Sermon, Nov. 18

Folks, we are two Sunday out from Advent, closing in on the end of one year and the birth of a new one, by the Church’s reckoning, and we’re talking about the end of the world. Not nuclear or environmental catastrophe, those mundane human disasters, but the honest-to-God End Times, when all the structures in which we have come to trust will be thrown down, not a stone left upon stone. When humanity will be terrified and confounded by wars and rumors of wars, by messianic pronouncements, by nation rising up against nation, earthquakes, famines – and all of that is just the beginning of the birthpangs, the early contractions before labor REALLY gets underway. 

Let me pause here for a vocabulary check. You might say that Jesus is talking about the apocalypse. A word that we use to mean the sudden and catastrophic end of the current age – maybe the end of everything. “Apocalypse” comes from the Greek for “to uncover or reveal.” In its original sense it referred to teachings or writings that do what Jesus is doing here:  reveal the signs of the coming end of things. As for the end itself, Biblical scholars would call that the Eschaton: the final, fulfilling event in the divine plan. I’m not going to tell you that you’re using the word apocalypse wrong, because we’ve used it that way for so long that its meaning has shifted. But I am going to use the church’s word for the end of everything, Eschaton, to remind us that we’re talking about God’s fulfillment of history – and that we’re not talking about, say, zombies. 

We don’t know a lot about the Eschaton. The texts are complicated and unclear. But our Scriptures and our tradition tell us it’s going to happen. How do we think about that, as Christians? As Episcopalians? 

When we get into the End Times, my mind always goes to a couple of literary characters. One comes from the work of James Thurber, the great mid-20th-century humorist. In an essay in his book “My Life and Hard Times,” he recalls a colorful character from his youth in Columbus, Ohio: The Get-Ready Man. Thurber writes, ‘The Get-Ready Man was a lank unkempt elderly gentleman with wild eyes and a deep voice who used to go about shouting at people through a megaphone to prepare for the end of the world, “GET READY! GET READ-Y!” he would bellow, “THE WORLLLD IS COMING TO AN END!”’ His startling exhortations added a certain note to many civic occasions. 

On the other hand, a New Yorker cartoon some years back showed a similarly wild-eyed, gaunt, unkempt elderly man on a street corner, holding up a sign that read, “It’s just going to go on and on…”

I like to think of those gentlemen as marking out two schools of thought about the end of the world: Get Ready,  versus On and On. 

This is a significant division within contemporary Christianity. Some Christians are deeply concerned and interested in end times, spend a lot of time with Scripture texts that predict or describe, made the Left Behind series into bestsellers, and even promote policies that they believe will help bring on the Eschaton. Get ready!!

Then there are the On and On Christians, including most Episcopalians. Our chosen bestsellers are more likely to be written by Barbara Kingsolver or Bob Woodward. We worry about nuclear and environmental disaster, for sure, but the Eschaton per se is not really on our radar. We acknowledge the Eschaton and the Second Coming of Christ as teachings of the church, but don’t give it a lot of thought. I mean, it’s a weird thing to believe – that Jesus is going to float down from the sky someday and replace everything tattered and broken in this world with the living, joyful wholeness that God intended for us.  

The earliest Christians, our ancestors in faith, were mostly in the Get Ready camp. They expected that Jesus would return ANY MINUTE NOW, to usher in God’s new world. They waited and watched, expectant, impatient. Some even quit their jobs and refused to marry.

Their expectation was based on things Jesus had said – in texts like today’s Gospel, in which Jesus’ small-town-born disciples are impressed with the size of the Great Temple in Jerusalem, and Jesus says, Don’t get too attached. On the brink of the Last Supper, arrest, and death, Jesus tells his friends that big, terrifying changes are in the wind. 

As I read the text, with 2000 years’ hindsight, I think that Jesus is talking about two different things at once: the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple about forty years later, a genuinely apocalyptic event for Jews and Christians of that time. Jesus predicts that the Temple will be destroyed, as it was; that his followers will be persecuted, as they were; that there will be bitter conflict over the Gospel, as indeed there was and is; that the Gospel must be proclaimed to all nations, as indeed it has been.

But later in the same chapter, he also describes a more cosmic final ending (and beginning) that has yet to occur: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken… They will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from… the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

In a couple of weeks we’ll hear Luke’s Jesus prophesying with similar words: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars… People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world.Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The emotional tone of these texts, I find, is interestingly ambiguous. There is fear, certainly – even terror. In Mark 13, Jesus tells his friends, “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation… until now, no, and never will be.”

These apocalyptic prophesies stir up dread, of course. But there are also hints of a kind of fierce, bitter hope.  The world as it was had not been kind to the people who became the first Christians. They had reason to find comfort in the vision of a world turned upside down, a Great Day in which God’s might would sweep over the powers and principalities of this world, leaving rubble and ashes. 

It’s fitting that the lectionary pairs Jesus’ apocalyptic words with the song of Hannah, many centuries older. Hannah was one of two wives of a good and loving man, Elkanah. Hannah had no children, while the second wife, Penninah, had many sons and daughters. And Penninah used to mock Hannah cruelly. Hannah prays fervently to God and God gives her a son, Samuel, Israel’s great prophet and kingmaker. When she dedicates Samuel to God’s service, she sings this song – so like the familiar Magnficiat, the Song of Mary, but different too, mostly because Hannah is angrier than Mary. 

Hannah sings, “My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth… The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.”

In context, Hannah’s anger reflects her rival’s cruelty. But I hear a resonance with the combined fear and exaltation in some Christian apocalyptic texts: God’s New Day is coming, and those who made the current age a living hell for many are going to get theirs. And I hear, too, a resonance with the voices of friends and acquaintances today, who look at our brutal society, our polarized politics, our wounded environment, and say, only half kidding: Burn it all down. Even though I’m doing fine, even though my house is warm and my kids are healthy: It’s all too broken to fix. Burn it down and start fresh. 

Episcopalians tend, by history, theology, and social status, to be On and On type Christians. We build stone churches and establish endowments. We plan for the long term. But here as a dark season grows darker, as the old year decays and the new year stirs towards birth, I think there are gifts for us in the Get Ready. I find that each year, Advent’s rich brew of hope and trepidation gets more real to me. 

Beloveds, we live in an amazing time. The number of people around the globe living in extreme poverty declined sharply between 2000 and 2015. In roughly the same years, the percentage of Americans who believe that LGBTQ+ people should be able to get married rose from 35% to 62%. And I am always mindful that I could not have served this  church as a priest anytime earlier than 1976. There is so much possibility in the world, and so much to love. There are so many moments when I just pause and breathe and think, This is good. Thank you. 

But there are moments, too, when I’m so hungry for the fulfillment of these ancient prophecies. Because things are so broken. Close to 200 dead in Paradise, California, after a wildfire made worse by global climate change. A black security guard apprehends a gunman and is himself shot dead by police. My friend Dave, the priest in Baraboo, had to find words for a letter to his congregation about high school boys doing the Nazi salute in a prom photo.  

How long, O Lord? Until this world’s long labor finally births God’s new reality? Get ready! 

As we lean towards Advent, as we lean into the darkness of this season, I find that what’s most whole and most true for me is to live in the On and On with some of that spirit of Get Ready. Doing what little I can to leave things better than I found them; while trusting – hoping – fearing that God may upset the whole apple-cart at any time, and replace it with something better. 

First-century Christians thought they were living at the end of time – expecting the Eschaton to break through at any moment. It’s easy to look back and think they were wrong, 

but they weren’t, really – because what was important is the way their Get Ready mindset, their confidence in God’s transcendent purposes working inexorably towards fulfillment even through our struggle and confusion, made them live in their present as people of God’s future. 

I look to those ancestors in faith to teach us how to live in the On and On inflected by the urgent, angry hope of Get Ready: Recognize that everything is provisional. Hold lightly the ways of this age – even the things that are working pretty well for us. Expect loss. Expect grace. Expect change. Jesus says, Keep your eyes open! Stay awake! 

Get ready!

Announcements, November 15

THIS WEEKEND…

Piece Be with You! Fall Giving Campaign Celebration Pie Brunch, November 18th, 9:00am: Please join us for a festive, all-parish potluck brunch celebrating the ingathering of pledges of financial support for St. Dunstan’s in the coming year. We will enjoy fellowship, delicious pies, quiches, and other offerings. If you’re bringing something to share, please pre-cut it and label your dish and serving utensils!

If you would like to make a pledge and have not yet done so, blank packets are available on the way into church, or you can email your pledge to pledges@stdunstans.com .

Hats & Gloves for Falk School: We are welcoming donations of new or like-new kids’ hats, gloves, and mittens, for our partner school Falk Elementary. Sizes needed are preschool through 5th grade. Hats should be warm & gloves/mittens are ideally waterproof, not just knit. Thanks so much for your generosity!

Military and College Student Care Packages: The Youth Group is collecting donations during November to be included in care packages for military personnel and college students. There is a list of suggested items by the donation box. If you have a college student or service member who you would like a care package sent to, please provide name and address to Sharon Henes . The youth will be assembling and mailing the care packages the first week of December. Thank you for your support!

It’s Pageant Planning Season!  St. Dunstan’s has two winter pageants: The Christmas (Nativity) Pageant, performed on Dec. 24 at 3pm, and the Epiphany Pageant, tentatively planned for Sunday morning, January 27. All kids and youth are welcome to participate! Kids with speaking parts will be asked to attend one or more rehearsals.

Does your child have a special talent to share? If your child has a special skill they’d like to use in one of our performances (like music, stilt-walking, or…?), talk to Rev. Miranda & we’ll see how we can work it in!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Our annual Black Friday Craft-In, a free all-ages crafting and gift-making event that we open to the wider community, will be Friday, November 23, from 1 – 4pm. If you’d like to help out, with a craft station of your own, or as a helper at somebody else’s station, sign up in the Gathering Area or email Rev. Miranda!

United Thank Offering (UTO) ingathering will be Sunday November 24th.  The UTO OFfering is a program that is over 125 years old for the women of the Episcopal Church to give thanks for the blessings in their lives – from new grandchild to completion of chemo, from child’s acceptance at the UW to a new job, from safe travel to a fantastic new book. Contributions of coins (and paper) are placed in the little blue boxes provided by UTO, as a symbol of the thanks. Once a year these boxes are gathered in and the contents are sent to the national UTO board for distribution in the following year as grants. Every penny contributed is granted. If you need a new box – or would like more information, check the display under the bulletin board across from the kitchen or contact Connie Ott.

Last Sunday All-Ages Worship: The Feast of Christ the King, Sunday, November 25, 10am: Our last Sunday worship is intended especially to help kids (and grownups who are new to our pattern of worship) to engage and participate fully. NOTE: Our 8am service always follows our regular order of worship.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, November 30, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at Imperial Gardens, 2039 Allen Blvd, Middleton. Please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez for more information or to RSVP.

Advent Begins on Sunday, December 2! Advent is the beginning of the church’s new year. Advent candles, prayer booklets, calendars and other materials are available in the Gathering Area! Please take whatever you will use.

Advent Thursday Suppers: You’re invited to gather for a simple meal at 5:30pm on Thursday, December 6, 13, and 20. We’ll conclude with simple evening prayers. Soup and bread/crackers provided. All are welcome!

Outreach Committee has chosen Middleton Outreach Ministry’s Sharing Christmas for its giving opportunity. We have 4 families with a total of 19 people this year. The gifts requested are found on the ornament garland on the window in the Gathering Space. Check the ornaments and pick a gift you would like to purchase for one of the family members. Bring it back wrapped with the ornament firmly attached to St. Dunstan’s no later than Sunday, Dec. 9th. The gifts will be taken to the MOM office and the families will pick them up there. After you select an ornament, please write your name on the list to the right of the garland so we know that you have taken that ornament. Questions ? Janet Bybee or Connie Ott can answer them!

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, December 16, 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.

Caroling 2018: In recent years, a group of singers from St. Dunstan’s has enjoyed visiting a few of our members and singing Christmas carols. We’d like to do the same this year. All ages are welcome to participate. Date will be determined by folks’ availability. Please sign up and indicate your availability in the Gathering Area, or email Rev. Miranda .

Liturgy Imagining & Planning Meeting, Wednesday, December 5, 7:15pm: Come reflect on our worship and how we could make it more engaging for worshippers of all ages! All interested folks are welcome to attend.

What I Did During My Sabbatical, by Rev. Miranda – Thanks to all who helped out and attended our Ice Cream Social last Sunday! If you weren’t able to attend but you’d like to know what I did and what I came home thinking about, I’ve posted an outline my thoughts on our parish website:

https://stdunstans.com/seeking-learning/rev-mirandas-sabbatical-report/

While it’s just an outline, I hope it gives the gist. If you’d like to hear more, or have your own ideas to share, let’s talk! And look for opportunities ahead to gather & share ideas.

If you’d like a more informal and visual look at our travels and time away, there’s a photo album in the church Facebook group, St. Dunstan’s MadCity. If you’re on Facebook and aren’t a member of the group yet, look it up & ask to join. If you want to see the photos and you’re not on Facebook, email me  and I’ll find another way to show you!

Sermon, Nov. 11

Rut was born in a small town in northern Honduras, in central America. It wasn’t so bad, growing up – they didn’t have much, but her parents made sure she was fed and went to school. But as Rut became a young woman, life in Honduras was getting worse and worse. It seemed like everyone was involved in the drug business – big money and big risks. And gangs started to fight each other. 

And there was more and more violence against women. Honduras is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Assault, domestic violence, and murder are commonplace. Ninety percent of murders of women are unsolved, unpunished. In 2014, a young woman named Maria Jose Alvarado, from a town not far from Rut’s hometown, was selected as the Honduran candidate for the Miss World contest. A week before she was to fly to London for the big event, Maria Jose was murdered, along with her sister, by her sister’s boyfriend.

Rut took note. She had a boyfriend herself, but he wasn’t good to her. He hit her, like a lot of men hit their women. She wondered if he would really hurt her someday – and if she ever had a child, how could she keep it safe? Then came the drought. Crops failed across Central America, including Rut’s home region. People began to starve. Men who had been cruel and angry before, were now cruel, angry and hungry. 

Rut’s boyfriend was involved in some bad stuff. Almost everybody was. Then a deal went wrong, some money went missing, and he disappeared. They found his body days later, full of bullets. Rut wondered if they’d come after her too, even though she didn’t know anything about his business. 

Tia Noemi told Rut, You should get out. Now. Tia Noemi wasn’t really Rut’s aunt. In fact she was the aunt of Rut’s boyfriend – but she liked Rut, looked out for her. Tia Noemi lived in Arizona. She’d married an American, an older man she’d met while cleaning his house. He was dead now, but she had her green card; she could stay.  She told Rut, Come. It’s not so hard. I’ll help you out. There’s work here. They need people like us. Here, you won’t starve. Here, you won’t be murdered. Here, you have a chance. 

Rut still wasn’t sure. It was so far to go! But Tia Noemi said, You have to trust God. God is working for you.  Rut had never thought much about God. But she could hear that for Noemi, God was real. God was good. Noemi trusted God, so Rut decided she would, too. 

It was hard to leave home, but Rut knew she had no future in Honduras. Tia Noemi sent her a little money, and her mother and a couple of friends gave her a little more. She paid a coyote to help her on her way, made the 2000-mile journey from Honduras to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. 

She crossed the Rio Grande by night, wading and swimming, grateful that the water was low. She helped another woman who was traveling with three young children, carrying a two-year-old in her arms, struggling to swim with that warm frightened weight. 

On the far side, as dawn broke, she talked with others who were making the same journey. Rut had planned to seek out American border patrol – she wanted to claim asylum. She’d heard you could do that: that if you were almost certain to starve, if you were almost certain to be murdered, in your home country, then the United States would take you in. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me! Everyone knows young women die in Honduras. Surely that was grounds for a claim of asylum.

But an older woman, crossing the border a second time after being deported, laughed in her face. You’re not an endangered minority, she said. You’re not being persecuted by your government. You’re just a woman. You’re disposable. 

In 2014, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that women who were at risk because of domestic violence and gang violence had grounds to claim asylum in the United States. In June of 2018, the Trump administration overturned those protections. Rut had no grounds for an asylum claim.

The older woman told her what would happen if she found border patrol. They’ll put you in the hielera, the freezer, she said – the brutally cold detention cells. Later they move you to the perreras – the kennels – chain-link cells, no privacy, no quiet. You’ll get a foil blanket to sleep with. No mat, no pillow. No soap. No toothpaste. Everybody is sick – the women, the children. If you ask for medical attention they tell you to drink water and rest. You’ll be there for months, and when you finally get an asylum hearing, they’ll say no, and deport you. Don’t turn yourself in. Better to hide. 

Rut found her way to Tia Noemi. She was out of money, and she had to do some things she didn’t like to get people to help her. But she made it.

Noemi’s apartment was tiny. She had a little money from her husband, but she’d hurt her shoulder and couldn’t clean houses anymore. She could barely afford groceries for herself, and sometimes had to go around to churches and community centers asking for money to keep the electricity and water on. But she let Rut sleep on the sofa – she was tired, so tired; she slept for two whole days. 

On the third day Noemi sat down and said, You can stay here, but you have to work. I can’t feed myself, let alone both of us. There’s a place nearby where they pick up workers for day labor in the orchards. They don’t pay much because they know you’re illegal, but it’s something. And sometimes you can bring home some fruit that’s damaged – Americans only like perfect fruit. While you’re working, you have to be careful, stay near other women; some of the workers will assault you if they have a chance. And wear a handkerchief on your face, so you don’t breathe too much of the chemicals they spray on the fruit. 

So Rut went out early the next morning and stood with other men and women, waiting for the trucks. She climbed into one, and rode to an orchard, packed in shoulder to shoulder with other undocumented workers. Climbing out of the truck, she didn’t notice the man who stood nearby watching the workers arrive – but he noticed her. His name was Boas, and he owned the orchard. He could see that Rut was new here, and that she was young. He took the men who oversaw the workers aside, told them: Keep an eye on her. She’s new. Don’t let the boys bother her. 

Rut picked fruit all day. By sundown, her shoulders hurt and her eyes burned from pesticides, but she had cash in her pocket and a heavy bag of damaged fruit to take home. As she climbed into the truck to ride back to town, someone pushed another bag into her hands: tomatoes, bruised and bursting but usable; potatoes, still dirty from the ground. Food. She clutched her bags tightly on the ride back to town.

Back at the apartment, Tia Noemi was delighted at what Rut had brought home. She demanded to know where Rut had been working. Rut hadn’t seen the farm’s name, but it was printed on one of the bags. Noemi said, I know about the man who owns this place, Boas. His parents were Honduran. He’s better than most. His father was cousin to my father. I’ve met him a couple of times, though he’s too important for me. His wife died a couple of years ago. He must be lonely. Listen, Rut: This is your chance to claim a new life here. Tomorrow is Friday – sometimes the owners and overseers drink with the workers on Friday nights. Stay for the party. Watch Boas. When he’s had a few drinks, get close to him. Show him you like him. He’s old, older than me, but that doesn’t matter. He’s an honorable man. If you become his girlfriend, he will make sure you don’t go hungry. Shower tonight. I have a blouse that will look good on you, and some makeup. 

Rut said, I will do everything you tell me. 

The next morning Rut waited with the other workers, feeling self-conscious in the low-cut blouse. But again, the other workers left her alone. And at the end of the day, she brought her bag of damaged fruit to the place where the workers gathered to drink together. Sure enough, Boas was there. 

Rut took one beer, drank it slowly; she wasn’t used to drinking. She talked with other women, and fended off a few men, and kept an eye on Boas, who drank one beer, two, three.

Finally she saw him leave the group, headed into a nearby shed, and she followed him, tugging her blouse lower. It was dim in the shed, and quiet. Boas heard her steps behind him and turned. She came close and looked up at him, making her eyes big; She said, Senor, how can I ever thank you for your kindness to me? Boas looked at her, long and hard. He said, You’re from Honduras. She said, Si. Si, Senor. He said, Do you have family here? She said, Only my Tia Noemi. He said, How long have you been here? She said, Five days. He said, What’s your name? And she said, Me llama Rut. 

Boas reached for her. Rut braced herself; she knew what she had to do, but she was afraid. But Boas only put his hand on her shoulder. He said, Rut, you don’t have to do this. You deserve better. I know Noemi. She’s a good woman. I’m glad you’re with her. And I know how hard it is, where you came from. Listen: There are a hundred handsome, strong young men out there, drinking beer and looking for a good time. If it’s companionship you want, pick one of them. Don’t come to me just because you’re poor, just because you’re hungry, just because you’re afraid. But if you can really have eyes for an old man like me, I’ll take you to dinner tomorrow, and we can see how things go. Now, go back out there quickly, before everyone thinks something happened in here.

Later that night, Noemi asked: WELL? Did something happen? And Rut said: No. But… maybe. He was kind. He didn’t touch me. He wants to take me out for dinner tomorrow night. 

The next night Rut wore an old dress of Tia Noemi’s, and brushed out her long glossy hair.  Boas picked her up and took her to dinner at a Mexican place, friendly, not too fancy. Over the chips he told her, I spoke to your father today. It took a while, but I got him on the phone. They’re doing OK. He sends his love. I’m going to help him out with some debts. 

Boas said, Rut, if you want safety here, if you want stability, I can give you that, if you marry me. I’m an American citizen; as your husband, I can protect you. You can have your own room and your own life. Maybe we can even try to bring your family here. I know I’m an old man. I’m not pushing myself on you. I just want to help you. You deserve better. 

Rut looked at Boas. She could see that he meant what he said. She could see that his eyes were kind, that the lines on his face were from laughter. She said, What if I want a real marriage? What if I want a husband who loves me? What if I want a house full of children? With you?

Boas and Rut were married two months later. Noemi danced at the wedding. And when Rut bore her first child, a son, named Obed, Noemi held the baby close and wept for joy. She said, I have no children or grandchildren of my own, but this baby shall be like a son to me. The women of the neighborhood would tease Noemi as she walked the stroller around every morning: How’s your son, Noemi? How’s your boy, old lady? And Noemi would smile. 

You’ll find a whole story of Ruth tucked into your Sunday supplement today – the one from the Bible, not the version I just told you. It’s a story about immigrants, asylum seekers. It’s a story about poverty and sexual vulnerability. It’s a story about chain migration and anchor babies. I hope you’ll read it.

In the Bible story, Ruth’s son, Obed, grows up and has a son, Jesse. And Jesse has a son, named David. David becomes the greatest king of Israel. And generations and generations later, another baby boy is born to Jesse’s lineage, a boy named Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew begins with Jesus’ genealogy, fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers all the way back – and a few grandmothers too. Ruth is one of them. Named. Remembered. Honored.

Ruth’s story, the story of the Moabite woman who became the great-grandmother of King David, is one instance of one of the most pervasive and emphatic themes of the Bible, Hebrew and Christian scriptures alike: Be kind to the outsider, for there are no outsiders in God’s eyes. Your ancestors were strangers and wanderers once; therefore always extend grace to the stranger and wanderer, for they have a unique claim on our conscience and hospitality. 

Some voices in America today are spreading hatred and fear about immigrants, about those fleeing violence and desperate poverty, seeking safety and a better life for their children here. Last year we shared some stories of our own immigrant parents and grandparents, who set out on the same journey, and faced some of the same struggles; we remembered that we are here because of their hope and courage. But God knows that remembering our forebears’ journeys isn’t enough,  because humans have a tragic capacity to say, I’ve got mine, and slam the door behind us. That’s why God makes kindness to the stranger a central command and call in the holy texts at the heart of our faith.  

Let me be clear: I’m not saying that America is or should be a Christian nation. And I’m certainly not saying that Scripture offers a clear map for a reasonable and humane immigration policy. I’m saying that if we call ourselves Christians, then care for the stranger has to be a hallmark of our way of being: from the words we use to the news we watch, our votes, our giving, our letters to our leaders, our helping and hoping, our meeting and marching – it all has to begin here. With a people wandering forty years in hope of a homeland. With a young woman in a strange country, offering her body to escape starvation. With a baby born homeless in Bethlehem. 

A list of Scripture passages about welcoming strangers:

https://www.openbible.info/topics/welcoming_strangers

About violence against women in Honduras: 

https://abcnews.go.com/International/men-women-honduras-inside-dangerous-places-earth-woman/story?id=47135328

Announcements, November 8th

THIS WEEKEND…

Ice Cream Social, November 11th, 3:00 – 5:00pm: Let’s share an intergenerational event (and stories) with the Hassetts and discover what Miranda (and family) did while she was on sabbatical. You are encouraged to bring a favorite ice cream topping to share.

Hats & Gloves for Falk School: We are welcoming donations of new or like-new kids’ hats, gloves, and mittens, for our partner school Falk Elementary. Sizes needed are preschool through 5th grade. Hats should be warm & gloves/mittens are ideally waterproof, not just knit. Thanks so much for your generosity!

NO FOOD DOWNSTAIRS – IT’S MOUSE SEASON! This time of year, field mice often try moving indoors for warmth. While we appreciate our mouse neighbors, we do not wish to encourage them to share space with us. People often take food downstairs during Coffee Hour and leave it there, which attracts mice and other critters. Please, NO food downstairs for the time being!

Military and College Student Care Packages: The Youth Group is collecting donations during November to be included in care packages for military personnel and college students. There is a list of suggested items by the donation box. If you have a college student or service member who you would like a care package sent to, please provide name and address to Sharon Henes. The youth will be assembling and mailing the care packages the first week of December. Thank you for your support!

Annual Giving Campaign: We are currently collecting pledge cards from members, to help us plan our church’s 2019 budget. These pledges are for our regular staff, building, and program expenses, not the Open Door renovation project. If your household has not yet picked up a pledge packet or received one in the mail, pick up a blank packet at church or contact the office (608-238-2781, office@stdunstans.com). We hope to have all pledges gathered by Sunday, November 18! Need to check last year’s pledge? As you consider your pledge for 2019, if it would help you to know what you pledged last year, contact the office (see above) and Ann will get back to you!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, November 14th, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of 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.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Piece Be with You! Fall Giving Campaign Celebration Pie Brunch, November 18th, 9:00am: Please join us for a festive, all-parish potluck brunch celebrating the ingathering of pledges for our prayers, hopes, and financial pledges for our parish life in the coming year. We will enjoy fellowship, delicious pies, quiches, and other offerings. Please sign up in the Gathering area to bring your favorite pie or quiche. (Precut pies with labeled pie servers appreciated!) Thank you!

Our annual Black Friday Craft-In, a free all-ages crafting and gift-making event that we open to the wider community, will be Friday, November 23, from 1 – 4pm. If you’d like to help out, with a craft station of your own, or as a helper at somebody else’s station, sign up in the Gathering Area or email Rev. Miranda!

It’s Pageant Planning Season!  St. Dunstan’s has two winter pageants: The Christmas (Nativity) Pageant, performed on Dec. 24 at 3pm, and the Epiphany Pageant, tentatively planned for Sunday morning, January 27. All kids and youth are welcome to participate! Kids with speaking parts will be asked to attend one or more rehearsals.

Does your child have a special talent to share? If your child has a special skill they’d like to use in one of our performances (like music, stilt-walking, or…?), talk to Rev. Miranda & we’ll see how we can work it in!

Looking for Greeters: Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s off to work we go! Well it’s really not work, more like fun. We’re looking for some of you who might be interested in Greeting on Sunday mornings at the 10am service. If you are interested, talk to Bernice Mason.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for November and December 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee  for more information.

Altar Flowers: November and December dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Sermon, All Saints Sunday

Welcome and peace to all of you, people of St Dunstan’s! Welcome to guests and to those returning from afar; it is so good to be with you. Welcome to that fellowship divine of the faithful departed, who are always with us but whom we call to mind especially today. The household of God includes people who left this earth centuries ago; people whose passed from among us recently, like Lou, Ginny, George, Jeff; and people who have just begun their life in this world – like the babies  whom we have the blessing of baptizing this morning. 

Not all churches baptize babies! Some churches teach that it doesn’t make sense to baptize a baby who can’t believe what our church teaches or even understand it. I respect that position, but it’s not how our church does things. We confess in all humility that if a real Christian is someone who can diagram the Trinity, comprehend the Incarnation, or explain the Eucharist… then none of us belong here. As Episcopalians, Christians in the Anglican way, we follow the church’s ancient pattern and baptize infants – as well as kids or adults who seek to join Christ’s Body the Church.

Our church thinks of baptism a lot like birth. There’s a completeness to it – a newborn baby is a whole person. And yet, obviously, it’s also just a beginning. That baby still has to be loved and fed and sheltered and taught and raised to maturity. That nurture and growth might happen in the family that shares the baby’s genetic material, or it might turn out that another household is the best place for that child’s flourishing – and the same is true with churches: some of us come to maturity in the church that birthed us, some find a new faith home. But either way, somebody’s got to raise that baby. Baptism, which is birth into God’s household, is just a start. When we, as a church, baptize babies – when I ask, “Will all of you do everything in your power to support this person in his life in Christ?” and you shout, “WE WILL!” – we are taking on the responsibility, together, along with their parents, godparents, and siblings, of raising that child to know and love God, and to find comfort and courage in a community of faith, throughout their lives. 

Let’s be honest, though: Churches are inconsistent at best in following through on that commitment. I’ve gone looking, friends, and from what I’ve seen, 

churches that understand nurturing faith in their children as a core part of their common life are few and far between. (I’m proud that St Dunstan’s is one of them – though we’ve got lots of room to grow!) Our prayer book clearly states that baptism is our church’s rite of full initiation by water and the holy spirit: a baptized baby is a full member of the church! Yet churches find so many ways to tell kids that they are only “junior” members. That their presence is disruptive or unwelcome; that their needs are secondary. 

What does it take for a church to live deeply into its commitment to raise its children in faith? I came back from my sabbatical, focused on intergenerational worship, with some thoughts. Here are few of them.

First, we grownups need to be extra mindful about kids’ dignity. Dignity – like in the baptismal covenant: “Will you respect the dignity of every human being?” And like in the song: “And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Dignity is a tough word to define, though we all know what it feels like when our dignity takes a hit. Adults can sometimes forget that kids need their dignity tended just as much as grownups do – maybe even more. One weekend during my sabbatical, Iona and I visited a church in a big city that advertised a Sunday morning service where children “actively engage in the readings, sermon, and Communion.” The service began with a responsive prayer led by a child, a boy, maybe 7 years old. The only problem was, the microphone was attached to a lectern, like this, and it was too tall for him. So his mom had to hold him up around his waist while he led the prayer. At first I thought, Awwww. What a nice icon of an adult supporting a child’s ministry. But then, after the prayer, the boy and his mom walked past us on their way back to their seat, and I could see that he was furious. That was humiliating and uncomfortable for him. He was given a role, but he wasn’t given a way to do it that honored his dignity. 

This dignity thing is a big, broad general principal; it’ll take a while, and probably lots of talking and listening, to figure out all its implications. For example: I’m trying to get out of the habit of patting kids on the head. It’s hard because their heads are RIGHT THERE. But they’re not dogs; they’re people. And even with a dog, I’d give the dog a chance to show me whether it wanted me to touch it or not. Grownups and kids are different in important ways, but it can still be helpful to ask yourself, Would I do this to a grownup? If not, is there a reason to make a different decision with a child? 

Respecting kids’ dignity leads to a second core way churches can live into our commitment to our kids: By taking kids’ belonging and participation here as seriously as we take grownups’. One of the people I interviewed who really thinks deeply about kids and church, Sylvia Mutia-Miller, said, “The best way we can honor any person is to believe they are capable of things.” Kids have particular gifts and skills to contribute to our common life, just like grownups do. Our friend Sir Bjorn, who is a knight, talked about how in his organization, the Society for Creative Anachronism, they try to match jobs for kids to what the kids are good at and like to do. LOUD kids make good heralds. FAST kids make good messengers and gophers. KIDS WHO LIKE TO DO STUFF WITH THEIR HANDS make good Duct Tape Pages, going around to fix broken weaponry and such. 

Yet in churches we often assign kids jobs based only on age: When you’re seven, you can be an acolyte. If acolyting isn’t really your jam, or if acolyting is fine but you’d like to do more… sorry! This is something I really want your help to think about here, friends – kids and grownups. We can ask kids: What are you good at that you think would help our church and be a gift to us all? What could we do differently that would give you more chance to participate and contribute? That’s a good question for grownups who would like to be more involved, too! 

Finally, we raise faithful kids by filling their hearts and minds and imaginations with holy stories of justice and mercy, hope and courage. Gretchen Wolff Prichard, the amazing Christian educator who creates the “Sunday Papers” we use, says we have to avoid the temptation to offer children a “kiddie Gospel” of “Everything is fine.” Kids know everything isn’t fine, and pretending it is, is much scarier than talking about the truth. Writing about All Saints Day, Gretchen challenges churches to go beyond the message that we’re all saints, chosen, called, and sanctified – which is true! – and point out that living a holy life and resisting evil is hard, sometimes scary work. We need stories of someone small but brave, who prevails against evil with the help of friends and of a mysterious Power of Good. That reminded me of our Christmas pageant last year – who remembers it? Was the Devil involved? … What was he trying to do? He was trying to keep Joseph and Mary from getting to a safe place to have the baby, and to keep the shepherds from coming to welcome and honor the baby! (And who’s the baby?) And how was the Devil defeated? Yes – the people recognized him, and the Angel drove him away! Writer Boze Herrington says: “As much as kids need food and shelter, they also need stories to teach them that there are monsters that need fighting, and good worth fighting for.” The Church has stories like that – so many. Let’s keep telling them to each other. 

Who knows what a simile is? It’s when you show that one thing is like another thing, to help you look at the first thing in a new way. My friend Father John has a wonderful simile about baptism: He says it’s like making pickles. Can you just go pick a pickle? …So, then, where do pickles come from? You take a cucumber and you dunk it in brine – salty water, with maybe some peppers or herbs in it too. Maybe that’s like baptism! And then… you WAIT. It takes a while, but slowly, over time, the brine gets inside the cucumber and it changes. It becomes something else. It becomes… a pickle. Maybe that’s like growing up in church! Pickling each other, over weeks and months and years, by guarding each one’s dignity, and raising up each one’s gifts, and sharing holy stories that give us courage for the hard work of justice and mercy in our time and place. 

Poet Russell Brand says, “If we become the kind of people that can change the world, then the world will change.” May it be so. Amen.

Announcements, November 1

THIS WEEKEND…

Celebration of Life for Virginia DeGolier, November 2, 10:30am: All are welcome to attend the memorial service for Ginny and the luncheon to follow. If you would like to help with the lunch, please contact Connie Ott.

Men’s Book Club, November 3rd, 10:00am: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard – Shakespeare professor and prison volunteer Laura Bates thought she had seen it all. That is, until she decided to teach Shakespeare in a place the bard had never been before ― supermax solitary confinement. In this unwelcoming place, surrounded by inmates known as the worst of the worst, is Larry Newton. A convicted murderer with several escape attempts under his belt and a brilliantly agile mind on his shoulders, Larry was trying to break out of prison at the same time Laura was fighting to get her program started behind bars.

Annual Giving Campaign: We are currently collecting pledge cards from members, to help us plan our church’s 2019 budget. These pledges are for our regular staff, building, and program expenses, not the Open Door renovation project. If your household has not yet picked up a pledge packet or received one in the mail, pick up a blank packet at church or contact the office (608-238-2781, office@stdunstans.com). We hope to have all pledges gathered by Sunday, November 18! Need to check last year’s pledge? As you consider your pledge for 2019, if it would help you to know what you pledged last year, contact the office (see above) and Ann will get back to you!

Birthday and Anniversary blessings and Healing Prayers will be given on Sunday, November 4, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, November 4: This Sunday, half the cash in our offering plate and any designated checks will be given to Middleton Outreach Ministry’s food pantry. Here are a few current most-needed items: toilet paper; ketchup and mayonnaise; baking soda & powder, salt & vanilla. Thank you for your generous support!

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, November 4, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Military and College Student Care Packages: The Youth Group is collecting donations during November to be included in care packages for military personnel and college students. There is a list of suggested items by the donation box. If you have a college student or service member who you would like a care package sent to, please provide name and address to Sharon Henes. The youth will be assembling and mailing the care packages the first week of December. Thank you for your support!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ice Cream Social, November 11th, 3:00 – 5:00pm: Let’s share an intergenerational event (and stories) with the Hassetts and discover what Miranda (and family) did while she was on sabbatical. You are encouraged to bring a favorite ice cream topping to share.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, November 14th, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of 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.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Piece Be with You! Fall Giving Campaign Celebration Pie Brunch, November 18th, 9:00am: Please join us for a festive, all-parish potluck brunch celebrating the ingathering of pledges for our prayers, hopes, and financial pledges for our parish life in the coming year. We will enjoy fellowship, delicious pies, quiches, and other offerings. Please sign up in the Gathering area to bring your favorite pie or quiche. (Precut pies with labeled pie servers appreciated!) Thank you!

Our annual Black Friday Craft-In, a free all-ages crafting and gift-making event that we open to the wider community, will be Friday, November 23, from 1 – 4pm. If you’d like to help out, with a craft station of your own, or as a helper at somebody else’s station, sign up in the Gathering Area or email Rev. Miranda !

Looking for Greeters: Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s off to work we go! Well it’s really not work, more like fun. We’re looking for some of you who might be interested in Greeting on Sunday mornings at the 10am service. If you are interested, talk to Bernice Mason.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for November 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

Altar Flowers: November dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

MINISTRY UPDATES…

How’s the Open Door Project Going? The Open Door Project is moving forward! In September, we sent a Request for Proposals to five general contracting companies. Our interview committee met with our top three choices later that month. The committee strongly recommended moving forward with Findorff and the vestry passed that motion on October 1st. We are currently working with Findorff and Engberg Anderson (our architects) to finalize the construction contracts and begin planning for a kickoff next spring! If you have any questions about the Open Door Project, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Celia Fine, John Laedlein or Krissy Mayer.

Outreach Gift to Honor Those Killed in Pittsburgh: The Outreach Committee has voted to send $1500 (most of their remaining annual funds) to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a national nonprofit committed to helping refugees rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was targeted for violence last weekend because of their support for HIAS.

Announcements, October 25

THIS WEEKEND…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, October 26, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at La Mestiza, a Mexican restaurant, at 6644 Odana Road. For more information, or to arrange a ride, call Debra Martinez.

Inquirers’ Group session 4: Engaging the World, Sunday, October 28, 9am: This group is for those new to the Episcopal Church, as well as long-time members who’d like to learn more. At each session, we’ll discuss a short book, read ahead of time. Our fourth book is “Church Meets World,” by Winnie Varghese.  A leading thinker and vibrant presence at the intersection of church and world, Winnie Varghese explores the “what,” “how,” and “why” of Episcopal engagement with contemporary social issues. Several copies of the book are available for pickup in the Gathering Area, or you can buy it online in print or Kindle editions. It’s OK if you haven’t come to previous sessions. Just read (or skim) the book, come and join in! As Rev. Miranda is on sabbatical Fr. Tom will be facilitating the session.

Please Pick Up Your Pledge Packet if you have not already done so. Packets not picked up will be mailed out the week of 10/29.  Thank you!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Celebration of Life for Virginia DeGolier, November 2, 10:30am: All are welcome to attend the memorial service for Ginny and the luncheon to follow. If you would like to help with the lunch, please contact Connie Ott.

Men’s Book Club, November 3rd, 10:00am: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard – Shakespeare professor and prison volunteer Laura Bates thought she had seen it all. That is, until she decided to teach Shakespeare in a place the bard had never been before ― supermax solitary confinement. In this unwelcoming place, surrounded by inmates known as the worst of the worst, is Larry Newton. A convicted murderer with several escape attempts under his belt and a brilliantly agile mind on his shoulders, Larry was trying to break out of prison at the same time Laura was fighting to get her program started behind bars.

Ice Cream Social, November 11th, 3:00 – 5:00pm: Let’s share an intergenerational event (and stories) with the Hassetts and discover what Miranda (and family) did while she was on sabbatical. You are encouraged to bring a favorite ice cream topping to share.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, November 14th, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of 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.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Piece Be with You! Fall Giving Campaign Celebration Pie Brunch, November 18th, 9:00am: Please join us for a festive, all-parish potluck brunch celebrating the ingathering of pledges for our prayers, hopes, and financial pledges for our parish life in the coming year. We will enjoy fellowship, delicious pies, quiches, and other offerings. Please sign up in the Gathering area to bring your favorite pie or quiche. (Precut pies with labeled pie servers appreciated!) Thank you!

Looking for Greeters: Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s off to work we go! Well it’s really not work, more like fun. We’re looking for some of you who might be interested in Greeting on Sunday mornings at the 10am service. If you are interested, talk to Bernice Mason.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for November 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

Altar Flowers: November dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate. stdunstans.com.

How’s the Open Door Project Going? The Open Door Project is moving forward! In September, we sent a Request for Proposals to five general contracting companies. Our interview committee met with our top three choices later that month. The committee strongly recommended moving forward with Findorff and the vestry passed that motion on October 1st. We are currently working with Findorff and Engberg Anderson (our architects) to finalize the construction contracts and begin planning for a kickoff next spring! If you have any questions about the Open Door Project, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Celia Fine, John Laedlein or Krissy Mayer.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave.

Sermon, October 14

Trust, Entitlement, & the Terrifying Possibility of the Second-Best Taco

Dev and Arnold are friends in a Netflix series I enjoy called Master of None. In an early episode, the two friends are shown wondering what to do next. Tacos, they decide. They’re going to go eat tacos for lunch. But there’s a big problem. An exasperated Dev explains the situation: “There’re so many taco places, we’ve gotta make sure we go to the best one! Let’s research.”

“Great,” says Arnold. “I’ll sit here and do nothing.”

Hours pass in a dramatic, condensed time-lapse scene in which we see a series of images from the “research”: Yelp reviews, Instagram posts, photos and hashtags, desperate texts to friends, “Yo! Where the best tacos at?” The agony is palpable and real. Dez cannot imagine not eating the best taco for lunch. Finally, satisfied that he’s found it, Dev wakes his napping friend to announce the verdict.

“Great, let’s do it,” says Arnold.

But tragically, by the time the friends arrive, the taco truck is closed.

Dev protests to the food cart owner who is in the process of closing up shop: “What are we supposed to do, huh? Eat the second best tacos in New York?

The struggle is real.

And not just for Arnold and Dev.

It’s seemingly part and parcel of the information age: that you and I can see and know and potentially have the best, like never before in history. There’s an app for everything, true, and, more specifically, most of the apps exist to help us purchase different aspects of our lives more efficiently. There are even websites that allow students to scope out and rate the best professors, maximizing experience, living your best life, your perfect life. Because what else are you supposed to do? Enjoy the second best taco? And if you can’t enjoy the second best taco, if you can’t be sure there’s not a better taco truck than the one you’re at, how can you be expected to be present, really present, to anything at all?

Poor Dev and Arnold. Poor us. But also, poor rich man today in Mark’s gospel; rich man who is in a lot of ways a prototype of our ourselves; rich man who is our forbearer in following and all its difficulties; rich man who is our ancestor in acquisition and all its attending anxieties. He’s asking Jesus about eternal life, but from the get go we sense that something about the conversation is off. He’s asking about eternal life, but the conversation reads like a checklist confirmation, like he’s providing appropriate documentation at the DMV in order to receive a license he plans to pick up on the way home from work or proving his qualifications to the bank, in order to secure the mortgage to finance his next venture, operating under the assumption that there is some combination of deeds or depository of reputation and respectability that would make him deserving of eternal life. That is, he’s bringing his righteousness with the expectation of a successful transaction. Now, he’s open to the possibility that he might not have enough (yet), but he is also confident that there’s nothing out there that Jesus might add that he can’t yet acquire and later contribute to the equation. But what combination of deeds is equal to life with God? It’s not just that the math won’t square, but also that the rich man’s attempts to solve the puzzle this way reveal that he can’t imagine eternal life as anything other than yet another material good to add to the ones he already has. Conceiving of life with God this way, as a prize to win from God for behavior, rather than a life to live with God, and – God forbid – supposing he’s denied this transaction, what’s the man supposed to do? Live his second best life now?

But what if eternal life, life with God, is not something acquired by grasping?

Jesus looks at the man, loves him in the midst of all that’s rattling on inside him, and invites him to acquire the one thing he doesn’t have: awareness of his own lacking or, put better, a sense of God’s overwhelming goodness. Trust this, Jesus says, and live your trust in God toward your neighbor by a generosity that is a kind of grateful echo of God’s own. Let your gratitude be manifest in generosity and so make space in yourself, in your soul, for the possibility of a living trust of the Kingdom of God.

Give away what you have. Not just the things, but with them the admiration and affirmation of others who conflate your wealth with your deserving. Give up your standing. Hold nothing tightly. Forsake false guarantees that isolate you from other members and other parts of the Body of Christ. Be generous, and be open. Risk needing help and risk being helped, both by God and those around you in the community of faith. Make room to be loved, even on the days you are sure you are a fraud. Do not be afraid to celebrate the riches and gifts of others, for they do not condemn you. Eternal life is not a game to win or lose but a gift to be received.

“You lack one thing,” Jesus says. “Namely, you don’t lack anything yet. There’s no room for gifts or grace or surprises of God in you. But wait, I have an idea: go, sell what you own, give the money to the poor, you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

The rich man’s response is uncomfortably predictable. All silence. “How terribly shocking,” observes Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, “to discover that, after all, you love [something] more than you love eternal life.”

How difficult to discover that the thing you lack is all you have.

The man is crestfallen, and the disciples are terrified. Once they’ve gotten out of earshot of the rich man they ask Jesus, “If not this dude, Lord, who can be saved?” Jesus’ answer gives hope, but it’s not a hope that backs away from the difficulty presented by wealth and his earlier invitation to leave it: “With God all things are possible.” Trust God, then, and not these other things. Trust God, then, and live your trust in God toward your neighbor by a generosity that is a kind of grateful echo of God’s own. Let your gratitude be manifest in generosity. Let your love be sourced in God’s. Rest in the love of him who, though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God as something to be grasped but emptied himself. Breathe this love. Receive this love. Let it be your balm and greatest confidence, that this love is for you. Walk in this love. St. Paul puts the invitation this way, in words so familiar you know them by heart: Walk in love, as Christ loved us, and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard liked to tell the story of a man who owned a shop, like a general store. One day, it’s late, and the shopkeeper puts things in order and calls it a day. He closes shop and goes home. But sometime that evening, or maybe even deeper into the night, some thieves break into the shopkeeper’s store. Bizarrely, the thieves don’t steal anything. Instead, they meticulously rearrange all the labels, the price labels, on every item in the store. So cheap things now have four digit tags. And really precious things are made to look cheap. The next day, the shopkeeper arrives at the store and doesn’t notice the hoax. Nothing appears any less in order than it had the night before. From the shopkeeper’s perspective, protected from critical reflection by the mundaneness, the ordinariness, of the rhythms of life, it’s just another day. Then the customers start arriving. They, too, don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Instead, all of them begin interacting, shopping, purchasing, exactly as they had on the previous day, but with the labels as they now are, as if the mislabeled labels reflect the true values of things. And they’re still doing this thing, misjudging the true worth of things, to this very day, still shopping in the store not knowing that none of the labels are true.

“You lack one thing,” Jesus says. “Go, sell what you own, give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Amen.

Announcements, October 18th

TODAY AND THIS WEEKEND…

Campfire, October 18th, 6-7pm: Join us for our last campfire of the season! Join us for food, fun and fellowship. We will roast hot dogs and marshmallows. An experience you will not want to miss!

2019 Pledge Campaign: Our Fall Giving Campaign begins this weekend! We’ll be hearing a message about pledges and stewardship at both services today. Please pick up your pledge packets in the Gathering Area and prayerfully consider how you can help. THANK YOU for your support!

Tea Party, October 21st at 3:00pm: Celebrate all of the intergenerational friendships formed and all we accomplished during our sabbatical renewal season with an Afternoon Tea!

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, October 21, 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.

Evening Eucharist, October 21st: This evening service has been cancelled. If you have any questions, please speak with Jonathan Melton.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, October 26, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at La Mestiza, a Mexican restaurant, at 6644 Odanan Road. For more information, or to arrange a ride, call Debra Martinez.

Inquirers’ Group session 4: Engaging the World, Sunday, October 28, 9am: This group is for those new to the Episcopal Church, as well as long-time members who’d like to learn more. At each session, we’ll discuss a short book, read ahead of time. Our fourth book is “Church Meets World,” by Winnie Varghese.  A leading thinker and vibrant presence at the intersection of church and world, Winnie Varghese explores the “what,” “how,” and “why” of Episcopal engagement with contemporary social issues. Several copies of the book are available for pickup in the Gathering Area, or you can buy it online in print or Kindle editions. It’s OK if you haven’t come to previous sessions. Just read (or skim) the book, come and join in! As Rev. Miranda is on sabbatical Fr. Tom will be facilitating the session.

Celebration of Life for Virginia DeGolier, November 2, 10:30am: All are welcome to attend the memorial service for Ginny and the luncheon to follow. If you would like to help with the lunch, please contact Connie Ott.

Men’s Book Club, November 3rd, 10:00am: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard – Shakespeare professor and prison volunteer Laura Bates thought she had seen it all. That is, until she decided to teach Shakespeare in a place the bard had never been before ― supermax solitary confinement. In this unwelcoming place, surrounded by inmates known as the worst of the worst, is Larry Newton. A convicted murderer with several escape attempts under his belt and a brilliantly agile mind on his shoulders, Larry was trying to break out of prison at the same time Laura was fighting to get her program started behind bars.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, November 14th, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of 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.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Looking for Greeters: Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s off to work we go! Well it’s really not work, more like fun. We’re looking for some of you who might be interested in Greeting on Sunday mornings at the 10am service. If you are interested, talk to Bernice Mason.

Altar Flowers: November dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave.

Announcements, October 11

THIS WEEKEND…

Museum Trip, October 13th at 2:00pm: Everyone is invited to learn together at the Chazen Museum on Saturday, October 13th.  Sign up in the Gathering space so we can let the museum know our numbers!  Please contact Sharon if you need/want to car pool.

Learning and Sharing: Boomers, Xers and Millennials on October 14th at 9:00 a.m. Understanding our generational perspectives helps us understand each other. (Facilitated by Debra Martinez)

Annual Buildings and Grounds Work Day, Sunday, October 14th after 10:00 service: Please dress in outdoor work clothes that day and plan on a light lunch and to assist in chores around the church afterwards.

Bread for the World Sunday, October 14thPeg and Dan Geisler will share about Bread for the World’s advocacy to reduce hunger in the United States and around the world and how we can be part of it. We are invited to participate in Bread for the Word’s annual Offering of Letters, to advocate to our politicians for programs that will reduce hunger in the United States and around the world. Following the 10:00 am service, those wanting to write their Congressional representatives may take letter-writing materials. Further information, writing materials and sample letters will be provided.

The St. Dunstan’s Youth Group is walking in the Trick or Trot 5k on Oct 14th to raise funds for GSAFE and its mission to create safer schools and communities for LGBTQ+youth of all racial and cultural backgrounds across Wisconsin. You can support their effort by donating at www.runsignup.com/stdunstans. If you would like to help fund their registration fees please contact Sharon Henes.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Campfire, October 18th, 6-7pm: Join us for our last campfire of the season! Join us for food, fun and fellowship. We will roast hot dogs and marshmallows. An experience you will not want to miss!

Tea Party, October 21st at 3:00pm: Celebrate all of the intergenerational friendships formed and all we accomplished during our sabbatical renewal season with an Afternoon Tea!

Inquirers’ Group session 4: Engaging the World, Sunday, October 28, 9am: This group is for those new to the Episcopal Church, as well as long-time members who’d like to learn more. At each session, we’ll discuss a short book, read ahead of time. Our fourth book is “Church Meets World,” by Winnie Varghese.  A leading thinker and vibrant presence at the intersection of church and world, Winnie Varghese explores the “what,” “how,” and “why” of Episcopal engagement with contemporary social issues. Several copies of the book are available for pickup in the Gathering Area, or you can buy it online in print or Kindle editions. It’s OK if you haven’t come to previous sessions. Just read (or skim) the book, come and join in! As Rev. Miranda is on sabbatical Fr. Tom will be facilitating the session.

Men’s Book Club, November 3rd, 10:00am: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard – Shakespeare professor and prison volunteer Laura Bates thought she had seen it all. That is, until she decided to teach Shakespeare in a place the bard had never been before ― supermax solitary confinement. In this unwelcoming place, surrounded by inmates known as the worst of the worst, is Larry Newton. A convicted murderer with several escape attempts under his belt and a brilliantly agile mind on his shoulders, Larry was trying to break out of prison at the same time Laura was fighting to get her program started behind bars.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, November 14th, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of 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.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Altar Flowers: October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

6205 University Ave., Madison WI