Announcements, January 26

THIS WEEKEND…

Friday, January 27, 5pm: Build Your Dreams: Using Lego to Build St. Dunstan’s Future.  All ages welcome. Come as you’re able! Lego and dinner provided.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, January 27, 6pm: We will kick off 2017 by meeting up at Oliva, 751 N. High Point Road, Madison (in the same shopping center as Alicia Ashman Library). Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s.

Church Book Club meeting, Saturday, January 28, 10am: The book is La Rose by Louise Erdrich. In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture. For more information, contact Jim Hindle.

Your Favorite Lecture: Dr. Mariana Hewson – Sunday, January 29: “Your Favorite Lecture” is an occasional 9am opportunity for some of our many members who are scholars, educators, and thinkers of deep thoughts to talk about things they love to talk about. Mariana Hewson, a scholar of indigenous healing traditions, will read a story she has written. All are welcome!

Candlemas Last Sunday Worship, Sunday, January 29, 10am: We will celebrate Candlemas with a brief story and candle-lighting prayers at the end of our 10am liturgy. Bring your flashlights and emergency candles from home to be blessed! At 9am there will be candle-making in the downstairs classroom, for kids to make a small set of candles to take home.

Middle School Lunch & Learn, Sunday, January 29, 12-1pm: Rev. Miranda invites the 10-and-up youth of the parish to meet with her for lunch after church once a month. We’ll dig into faith, Scripture, life, and our questions about all three. We’ll wrap up by 1pm, and we can arrange rides home for the kids if that helps the parents’ schedules.

Last Chance: Congregational Survey about Music at St. Dunstan’s. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts. If you haven’t yet, please do. You should have received links to the survey via our weekly E-news; call the office (238-2781) if you need the links re-sent. The survey will close on January 29.

Survival Backpacks: Thanks to all who have taken slips to buy items for backpacks for homeless teens in Madison! Please return your items by Sunday, January 29. Questions? Contact Bonnie Magnuson.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for 2017! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

NEXT WEEK & BEYOND…

Nickel Tour #1: The Lower Level, Sunday, February 5, 9am: This Sunday morning, we’ll take time to walk around our main building on the lower level and talk about each room and how it’s used, and could be used. Meet in the Gathering Area right after the 8am service.

Birthdays and Anniversaries will be honored and Healing Prayers will be offered next Sunday, February 5, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, February 5: Next Sunday, half the cash in our offering plate and any designated checks will be given to Middleton Outreach Ministry’s food pantry. Here are the current top-ten, most needed items: canned meat (other than tuna); pork & beans; baked beans, variety pasta; pasta & pizza sauce; shelf stable cheese (ex. parmesan); canned/dried fruit; cooking/olive oil; sugar/honey/syrup; toilet paper. Thanks for all your support!

Falk Food Friends Special Project: Packing Medical Kits, Sunday, February 5, 11:30am: We have learned that some families with kids at Falk Elementary, our partner school, lack basic home first aid supplies. So we’re packing 15 simple medical kits to send home to the households in greatest need. The supplies are all ready, we just have to put them together! Gather in the Meeting Room after church to help out.

Cook & Sing Your Dreams, Sunday, February 5, 5pm: Potluck & Song Fest. Bring a dish that represents something you love about St. Dunstan’s, or something you hope for its future. Then we’ll sing songs that really feel like core songs of our community of faith – bring your suggestions!

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, February 5, 6pm: Join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, February 8, 1:00 to 2:45 PM (Note new time): Julian of Norwich was a 15th Century English mystic and anchoress. Nearly forgotten for 600 years, Julian’s insights and gentle wisdom are becoming ever more widely known and appreciated.  The monthly Julian Gatherings, supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich (www.orderofjulian.org), are open to all who want to deepen their life of faith through the practice of contemplative prayer. Each meeting begins with brief instruction in the practice of contemplative prayer, and includes time for contemplative prayer, fellowship, and reading/discussion of Julian’s book. We meet the second Wednesday of each month from 1:00 to 2:45 PM. For additional information, contact Susan Fiore.

Draw Your Dreams; Using Art to Image St. Dunstan’s, Friday, February 10, 5pm: All ages are welcome. You don’t need to be “artsy” to do this! Dinner will be provided.

Gospel of John Study Group, Wednesday nights, March 8 – April 26, omitting Holy Week, 6:30-8:30pm at the McAlpine’s: Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, the man born blind, Martha & Mary of Bethany: just some of the witnesses the Gospel according to John assembles to enrich our own encounter with Jesus. This year the Daily Office Lectionary has us reading that Gospel from the last week of Epiphany through the second week of Easter. If you’d like to read it and reflect on it with others, St. Dunstan’s is offering this seven-session Wednesday night series, hosted by the McAlpines in Fitchburg. There’s a sign-up for the study so we know how many manuscripts to prepare and how much coffee to brew.

CAPITAL CAMPAIGN DISCERNMENT PROCESS: OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE…

Seeking Hosts for Wondering Conversations! Would you like to host a group of 8 – 10 people in your home, to talk about ideas for our capital campaign? You don’t have to lead the conversation, just offer a space (and perhaps tea and cookies, or whatever you please!). These Wondering Conversations will take place in late February and early March. If you’d like to be a host, sign up in the Gathering Area or contact Inquiry & Input Team co-leader Mary Ann Fraley.

Seeking Facilitators for Wondering Conversations! The heart of our work as a parish discerning whether we are called to undertake a capital campaign at this time, and what projects would be the focus of that campaign, will be a series of small group conversations held in late February and early March – our “Wondering Conversations.” The Inquiry & Input Team is seeking a few willing folks to serve as facilitators for these conversations. Facilitators will need to attend a training on Saturday, February 18, and are asked to facilitate at least two gatherings between February 19 and March 7. (Gatherings will be held at many different times, to accommodate everyone’s schedules.) If you’d like to serve as a Facilitator, please sign up in the Gathering Area or speak to Inquiry & Input Co-Chairs Celia Fine & Mary Ann Fraley, or to Rev. Miranda.

SUMMER DATES FOR PLANNING….

Camp Webb 2016 (June 18 – 24) is accepting applications now! Camp Webb is an outdoor ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, for children and youth grades 3 through senior high. It is held at a camp outside Elkhorn, WI. Camp tuition is $375 if you register before January 15, with a deposit of $75 due at the time of registration. St. Dunstan’s offers $150 in aid to all our campers, with additional assistance possible; contact Rev. Miranda for financial assistance.  Visit http://www.diomil.org/forming-disciples/camp-webb/ for registration forms. Camp Webb IS EXPECTED TO FILL this year, so apply soon!

Vacation Bible School 2017, July 30 – August 3: Our Vacation Bible School this summer is planned for Sunday, July 30, through Thursday, August 3. We’ll meet in the evenings – likely 5:30 to 7:30pm, as in previous years. Keep these dates in mind as you make your summer plans! Kids ages 3 to 10 are welcome to participate; middle school and older kids will be involved as actors and helpers.

Women’s Mini-Week, August 10-13: The mission of Women’s Mini-Week is to provide an annual retreat event for adult women, offering refuge, friendship, relaxation, and fun. Mini-Week combines opportunities to learn with fellowship, spiritual exploration and delicious food as we invite all women to participate as much or as little as they would like and need. Mini-Week is held at a beautiful lakeside camp in northern Wisconsin. Many members of St. Dunstan’s have attended, planned, and led, over the years. Visit womensminiweek.org to learn more and make Mini-Week part of your summer plans.

 

Sermon, January 22

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a pastor. She’s also an author and a celebrity, at least the closest thing to a real celebrity we have in mainline Protestantism. Her books and writing and conference talks have made her beloved by many, and her church, the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, sounds like truly remarkable place. As you might guess from all that, they get a lot of visitors and new members. I mean, really a lot. People who think maybe this church, this spiritual leader, is finally the Right Thing for them, home after a long journey, solace after a long struggle.

So Nadia has developed a little talk she gives to those seekers, those new members. She tells them, Look, we’re not perfect. Churches are made of human beings. Someday, we will disappoint you or hurt you. Someday, I will disappoint you or hurt you. It’s a matter of when, not if. The church, this church, WILL let you down. And then she says, Please decide, right now, right up front, that you’ll stick around when that happens, and let God’s grace do its work in the cracks left by the brokenness of human communities.

I admire the honesty of that approach. And it seems to me that it neatly captures the tension between our New Testament readings this morning. In Matthew, we see the enthusiastic, ready response of the newly-called: Immediately they left their nets and followed him! And in 1 Corinthians we get a glimpse of a church community, a group of people who know each other well – maybe too well – who are in conflict. Divided. Forming factions and judging each other. Not a compelling witness to the gospel of Christ.

At first glance those readings seem to grate against each other, a mismatch; but really they’re just different moments in the lifetime of faith. There’s the moment of call, claim, curiosity or conversion, the moment when we first say, Yes. Yes to Jesus, God, and/or church. When we say, This is for me. I want to be part of this. And then there’s the ongoing life of discipleship and community, which gets messy. Even within a broadly unified and loving fellowship of faith, people have different understandings and priorities. They always have.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing a letter to a community that’s struggling with conflict. Those of us who make a vocation of tending a church are often encouraged to reflect on the ways in which a church functions as a system, and we would name this as disequilibrium.

Equilibrium is a scientific term. It refers to a state in which the forces acting on something – an object or a system – are balanced. The thing isn’t static or still, there’s stuff happening inside and/or around it, but the stuff all adds up to keep the the thing pretty much the same. A push this way is balanced by another push that way, and so the thing stays in a kind of dynamic stability. Make sense? Okay.

So, disequilibrium is – not that. It’s when one of the forces in or around the thing gets stronger or weaker, or a new dynamic enters the system, and the system is no longer in equilibrium. No longer settled, balanced. That doesn’t mean that the new factor, whatever it is, is going to win – is going to shift the system in its direction. Systems are complex; the other forces acting on and in the system will respond to the change; you’d have to understand the system very thoroughly indeed to be able to accurately predict the eventual outcome. But the point is, there was equilibrium, and now there isn’t. Instead, there’s change.

Paul is addressing a situation of factionalism and conflict. But conflict is only one kind of disequilibrium. There are others. And many of them are things we think we want. Growth causes disequilibrium. Stretching ourselves to be and do more causes disequilibrium. Positive change is still disequilibrium. It unsettles our stability, our balance. Even though it’s a good thing in the abstract, it’s uncomfortable, stressful. It creates anxiety in the system. It can lead to conflict, which is often a symptom, rather than a cause, of disequilibrium.

That’s why your vestry spent several meetings last year developing our Community Covenant document, a statement of how we want to treat one another when we disagree, or when conversations get intense. We didn’t do that work because we were in conflict, or because there was conflict in the parish. We did it because when you shake up a system, anxiety can erupt in surprising ways, and it’s best to be ready for that, instead of being blindsided.

And we are shaking up our system, friends. We are talking about a capital campaign. We are choosing disequilibrium, taking it on intentionally, by asking ourselves what calls and charisms – remember, a charism is a gift given for a purpose – what calls and charisms God has bestowed upon us, and in what ways our building and our property reflect and accommodate all that, and in what ways they don’t.

I believe we are ready. I believe we can handle this. I believe that because I trust God, and I trust you. And because we have really taken our time getting here, talking and listening and noticing. Waiting for the moment to ripen, for the opportune time. I have literally been thinking about a capital campaign here for five years. Not because I came here as your new rector thinking, Boy, I can’t wait to lead a capital campaign!… Yeah, no. But because within my first year here, I already heard and felt – from you, among you – the places where the building chafed, didn’t fit who we are and what we do.

Your Vestry, your elected board, has literally been talking and thinking and praying about a capital campaign for two solid years. It took us eight months to choose a consulting firm to lead us through this work. I’m sure there are folks here who feel like this has come out of nowhere; I ask you believe me: we have really, really taken our time, letting this possibility emerge and mature. We have not taken a single step forward without a unanimous Yes among your leaders – the Vestry and Finance Committee. And we’ve floated the idea out to the congregation, and listened, as part that discernment, too. And so far, those Yeses have come, easily, and clearly. Yes, let’s take the next step down this road. Let’s keep exploring. Let’s keep wondering. Let’s see where this leads. We may still come to a No, or a Not yet. But so far, the Spirit among and within us has led us to Yes.

All those Yeses make me hopeful, and excited, for the prayerful conversations and work ahead. But I’m also bracing myself to deal with the stresses of disequilibrium. To take an example deliberately chosen for its triviality: The microwave in our church kitchen, built-in over the stove, is TERRIBLE. It’s so old it doesn’t even have a turntable; you end up with one lukewarm spot in your bowl of food…. We either use it and curse it, or avoid it. It’s easy to limp along with this inadequate piece of equipment. Replacing it is another whole story. That means assessing our needs; looking at how the whole kitchen functions; who uses it, and when, and for what; while we’re replacing the built-in, should we do something about the cabinets, which are also starting to fall apart; you get the idea.

Tolerating something less than ideal is easier than making it better. It just is.

I feel some anxiety in our parish system already. Not about the microwave, but about the possibility of a capital campaign. It’s not a lot of anxiety, it’s not intense, but it’s there. It’s there because money worries people. It’s there because we have both amazing, gifted, engaged newer members and amazing, gifted, engaged long-time members participating in this work, and not everybody knows and trusts each other yet. It’s there because the congregation’s memory of the last big building project here, in the 1990s, is that decisions were made from the top, without truly taking the parish’s needs and desires into account.

There’s anxiety about transparency – will everyone be heard? will decisions be made fairly and collaboratively? There’s anxiety about scale – are we going to set overly ambitious goals, and either end up disappointing ourselves, or overreaching our capacity? There’s anxiety about how to plan and design for the future, which is always and inevitably unknown. There’s anxiety about doing this NOW, when things seem so right in the life of our parish, but so uncertain in the life of our community, nation and world.

One of the things that happens in an anxious system is that the thing is never just the thing. Small issues take on disproportionate emotional energy. That conversation about the microwave is a conversation about how we gather; the conversation about how we gather is a conversation about who we are; the conversation about who we are is a conversation about whether we are who we’re supposed to be, and whether there’s room in that “we” for others who need to be here; the conversation about whether there’s room for others – and which others? – is a conversation about the survival of mainline Protestantism in the 21st century. So the microwave can become a big deal, fast.

How do we handle the anxiety? Well: your leaders can offer some assurances. We WILL give everyone a chance to be heard. We WILL do our utmost to make reasonable and sustainable decisions. We WILL do our best to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we discern our path forward into the unknowable future. I absolutely mean all of that. But I also know I could say those things till I’m blue in the face and folks will still be anxious, because the system will still be anxious. Unsettled, both literally and figuratively.

Then there’s prayer. You could do worse than today’s Psalm, Psalm 27, a psalm of trust and assurance. “God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” “Your face, Lord, will I seek.” “Surely I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” “Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage.” I spent some time this week collecting some prayers about seeking God’s will and trusting God in a time of uncertainty. I posted a few on our parish website; take a look sometime, if that would be helpful to you.

Another way to handle the anxiety is remind ourselves and each other of the touchstone of who we are, together. That’s the approach taken by the Apostle Paul, addressing the conflicted Corinthians: Be united in the same mind and the same purpose. In a way Paul is calling the Corinthians to think back to that first Yes moment. He asks them to step back from the tangled messy present and remember the fresh joyful urgency of the initial call. To remind themselves why they became part of a community that strives to follows Jesus together.

Be united in the same mind and the same purpose. What’s the mind, the purpose, the intention, that unites us? Recently I happened to look back at a document from 2012 – five years ago! How many of you weren’t even here yet? – A document about who we are, at St. Dunstan’s, and what we’re good at, gathered from the congregation. And what astonished and honestly delighted me is how familiar it felt. The things we named back then were things that we’ve grown into even more, in the intervening five years.

We love music, and singing together. We love drama, and a good story well told. We love to make stuff, to craft, tinker, build, and fix. We love our grounds, and we’re continually working to care for them and learn from them more faithfully. We love to do things for others, together. We love to feed each other and to eat together. We love to learn and wonder and reflect together. We love our kids. In fact, that sentence doesn’t even work, because at St. Dunstan’s, kids are part of the We. Not some separate group that we do things for, but full members of this household of faith. We love the holy moments when we’re able to be companions for one another in times of pain or struggle; when we’re able to sing and pray and preach courage in the face of the world’s hurt. We love being a place of welcome, of safety, for those who’ve been bruised or battered by other churches, or by the world; and we’re committed to maintaining and broadening that welcome. We love it when people can offer the things they’re good at and the things they love to do as their ministries here, and we trust that the capacities and enthusiasms of our members are leading us somewhere together – are indeed charisms, gifts given for a purpose.

Be united in the same mind and the same purpose. Well: I’m not sure we’re ever all going to be of the same mind, here, exactly. Too many opinions! But the same purpose, the same intention, the same heart, the same sense of direction, the same love and longings for this place, this fellowship – I think we really do share a lot, there. I think there’s a core that will hold us together, and lead us forward. Help us manage the anxiety of disequilibrium, and keep loving and striving and building together, even when we don’t see eye to eye.

Remember Nadia Bolz-Weber’s speech to new members? Well, most of you aren’t brand-new here – though a few are. The newness in our midst is a project – this project of discerning possibilities, and then, perhaps, of actually following through to make it so.

But I’d like to say what Nadia says. Right now, this new thing among us is kind of exciting. So far it’s all possibility, and no reality; what’s not to like? But. But. You will be disappointed or hurt, at some point in this process. There will be moments when people’s priorities or preferences are at odds. Someone will think your pet project is unimportant, or flat-out stupid. (Though I think we’d get a LOT of use out of a climbing wall!) Cruel financial realities will kill a possibility that you’d built hopes around. This work will – at some point – piss you off.

I am asking you: Decide, now, to stick around. Decide, now, to bear with it. To bear with us. To bear with God, in what God is doing here among us. To remind yourself why you’re here to begin with, and of the common purpose and heart that unites us, even if we sometimes feel divided. To trust in God’s good and gracious intentions for this outpost of the Kingdom here at the corner of University and Allen. And to let the Holy Spirit work through the spaces left by our inadequacy, short-sightedness, and anxiety, to accomplish God’s purposes on earth.

Announcements, January 19

THIS WEEKEND…

Reminder: Congregational Survey about Music at St. Dunstan’s. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts. If you haven’t yet, please do. You should have received links to the survey via our weekly E-news. The survey will close on January 29.  If you didn’t get the links, or prefer to share your thoughts on paper or in person, contact the office at 238-2781 or office@stdunstans.com.

Annual Parish Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 9am: Come to hear parish updates, including the 2016 budget, and help elect our parish leaders. All are welcome to attend!

Bake Sale for Haiti! Sunday, January 22: Our Sunday school students are trying to raise money to cover school fees for a child in Jeannette, Haiti. They’d like to hold a bake sale in January. Please consider baking or making a treat with your child (sweet or savory) and bringing it on Sunday morning to contribute to the sale. If you are that parent who would rather just donate $10 than bake something, that’s cool too. :-) Questions, ideas, offers to help? Contact Sarah Errington.

Sunday School, Sunday, January 22, during the 10am liturgy: Our youngest class will explore baptism, while our Elementary classes read about Jesus calling his first followers.

Christian Formation Committee Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 11:45am: Our Christian Formation Committee will meet to review and plan programs, especially for Lent, Easter and beyond. All interested people are welcome to attend and participate.

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, January 22, 7pm: Every fourth Sunday, a loyal group of St. Dunstan’s folk provides dinner for residents at the Grace Church shelter, and breakfast the next morning. See the signup sheet in the gathering area to help out. To learn more, talk with Rose Mueller.

Survival Backpacks: Thanks to all who have taken slips to buy items for backpacks for homeless teens in Madison! Please return your items by Sunday, January 29. Questions? Contact Bonnie Magnuson.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for 2017! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee  for more information.

NEXT WEEK & BEYOND…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, January 27, 6pm: We will kick off 2017 by meeting up at Oliva, 751 N. High Point Road, Madison (in the same shopping center as Alicia Ashman Library). Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s.

Church Book Club meeting, Saturday, January 28, 10am: The book is La Rose by Louise Erdrich. In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture. For more information, contact Jim Hindle.

Your Favorite Lecture: Dr. Mariana Hewson – Sunday, January 29: “Your Favorite Lecture” is an occasional 9am opportunity for some of our many members who are scholars, educators, and thinkers of deep thoughts to talk about things they love to talk about. Mariana Hewson, a scholar of indigenous healing traditions, will read a story she has written. All are welcome!

Candlemas Last Sunday Worship, Sunday, January 29: We will celebrate Candlemas with a brief story and candle-lighting prayers at the end of our 10am liturgy. Bring your flashlights and emergency candles from home to be blessed! We also plan to have a candle-making station set up for people to make a small set of candles to take home.

Falk Food Friends Special Project: Packing Medical Kits, Sunday, February 5, 11:30am: We have learned that some families with kids at Falk Elementary, our partner school, lack basic home first aid supplies. So we’re packing 15 simple medical kits to send home to the households in greatest need. The supplies are all ready, we just have to put them together! Gather in the Meeting Room after church to help out.

Gospel of John Study Group: Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, the man born blind, Martha & Mary of Bethany: just some of the witnesses the Gospel according to John assembles to enrich our own encounter with Jesus. This year the Daily Office Lectionary has us reading that Gospel from the last week of Epiphany through the second week of Easter. If you’d like to read it and reflect on it with others, St. Dunstan’s is offering a seven-session Wednesday night series (March 8 – April 26, omitting Holy Week, 6:30-8:30 PM), hosted by the McAlpines in Fitchburg. There’s a sign-up for the study so we know how many manuscripts to prepare and how much coffee to brew.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, February 8, 1:00 to 2:45 PM (Note new time): Julian of Norwich was a 15th Century English mystic and anchoress. Nearly forgotten for 600 years, Julian’s insights and gentle wisdom are becoming ever more widely known and appreciated.  The monthly Julian Gatherings, supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich (www.orderofjulian.org), are open to all who want to deepen their life of faith through the practice of contemplative prayer. Each meeting begins with brief instruction in the practice of contemplative prayer, and includes time for contemplative prayer, fellowship, and reading/discussion of Julian’s book. We meet the second Wednesday of each month from 1:00 to 2:45 PM. For additional information, contact Susan Fiore.

CAPITAL CAMPAIGN DISCERNMENT PROCESS: OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE…

Seeking Hosts for Wondering Conversations! Would you like to host a group of 8 – 10 people in your home, to talk about ideas for our capital campaign? You don’t have to lead the conversation, just offer a space (and perhaps tea and cookies, or whatever you please!). These Wondering Conversations will take place in late February and early March. If you’d like to be a host, sign up in the Gathering Area or contact Inquiry & Input Team co-leader Mary Ann Fraley.

Seeking Facilitators for Wondering Conversations! The heart of our work as a parish discerning whether we are called to undertake a capital campaign at this time, and what projects would be the focus of that campaign, will be a series of small group conversations held in late February and early March – our “Wondering Conversations.” The Inquiry & Input Team is seeking a few willing folks to serve as facilitators for these conversations. Facilitators will need to attend a training on Saturday, February 18, and are asked to facilitate at least two gatherings between February 19 and March 7. (Gatherings will be held at many different times, to accommodate everyone’s schedules.) If you’d like to serve as a Facilitator, please sign up in the Gathering Area or speak to Inquiry & Input Co-Chairs Celia Fine & Mary Ann Fraley, or to Rev. Miranda.

SUMMER DATES FOR PLANNING….

Camp Webb 2016 (June 18 – 24) is accepting applications now! Camp Webb is an outdoor ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, for children and youth grades 3 through senior high. It is held at a camp outside Elkhorn, WI. Camp tuition is $375 if you register before January 15, with a deposit of $75 due at the time of registration. St. Dunstan’s offers $150 in aid to all our campers, with additional assistance possible; contact Rev. Miranda for financial assistance.  Visit http://www.diomil.org/forming-disciples/camp-webb/ for registration forms. Camp Webb IS EXPECTED TO FILL this year, so apply soon!

Vacation Bible School 2017, July 30 – August 3: Our Vacation Bible School this summer is planned for Sunday, July 30, through Thursday, August 3. We’ll meet in the evenings – likely 5:30 to 7:30pm, as in previous years. Keep these dates in mind as you make your summer plans! Kids ages 3 to 10 are welcome to participate; middle school and older kids will be involved as actors and helpers.

Women’s Mini-Week, August 10-13: The mission of Women’s Mini-Week is to provide an annual retreat event for adult women, offering refuge, friendship, relaxation, and fun. Mini-Week combines opportunities to learn with fellowship, spiritual exploration and delicious food as we invite all women to participate as much or as little as they would like and need. Mini-Week is held at a beautiful lakeside camp in northern Wisconsin. Many members of St. Dunstan’s have attended, planned, and led, over the years. Visit womensminiweek.org to learn more and make Mini-Week part of your summer plans.

 

Homily, January 15

This sermon accompanies the lessons for the Feast of the Epiphany, to correspond with our Epiphany Pageant, offered on this date. 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an empire feared for its power.

For a lot of people my age and younger, the word Empire may bring to mind images of Darth Vader and the ominous sameness of the Storm Troopers, in their white armor. But of course Star Wars has always been an allegory. George Lucas’ imagined Empire is the science-fiction version of something that’s been a feature of human politics for five thousand years or more.

An empire is a group of nations or people ruled over by an emperor or other powerful ruler and government. An empire begins when the king in one nation decides that they have the power to take over their next-door neighbor, and succeeds in doing so, and thinks, “Well, that went pretty well; now we have more territory, and we have control of more people, and we make them give us stuff; let’s keep going.”

By definition, many of those nations and peoples who are part of an empire are not willing participants. Even if their leaders decide that cooperating with the empire is in their best interest – like King Herod, who ruled Judea under the authority of the Roman empire – the people feel the rub of outside rule.

Therefore also, by definition, empires rule by force. Military, political, economic, cultural. In the great span of human history, there have been more and less humane empires; there have been good outcomes of empire – the Romans built roads and water systems everywhere they went. But empire always means dominion and subjugation. It always means that the person with authority over you is more interested in your cooperation than in your wellbeing.

Empires are always insecure. Always anxious. Their forces are always stretched; their presence and power is always resented. And so empires have tendency to use excessive force. To make an example of those that challenge their power, in hopes of intimidating and discouraging any other would-be resisters. The Empire in Star Wars built a Death Star, a weapon that could literally destroy a planet in an instant. The Empire in Matthew’s Gospel sends soldiers to murder the baby boys of a whole village, lest one of them spark a popular movement that would upset the apple cart of Herod’s cozy relationship with the Roman occupying forces. (A quick aside with some good news: that particular massacre probably never really happened… but empires do terrible things, to protect their power, whether that particular terrible thing is history or myth.)

Empire is a political form. But it’s also a mindset. A mindset of uniformity and control. A mindset that fears difference and dissent, seeing them as threats to its power. A mindset that fears the freedom of people or ideas. A mindset that demands submission, and acceptance of its norms and truths. And that responds with violence – verbal or physical – to any perceived threat.

We love stories about rebels thwarting the brutal power of empire. Whether it’s Luke Skywalker and Jyn Erso, Paul Revere and George Washington, Jesus and Paul, Martin Luther King Jr. leading that march across the Pettus Bridge towards a line of policemen ready to beat back their dreams, or the ragtag bunch of misfits in detention in the Breakfast Club, pushing back against the divide-and-conquer regime of a public high school and a sadistic assistant principal.

We root for the little guys, the scrappy underdogs. We root for the freedom of people and ideas. We root for dissent and difference… at least, in our stories. At least, when the empire in question is a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

In the latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One, the characters face a great moral choice in the face of an empire’s dominating power: whether to keep your head down and just try to survive, or to risk, and even to sacrifice, yourself in the hope of destabilizing the oppressive power of empire.

In the Gospels, and in the first centuries of Christianity taking root under Roman rule, Jesus and those who followed his Way faced a great moral choice: whether to keep your head down and just try to survive, or to risk, and even to sacrifice, yourself in the hope of destabilizing the oppressive power of empire.

What will we do when we hear the tramping boots of Herod’s soldiers? What will we do when the mindset of empire demands our compliance?

Announcements, January 12

THIS WEEKEND…

Your Favorite Lecture: Dr. Mariana Hewson – POSTPONED to Sunday, January 29: “Your Favorite Lecture” is an occasional 9am opportunity for some of our many members who are scholars, educators, and thinkers of deep thoughts to talk about things they love to talk about. Mariana Hewson, a scholar of indigenous healing traditions, will read a story she has written. All are welcome!

Epiphany Pageant, Sunday, January 15: The children of St. Dunstan’s will present a pageant telling the story of Jesus’ birth and the visit of the Wise Men on Sunday, January 15. All kids are welcome to participate! All kids with speaking parts: PLEASE BE AT CHURCH by 9:20 to rehearse the pageant once more before we offer it during 10am liturgy.

Spirituality of Parenting Lunch, Sunday, January 15, 11:30am: All who seek meaning in the journey of parenthood (at any age or stage) are welcome to come for food and conversation. Child care and a simple meal provided.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, January 15: Half the cash in our collection plate, and any designated checks, will go towards the Rector’s Discretionary Fund this day and on every third Sunday. This fund is a way to quietly help people with direct financial needs, in the parish and the wider community. Please give generously.

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, January 15, 6pm: Join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, January 15, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney Way. Friends and partners welcome too.

Music Survey: We are seeking congregational input about our choir and music ministries, as we begin the process of seeking a new Organist & Choir Director in anticipation of Martin’s retirement later this year. If you’re on St. Dunstan’s e-news list, you should have received a message this week inviting you to take a simple survey. If you didn’t get the message, or prefer to share your thoughts on paper or in person, contact the office at 238-2781 or office@stdunstans.com.

Survival Backpacks: We are collecting items to fill backpacks for homeless high school youth in the Madison school system. These are youth who have run away from or been kicked out of their homes and families. They need basic necessities in a simple form that they can carry with them. Please check the window in the Gathering Area for items still needed. Take a slip, buy the items, and bring them back by Sunday, January 29. Thanks for your generosity! Questions? Contact Bonnie Magnuson.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for 2017! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

2017 Pledge Envelopes: If you would like pledge envelopes and haven’t already ordered them, please contact Val McAuliffe.

NEXT WEEK & BEYOND…

Annual Parish Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 9am: Come to hear parish updates, including the 2017 budget, and help elect our parish leaders. All are welcome to attend!

Bake Sale for Haiti! Sunday, January 22: Our Sunday school students are trying to raise money to cover school fees for a child in Jeannette, Haiti. They’d like to hold a bake sale in January. Please consider baking or making a treat with your child (sweet or savory) and bringing it on Sunday morning to contribute to the sale. If you are that parent who would rather just donate $10 than bake something, that’s cool too. :-) Questions, ideas, offers to help? Contact Sarah Errington.

Sunday School, Sunday, January 22, during the 10am liturgy: Our youngest class will explore baptism, while our Elementary classes read about Jesus calling his first followers.

Christian Formation Committee Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 11:45am: Our Christian Formation Committee will meet to review and plan programs, especially for Lent, Easter and beyond. All interested people are welcome to attend and participate.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, January 27, 6pm: We will kick off 2017 by meeting up at Oliva, 751 N. High Point Road, Madison (in the same shopping center as Alicia Ashman Library). Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s.

Church Book Club meeting, Saturday, January 28, 10am: The book is La Rose by Louise Erdrich. In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture. For more information, contact Jim Hindle.

Candlemas Last Sunday Worship, Sunday, January 29: We will celebrate Candlemas with a brief story and candle-lighting prayers at the end of our 10am liturgy. Bring your flashlights and emergency candles from home to be blessed! We also plan to have a candle-making station set up for people to make a small set of candles to take home.

Gospel of John Study Group: Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, the man born blind, Martha & Mary of Bethany: just some of the witnesses the Gospel according to John assembles to enrich our own encounter with Jesus. This year the Daily Office Lectionary has us reading that Gospel from the last week of Epiphany through the second week of Easter. If you’d like to read it and reflect on it with others, St. Dunstan’s is offering a seven-session Wednesday night series (March 8 – April 26, omitting Holy Week, 6:30-8:30 PM), hosted by the McAlpines in Fitchburg. There’s a sign-up for the study so we know how many manuscripts to prepare and how much coffee to brew.

SUMMER DATES FOR PLANNING….

Camp Webb 2016 (June 18 – 24) is accepting applications now! Camp Webb is an outdoor ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, for children and youth grades 3 through senior high. It is held at a camp outside Elkhorn, WI. Camp tuition is $375 if you register before January 15, with a deposit of $75 due at the time of registration. St. Dunstan’s offers $150 in aid to all our campers, with additional assistance possible; contact Rev. Miranda for financial assistance.  Visit http://www.diomil.org/forming-disciples/camp-webb/ for registration forms. Camp Webb IS EXPECTED TO FILL this year, so apply soon!

Vacation Bible School 2017, July 30 – August 3: Our Vacation Bible School this summer is planned for Sunday, July 30, through Thursday, August 3. We’ll meet in the evenings – likely 5:30 to 7:30pm, as in previous years. Keep these dates in mind as you make your summer plans! Kids ages 3 to 10 are welcome to participate; middle school and older kids will be involved as actors and helpers.

Women’s Mini-Week, August 10-13: The mission of Women’s Mini-Week is to provide an annual retreat event for adult women, offering refuge, friendship, relaxation, and fun. Mini-Week combines opportunities to learn with fellowship, spiritual exploration and delicious food as we invite all women to participate as much or as little as they would like and need. Mini-Week is held at a beautiful lakeside camp in northern Wisconsin. Many members of St. Dunstan’s have attended, planned, and led, over the years. Visit womensminiweek.org to learn more and make Mini-Week part of your summer plans.

 

Christmas Day Sermon

Preached by the Rev. Thomas McAlpine. 

“Be not afraid” the angel of the Lord tells the shepherds. “Be not afraid,” for by all accounts the appearance of the angel of the Lord and the glory of the Lord “around them” would fill anyone with fear. “Be not afraid” also speaks to us as hearers, for after the first two readings and the psalm, so full of joy and good news, our Gospel reading opened “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…” and we fear that the party’s over before it started. We’re back—we fear—to the real world of governments, bureaucracies, taxes. (Those of us looking at our year-end financial situation with an eye on April 15 are participating in a not entirely welcome way in the Christmas story!) But no: God’s plan continues, and it turns out that God has used Caesar’s decree to place Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem—to make good on that promise through the prophet Micah. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…” but that year is soon remembered not as the twenty-somethingeth year of Augustus’ reign, but as the first year of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. Back then the smart money would have been on Augustus rather than on that Jewish couple and their yet unborn child en route from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We may periodically fear that God’s promises are too weak to survive what we’re taught to call “the real world.” At such moments we can remember and be strengthened by the beginning of this Gospel.

Luke doesn’t tell us much about what Mary and Joseph made of all of this. But if they had their share of normal human hopes, fears, and doubts, then it was probably all a bit much. It was enough to deal with Mary’s premarital pregnancy. Would they have even tried to explain it to any of their neighbors? Then there was Caesar’s decree, so they’d be traveling in Mary’s ninth month. They arrive in Bethlehem and of course all the inns are full. The imperial census takers and their assistants need to stay somewhere, of course! So Mary gives birth in a barn. I suspect that she and Joseph looked at each other at multiple points and wondered if they were both delusional. That’s one of the reasons, I suspect, that God sent the shepherds to the barn. No, Mary and Joseph, you’re not delusional. You’re both tired from the journey, Mary beyond exhausted from giving birth, you’re in a barn, and God is more than well-pleased with your faithfulness. We sometimes look at our circumstances to determine whether God’s well-pleased with us. We need to remember tonight’s Gospel: they’re tired from the journey, who knows when they’d last bathed, any motel would be a step up, and God’s pleased enough to have sent out the whole heavenly host to celebrate.

We’re gathered here because of what happened some 2,000 years ago. It happened once—and forever changed our world. But the patterns in the story: these reflect the God we serve and the world we live in, and there’s more than a little to learn.

One more example, this time with the shepherds. Did you notice the seemingly extraneous phrases Luke throws into his story? “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke could have left that last bit out and we would never have missed it. Or at the end: “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke wants us to notice, I think, how the life of faith works. It’s not a spectator sport. The shepherds are given the news—and they have to act on it. When they act, they see—as promised—and are in a position to glorify and praise God. Many times it’s like that with us. God’s word comes to us. We’re not sure what to make of it. It calls on us to act. The action may sound odd: Look for a babe wrapped in cloths and lying in a feed bin! Love your enemies! But if we do it, we discover reason to glorify and praise God—to rejoice.

So rejoice. This day is more than a match for the Roman Empire, for any empire. Whatever our circumstances we are not alone, and God will mobilize the entire heavenly host if needed. As with the shepherds—as with Mary and Joseph—the faith we’re called to is not a spectator sport. Hear the word, act on it, and you set yourself and the world on a trajectory that ends in joy. The most merry of Christmases to you.

Sermon, January 8

Here in the church it’s been the new year for six weeks now – but out there it’s still just a week into the New Year. It’s a season when many people spend a little time in self-examination and reflection, and set some goals or intentions – wise or foolish – for how they want to live and who they want to be in the world. As Christians, of course, we often take our cues from Jesus. From his actions and teaching, made known to us in the Gospels. We claim him both as a Rabbi, a Teacher, who has shown us a life-giving Way; and as a Savior who has called us out of bondage to the world as it is, and into the hopeful mystery of the world as it could be. But let’s be honest: sometimes trying to follow Jesus feels like a tall order. He could heal people with a touch. He could bring a dead child back to life, and give her back to her parents. He shared a heart with God the Creator, Source of all things. When I think about all of that, it becomes abundantly clear to me that, however committed I am to following him, I am not and never will be Jesus.

You know who else wasn’t Jesus? John the Baptist. He said so, in the Gospel of John: (1:20) “He did not deny it but confessed it freely: I AM NOT THE MESSIAH.”  I’m overdue to give John a little attention. He’s always present in our Advent readings, hanging out by the Jordan River and hollering about repentance and preparation. And this year the liturgical calendars we order for people to take home feature John’s story: … John is a significant figure in the Gospels; putting together the pieces from all four books, we actually know a lot about him – his teaching, his followers, his practice of baptism. From Luke, we know his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth; that his birth and prophetic calling were foretold by an angel; and that he was Jesus’ cousin. From Mark we have the story of his untimely, senseless death – imprisoned by an insecure king, murdered as an act of vengeance by the will of someone fearful of his truth-telling.

Today’s Gospel brings us Matthew’s account of John baptizing Jesus. This is John’s big moment, as far as the Gospels are concerned – when Jesus chooses to begin his public ministry by receiving this rite of cleansing and renewal from John’s hands. An event that becomes the foundation of the church’s practice of baptism as our rite of full belonging. What cues can we take from John the Baptist, for our life as people of faith and conscience and courage? In this season of setting intentions for the year ahead?

The first thing I appreciate about John the Baptist is his sense of perspective. His sense of his role in the story. I’d call it humility but we tend to think of humility as timid, quiet, and John was not timid or quiet. He had something to say: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Change your hearts. Change your lives. John raised his voice. He shared his message, loudly and assertively. But he also knew that it wasn’t about him. I’m not the Messiah, John says. I’m nobody’s savior. He tells Jesus, YOU should be baptizing ME. He tells his followers, Somebody greater than me is coming soon. He must increase, and I must decrease.

In modern jargon we might talk about John as an example of decentering. The concept of decentering originally comes from developmental psychology: it refers to the capacity, developed in late childhood or young adulthood, to conceptualize multiple perspectives at once. To understand that one’s own view isn’t the only view, or the truth. Today the word “decentering” is often used in the broad movement for racial equity: white folks like me are asked to decenter our opinions, our needs, our priorities, to make space for people of color to take the lead and set the agenda. Decentering involves accepting that this is not about me. That there’s something big going on here, and sometimes I may be called to a supporting role.

John the Baptist willingly de-centers himself. He has a clear vision of what’s broken in society, and some ideas about how to begin to fix it. But he keeps the focus on the message, not on himself; and when another leader, a new message come along, he points people towards Jesus. He says, This is bigger than me; go learn from that guy. May we be blessed by John’s wisdom as we use our voices and pursue the work that calls us in today’s world.

The second thing I appreciate about John the Baptist is his integrity. He was the real deal. He didn’t just tell people to turn their backs on the corrupt systems of the status quo; he did it himself, and proved it was possible. By living in the wilderness, wearing a camel-hide tunic instead of proper woven clothing, and living on grasshoppers and honey and whatever else he could find to eat in the rocky waste outside Jerusalem. Traditional icons of John show him with wild hair, to emphasize his uncivilized, unbound way of life. John was off the grid.

In the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus talks about John the Baptist. He says, What did you all go out to the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind, fragile, momentary, meaningless? Someone dressed in fine clothes? Nope, that’s not John’s style, he didn’t go into the crazy preacher business to get rich quick. What then did you go to see? A prophet, and more than a prophet. One who speaks God’s truth, regardless of how it will be received. In John’s case, it eventually got him killed. It happens, with prophets.

Whatever you think of the camel-hide outfit, you can’t claim John didn’t practice what he preached. May we, like John, live what we believe, and what we hope. May we strive to be the change – or in some cases, the stability – that we want to see in the world. We don’t have to have it all figured out. But we need to try.

The third thing I appreciate about John the Baptist is that he kept it real. (Maybe this is only relevant to me as a preacher!…) He had a big overarching message: Repent. Terrible times are coming. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the tree. Turn your hearts and your lives towards righteousness, towards God. NOW. Pretty scary stuff!

But in Luke’s Gospel there’s more – the people ask him, what do we do? And he said, Well, if you have two coats, give one of them to somebody who has none. And if you have extra food, share it with the hungry. If you handle other people’s money, do so fairly. If you have authority over other people, don’t use your power to take from them, and be satisfied with what you have. He gives people seeking guidance some real, concrete, achievable things they can do, NOW, to start turning their daily lives towards justice and mercy.

I get the sense that despite his big fierce words – Repent! Brood of Vipers! Unquenchable Fire! – despite all that, by Luke’s account at least, John was a pragmatist, not a purist. He wouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He’s telling people, Look, just start somewhere. Look around your house, think about the things you do every day, and find a way to help somebody.

May we, like John, stay grounded. May we live gracefully in the tension between the big picture and the small action, the epochal and the everyday, knowing that it’s by the small and the everyday that the great and epochal are formed. Whatever calls, challenges, or confronts us in the year ahead, whether in our career or vocation, in our personal life or our civic sphere, may we see our way clear to a place to simply begin.

Announcements, January 5

THIS WEEKEND…

Epiphany Service of Light, Friday, January 6, 5:30pm: Join us as we share the story of the Wise Men who came to honor the infant Jesus, and of how the light of Christ has spread through time and space all the way to here & now! A simple meal will follow the service; feel free to bring something to share. All are welcome. Talk to Rev. Miranda or Sharon Henes if you’d like to be a reader for this service.

Sunday School, Sunday, January 8, 10am: This Sunday, our 3 year olds to kindergarten class will learn about Epiphany, while our Elementary classes will reflect together on the baptism of Jesus.

Epiphany Pageant Practice: There will be a rehearsal after church at 11:30am this Sunday the 8th.  All kids are welcome to participate!

Looking for Coffee Hosts for January 2017 and Beyond! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee for more information.

Vestry nominations are open! Would you be interested in serving on our vestry, our church’s governing body? Is there someone else you think would be a great candidate? Job descriptions and a box for nominations are in the Gathering Area. Open nominations will run throughout December.  We will be electing two new vestry members in January 2017. Wardens and Diocesan Convention deputies must be elected every year, so candidates for Junior and Senior Warden may also be nominated.

Call for Annual Report Submissions: Every year in December/January, we invite our ministry leaders to submit a paragraph or two about what their ministry is and what they’ve done in the past year, and compile those reports into an Annual Report, shared with the congregation in advance of our parish Annual Meeting (9am on Sunday, January 22). This year we thought we’d cast the net more widely. If you have something you’d like to share, as a special moment, thanksgiving, or success to share, whether from a particular ministry or just something from the life of this household of faith, you’re welcome to submit it to office@stdunstans.com. The deadline for all Annual Report materials is Friday, January 13.

NEXT WEEK & BEYOND…

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, January 11, 1:00-3:00pm (NOTE time change): St. Julian of Norwich: 14th Century psychologist? Sort of . . . she understood the human heart and, through her sixteen revelations of Jesus, she understood the heart of God. Come to one of our monthly meetings and learn about St. Julian and contemplative prayer. We meet the second Wednesday of each month. We’d love to see you.

Your Favorite Lecture: Dr. Mariana Hewson, 9am, Sunday, January 15: “Your Favorite Lecture” is an occasional 9am opportunity for some of our many members who are scholars, educators, and thinkers of deep thoughts to talk about things they love to talk about. Mariana Hewson, a scholar of indigenous healing traditions, will read a story she has written. All are welcome!

Epiphany Pageant, Sunday, January 15: The children of St. Dunstan’s will present a pageant telling the story of Jesus’ birth and the visit of the Wise Men on Sunday, January 15. All kids are welcome to participate!

Spirituality of Parent Lunch, Sunday, January 15, 11:30am: All who seek meaning in the journey of parenthood (at any age or stage) are welcome to come for food and conversation. Child care and a simple meal provided.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, January 15: Half the cash in our collection plate, and any designated checks, will go towards the Rector’s Discretionary Fund this day and on every third Sunday. This fund is a way to quietly help people with direct financial needs, in the parish and the wider community. Please give generously.

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, January 15, 6pm: Join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, January 15, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney way. Friends and partners welcome too.

Annual Parish Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 9am: Come to hear parish updates, including the 2017 budget, and help elect our parish leaders. All are welcome to attend!

Christian Formation Committee Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 11:45am: Our Christian Formation Committee will meet to review and plan programs, especially for Lent, Easter and beyond. All interested people are welcome to attend and participate.

Church Book Club meeting, Saturday, January 28, 10am: The book is La Rose by Louise Erdrich. In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture. For more information, contact Jim Hindle.

Candlemas Last Sunday Worship, Sunday, January 29: We will celebrate Candlemas with a brief story and candle-lighting prayers at the end of our 10am liturgy. Bring your flashlights and emergency candles from home to be blessed! We also plan to have a candle-making station set up for people to make a small set of candles to take home.