Announcements, July 27

Announcements for E-news: If you have an announcement you would like to see in the weekly e-news or the Sunday News and Notes, we are happy to include it. Send announcements to the office at office@stdunstans.com. We ask that all announcements be submitted by the end of the day on Wednesday, because we prepare the E-news and News & Notes on Thursday morning.  If you have an announcement or event you’d like to share but are uncertain whether it’s appropriate for the e-news, you can send it to Rev. Miranda.

THIS WEEKEND…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, July 28, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we’ll meet at The Great Dane at Hilldale, 357 Price Place. For more information, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez .

Bat Count, Friday, July 28, 8 – 9pm: Come hang out and count the bats emerging from the colony on our property. This is part of a statewide bat count to monitor bat populations, so it’s both science and a chance to get to know our (flying) neighbors. All are welcome!

My Immigrant Story – Alex Surasky-Ysasi: You shall love the stranger living among you, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19). Our Scriptures and our God call us to treat immigrants with kindness and respect – remembering that we or our ancestors were once immigrants seeking a new home. To help us understand the lives, needs, and fears of our immigrant neighbors, members of St. Dunstan’s will be sharing their own “how I got here” stories in the weeks ahead, during our Announcement time. This Sunday, Alex Surasky-Ysasi will reflect on her family’s story. If you have a story to share, talk to Rev. Miranda or Evy Gildrie-Voyles.

Vacation Bible School: The Story of Jonah, 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.

The Book of Jonah Dinner Theater, Thursday, August 3, 5:30pm: As the concluding evening of our Bible, Arts & Science Camp, parents of campers and members of the parish are invited to come share a simple supper, watch our Jonah drama, and learn from our campers about what they’ve done all week. All are welcome! You can bring a side dish or sweet to contribute to dinner if you’d like but it’s not required. This is our Sandbox Worship this week.

Co-Leader Needed for St. Dunstan’s Group in Madison PRIDE Parade, August 20th: Last year we sent a lively group to march downtown with our church sign and show that we believe God loves everybody, no exceptions. We’d like to organize a group this year, but some key folks are otherwise committed that weekend. If you’d like to help recruit a group, talk to Rev. Miranda or Evy Gildrie-Voyles.

School Supplies for Middleton Outreach Ministry: Although we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy, the ads are encouraging us to think about “Back to School!”  And, that means it is time to think about school supply donations for the MOM Backpack program. You are always so generous with your contributions, giving students the chance to have the needed items to succeed in school! Please check the Gathering Space for the collection box and lists of most needed items. Deadline for contributions is SUNDAY, AUGUST 13! THANK YOU!!!

St. Dunstan’s Care Network – Meals Needed: Jess and Nate Viste, new parents to baby Austin, would like our help with meals for the next week or so as they adjust to their new family life. To sign up to help, go to St. Dunstan’s website and click on the “Fellowship and Learning” tab, and select Sharing Meals from the dropdown list. There will be a link to the St. Dunstan’s Care Network where you can sign up for a meal. Thank you so much!

Coffee Hosts Needed for August 27: Please consider being a coffee host. Janet Bybee can explain more. Thanks for lending a hand!

THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Birthday and Anniversary blessings and Healing Prayers will be given next Sunday, August 6, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

“Good Books” Book Group Meeting, Sunday, August 6, 9am:  We’ll have donuts, coffee, juice, and conversation about our two middle-grade chapter books, “Return to Sender” and “A Door in the Wall.”  Come chat even if you didn’t read them; you might get interested!

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, August 6: 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: dried, freeze-dried, and canned fruit; shelf-stable dairy/non-dairy beverages; toilet paper and paper towels; mayonnaise and ketchup; herbs, spices, and salt; spaghetti and pizza sauce; whole grains: rice, quinoa, gluten free pastas; quick-cook prepared sides EX: Knorr’s (veggies/pasta), Zatarain’s (beans/rice); heart-healthy oil (olive, coconut); nut butter, other than peanut (allergies). Thank you for your generous support!

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

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, August 9, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: St. Julian’s era was one of turmoil and crisis. Yet in the midst of it all, Julian came to believe unshakably that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Please join us for contemplative prayer and discussion of Julian’s optimistic theology! For more information, contact Susan Fiore. (Julian Gatherings are initiated and supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative monastic order in the Episcopal Church: www.orderofjulian.org).

41st Annual Women’s Mini Week: Courageous Women of God! August 10 – 13, 2017, Camp Lakotah, Wautoma, Wisconsin: This is your time to retreat from your everyday routines, to allow discoveries and friendships to refresh you, to find comfortable activity or blissful quiet. Registration forms are in the Gathering Area. For further information please contact Rose Mueller, Ellen Rishel or Robin Ertl. Others who can share info are
Joan Knudson, Shirley Laedlein, Kathy Whitt, Connie Ott, and Dianne McCoy.

 

Announcements, July 20

THIS WEEKEND…

Eucharist with Holy Baptism, Sunday, July 23, 10am:  We will celebrate the baptism of a new member of Christ’s Kingdom, Blythe Francis Ballard. We rejoice with Cecilie, James, Linus, Olive and Lorne!

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, July 23, 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.

** POSTPONED**: Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee Haiti Project Fundraiser, Sunday afternoon: This event has been postponed until September 17.

St. Dunstan’s Care Network – Meals Needed: Jess and Nate Viste, new parents to baby Austin, would like our help with meals for the next week or so as they adjust to their new family life. To sign up to help, go to St. Dunstan’s website and click on the “Fellowship and Learning” tab, and select Sharing Meals from the dropdown list. There will be a link to the St. Dunstan’s Care Network where you can sign up for a meal. Thank you so much!

Haiti Project Picnic Lunch, Spring Harbor Greenhouse, Wednesday, July 26, 12:30pm:  (Address1110 Spring Harbor Dr, Madison, WI 53705.  The Greenhouse and gardens are located directly behind the school building).  Fresh vegetables from the garden will be served, and Arol Ilerand and Acenel Laurent will present to you about their school garden in Jeannette, Haiti at St. Marc’s.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP via email to Heidi Ropa (info@haitiproject.org).

1 Samuel Study Group, Wednesday nights, June 21-July 26, 6:30-8:30 PM: Gather with a friendly group to explore the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel – a rich and complex tale of the rise and fall of kings. The study group is hosted by the McAlpines at their home in Fitchburg, about five minutes from the intersection of the Beltline and Verona Road.

School Supplies for Middleton Outreach Ministry: Although we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy, the ads are encouraging us to think about “Back to School!”  And, that means it is time to think about school supply donations for the MOM Backpack program.  You are always so generous with your contributions, giving students the chance to have the needed items to succeed in school! Please check the Gathering Space for the collection box and lists of most needed items. Deadline for contributions is SUNDAY, AUGUST 13!  THANK YOU!!!

Coffee Hosts Needed in August 20 and 27: Please consider being a coffee host. Janet Bybee can explain more.

THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, July 28, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we’ll meet at The Great Dane at Hilldale, 357 Price Place. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Bat Count, Friday, July 28, 8 – 9pm: Come hang out and count the bats emerging from the colony on our property. This is part of a statewide bat count to monitor bat populations, so it’s both science and a chance to get to know our (flying) neighbors. All are welcome!

My Immigrant Story – Alex Surasky-Ysasi: You shall love the stranger living among you, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19). Our Scriptures and our God call us to treat immigrants with kindness and respect – remembering that we or our ancestors were once immigrants seeking a new home. To help us understand the lives, needs, and fears of our immigrant neighbors, members of St. Dunstan’s will be sharing their own “how I got here” stories in the weeks ahead, during our Announcement time. This Sunday, Alex Surasky-Ysasi will reflect on her family’s story. If you have a story to share, talk to Rev. Miranda or Evy Gildrie-Voyles.

Vacation Bible School: The Story of Jonah, 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.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, August 9, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: St. Julian’s era was one of turmoil and crisis. Yet in the midst of it all,  Julian came to believe unshakably that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  Please join us for contemplative prayer and discussion of Julian’s optimistic theology! For more information, contact Susan Fiore. (Julian Gatherings are initiated and supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative monastic order in the Episcopal Church: www.orderofjulian.org).

41st Annual Women’s Mini Week: Courageous Women of God! August 10 – 13, 2017, Camp Lakotah, Wautoma, Wisconsin: This is your time to retreat from your everyday routines, to allow discoveries and friendships to refresh you, to find comfortable activity or blissful quiet. Registration forms are in the Gathering Area. For further information please contact Rose Mueller, Ellen Rishel or Robin Ertl. Others who can share info are
Joan Knudson, Shirley Laedlein, Kathy Whitt, Connie Ott, Dianne McCoy.

 

Announcements, July 13

THIS WEEKEND…

Timbergreen Woods Full Value Forestry Workshop, Saturday, July 15, 9am – 4pm, Timber Green Woods, Spring Green: A group of St. Dunstan’s folks are headed to Spring Green to learn about managing and harvesting trees, and some creative ways to use timber.  This will be both fun and informative! The only cost is a $5 contribution for lunch. Responsible older kids may come too. If you’d like to come, sign up in the Gathering Area or contact the office at office@stdunstans.com or 238-2781.

First “Good Books” Book Group Meeting, Sunday, July 16, 9am:  We’ll have donuts, coffee, juice, and conversation. Our first session will focus on “Cherries and Cherry Pits”. We’ll read the book together and talk about it. All ages are welcome!

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, July 16: 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, July 16, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Grownups, are you a little jealous that you can’t come to our Summer Bible, Arts & Science Camp? Well, guess what: you CAN! We are seeking 2 – 3 more grownups to help out during our camp (5:30 – 7:30pm, July 30 through August 3). You can dig deep into the story of Jonah, make crafts, try science tricks, sing and play games right alongside the kids! If you’d like to help out, talk with Rev. Miranda or Sharon Henes.

1 Samuel Study Group, Wednesday nights, June 21-July 26, 6:30-8:30 PM: Gather with a friendly group to explore the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel – a rich and complex tale of the rise and fall of kings. The study group is hosted by the McAlpines at their home in Fitchburg, about five minutes from the intersection of the Beltline and Verona Road.

School Supplies for Middleton Outreach Ministry: Although we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy, the ads are encouraging us to think about “Back to School!”  And, that means it is time to think about school supply donations for the MOM Backpack program.  You are always so generous with your contributions, giving students the chance to have the needed items to succeed in school! Please check the Gathering Space for the collection box and lists of most needed items. Deadline for contributions is SUNDAY, AUGUST 13!  THANK YOU!!!

Coffee Hosts Needed in August: Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee for more information.

THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Eucharist with Holy Baptism, Sunday, July 23, 10am:  We will celebrate the baptism of a new member of Christ’s Kingdom, Blythe Francis Ballard. We rejoice with Cecilie, James, Linus, Olive and Lorne!

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, July 23, 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.

Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee Haiti Project Fundraiser, Verona, Sunday, July 23, 1-5pm: Come to the Wisconsin Brewing Company at 1079 American Way in Verona to enjoy micro-brews, help support our diocesan partnership with St. Mark’s School in Haiti, and meet Arol Ilerand, a guest from Haiti. Arol is the lead agronomist on the Clean School Green School project at St. Marc’s. We would love a critical mass of supporters to attend and hope you will invite your friends out to enjoy the venue, listen to live music, sample brews and food cart delicacies, and shop Haitian art and jewelry.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, July 28, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we’ll meet at The Great Dane at Hilldale, 357 Price Place. For more information,  please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Bat Count, Friday, July 28, 8 – 9pm:  Come hang out and count the bats emerging from the colony on our property. This is part of a statewide bat count to monitor bat populations, so it’s both science and a chance to get to know our (flying) neighbors. All are welcome!

Vacation Bible School: The Story of Jonah, 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.

41st Annual Women’s Mini Week: Courageous Women of God! August 10 – 13, 2017, Camp Lakotah, Wautoma, Wisconsin: This is your time to retreat from your everyday routines, to allow discoveries and friendships to refresh you, to find comfortable activity or blissful quiet. Registration forms are in the Gathering Area. For further information please contact Rose Mueller, Ellen Rishel or Robin Ertl. Others who can share info are
Joan Knudson, Shirley Laedlein, Kathy Whitt, Connie Ott, Dianne McCoy.

 

Announcements, July 6

SANDBOX WORSHIP today at 5:30: One of our younger members will lead worship based on a favorite book. A simple dinner of sandwiches will follow. All are welcome!

THIS WEEKEND…

Sermons are (usually) available on the way into church if you find that it helps you to read along as Rev. Miranda preaches. They’re also available online after church and during the week at www.stdunstans.com.

Grownups, are you a little jealous that you can’t come to our Summer Bible, Arts & Science Camp? Well, guess what: you CAN! We are seeking 2 – 3 more grownups to help out during our camp (5:30 – 7:30pm, July 30 through August 3). You can dig deep into the story of Jonah, make crafts, try science tricks, sing and play games right alongside the kids! If you’d like to help out, talk with Rev. Miranda or Sharon Henes.

1 Samuel Study Group, Wednesday nights, June 21-July 26, 6:30-8:30 PM: Gather with a friendly group to explore the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel – a rich and complex tale of the rise and fall of kings. The study group is hosted by the McAlpines at their home in Fitchburg, about five minutes from the intersection of the Beltline and Verona Road.

THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, July 12, 1-2:45pm: We meet monthly for contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.” All are welcome. For more information, contact Susan Fiore.

Timbergreen Woods Full Value Forestry Workshop, Saturday, July 15, 9am – 4pm, Timber Green Woods, Spring Green: A group of St. Dunstan’s folks are headed to Spring Green to learn about managing and harvesting trees, and some creative ways to use timber.  This will be both fun and informative! The only cost is a $5 contribution for lunch. Responsible older kids may come too. If you’d like to come, sign up in the Gathering Area or contact the office at office@stdunstans.com or 238-2781.

First “Good Books” Book Group Meeting, Sunday, July 16, 9am:  We’ll have donuts, coffee, juice, and conversation. Our first session will focus on “Cherries and Cherry Pits”. We’ll read the book together and talk about it. All ages are welcome!

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, July 16: 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, July 16, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee Haiti Project Fundraiser, Verona, Sunday, July 23, 1-5pm: Come to the Wisconsin Brewing Company at 1079 American Way in Verona to enjoy micro-brews, help support our diocesan partnership with St. Mark’s School in Haiti, and meet Arol Ilerand, a guest from Haiti. Arol is the lead agronomist on the Clean School Green School project at St. Marc’s. We would love a critical mass of supporters to attend and hope you will invite your friends out to enjoy the venue, listen to live music, sample brews and food cart delicacies, and shop Haitian art and jewelry.

Vacation Bible School: The Story of Jonah, 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.

 41st Annual Women’s Mini Week: Courageous Women of God! August 10 – 13, 2017, Camp Lakotah, Wautoma, Wisconsin: This is your time to retreat from your everyday routines, to allow discoveries and friendships to refresh you, to find comfortable activity or blissful quiet. Registration forms are in the Gathering Area. For further information please contact Rose Mueller, Ellen Rishel or Robin Ertl. Others who can share info are
Joan Knudson, Shirley Laedlein, Kathy Whitt, Connie Ott, Dianne McCoy.

 

Readings from American History, July 2

Abigail Adams, writing to her husband, Founding Father John Adams, 1776:

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy [should] willingly give up the harsh title of ‘master’ for the more tender and endearing one of ‘friend.’ Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and commit indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the (servants) of your sex; regard us then as being placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.”

Chief Seattle, in response to a government official’s offer to purchase the remaining Seattle land, 1845:

Our good father in Washington–for I presume he is now our father as well as yours–our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people [grow] stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man’s God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness?

Sojourner Truth, 1851:

That little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

African-American orator Frederick Douglass, 1852:

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the clay, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act that day. …  I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!  Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not be me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This fourth of July is yours, not mine.  You may rejoice, I must mourn.

Women’s rights activist Amelia Bloomer, 1854:

We see no reason why it should be considered disreputable for a woman to be usefully employed… [Women] eat, they drink, they sleep, they dress, they dance and at last die, without having accomplished the great purposes of their creation. Can woman be content with this aimless, frivolous life?…While all other things both animals and vegetable perform their allotted parts in the universe of being, shall woman, a being created in God’s own image, endowed with reason and intellect, capable of the highest attainments and destined to an immortal existence, alone be an idler, a drone, and pervert the noble faculties of her being from the great purposes for which they were given? It will not always be thus; the public mind is undergoing a rapid change in its opinion of woman and is beginning to regard her sphere, rights and duties in altogether a different light from that which she has been viewed in the past ages. Woman herself is doing much to rend asunder the dark veil of error and prejudice which has so long blinded the world in regard to her true position; and we feel assured that, when a more thorough education is given to her and she is recognized as an intelligent being capable of self-government, and in all rights, responsibilities and duties man’s equal, we shall have a generation of women who will blush over the ignorance and folly of the present day.

President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, 1865:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Cuban activist and writer Jose Marti, Our America, 1891:

One must have faith in the best in men and distrust the worst. One must allow the best to be shown so that it reveals and prevails over the worst. Nations should have a pillory for whoever stirs up useless hate, and another for whoever fails to tell them the truth in time.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1932:

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Martin Luther King, Jr., from his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 1963:

I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?

Sermon, June 25

Preached by the Rev. Thomas McAlpine, a priest associate at St. Dunstan’s. 

Sam Kamaleson, a pastor from the Indian subcontinent with whom I worked at World Vision, used to talk about God’s story (one hand) and my story (the other hand) becoming one story (fingers interlaced). Much easier said than done; today’s lessons give us an opportunity to think about it.

God’s story. Two weeks ago (Trinity Sunday) our first lesson was the creation story, seven days of God declaring this is good, that is good, the whole thing very good. It’s a very different perspective than the Babylonian (creation itself and humans in particular formed from the corpses of defeated gods of chaos) or the Greek (only a second-rate deity would be fool enough to deal with matter). No: creation is good, the material world is good.

We can pick up the story in Eucharistic Prayer C (BCP 370): “From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.”

We should be, I think, surprised that the prayer doesn’t continue with “And so You pulled the plug on the whole thing” or “And so You decided to hang out with the dolphins for the next few thousand years.” Surprisingly, God calls Abraham and Sarah to be the beginning of a pilot project aimed at what the Jews call tikkun olam, repairing the world. God comes to Abraham and Sarah: what might we do together? God’s story + their story becoming one story. That’s the story contained in the Old Testament, the story rebooted when God takes on human flesh in Jesus, the story we enter with our baptism.

It’s probably fair to say that from Sarah’s perspective the project didn’t start out well. She had not borne Abraham an heir, to the point that, bowing to custom, she presented Abraham with her Egyptian slave Hagar so that she might produce an heir by proxy. Hagar conceived, and, understandably, passed up no chance to remind everyone that she was the birth mother of Abraham’s heir. So Sarah had an enemy, and there wasn’t a lot she could do about it. (I’m not sure ‘enemy’ is quite the right word. I’m using it broadly, to include, for example, the people whose posts we hide—or unfriend—on Facebook.) Until, finally, God promised her a son (last week’s reading), and delivered on that promise (just before this week’s reading). Now Sarah can do something about her enemy. Foreshadowing the treatment her people will receive from the Egyptians some generations later, she demands that Abraham expel Hagar and Ishmael. And Abraham does so—only after receiving God’s promise to look after Hagar and Ishmael.

And in the story we’ve just heard God keeps that promise to Hagar, preserving Ishmael’s imperiled life as God will preserve Isaac’s imperiled life in the next story. “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.”

The Jews, descended from Isaac, and the Arabs, descended from Ishmael, already in the OT are often at odds. And here Sarah’s God is providing a well for Ishmael. The Jews have a legend about that: “the angels appeared against Ishmael before God. They said, ‘Wilt Thou cause a well of water to spring up for him whose descendants will let Thy children of Israel perish with thirst?’ And God: “well, yes.”

God’s story + my story = one story. For Sarah in this episode, not so much, because she’s hit one of the really difficult bits: that someone is my enemy doesn’t mean they’re God’s enemy, that God listens to me when I pray Ps 86 (today’s psalm) and listens to my enemy when they pray Ps 86.

This is a difficult enough bit that the OT keeps coming back to it. Here are a couple more stories.

Some generations later Moses has led Israel out of Egypt, and Joshua has just brought the people across the Jordan to take possession of the promised land. Reading from the fifth chapter of Joshua:

Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” (Jos 5:13-14 NRS)

“Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” “Neither.”

Some centuries later the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Aram (modern Syria) are at war. In a legend from that period, the king of Aram learns that his recent raids have been unsuccessful because the prophet Elisha has been warning the Israelite king about them. He sends out a large force to surround Elisha’s city and capture Elisha. Elisha sees the force, and asks God to blind the soldiers. God does so, and Elisha leads them to the Israelite capital. At this point the Israelite king enters. Reading from the sixth chapter of 2 Kings:

When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” He answered, “No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel. (2Ki 6:21-23 NRS)

So when Jesus talks about loving one’s enemies as an integral part of what God’s kingdom is about, this isn’t new. Jesus is simply reporting how he’s observed the Father acting “for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous”—not to mention Hagar, the reply to Joshua, Elisha’s treatment of the Aramean raiders.

So when Jesus sends his disciples out to announce this kingdom, he understandably anticipates opposition, because everyone knows that right-thinking people try to help their friends and hurt their enemies. Right-thinking people will take Barabbas over Jesus any day.

“But this love of enemies business can’t be that important to God. If it were, God would impose it.” But that takes us back to the creation story. God thinks that human freedom is good. God thinks that the church’s freedom is good. So God does what God can do, like the woman in one of Jesus’ parables, putting leaven in the dough in the hope of the whole thing rising. God continues to stretch out the now nail-pierced hand to us: how can we make My story and your story one story?

God’s story; my story; one story. There are many ways that invitation will come to us in the coming week. Some of them may have to do with how we choose to respond to our enemies. May our choices bring God joy.