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 Ninth 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’s will be away until July 28th. In the event of a pastoral emergency, please contact the Rev. Dn. Sarah Woodard at sarah.woodard@duke.edu or telephone 919.599.5227. For non-pastoral concerns please talk with the Senior Warden.

A donation-based Yin Yoga Class will be held Sunday, August 2nd at 5:00 PM in the upstairs of the parish hall. The class will be led by Lisa McCaskill. This is a relaxing style of yoga in which poses are held for longer periods of time. All are welcome! Donate as you are able (up to $10).

Liturgy and Meeting Schedule

Monday, July 27 (William Reed Huntington)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5: 30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 28

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 29 (Mary & Martha of Bethany)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

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

Thursday, July 30 (William Wilberforce)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Friday, July 31 (Ignatius of Loyola)

Morning Prayer 7:30 a.m.

Evening Prayer 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 2 (The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Holy Eucharist 10:30 a.m.

Fellowship Following

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!

Second Sunday of Lent — Tyler Hambley

“The Way of the Cross”

OT: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm: 22:23-31
Epistle: Romans 4:13-25
Gospel: Mark 8:31-38

“Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Well… so much for positive, encouraging radio from the Son of God this morning. Poor old Peter! Sometimes, it seems like just when he might have things all figured out, he gets harshly reminded of how far he has yet to go. And, if you’re anything like me this morning, then you probably feel like Peter is not alone in his struggle to understand and follow this Jesus character. As we enter this second full week of Lent, our Holy efforts to give up certain foods, pray a little more, or reboot a new year’s resolution are starting to drag a little thin. Ash Wednesday was neat, albeit a little morbid, but now we’re starting to scratch our heads a little. What is this Lent thing for again? How long does it last? How far do we take this self-denial stuff? Anyway, these are just a few of the thoughts I have, at least. Overall, I like Jesus, and I like thinking Jesus likes me. But besides some nifty spiritual exercises, and trying to be a generally nice person, I’m often confused as to what being a follower of Christ means exactly? Put another way, what difference does Christ make for our lives? I know I’m supposed to say it makes all the difference, but what does that entail? What does that look like? Continue reading

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany — Tyler Hambley

“The Haunting, Holy One of God”

OT: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm: 111
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

I’ll never forget watching the movie, The Exorcist, late one evening while in high school. There’s nothing quite like a Hollywood take on demon-possession to keep you up all night clutching your pillowcase. For me, just the thought of a person’s agency – their ability to act on their own – being taken over by an unseen force is enough to send chills down my spine.

Likewise, I’m not sure there’s anything I’d rather avoid in a sermon than what we find in our gospel reading this morning – a man possessed by an unclean spirit. Of course, the safe thing to do here would be to leave this demon-possessed man at the arms-length distance of the text. After all, his role in the story alone is important, albeit in a negative sense: he ironically reveals the true identity of Jesus as “the Holy One of God” when no one else knew quite what to do with this new teacher of authority. Yes, we could stop there and let this afflicted man be, but what refuses to stay hidden in this text is the stark contrast of this unclean spirit challenging Jesus – not just anywhere – but right in the middle of the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Two reactions are immediate for me concerning this encounter: Continue reading