular Episcopalian church services. The church is a popular venue for amateur as well as professional musicians, and community concerts.

 “We’re grateful we have this space for the piano, and to share it with the community,” said the Rev. Julie Platson, rector of St. Peter’s.

Oyaguez was a guest artist at the Sitka Summer Music Festival in 2018, and will perform this fall at Juneau Jazz and Classics in Juneau Sept. 7 and 8, followed by a SSMF concert in Cordova on Sept. 9. He will perform on the first weekend of the Autumn Classics Sept. 13-15 and Sept. 19-22 in Anchorage.

Oyaguez has a master’s of music from Yale University and master’s degrees in conducting with Professor Heiichiro Ohyama and Piano Performance from University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been associate conductor and general manager of the UCSB Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theater and a lecturer for the Conducting Department at the UCSB Department of Music.

Oyaguez has a “High Degree in Music” and the “Piano Professor Diploma” from the Madrid Royal Conservatory where he studied with Professors Almudena Cano, Consuelo Mejias and Josep Colom. He is on the faculty of the Palma de Mallorca Conservatory in the Balearic Islands and is artistic director of the Deia International Music Festival and the Palau March Chamber series, and director and founding member of the Camerata Deia. He is a professor at the Folkwang Universitat der Kunste in Essen, Germany, and the “International Music Seminars “Musica en Compostela.”

 This season, he performed at El Paso Pro Musica, and the Northwest Bach Festival, where Zuill Bailey (Sitka Festival artistic director) is artistic director. Oyaguez also played at a festival in Mesa, Arizona.

During his nine days in Sitka, Oyaguez been visiting schools, and talking to the kids about music, music history and culture.

“He really enjoys being in Sitka and it’s great he’s willing to share his experiences with the community,” said Boettcher.

Kumin said today from Anchorage that she decided to donate the instrument after she was unable to find a buyer, and is happy her gift will be appreciated by the Festival and community.

  “It needs to be played,” she said. “I’m glad someone’s going to play it.”

World Day of Prayer for Creation

12 Pentecost/Year C

Sept 1, 2019

Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16;  Luke 14: 1, 7-14

September 1st is the World Day of Prayer for Creation, which kicks off the start of the Season of Creation that continues through October 4th.  It’s a time for people of faith to be intentional about living out one’s faith in caring for creation, by praying, advocating, taking action that calls our attention to the web of life and our interconnectedness to God, one another, and all of God’s creatures and all of God’s treasures in the world around us…the good earth, the trees, the mountains, the oceans and the rivers, all of this…that nourishes and sustains us all.

In today’s scriptures, we are reminded that there are so many times throughout the ages, including now, in our present time, that God’s people have forgotten who has created them,  who they belong to, who has blessed them, who has given hope to their hearts, who has brought them time and time again, into a land of plenty, and abundance, with more than enough to share with one another…People have forgotten, the One, who created them, out of love, to love one another, and all of creation…and have forgotten, that the care of this sacred earth and all of its people, have been entrusted to each one of us. We have forgotten, at times, that we were created out of God’s love…as a message of God’s love to the earth…and as a prayer from the earth back to God.

And we have argued and have disagreed, about who knows God and who does not; where God is, and where He is not; who should and should not be invited to the dinner, who should sit in the place of honor and who should not; who is worthy, who is not… as was evident in our gospel today; we have neglected to show hospitality to one another, and neglected to love one another, as God has so generously loved us.

The good news is this: that today is a new day…a new day to turn our hearts once again towards God, remembering that we were created out of God’s love…as a message of God’s love to the earth…and as a prayer from the earth to God...

It’s a new opportunity to do good, as we heard in our Hebrews reading…and to share the love and blessings we have received… to give thanks to God, in ways that show that we love one another, and share with one another, and encourage one other to care for all of God’s beloved creation…a gift from God…and extravagant gift from God…

When we get back to these basics…the very beginnings and purpose of creation…we are reminded…that we are all connected and united by the love of God, in this web of life that nourishes and sustains us all….and welcomes all to the table of God’s love, the festive banquet that has been spread out for all to enjoy… an extravagant gift from God..

Let me share a short story, about a wise old turtle…who reminds us of our interconnectedness with all of creation…and teaches us about seeing God and loving God, in each other, and in all of creation.


STORY: OLD TURTLE, by Douglas Wood

Once, long, long ago….yet somehow, not so very long…when all the animals and rocks and winds and waters and trees and birds and fish and all the beings of the world could speak….and understand one another…

There began…AN ARGUMENT.

It began softly at first…

Quietly as the first breeze that whispered,

 “He is a wind who is never still.

Quiet as the stone that answered,

“He is a great rock that never moves.”

Gentle as the mountain that rumbled,

“God is a snowy peak, high above the clouds.”

And the fish in the ocean that answered, “God is a swimmer, in the dark blue depths of the sea.”

“No,” said the star, “God is a twinkling and a shining, far, far away.”

“No,” replied the ant, “God is a sound and a smell and a feeling, who is very, very close.”

“God,” insisted the antelope, “is a runner, swift and free, who loves to leap and race with the wind.”

“She is a great tree,” murmured the willow, “a part of the world, always growing and always giving.”

“You are wrong,” argued the island, “God is separate and apart.”

“God is like a shining sun, far above all things,” added the blue sky.

“No, He is a river, who flows through the very heart of things,” thundered the waterfall.

“She is a hunter,” roared the lion.

“God is gentle,” chirped the robin.

“He is powerful,” growled the bear.


And the argument grew louder and louder and louder…until…


It rumbled loudly, like thunder.

And it whispered softly, like butterfly sneezes.

The voice seemed to come from…

Why it seemed to come from……Old Turtle!

Old Turtle hardly ever said anything, and certainly never argues about God.  But now Old Turtle began to speak.

“God is indeed deep,” she said to the fish in the sea; “and much higher than high,” she told the mountains.

“He is swift and free as the wind, and still and solid as a great rock,” she said to the breezes and stones.

“She is the life of the world,” Turtle said to the willow. “Always close by, yet beyond the farthest twinkling light,” she told the ant and the star.

“God is gentle and powerful. Above all things and within all things.”

“God is all that we dream of, and all that we seek,” said Old Turtle, “all that we come from and all that we can find.

“God IS.”

Old turtle had never said so much before. All the beings of the world were surprised, and became very quiet. But Old Turtle had one more thing to say.

“There will soon be a new family of beings in the world,” she said, “and they will be reminders of all that God is.”

“They will come in many colors and shapes, with different faces and different ways of speaking.”

“Their thoughts will soar to the stars, but their feet will walk the earth.”

“They will possess many powers. They will be strong, yet tender, a message of love from God to earth, and a prayer from the earth back to God.”

And the people came.

But the people forgot. They forgot that they were a message of love, and a prayer from the earth.

And they began to argue…

About who knew God, and who did not; and where God was and was not; and whether God was, or was not. And often the people misused their powers, and hurt one another. Or killed one another.

And they hurt the earth.

Until finally even the forests began to die…and the rivers and the oceans and the plants and the animals and the earth itself…

Because the people could not remember who they were, or where God was.

Until one day there came a voice, like the growling of thunder; but as soft as butterfly sneezes,


 The voice seemed to come from the mountain who rumbled, “Sometimes I see God swimming, in the dark blue depths of the sea.”

And from the ocean who sighed, “He is often among the snow-capped peaks, reflecting the sun.”

From the stone who said, “I sometimes feel her breath, as she blows by.”

And from the breeze who whispered, “I feel his still presence as I dance among the rocks.”

And the star declared, “God is very close;” and the island added, “His love touches everything.”

And after a long, lonesome and scary time….the people listened, and began to hear…And to see God in one another…and in the beauty of all the earth.

And Old Turtle smiled. And so did God.

This is God’s dream for his people…and all of creation. That we remember we are a message of love from God to earth, and a prayer from the earth back to God.”

Let us pray: (season of creation prayer 2019)

Creator of Life,

The Earth is full of Your creatures, and by Your wisdom you made them all. At Your word, the Earth brought forth plants yielding seed of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit, the waters teemed with swarms of living creatures of every kind, and world was filled with every kind of winged bird, walking animal, and creatures that creep upon the ground.

Mountains, plains, rocks, and rivers shelter diverse communities, and through the changing seasons Your Spirit renews cycles of life.

During this Season of Creation, open our eyes to see the precious diversity that is all around us. Enlighten our minds to appreciate the delicate balance maintained by each creature. Inspire us to conserve the precious habitats that nurture this web of life.

In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Instrumental Music after sermon: All Things Bright and Beautiful


Rev. Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, AK

Free at Last

11 Pentecost/Year C

August 25, 2019

Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13: 10-17


Sequence hymn/Hymn before/after gospel reading today

The Hymnal 1982 - #8 Morning has broken

Morning has broken like the first morning,

blackbird has spoken like the first bird.

Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!

Praise for them, springing fresh from the Word!


Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven,

like the first dewfall on the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,

sprung in completeness where his feet pass.


Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning

born of the one light Eden saw play!

Praise with elation, praise every morning,

God's re-creation of the new day!


This hymn we just sang…makes me think of the woman in the gospel story today…who Jesus noticed, called her over to him, told her she was set free from her ailment, laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began praising God…

I could imagine this morning hymn, being sung by her, with exuberant praise in thanksgiving for her newfound freedom…and her gratitude for the gift of a new day…

And what it really calls my attention to…is how all of us, who are gathered together, could join in this song too…rejoicing with her…that she has been set free from whatever physical, emotional and spiritual bondage that has kept her from acknowledging, and claiming her own worth and dignity…for 18 long years…

But, I’m not sure that always happens…we have our own lives to worry about…we don’t always notice the others in our midst who are not in our circle of friends….or if we do notice them…we don’t feel the need to make it our business, to get to know them…all we might see…is that woman bent over…that woman who could not stand up straight…that woman who we have seen every week, for the last 18 years…It is easier for us to tell our own stories about her…and not acknowledge her, or ask to hear her story, in her own words…and we just let her be…she doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone…she’s just there…there’s nothing we need to do about her…

But, what happens when something does change for her…something good! Do we jump to conclusions and start sputtering out words of condemnation and ridicule like the leader of the synagogue today, when Jesus dared to heal her on the sabbath day…

Or do we choose to rejoice with her, that the love of God, through Jesus, his words and his touch, has brought healing and reconciliation, not only for her, but all of us…if only we were to acknowledge her worth and dignity and belovedness as part of God’s family… we would all be truly free…

What about in our own lives now…there are people among us, who have lost their health and freedom, and are often overlooked…

Do we choose to support those who through addiction, have lost their health and freedom, and rejoice with them, in their work of recovery?

Do we choose to support those whose declining health has put limits on their freedom to live as they once did, but still look to us for signs of hope and reasons to rejoice?

Do we chose to support those whose daily lives are marked with violence, and rejoice with them when they have been set free, and empowered  to live a life, in which they are valued and respected for who they are…

Do we choose to support those who are grieving the loss of their loved one, and rejoice with them, as they reclaim their freedom to love and live again…

Do we choose to listen to the stories of those who cry out for help, when they are being held hostage by a system that has taken away their freedom to love and care for their family and their children? Can we imagine a new way forward with them, helping them to be set free, to love and be loved…and will we rejoice with them when the day finally comes…

What a day of rejoicing it would be…if the most vulnerable people among us, could be set free…could be set free to wake up in the morning, like you and I, singing and rejoicing that a new day has come…a new re-creation…a new day to praise God…

What a day of rejoicing it would be, if all of us, could sing this song of freedom together…a song that has been placed in our hearts, by the love of God, made known to us, through the gift of Jesus Christ…the one who came to live among us, to teach us, to set us free…to love ourselves, to claim that freedom for ourselves, and to eagerly share this love with others…so that they too will be set free to love and be loved….

***What a day of rejoicing it would be, if today we would recommit ourselves to the continued work of racial healing and reconciliation…and look forward to rejoice together on that day when all of God’s people will finally be set free…

Free at last, free at last, I thank God I'm free at last.

Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #230 Free at Last

Refrain: Free at last, free at last,

I thank God I'm free at last.

***As a part of Healing Day events happening nationwide today, We rang the church bells for 1 minute today at 11am (3pm eastern time zone) to join others in commemorating and remembering the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans who were brought to the Americas…and to recommit ourselves to the work of racial healing and reconciliation***


Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

St Peter’s by the Sea Weekend Announcements - August 23

*Sunday Services - 8am & 10am

Sunday scriptures

 Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

*Wednesdays: Bishop’s Tea House 11am-2pm (last week)

            Scripture Walks in Totem Park - 5:30pm (last week)                                  

*Thursdays: Bishop’s Tea House 11am-2pm (last week)                   

*Fridays: St Simeon & St Anna Prayer Service @ 10am

*Saturday Aug 31: 8am-12pm – Rummage Sale @ St Peter’s

Pearl of the Week

Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be God, for having created me.  - Clare of Assisi, Monastic

“Everyone who wants to see God’s dream come true must see with the eyes of a child.”

Back to School Sunday/Blessing of the Backpacks Sunday

August 18, 2019

10am service

Proverbs 3:1, 5-6; Psalm 25: 4-5; Philippians 4:6-7

Mark 10: 13-16 (from the Children of God Storybook Bible)


The kids are getting ready to head back to school this week…

Lots of excitement in the air for some…maybe a tinge of worry for some…but for most kids…they are probably dreaming of a wonderful year ahead…

Next week will mark the beginning of a whole year of new adventures, experiencing new things, learning new things, meeting new friends…doing things that they haven’t even imagined or dreamed of yet…

It can be a wonderful time of life, for children…to be free to wonder and dream and play and laugh and sometimes cry…but mostly to love and live freely, trusting in the world around them…trusting in the adults who love and care and watch out for them...in their homes, and in the arms of their extended family members, in their schools, in other places in the community, and here in the church…


Do you and I remember what it was like to get ready to head back to school? Can you go back in time, and look through the lens of your five year old self…and remember what life was like back then and how you viewed the world around you?

It is difficult to do…we’ve learned and lived through so many things throughout our lives, good things and bad things, joyful times, and times of suffering and heartache…we have so many responsibilities now, that we are adults…

Something else can happen along the journey to adulthood… we forget to live and love and laugh and play and dream…we give up on a dream of a world where all will know and believe that God loves all of us…and of a world where we can show each other the same care and love we have received…and that really…there is enough love to go around, for all of us…really…there is…

IN God’s family…there is enough love to be shared…with God, one another, and all of creation…It’s a dream that can come true…with faith and hope…and through the eyes of a child…

In our gospel reading today…we are reminded of this, through the words of Jesus to his disciples,

 “Everyone who wants to see God’s dream come true must see with the eyes of a child.”

So, as we turn to the start of a new school year, let us dare to dream again with the young people, and look to life again with faith and hope, through the eyes of a child…because everything we really need to know about life and loving God and one another, we learned in Kindergarten…

― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

1. Share everything.

2. Play fair.

3. Don't hit people.

4. Put things back where you found them.


6. Don't take things that aren't yours.

7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.

8. Wash your hands before you eat.

9. Flush.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

12. Take a nap every afternoon.

13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”


Look…look for signs of God’s love wherever you go…Look and remember that God loves us all…           

Voices Found - #68 We bring our children

We bring our children, Lord, today

as once they did in Galilee,

embrace them with your love, we pray,

and bless each home and family.

On their behalf and in their name

our own commitment we renew

with them we die to sin and shame,

with them we live again in you.


Help us in all our ways to show

these growing souls your truth and grace,

till they shall come themselves to know the beauty of our Father’s face.


Rev Julie Platson

St Peters by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 The Gospel Reading (from the Children of God Storybook Bible) Mark 10: 13-16

Jesus spent many hours teaching people about God and how he loves us all. One day, when Jesus was tired and resting, some parents arrived with their children. The children were giggling and laughing and running around making noise while their parents asked the disciples if they could speak with Jesus.

“What do you want with the Master?” asked the disciples.

“We want him to bless our children.”

“The Master is resting,” the disciples said. “You can’t bother him now. Go home.”

But Jesus heard them. “Do not chase away the children!” He called. “Let them come to me. God loves children, and when they smile, he smiles; when they laugh, he laughs; when they cry, he cries.”

Jesus went to the children, and they laughed and played together for awhile.  He took them in his arms and hugged them. He placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Then he told the disciples, “Everyone who wants to see God’s dream come true must see with the eyes of a child.”

Children are always watching us and are eager to learn and know what is right and true.

August 18 2019

8am service 

Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12: 49-56


We just listened to some pretty harsh sounding and difficult scripture readings this morning.

I can tell you, upon my first reading of the scriptures on this Sunday’s lectionary, my immediate thought was, “there is no way I am going to include those readings at the 10am, special family service”. I was thankful that I had already been working on a special back to school/blessing of the backpacks service for several weeks now, so I was already exploring alternative readings, as I was putting the service together. Kids were already lined up to do the readings, all the music was picked with the kids in mind – songs they could sing and use the shakers and tambourines with – songs that speak of Jesus’ love for them, and for all of God’s children…and for all of creation.  If you were to attend the 10am service today, there would be no way of missing the good news of God’s love and presence, proclaimed joyfully through the lives of the children.

But, here in this service, and in the readings we just heard…it may take a little more of digging deeper, or opening our minds and hearts a whole lot wider…to hear the good news of God’s love, in this present time together.

Perhaps, that’s precisely, one of the gifts of hearing these difficult passages…they have the power to wake us up from our complacency, and to face the truth, the difficult truth, of what is happening right here, and now… in our own lives, in our communities…and in the wider world…

Perhaps, that is the good news…that God won’t let us rest until the good news of his love, reconciles us all together, all of us, in this life…and the life yet to come…God won’t let us be satisfied, with the ways things are…which is so far removed from the vision of God’s dream for his beloved children… His love will persevere in finding a way into our hearts, inviting us to turn our hearts back to him… in this moment, right now…in this moment, of considering some very difficult teachings…

What caused me, and perhaps you, to shake our heads, and cringe upon hearing these scriptures this morning?

More importantly, in our gospel reading today, why was Jesus reacting with such passion and perhaps exasperation and do I dare say anger? All those exclamation points in the Luke gospel today… seems to me, that Jesus was not speaking calmly, at the time…

Do you remember a little bit about our gospel reading last week…about being ready, by faith…to receive God’s love and blessing, because God is always standing ready to love and bless us…all of us…all of God’s beloved children…Do you remember the last verse of our gospel reading last week: You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour…

I have a feeling that this lesson picks up where Jesus speaks of his unexpected return, and finds the people are still not ready...they are still living in fear of one another, and of their own lives…fearing that they don’t have enough… There are still people who are stealing from one another…hating one another…there is still division, and actions taking place that are separating people from one another, placing people in categories of worthy, and unworthy; trustworthy, and untrustworthy; rich and poor, loved and unloved…

Jesus is surely angry…Some of God’s beloved children are still being exploited…some of God’s beloved children…are still not being loved and cared for….some of God’s people are going hungry… some of God’s children, still have not known the power of God’s love, to transform their lives, and to be welcomed into the family of God…where all are loved, where all lives are worthy, where all, by faith…can continue to hope and dream with God, for a day when this beloved community, this dream of God, for all his people….will come true.

If Jesus, were to return to earth this morning, he would still be angry about some things. Too many of God’s children, are still suffering. Too many of God’s children are being separated from those they love, and those who love them.

The good news, though, is there are lots and lots of people doing all in their power to care for the children among us, children of all ages…and there have been many examples of people, throughout history, and in our own lives, who have persevered in their faith, giving us an example to follow…by looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith…to show us the way, to love and care for one another…and inspiring us…to act and love and work together…for the well-being of all God’s family…

But, the kingdom building work is not done….we are not yet there…the beloved community is still on the horizon….and we are all still called to bring the Good news of God’s love to this moment now…to this moment and present time in history.

We, the adults, have been entrusted to care for the most vulnerable people among us – the children. They are growing up in an unsteady and confusing world…They are looking to us, to ensure them that they are loved; they are looking to us, to see what it means to love others; they are looking to us, to assure them, that this world in which we live in now, is their world, too…and that each of us, young and old, has a part in caring for this world and each other.

Most of all, they are looking to you and I to see how we will deal with the most difficult questions and uncertainties in life. How do we react when someone dies? How do react when we feel like we have been wronged by someone? Do we forgive freely? How do we treat those who are not like us? How do we speak about others who do not believe the same things that we do?

Children are always watching us and are eager to learn and know what is right and true.

What are we doing in our lives, that shows the children…that their lives and the lives of other people matter, too…whoever they are?

What are we teaching them about trusting in the love of God, made known to us, through his Son, Jesus Christ?

What are we teaching them, about being ready, by faith…to receive the love and blessings that God so wants to lavish on them?


Prayer/Hymn after sermon: Children of the Heavenly Father (L213)

Children of the heav’nly Father Safely in His bosom gather;

Nestling bird nor star in heaven, Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish, In His holy courts they flourish;

From all evil things He spares them, In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever From the Lord His children sever;

Unto them His grace He showeth, And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers, Your protector never slumbers;

At the will of your defender Every person must surrender.

Though He giveth or He taketh, God His children ne’er forsaketh;

His the loving purpose solely To preserve them pure and holy.




Rev. Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

Let the little children come

Let the little children come to me…let all of God’s children come to me…all are hungry…all worthy to be fed…all are thirsty...all worthy to be offered the living water…all are hungry for love and acceptance….

IN my arms, all are welcomed and blessed…

Receive the kingdom of God like a little child….whose hearts are soft, and open to God’s teachings and molding into a new creation, in Christ…into a new creation through the blessings of God’s love…

Receive the kingdom of God like a little child, be loved and be blessed in His presence…

 Rev Julie Platson


Mark 10:1-16 nrsv

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.




9 Pentecost/Year C - August 11, 2019

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40


We spend a whole lot of time getting ready for things don’t we?

We put a lot of hours, days, weeks, months sometimes, to be sure everything is just right… maybe it’s a special family gathering, an event for work, a community celebration, or a special church gathering for a wedding, a baptism, a funeral…

Those are the big things we spend a lot of time getting ready for…and even though we may prepare and plan, and think we have covered all the bases, there seems to be unexpected things that arise…more often than not.

Then there’s the everyday things that we think we are ready for…we’ve done it every day…we could do the work with our eyes closed…things seem to be going along smoothly…no stress…no worry…we got this, we tell ourselves…I’ve been a parent for several years now, I know how to handle this teenager…I’ve been at this job for twenty years…I know what I’m doing…I eat healthy, and exercise everyday…my health is good…

Then…out of the blue…we are stopped in our tracks…the unexpected happens, and throws us for a loop…we lose our job, someone we love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, a family member or friend is slipping away into a world of drug and alcohol addiction, a loved one dies…

These things aren’t supposed to happen, we tell ourselves… we find ourselves unprepared to accept these unexpected intrusions in our perfectly planned out life…we become acutely aware of the uncertainties of life….we were sure we were ready for anything that came our way…we pray, we meditate, we exercise, we take care of ourselves… yet, still…we become anxious, stressed, worried, disappointed, sad, and sometimes angry….at others, and ourselves.

And we become tired…very tired…weary…very weary…ready to give up hope, losing our faith, one day at a time…wondering how many more unexpected things will come up in our daily lives that will cause such sorrow, how many more tragedies can one family possibly endure…how many more senseless acts of violence, will end a person’s life too soon….how many more times, will we close the door, on the people that God so loves…the people God is so ready to love and bless…all of us…all of God’s beloved people…

God is always ready to love and bless us…do you and I believe that? In times of unknowing and uncertainty, are we standing ready to open the door of our hearts to receive his love and blessing? Do we rest, assured that there is One, a holy and mysterious One…who is always ready to love and bless us?

I wonder if we believed that, if it would change the way we react and respond to the unexpected things that interrupt our day…and the uncertainties that lay ahead of us, in our future….I wonder if we believed that, it would help us through those days when we are wearied and worried about all the changes and chances of this life…I wonder how our lives would be transformed by the love and blessing of God, if we were found ready to welcome Jesus into our homes and into our hearts?

All I can think of at the moment, is the beautiful passage, in our gospel reading today, "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.

This sounds like another call to be ready…be dressed for action and have your lamps lit…Haven’t we are already been working extra hard on being ready…to show up and face the ups and downs of our daily lives? What else could we possibly do?

Maybe there’s nothing else we can “do”…maybe it’s considering that there’s another way of being ready that grounds us, even in the uncertainties and unexpected things that come our way… Maybe, it’s about being ready, dressed for action, with faith…Maybe it’s about being ready, by keeping our lamps lit with God’s inextinguishable light of love and blessing for us, burning in our hearts…

By Faith. Be Ready. For God’s love and blessing.

How might we do that: I would say that we begin with a decision to say yes, to God’s love and blessing…believing that God is always standing ready to love and bless us… I would say that we also begin, by acknowledging, that this isn’t something we can do all on our own…we are born into a world, filled with other people, we are born into a world, that we are called to share with one another, we are born into a world, in which God calls upon each one of us to love and care for each other, and all of creation. We are meant to live in relationship and community with one another.

And…It has always been God’s good pleasure, from the time we were born, to give us the kingdom…all of us…It has always been God’s good pleasure, to entrust it all, into our care…It has always been about the love of God in our hearts affirming in us….the treasures that cannot be stolen, or destroyed…. when we put our faith and trust in God’s love and blessing… For even if it seems as though, the things of this world are passing away and being taken from us, it is our faith and trust in God’s promises that we can continue to hope in…

I believe faith…is the game changer…in what it means to be ready…ready for anything that comes our way…sorrow and joys….expected or unexpected…for faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…I believe faith is the game changer, that makes us ready to believe and to receive the love and blessings that God is always ready to lavish upon us…And I believe that faith is what enables us to take the next step…trusting that God is with us, every step of the way…

BY FAITH. BE READY. For God's love and blessing.

We already have an idea what this looks like…We’ve seen it before… We can look to the examples of those in the scriptures who have taught us about the long, long journey of hope and faith, rooted in the love and blessings of God. In our reading from Hebrews today, we heard about Abraham’s faith…. By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to received as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.

We can also draw inspiration from the long line of saints and loved ones who have gone on before us, in our families, in our churches, and in our communities…who have taught us, through their words, and actions, how to remain in hope…and how to live a life rooted in faith and trust in the One who loves and blesses us today, and holds us all together, in His love…for the life yet to come…

We may not know how we will get through this day of troubles, we may not understand why bad things happen to good people, we may not be able to see a solution to the end of violence and suffering in our lifetimes…But, there is One who does hold this vision for us…there is One whose faithfulness is great and who has provided us, all we have ever needed…whose mercies are new every morning…There is One whom we can put our trust, and faith and hope in…Jesus Christ…the One who has died, who is risen, and through the Holy Spirit, lives among us now, and who will come again…

Until then, and while we wait…we are to be ready…

By Faith. Be Ready. For God’s love and blessing.


Prayer/instrumental hymn after sermon: Great is thy faithfulness (H 189)

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with thee;

Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not,

As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed thy hand hath provided,

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!



Rev. Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska