The Good Book Club | Week of January 21

This week: Romans 6:1—8:8

Paul opens chapter 6 with a good question, one we might all have asked at some point: If nothing we do (or stop doing) can earn our salvation—and indeed it is only by grace that we are saved—then why stop sinning? Might continued sinning be okay based on an equation that more sin equals more grace? If we can never earn an A+ in God’s grade book, then why try?

Paul spends most of this week’s readings addressing these questions. He moves from justification by faith to the necessity of sanctification and holy living. Yes, grace is at the heart of the Christian life, but how we receive and act upon that grace is important too. Sin separates us from God, when our goal should be union with God—theosis. The end of sanctification is eternal life; the wages of sin are death. In other words, the stakes are high. A life without sin is impossible without the grace of God, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving for it. My teenage daughter doesn’t think she’ll get a top score on the Advanced Placement Statistics test—but she’s not allowed to stop studying (much to her chagrin).

We may not always understand our own decisions, we may do the things that we know not to, and we may avoid the actions that we should take. God knows: This life is hard—throughout chapter seven, he talks about his own journey of faith. But, Paul insists: God through Christ Jesus rescues us, helps us start anew, and so we must recommit time and again to a holy life patterned after Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

For Discussion

  • If we can’t earn our salvation, what’s the point in trying?

  • Paul describes the relationship between Christian and sin in several ways, including death, baptism, slave, and master. What do you think of these descriptions? How would you describe the relationship?

  • How can you encourage those (and perhaps yourself) who feel like they keep losing the battle with sin?

  • What does it mean to be a mature Christian? Is Paul one? Are you?

(forward day by day)

2 Epiphany - January 20, 2019 - Water into Wine

January 20, 2019 – John 2:1-11 - Water into Wine

written by The Rev Kathryn Snelling


Ah weddings

Wonderful events – one of the biggest events in life

And once it is decided to go through with it….. all the preparations begin

The license and any other paperwork done, the date set, the location decided, the maid of honor chosen, set the number of bridesmaids – making sure and the dress flatters all body sizes and shapes (good luck with that) - Choosing the colors and the flowers

Then there’s the groom’s best man and the number of groomsmen to choose

Of course the invitations, the guest list: friends of the bride – friends of the groom, family from both sides

Then the reception. A whole other event to be orchestrated. The location, the decorations, the cake, the food, the drinks, the seating arrangements, the entertainment

And now there’s THE DANCE!

Whether it’s the bride and groom – or the bride and her father – or all the groomsmen or all the bridesmaids – some choreographed and rehearsed dance is all the rage these days – many are posted on Facebook and some even make it on to YouTube   

Ahh, Weddings - no wonder they are rated high on the scale of life’s stressful events. And there’s really no surprise that they would be

Even being a happy occasion doesn’t eliminate the stress levels generated

Has anyone ever been involved in a wedding that that went off without a single hitch?

It may not have been a disaster but something doesn’t go exactly as planned.

It can happen – I suppose - but it is probably not the norm.

Last Friday – January 18th was the day the church remembers the Confession of St. Peter. So what does that have to do with weddings? Nothing really except it is also the date chosen for my ordination.

And I got to thinking – ordinations have a lot in common with weddings

Once you decide to go through with it, there’s all the preparations

Making sure all the paperwork is done and according to the canons

Setting the date – making sure the bishop can be there

The location is easy – the church, naturally

But you need to plan the ceremony - Who is presenting? Who will do the various readings and the prayers? What hymns we will sing? What color – yes there’s a choice – between white and red.

There isn’t anything to do for clothing – all the clergy have their vestments

Though I did have to get mine ordered and adjusted when it arrived

The guest list was pretty easy – everyone is invited

So an announcement had to be printed up and sent out

And oh – out of town family wants to come – that’s great – just find housing

And there was a lovely reception in the See House with great food and other refreshment and fellowship and wonderful gifts. And it was all lovely and Whew! It’s done.

Ordinations and wedding: momentous events  

And in this morning’s Gospel reading we hear of one such event as retold by John

Jesus and his disciples and his mother Mary have all been invited to a wedding

Now there is a lot to wonder about in this story

We could wonder how Jesus and the disciples and his mother are connected to the two families involved

Were they related to either of the families or perhaps friend of one or both?

Were the families wealthy? Or was this affair going to strain the family’s finances

In their culture, wedding celebrations lasted a whole week long. That’s a lot of food and wine.

There’s other things un-said in this story that sort of hang all around the peripheral

For example, I wonder about Mary – she’s a guest at the wedding – she’s not in charge of anything – like the supply of wine, for instance.

And yet she takes notice – she is alert to a need

They are going to run out of wine before the celebration is complete

Now this may seem a small thing to us in our day and age and culture – but I think in this situation it would constitute a disaster - a huge embarrassment on the host family at the very least - and certainly a dark cloud over the celebration and perhaps a lingering shame for the two newlyweds who are beginning a new life.   

So Mary turns to her son Jesus – this son of who she has heard amazing things foretold about – even before he was born

She has pondered all these things in her heart as she watched him grow.

Jesus has a special ministry – this she knows – and he knows it too

And we hear this little exchange between them

“They have run out of wine.”
“Woman, what has that to do with you or me? My time has not yet come.”

Now theologians and scholars have been wondering about the meaning of that conversation for over 2 thousand years

Is Mary a pushy mom? – is Jesus a reluctant God? I don’t know, and I’m not going to resolve it this morning – sorry.

But if Jesus was a little hesitant – I can relate!

It took a few nudges to get me going on the pathway to ordination

And I suspect that some of you have had situations in your life when you kinda- sorta – thought maybe – you wanted to do, go, be … something – but ………

And someone gave you a nudge – and you were grateful for it

Thank God for the “Nudgers” in our lives

But the important thing is Jesus took action – after Mary took action

What was it she did? Did you catch it? She recruited help.

She turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever he tells you.”

And we know the rest of the story.

He tells them to fill the six jars that are nearby with water.

They fill the jars to the brim

He has them dip some out and take it to the person in charge of the wine service

And everyone is amazed – the water is now wine

And not just wine -- but the best wine - EVER!

But I wonder

Was that it? Just water into wine? Now I admit, that is amazing in its self – I can’t do that. But is that really it?

I don’t think so

Jesus took potential disaster and brought joy 

Jesus took scarcity and turned it into abundance

Jesu took simple actions and transformed their outcome

Jesus took a seemingly simple situation and displayed the limitless love of God

And there is one more thing I wonder about.

The scripture passage ends with “…he revealed his glory and the disciples believed in him.”

Well, that’s good --- we’d expect that. But what about those servants? We know nothing about them except that there were more than one. Maybe there were two or maybe six – one for each jar.

But they knew where the wine came from.

What did they believe?

What did they do with that knowledge?

And whatever happened to them?

Where are they? --- Oh, I think I know

They’re here.

When we respond to: “do whatever he tells you”

We too, are dipping into our jar of new wine – the wine of God’s limitless love - and sharing it with others

In many seemingly smalls ways

Helping to feed the hungry – clothe and shelter those without

Sharing time with one who needs the presences of a caring soul

Speaking up and taking action on behalf of those oppressed and who have no voice

Being alert to the needs around us

Small things - but small actions can spread and grow and always make a difference

So I wonder, what are we serving from our jars today?


Civil Rights and Climate Justice Conversation

Climate, Civil Rights Topic of Program

The Sitka chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby invites the community to a Civil Rights and Climate Justice Conversation 4-5:30 p.m. Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at the See House behind St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 611 Lincoln Street.

CCL invites community members to hear what Martin Luther King III has said about his father, civil rights and climate change; learn about the “Energy Innovation Act” and Citizens’ Climate Lobby; share concerns, conversation and hope for the future with neighbors and friends; and take action to combat climate change and bring environmental justice to all.

The event will be an appetizer potluck. Participants can take a finger food to share if they wish.

“We’re excited to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by sharing hope for the future and taking action on climate change,” said CCL organizer Michelle Putz.

Call 747-2708 for information about the event. Citizens’ Climate Lobby information is at

(published in the Sitka Sentinel on Jan 15, 2019)


The Good Book Club - WEEK 2

The Good Book Club | Week of January 14

This week: Romans 3:9—5:21

Sin is an evil master, and we are all subject to its whims and wickedness. This theme is a strong thread throughout Paul’s letter to the Romans, and he uses vivid imagery to conjure the powerful hold of sin: venom of vipers, mouths full of cursing and bitterness, ruin and misery. If Paul stopped here, then his assessment of the human condition would seem hopeless. But, thanks be to God, Paul shares the amazing Good News: “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:23-24). In other words, Jesus’ death on the cross offers the gift of grace and redemption to everyone. No exceptions. These concepts of justification, righteousness, and redemption aren’t easy to understand or accept, so Paul spends quite a bit of ink and parchment on them. (For a brief definition of these and other theological principles in Paul’s letter, read the Romans 101 guide).

Paul moves us into a major theological question about the role of works (good deeds) in our salvation. Gazillions of scholars have weighed in on this issue, and it played a pivotal role in the Protestant Reformation. Using the life of Abraham as an example, Paul is clear: We are justified by faith, not works. But good works are important and a manifestation of a faithful life. That is, nothing we do will save us – only the grace of God. But that doesn’t mean we should stop doing good things and upholding God’s law. Even if we are perfect Christians in every way (which isn’t possible!), we are not “owed” salvation from God. We cannot earn it. But through a divine and unimaginable love, God freely gives us this gift. Paul’s words cut to the very heart of the Christian life – and even though some of these passages can be dense and difficult to digest, don’t give up. Keep reading. God is speaking to you.

For Discussion

  • Paul was speaking to two cultures: Jews and Gentiles. How does that understanding of the context impact your understanding of his words today? What is similar about our current context? What is different?

  • If we were saved by works, how would that change your understanding of grace?

  • If we are saved by grace alone—and nothing we do can affect that—then what’s the incentive to follow God’s law?

  • How can we be reconciled to God?

This weeks readings:

Monday, January 14
Romans 3:9-20

Tuesday, January 15
Romans 3:21-31

Wednesday, January 16
Romans 4:1-12

Thursday, January 17
Romans 4:13-25

Friday, January 18     Confession of Saint Peter
Romans 5:1-11

Saturday, January 19
Romans 5:12-21


January 4

Pearl of the Week

I encourage you to light a candle and enjoy the light for a moment. Then change that light so you may take it with you into the world.   - Carrie-Anne Kokubun (Epiphany Episcopal Church, Honolulu)


*** THIS SATURDAY, JAN 5th @ NOON - Twelfth Night Potluck/Christmas Carol Singing/In the See House

We customarily have a special offering during this gathering, as we prepare to celebrate Epiphany Sunday, with the story of the wise men bringing gifts....This year's donations will go to the Sitka Homeless Coalition's Laundry and Shower Project.

Sitka Homeless Coalition donation information:  Seeking donations of towels, wash coths, laundry soap, shampoo, body wash or quarters (money) will be a help to keep this Laundry/Showers project open and running in the New Year/winter months. We are holding 2 windows of service each week, Monday and Thursday mornings beginning at 9:30 am.   Volunteers are also being sought to help out too. (747-7978 for info)

*Sunday Services - 8am & 10am

*January Sunday school: Jan 13 & 27

*Annual Meeting – January 27 – one service at 10am


*Mondays: Scripture Reflections @ 11am (See House)

*Tuesdays: Inquirer’s class – 6:30pm – starts Jan 15

               Come explore the Episcopal Church beliefs & practices 

*Wednesday: Taize Prayer Service @ 5:30pm

                         Young Life/ in the See House @ 8pm

Thursdays @ Noon

   The GOOD BOOK Club –The Book of Romans

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

Christmas Eve - DEC 24, 2018

Christmas Eve/Year C

 Dec 24, 2018

Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Luke 2:1-20


Tonight, we gather to listen once again, to the beloved Christmas story, that has been shared throughout the world for over 2000 years.

We gather to listen to the stories of a baby born for us, a gift given for all of God’s people…a long-awaited coming of a great light in the lives of those who walked in the land of deep darkness…a long-awaited coming of a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

We gather to listen to these beloved stories, as made known to us in the scriptures…through the voices of the prophets, the shepherds, and the songs of the angels…

Into the quiet of this evening, I can’t help but notice the songs of the angels, proclaiming the good news of God’s love for his people…in our scripture readings, and in our hymns that we have sung so far tonight…

We began in the quiet, and in the darkness, and with candles being lit…and with the singing of Silent Night, Holy Night…all is calm…all is bright….glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing alleluia; Christ, the Savior, is born!

Our next hymn, the first verse speaks about the angel’s song on this Holy night:

It came upon the midnight clear,

that glorious song of old,

from angels bending near the earth

to touch their harps of gold:

"Peace on the earth, good will to men,

from heaven's all-gracious King."

The world in solemn stillness lay

to hear the angels sing.

In our reading from the prophet Isaiah, one cannot help but hear the glorious, angelic music of Handel’s Messiah…. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In the bleak midwinter, Angels and archangels may have gathered there, cherubim and seraphim throngèd the air…

Psalm 96 begins with singing… Sing to the Lord a new song; *

sing to the Lord, all the whole earth…and continues throughout the entire psalm…to proclaim with songs of praise and joy…

Our sequence hymn, before and after our gospel reading, speaks of the angel - choirs proclamation of Jesus our King being born…

'Twas in the moon of wintertime,

when all the birds had fled,

that God the Lord of all the earth

sent angel-choirs instead;

before their light the stars grew dim,

and wondering hunters heard the hymn

Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,

in excelsis gloria.

the angel-song rang loud and high

the angel song is true.

Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,

in excelsis gloria.

Let us listen to the part of that story again, when the angels proclaim this good news of great joy!

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Yes…I believe the angel song is true. And, tonight, my prayer and hope, is that you hear the good news proclaimed through the songs of all the angels this night, too.

For the songs of the angels were not just for that one special night. This child’s birth is a song that is proclaimed for all the world, for all of eternity. This child was born for us, but also died for us. This child was born for us…but conquered death, when he rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to strengthen us, to encourage us, to comfort us, and empower us to walk in the light of his Love, that came down to earth, on that first Christmas morning. And, we wait, in anticipation and with hope…for this light to be born in us again this night…to come again…in glory…

WE, as ordinary as the shepherds…we who are hurting this Christmas…we who are grieving this Christmas…we who are tired from the never-ending stream of negative news about violence, destruction, division, hunger and sorrows…The angel songs are for us, too…the announcement of the good news of great joy, is for our listening ears and hearts, too…songs of love, joy, hope and peace…gifts to receive…a wonderful gift given, to transform our hearts and our lives…to walk in Love with God, one another, and with all of creation…

We only need to stand still for a moment… for the Good news proclaimed by the angels, often comes to us, in those darkest, quietest nights…if only we can be still enough to notice. If only, we can allow our hearts to be broken open. The good news is standing right in front of us at times, but somehow we miss it.

This year, I say to myself…I’m not going to miss it! I hope you will join me, in saying that too…I’m not going to miss it!

The angel of the Lord is standing right here, right now, in this place…the glory of the Lord is shining all around us…speaking to us, in the scriptures, in the songs, in the people gathered…

 “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.


Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,

in excelsis gloria….Glory to God in the Highest!


When he comes, will we know He is the One?

When He comes to earth, will He come as a king, with fanfare of trumpets…

 Will the angels sing when He comes?

I think so…I believe the angel song is true. The angel song opens our hearts, our true hearts, to be transformed by the Love of God, born anew in our hearts, on this Holy, and Silent Night…


Listen….for the songs of the angels…on this Holy, Silent Night..


Choir Special: “When He Comes: (J. Paul Williams/Lloyd Larson)


Rev. Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

3rd Sunday of Advent

3rd Sunday of Advent/Year C

December 16, 2018

Zephaniah 3:14-20; Canticle 9; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3: 7-18

What then should we do?

Just a few weeks ago, we began a new church year, a year that begins with the season of Advent. As with any new year, whether we are celebrating the New Year on January 1st, or whether we are celebrating your birthday, or whether we are celebrating the beginning of a new church year, there is often a flicker or a spark, that gets us started with hope for the new year ahead…A flicker or a spark…that gives us a glimpse of what it means to dare to dream, dare to hope, dare to believe…that the road ahead will be filled with new possibilities, new experiences, new loves, and new hopes fulfilled…in our own lives and in the lives of those we love.

But, sometimes, that same flicker or spark, can immediately be extinguished, when one’s thoughts keep going back to the way things were, the thoughts of all that is wrong in one’s life and all that seems out of control in the world around us, with day after day of the news of tragedies, violence, suffering, and divisions.

So, what does one do? How does one use that flicker or spark that ignites as a new year begins…to be a light of hope for the new day…instead of the return to darkness and despair and the idea that this is how it will always be?

Something that comes to mind for me, as I ponder that question: I think about what happens when we light a candle…what keeps the flame burning…and what causes it to extinguish right away?

Sometimes there is a build up of wax from a lot of use over time…sometimes, the wick is buried down deep in the candles, and can’t even be lit…sometimes we keep trying to light a candle that has served its purpose and has no more light to give. It is burned out.

In our lives, too…that sometimes happens. There is so much build up of worry, stress, busyness, and heartaches in our hearts and in our minds, that over time, and with constant attention to these worries and built up stress, we become buried, and find it difficult to even imagine or find a way out.

 And… often, we are unwilling to let things go, to allow for a new light to be lit…even at the point of burnout.

This is where the message of John the Baptist comes to life in us…with his bold and sometime harsh sounding words…to repent… to turn away from the powers of sin, hatred, fear, injustice, and oppression, to follow Jesus in the Way of Love: the way of truth, love, hope, justice, and freedom….to repent of all those things in our lives, that prevent the flame of hope from burning…

On our way of love advent calendar: Fridays focus on the practice of “Turn”.  The first week, we were asked the question: Where have I fallen short this week? How can I make amends? Last week we were given a suggestion of turning from one way towards a new way: Turn away from the busyness of the week and turn toward someone who gives you life or to whom you give life. Give thanks. Looking ahead to this week, for the practice of “turn” on our advent calendar, we are invited to: Read the Confession of sin (BCP 352) in an unfamiliar location - in the park, at work, at school, or on the bus. What does the prayer inspire you to turn from in that location? What does it inspire you to turn toward?

I really encourage you to give this last one a try this week. We read the confession of sin most Sundays here in church, but not so much in the park, at work or school, or on the bus.

These are familiar places, but unfamiliar in the context of where we pray the confession of sin. I think it would be an eye opener for us, if we considered some of the lines in the prayer, as we observed the people around us, and our reactions and responses, in those settings…pondering what we have done, or left undone, pondering the ways we have not loved God with our whole heart, and how we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves…

I think, too, that we would get a glimpse of just how shocking and perhaps how radical John’s message must have sounded…when he showed up in their everyday lives, their comfortable ways, and familiar places…with urgent warnings to repent and to bear fruits worthy of repentance.



Bear fruits worthy of repentance: What was John saying?

In our gospel reading today, the crowds asked John, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

What then should we do?

Let’s listen to today’s reflection for the third Sunday of Advent, from the Living Well through Advent Devotional…that was written by The Rt Rev Brian Cole: He writes –

I recently received my kindergarten report card in the mail. My eldest brother, who has been assisting my mother in another round of downsizing to a smaller living space, sent me the 45 year old record of how life was for me as a 5 year old navigating half-day school.

It was mostly a pleasant reminder that I enjoyed school and flourished in that environment. The highest mark was “E” for excellent and the report card had numerous E’s.

Except for sharing. Alongside the phrase, “Shares Well With Others,” there was a letter “N” for Needs Improvement. The marks were given out each quarter. Each quarter my sharing skills received an N. My five year old self was not a sharer.

Along with the tangible reminder of early school days provided by the report card, a recent documentary also took me back to childhood. Won’t you Be My Neighbor?, a film on Fred Rogers and his PBS series – Mr Roger’s Neighborhood – examines the life of Mr Rogers and his life’s work of teaching children. Like many who grew up with Mr Rogers, I found the film to be quite moving. Here was a safe adult, teaching children how to be good and faithful neighbors to all, whether the neighbors were real or from the “Land of Make Believe.”

I was surprised, but am now convinced, that the film made the point that Mr Rogers was somehow radical in his inclusive message of love and sharing with all. While the zip-up sweaters and soft voice of Mr Rogers made him an unlikely revolutionary, his consistent message of love for all in “his” neighborhood and sharing with others was a counter-cultural move. Our world tends to limit who we understand to be our neighbors. And while we expect kindergarten children to share, the real world does not tend to advise it or reward it when adults share.

John the Baptist, a biblical character rarely confused with Mr Rogers, also invites all his neighbors to share. But he doesn’t take the soft voice, nice-sweater approach. Rather, he opens with, “You brood of vipers!” That’s not exactly polite talk, nor does it suggest using your inside voice.

When the crowds who came to see John asked him how to get off the Vipers list, he tells them the most radical thing – share. Share your coat, share your food, treat each other fairly. If they do these things, John tells them they will bear fruit that will please God. They will live as God intended, by sharing generously like the generous God who created, and shares with, them.

So, back to my questions that I raised at the beginning today: How does one use the flicker or spark of light that ignites as a new year begins, to be a light of hope…and as we light a candle, how do we keep this flame burning? How do we keep this hope alive and burning brightly in our days ahead…

We Share. We share with one another. We share in the love and the blessings of God, with one another and with all of creation.

We share the Good News of God’s love for us, revealed to us already, but eager to be born in us again, with the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ into our lives and in our hearts, on Christmas Day.

We share the good news through the scriptures and words of our prophets and other forerunners, who have called us to turn our lives around and help us in reorienting our lives towards the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, to ignite hope in our lives once again:


From the words of Zephaniah today:

Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;

he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;


From the words of Isaiah:

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.


From Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

All beautiful and gentle words of hope and encouragement…from Zephaniah, Isaiah, and Paul…

And then there’s John…John’s words that jolt us out of our slumber and complacency: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."


What then should we do?

Be the voice, and listen for the voices, of those in the scriptures, and among us now, who are proclaiming and sharing the Good News…with gentle words of hope and encouragement, in thought, word, and deed… or through the bold and sometimes shocking voices, that wake us up…as John the Baptist does for us on this third Sunday of Advent…

May his words ignite a passion and a hope in us…to make a turn in our lives, make changes in our lives…to make room for the joy… that allows for the flame of light and hope to burn brightly…showing us, in this new year… the way to walk in love, as Christ has loved us…showing us the way to walk in love, by sharing, joyfully all that we are, by sharing, joyfully all that we have… with God…one another…and all of creation…

John Proclaimed it: Change Your Lives!

"John Proclaimed It: "Change Your Lives!”

Written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

John proclaimed it: “Change your lives!
Brood of snakes!  Come, be baptized!
Who warned you to flee what’s near?
There is wrath that’s coming here.

God has called you!  Have you heard?
God has said a mighty word!
Listen, people! Turn from wrong.
Turn around and sing God's song.
Seek God’s justice!  Pave the way!
God is bringing this new day.”

People asked him, “How can we
Turn and serve God faithfully?”
John responded, “Be the good
In your home and neighborhood.”

God has called you!  Have you heard?
God has said a mighty word!
Listen, people! Turn from wrong.
Turn around and sing God's song.
Seek God’s justice!  Pave the way!
God is bringing this new day.”

“Have two coats?  Now go and share
With the poor one shivering there.
Spread God’s joy and seek to bring
Justice where there’s suffering.

Don’t be greedy, wanting more.
Don’t use threats and hurt the poor.
Listen people! Turn from wrong.
Turn around and sing God's song.
Seek God’s justice!  Pave the way!
God is bringing this new day.”



Biblical References: Luke 3:7-18 
Tune: Felix Mendelssohn, 1840 ("Hark! The Herald Angels Sing")  
Text: Copyright © 2018 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Permission is given for free use of this hymn to supporters of Sojourners.


Rev. Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

Advent Giving Opportunity

Advent Giving Box

Join us in a fun way to give to others in need this holiday season

Participating is as easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Find a box or bag to contain your donated items.

2. For each day of Advent, ADD one non-perishable food item or toiletry item into your box/bag.

3. Bring your filled box/bag to the service on December 23rd or

arrange drop off for another date/time at your convenience.

Some ideas for your Advent Giving Box:

peanut butter


canned soups



feminine products




toilet paper

canned vegetables

diapers/baby wipes

Donations will be brought to the local Salvation Army and SAFV Shelter to help people in need this winter.

Happy Giving!!

“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”

-Mother Teresa

The 1st Sunday of Advent - Dec 2, 2018

1 Advent/Year C

Jeremiah 33:14-26; Psalm 25: 1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13;

Luke 21: 25-36


Today, we begin a new year…a new liturgical church year…that begins with the season of advent…a sacred season that invites us to turn once again, to prepare for the coming of Jesus into our lives, fresh and anew…

It’s a sacred season, that invites us to slow down, to wait, to watch, to prepare, to make ready our hearts, to receive once again the one who came to be among us, the one who walked among us, the promised one, Emmanuel…God with us…

It’s a sacred season,that invites us once again, to join in walking the way of love, with Jesus, at the center of our lives…

IN the Walking the Way of Love stewardship packet that you were given a few weeks ago, there is an outline, that has been prepared, to help us not only begin, with this walk of love in advent…but to continue throughout the year, throughout all of the seasons, of the church year….each season, with it’s own teachings and messages, that invite us to turn away from the powers of sin, hatred, fear, injustice, and oppression, to follow Jesus in the Way of Love: the way of truth, love, hope, justice, and freedom….

Just as the seasons of nature, all have their special gifts to give us, so do the seasons of the church year.

In our advent season, waiting…waiting for God….is one of the gifts of this season…

This morning, I will share with you a story I shared with the quiet day attendees this  weekend…that tells us and teaches us…about the holiness and loveliness of this gift…. of waiting for God…

Reflection/How Long Does Night Take?

(A story for the 1st Sunday in Advent - Liturgy for the Whole Church – Susan K Bock)

Advent is the night of the Christian year. As a Jew begins the day at sunset, so Christians begin the church year in the darkening quiet of ever-deeper winter, hushing our frenzy, readying for Christ.

When my friend Justin was very young, and I was tucking him into bed, he asked me, “Susan, how long does night take?”

What an amazing question, and one I had forgotten to ask for a very long time! At the start of the night of our year, we might well ask it now: How long does night take?

If you’re sick and in pain, one night takes about a hundred years.

If you’re alone, and waiting for love, one night takes forever.

If you’re a child, and night seems a waste of perfectly good playtime, the night stretches on to eternity.

If you’re a reluctant Messiah, sweating blood in a garden while the whole city parties, the night is terrifyingly long.

Night is all about waiting, and waiting is about helplessness. Waiting for dawn or light or hope or relief, we are helpless to turn back the darkness or hurry the new day. All we can do is nothing. All we can do is wait. But that very helplessness makes every time of waiting, if we will let it be so, a time of waiting for God. Every wait can become holy, artful, and lovely, a waiting for God.

We have no choice: Advent makes us wait. But Advent asks us how we are waiting. With anger, resentment, sleepiness, boredom, and despair? Or with desire, because waiting is all about that, too? Desire. If we let ourselves feel our desire and bravely name it, then waiting can become the birthplace of hope, and faith, and especially, love.

Advent is the church’s night watch, our season of waiting. The helplessness and desire in waiting makes every wait, in the end, a wait for God. The good news of Advent is that if we wait, while we wait, in the waiting, God comes. The waiting itself is the thing, the very place we can meet God anew.

(In our gospel reading this morning)  - Near his end, approaching Jerusalem, Jesus gives us a clue to such brave and holy, artful waiting. The people are full of Passover joy in the hope a messiah will come, but he, sensing danger, is waiting with dread. Trudging along he sees a fig tree, heavy with buds, and his eyes are drawn upward where he notices, suddenly spring. Remembering the promise of spring, unstoppable after winter’s death, he says: “When everything around you is dark with violence and fear, stand up, raise your heads; your redemption is near.”

Stand up. Raise your heads. Look to heaven. Hold to spring when winter draws down your gaze and your heart. In this very darkness, especially here, God is near.

Every time of waiting is a wait for God. If we will keep company with our waiting, keeping it warm and alive with desire and hope, keeping it awake, like a mother attentive to her baby’s breath, feeding it with faith, if we will look up and not lose heart, then while we wait, in the waiting, because of the waiting, God will come.

How long does night take? When waiting is holy and artful, filled up with God, just long enough…….  End of story..


As we begin Advent, this long night-watch, our season of waiting…how will we wait? How will we spend our time in this season of waiting and watching…?

It’s time to begin our advent journey…

What will set us journeying in search of the Christ this Advent?

How far are we prepared to go out of our way

to look for the signs of His coming,

and to prepare a path?

How will we travel through this season?

will we be burdened by responsibilities and tasks,

loaded with others’ expectations, overwhelmed by their needs?

Will we be full of joy or weary of grief?


What will guide our steps in these weeks?

Will we follow a thread of longing,

the hint of an alternative pathway,

the words and music of the gathered community?


Sisters and brothers in Christ, Advent awaits us.

Let us place our feet on the road and begin the journey. ~ written by Ann Siddall


Please stand, as we mark the beginning of a new year, and a new commitment to walk together…in the Way of Love…


Walking the Way of Love COVENANT

(Exploring the Way of Love, Episcopal Church resources)

Leader:  Jesus’ way is the way of love. In him we find more love, freedom and abundant life. You are invited to turn toward Jesus and to commit to follow his Way of Love in the context of our community gathered, trusting in his power to change each of our lives and to change this world.

After each bidding, let us respond together by proclaiming: By the Spirit’s power, we will.


Leader:  Will you turn and center your life on Jesus, falling in love with our Lord again and again and again? 

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  Will you ground your life in the life and teachings of Jesus, as revealed in scripture?  And will you pray and simply listen for God’s voice in your life and in the world? 

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  Will you gather together in worship, to break bread and to thank and praise God?  And will you bless this world with your story, your resources, and your labor? 

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  Will you cross boundaries and fearlessly become God’s Beloved Community? And will you take rest, receiving God’s gift of grace and restoration, and letting God be God?

People:  By the Spirit’s power, we will.

Leader:  May the God who formed all things in Love, draw you near to God’s own heart, empower you by the power of the Spirit to live the Way of Love with fellow travelers, and send you to participate in the resurrection and healing of God’s world.

And may the blessing of our Lord – loving, liberating and life-giving – be with us and remain with us forever and ever. 

All:      Amen. 


All sing together – (LEVS)136 – I have decided to follow Jesus


Rev. Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

Christ the King Sunday

Last Sunday After Pentecost/Christ the King/Year B


2 Samuel 23: 1-7; Psalm 132:1-13 (14-19); Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37

He is King of Kings

King of kings, Lord of Lords, thrones, kingdoms, Jesus Christ, ruler of the kings of the earth…

All this talk about Kings and kingdoms….may seem a little strange to us today…or maybe not…maybe you keep close watch on the royal family…especially since our presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last spring…or perhaps you have been an avid follower of the Game of Thrones, a long-running HBO TV series, a medieval fantasy epic….that tells the story of two powerful families…kings, queens, knights, and others, seeking power and control of the seven kingdoms of Westeros…or perhaps you can think of several childhood stories about kings and queens, princes and princesses…even Mr Roger’s neighborhood, included a storyline, using a puppet named King Friday…

I’m wondering…how much we notice, that almost all of these stories: the medieval fantasy epics, the many stories about kings and kingdoms, the children’s stories, include themes of the bad guys vs the good guys, the powerful vs the weak, the rich vs the poor, the beautiful vs the ugly, the ascent of control for one group…vs the descent or disappearance of another group…

These are all earthly depictions, and visions of what Kings and kingdoms are all about… with earthly kings ruling and lording themselves over all the people, forcing people to conform, or get out of the way…forcing them to obey, just because the king says so…

Today, on the last Sunday after Pentecost, our liturgical church year comes to an end…with our scriptures and music pointing us to a very different vision of what Kings and kingdoms are all about…more specifically…with the pronouncement and acknowledgement that Jesus is King…King of kings, and Lord of lords…

But this King and his kingdom, we are told, does not originate from this world…This King, and his kingdom, is one whose purpose is to testify to the truth…

IN our gospel reading today, Pilate questions Jesus about being king:

Pilate questions Jesus (CEB)

Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked,

 “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?”

Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”

“So you are a king?” Pilate said.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.


King is your word not mine;

Friend I am, and not very choosey,

pagans and prostitutes,

publicans and sinners,

grace is my kingdom.

King is your word, not mine;

Servant I am, no one beneath me,

feet washer and waiter,

serving the least,

love is my kingdom


King is your word, not mine;

Physician I am, all free of charge,

touching the leper,

expelling the demons,

health is my kingdom.


King is your word, not mine;

A seer I am, seeing God’s word

in mustard seed and yeast,

wildflower and ravens,

truth is my kingdom.


*King is your word, not mine;

Tradesman I am, honing my craft,

familiar with wood,

hammer and nails,

grace is my kingdom.

                                    ©  B.D. Prewer 2002

Jesus answered Pilate, “You say that I am a king.

*(King is your word, not mine)

I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”

Go ahead, and call me King, if you want…

But, know…that in this kingdom:

The truth of God’s love, made known to us in Jesus Christ,

is proclaimed here…a kingdom of love, healing, forgiveness, mercy, and grace…


IN this kingdom:

the laws are based on love…

IN this kingdom:

We seek to love God, as we have been truly loved by God…

IN this kingdom:

We seek to love our neighbors, as we ourselves want to be loved…

IN this kingdom:

We are called to be good stewards of all creation…

In this kingdom, we remember the promises we made in our baptisms:

  • that we will continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers…with God’s help

  • that we will persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord…with God’s help

  • that we will proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ… with God’s help

  • that we will seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves… with God’s help

  • · that we will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being…with God’s help

IN this kingdom, people are invited, not forced…people are welcomed, not discriminated against… people gather together…to build up one another, encourage one another, becoming beloved community….

Probably one of the most important things we can seek to understand about this kingdom, that we proclaim is under the gracious rule of Jesus Christ, King of kings, Lord of lords…is that it isn’t a specific place, where we all come to be ruled over by an all-powerful, almighty king and leader..

It is an invitation to walk in love, as Christ has loved us, and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God…

It is an invitation to walk in love with Christ and one another, throughout our entire lives…until, as we pray each week in the Lord’s prayer…(God’s) will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

As we come to the end of this church year, it’s a good time to reflect back on the past year…what kind of King have you been following this past year?

And, as we prepare to begin a new church year, on the first Sunday of Advent…will you turn once again, and accept the invitation to walk with Jesus…King of kings, Lord of lords?

He (Jesus) is King of kings,

            He is Lord of Lords;

            Jesus Christ, the first and last, (the Alpha and the Omega)…

            who is and who  was and who is to come….Amen


Closing Song: Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #96 He Is King of Kings

Rev Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska