Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church, aka “the little church with the big red doors”, is located on Main Street between Ninth and Iredell Streets in Durham, NC, across from Duke University’s East Campus. Our community life is rooted in the sacraments, daily prayer, study of the Scriptures, and fellowship with members, friends and neighbors inside and outside our walls. Following the example of our patron Saint Joseph, we want to make our church home a place of warm hospitality grounded in God’s love, and to take that love out into the world.

Announcements for this week

The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

If you are a newcomer or a visitor — welcome! Please fill out a contact card found in your pew. Let’s get to know one another! St. Joseph’s is a place of worship, prayer, fellowship and study. We normally pray Morning Prayer at 7:30 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please join us for prayer and fellowship whenever you can. The “poor plate,” located by the baptismal font at the entrance to the church, funds our fellowship and outreach ministries. Thank you for your gifts!

St. Joe’s is now hosting the West Main St. AA Meeting is held downstairs in the parish hall Monday – Friday 12:10 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. Please spread the word. Thanks!

Collection for St. Joseph’s community in need: We invite you to bring any of the following items and place in the basket at the back of the church…these items are part of the offerings of our life and labor.

Toiletries (men’s and women’s)

Men’s jeans

Toilet Paper

Paper Towels

Men’s L/XL shirts


Vicar’s Schedule: Karen keeps Sabbath on Mondays. In the event of a pastoral emergency, she is available on her cell phone, 919-951-8739.

If you have a gently used tarp (without holes) for one of our homeless neighbors to use to keep his things dry in the woods, please talk with Karen.

Logan Meihl-Laituri Isaac will be hosting a conversation on being Christian in the military, inviting a deeper conversation about war and the effects combat has upon us all, especially those who serve in the military. Please come join the conversation. We will begin with Morning Prayer at St. Joseph’s at 8:00 a.m. and then following coffee we will move to Blacknall for conversation. Dr. Warren Kinghorn, psychiatrist at the Durham VA, will also be a part of the conversation. For more information and to sign up see: https://eventbrite.com/e/Combat-theology-developing-martial-conpetency-for-ministry-tickets-1648029679.

Are you interested in making St. Joseph’s a more welcoming place? If you’d like to participate in working toward making our space more accessible for people with disabilities and other kinds of limitations, please speak with or email Sarah Barton.

Liturgy and Meeting Schedule

Monday, August 3 (Bragg; W.E.B. Dubois)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5: 30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 4

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 5 (Durer, Grunewald, and Cranach the Elder)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Holy Eucharist with Prayers for Healing 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 6 (The Transfiguration)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Friday, August 7 (John Mason Neal; Winkworth)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 9 (The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost)

Holy Eucharist 10:30 a.m.

Fellowship Following

Combat Theology: Developing Martial Competency for Ministry

Saturday, August 8, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Blacknall Presbyterian Church

Since 2008, Centurions Guild has ministered with men and women in the military as well as their dependents, learning together what it means to have been called by Christ but touched by war. What we have learned is that war is too often thought of and taught in abstractions, overlooking the very soldiers and veterans whose lives make war possible. The result is that the people and ideas produced by war often become dismembered bodies left in its wake. Combat, on the other hand, is personal, specific, and impossible to ultimately define. Rather than abstract speculative theologies about war, the Church needs radically engaged theologies of combat and its effects on people we care for.

In this introductory Combat Theology workshop, Iraq veteran and Executive Officer Logan Isaac will provide attendees with resources for meaningfully engaging military personnel in congregations and classrooms alike. Whether you are a pastor, a seminary professor, or a layperson with connections to the military, you will walk away with a better understanding of the complicated intersection of Christian faith and military service. Ticket includes all the materials provided and light break-time beverages & refreshments. Suggested donation to cover costs is $10 – $15.

Join us before the workshop at 8am for “First Formation” (AKA Morning Prayer, from the Book of Common Worship) led by Rev. Karen Barfield in the sanctuary of St Joseph’s Episcopal Church. Blacknall is located right across the street from St. Joseph’s at 1902 Perry Street.

Space is limited; attendees are asked to register in advance.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost — Dr. David Walbert

John 6:1–21

In lieu of a sermon this week I wrote a poem — or, rather, a story in the form of a poem. The story of the loaves and fishes is, after Christmas and Easter, perhaps the most-told story from the Gospels. But it admits too readily of easy answers I’m not comfortable offering, and the various Gospel accounts give us only sketches. What story, I wondered, might one of the five thousand have told?

We walked for miles to see him, this brand-new prophet,
packed a picnic in the dark before dawn:
bread, a little stale; some cheese, a skin of wine,
more than we needed. My wife overpacks.
On my back I bore this feast, beyond
the town, the stubbly fields, into the desert—
the wilderness, she driving me before her
like a damned goat to die. We lived, of course,
but that was later. Meantime the sun shone hot
and hotter as it climbed, as we climbed
one hill after another, to see another valley
void of life and full of rocks, the few
bare bushes brown, and worse than none.
The sky became a vast and cloudless fire
that washed the world to white. We kept our eyes
down on the ground. A lonesome vulture fed
on carrion—though what could have lived here
long enough to die, I could not guess. Perhaps
another prophet, less successful. This one—
This one they all talk about, the one
the fishmonger says is Lord. I’ve heard it before.
My wife, my neighbor, the fishmonger say to me:
You have to hear him preach! But all I could think,
trudging over hill and sun-baked vale:
If this guy is Lord, someone forgot
to prepare his way. Continue reading

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost — Sam Laurent

I did not want to preach about racism this week. That probably sounds bad. I’m not trying to dodge the issue, and I try hard not to live in denial of all the insidious ways racism has been encoded into our society. It’s not that I don’t care about racism. It’s that I’m so tired of all of the think pieces about it, all the people on Facebook saying “if your preacher doesn’t preach about racism this week, you should leave,” all the things that keep me oscillating between outrage and a ridiculous sense of righteous frustration. It’s exhausting. I’m diagnosing myself with think piece fatigue. Huffington Post syndrome.

A terrible event these days launches a million commentaries, and commentaries on the commentaries. I like Facebook, so I end up immersed in think pieces shared by my wonderful friends. All well intentioned, many brilliant, but after a few news cycles, they sort of sound like a swarm of bees to me. It has a paralyzing effect on me, and my brain kind of just refuses to engage anymore. Instead of more meta-commentary, I start to yearn for something that will ground me, something that runs deeper than outrage without asking me not to feel outraged. Today’s Gospel kind of gets there, and I find that tremendously helpful, because I do believe I need to preach about racism. Continue reading

Third Sunday after Pentecost — Sarah Barton

II Corinthians 5:6-17

May I speak in the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustaining Spirit, Amen.

At the end of May, I spent a week in Atlanta, Georgia, attending a conference called the Summer Institute on Disability and Theology. This conference brings together a diverse bunch of friends, from priests and pastors to theologians and community activists, people with and without disabilities. This interfaith gathering seeks to create spaces of belonging in the church for people with disabilities. And the conference seeks to renew how we see our neighbors with disabilities.

Having attended the Summer Institute on Disability and Theology in previous years, I am well known to several of the conference’s leaders as an occupational therapist with experience working alongside individuals with disabilities. My friend Bill who is the primary organizer for the conference emailed me several weeks before the conference started, and asked if I would consider supporting an individual with severe cerebral palsy throughout the duration of the conference. Bill mentioned that her name was Christy. He wrote to me that Christy used a wheelchair and was very independent, except that she was unable to get food and feed herself at mealtimes.

I distinctly remember my first impressions of Christy upon reading this email from Bill: she was a nuisance and would be a drain on my energy during a conference where I was presenting my work in theology and also hoping to have fun with my friends without being tied down to helping someone with a disability who I didn’t even know. I deleted Bill’s email. Continue reading

Sixth Sunday of Easter — Rev. Polly Hilsabeck

John 15:9-17

Last Saturday, heading back to land-locked Durham from East North Carolina, David and I decided to stop off in the Pamlico Sound waterfront town of Washington, or Little Washington, for some world-famous, boiled-in-oil Bill’s hotdogs, which we always order “all the way”—in the local vernacular, meaning slathered in mustard and homemade chili sauce by the three spatula-wielding women who work Bill’s assembly line.

The sky was blue and the air was warm—everyone was out, so we were lucky to find a bench on the boardwalk, where we savored the near-suppertime, late-afternoon sun glistening on the water and the sights and sounds of this small marina and port, due east of Greenville, which saw action in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars—and, was, now, being enjoyed by boaters, ECU students, visitors and townfolk alike.

A hotdog and half a bag of chips into our bystanding—or bench-sitting—greeting and being greeted by promenaders—grandmothers pushing baby strollers, dogs straining at leashes, teens in short shorts, old men in hiked-up pants—when our attention got pulled down the boardwalk by a burst of tangerine chiffon and what appeared to be a photo shoot: a professionally equipped photographer and his assistant sculpted and clicked, sculpted and clicked the fresh-as-a-magazine-cover couple: she, in neon orange gown; he, in black tuxedo and matching neon orange vest. WOW! Continue reading

Fourth Sunday of Easter — Dr. David Walbert

Easter 4, Year B
John 10:11-18
Psalm 23

(In the name of the one holy and living God. Amen.)

I was determined that I was not going to stand up here and talk about sheep, but in thinking about today’s readings I kept being pulled back to the image of them—the shepherd, the flock, the pasture, the sheep. I have to admit I’m just not crazy about that image. It isn’t that I don’t like sheep. I do like sheep. I’ve toyed with the idea of having sheep some day. They’re relatively easy to manage, and they’re good for multiple purposes throughout their life cycles: they give wool, they give meat, some breeds even give milk. They can live off of relatively poor land. They can be integrated fairly easily into a multi-purpose farm and a household economy. And lambing season, if you don’t mind being kept up at night, is a glorious thing. Wendell Berry, one of a dwindling number of literal “good shepherds” the western world has left in this age of industrialized agriculture who also gives us his own eloquent descriptions of the experience, has this to say about keeping sheep:

The old shepherd comes to another
lambing time, and he gives thanks.
He has longed ever more strongly
as the weeks and months went by
for the new lives the ewes have carried
in their bellies through the winter cold.
Now in the gray mornings of barely
spring he goes to see at last
what the night has revealed. 1

Berry is a Christian, which I think shows through pretty clearly in his poetry—not that he is actively trying to convert anyone, but that he never strays very far from the image of rebirth. The care he takes for his sheep is the sort of care we’d want from our own Good Shepherd, but Berry’s is a very human shepherd—a humble one, who “gives thanks” for a lambing time that he, far from controlling in the manner of an industrial foreman or a software engineer, takes as a holy mystery. Continue reading

Maundy Thursday — Dr. David Walbert

“Loving one another on Thursday evening”

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

And so we come to the end.

Jesus has spent three years traveling the length and breadth of Israel, preaching the kingdom of God. He has dined with tax collectors, forgiven prostitutes, and interceded for the condemned; disputed with priests and smashed up the temple. He has turned water into wine and a few hunks of dry bread into a feast for thousands. He has healed the lame, blessed the poor, and resurrected the dead. He has been revealed to his closest disciples as the divine Messiah, come to earth in human form to teach us, among other things, how to be human.

And now, when it’s time for him to go, we see him at his most human. Continue reading

Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday — Dr. Joel Marcus

“Ride On, Ride On, In Majesty”

Mark 11:1-11

We have just heard the whole passion narrative read, in Mark’s rendition. And, as this week progresses, we will move step by step through that narrative. But for now I want to backtrack to the Gospel lesson we heard read outside the church today, which forms the necessary background for Holy Week. This is the Gospel lesson that is rightly called the story of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

For this is the story of a triumph—a word whose first definition my New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Thumb Index Edition) gives as “the processional entrance of a victorious commander with his army and spoils into Rome.” These spoils usually included not only the treasures of the defeated kingdom—for example, the solid gold menorah and showbread table of the Temple in Jerusalem, which can still be seen depicted on Hadrian’s Arch in Rome—but also the soldiers from the defeated army, who were led through the streets of Rome in chains, and the leaders of whom were then publicly executed, while the rest of the soldiers and other captives were sold into slavery.

Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, of course, is not exactly that sort of triumph. We don’t hear of any conquered soldiers being dragged through the city in chains, or killed, or sold into slavery—but there is still something triumphalist about the scene, like a military victory parade or, to get closer to our time and place, the exultation of sports-maddened basketball fans when their team wins. The scene of the finding of the colt recalls a famous messianic text from the Old Testament, Zechariah 9, in which Jerusalem’s king comes to her humble and riding on a donkey’s colt—the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, calls this “a new colt.” To this corresponds Mark’s detail that the colt Jesus rides on has never been ridden before—it is “new” because it has never been ridden. Although this king in Zechariah is described as humble, and the passage goes on to speak rapturously about the peace he will bring, it is the sort of peace that is achieved by a decisive victory in war. We haven’t had many victories of that sort lately—all of our victories seem to turn to ashes in our mouth–but they do sometimes happen. Think V-E Day and V-J Day at the end of World War II, and those classic pictures of total strangers kissing each other in exultation and relief.

Jesus, then, is being portrayed as a victor, and one whose victory is being acknowledged by a grateful people who expect him to save them from oppression and establish his kingdom from sea to shining sea. At the same time, however, this scene is also full of pathos. Because the reader knows, the hearer knows, we know that this acknowledgement of Jesus will be short-lived, and that the same Jerusalem crowds that are now rapturously feting him will, within a few short days, turn against him and scream for his execution. Continue reading

Thanks for your help!

Thanks to the 20 people who came to help at our “work party” to help clean the church, rake the garden, spread mulch, pick up trash, plant flowers, organize donated clothes, polish brass, and make palm crosses (and probably a few other things)! The church and grounds look ready for Easter, and spring!