Announcements May 24

THIS WEEKEND…

Sandbox Worship, Thursday, May 24, 5:30pm: We will share Scripture, song, and simple Eucharist out on the Pine Island, then a light meal. All are welcome!

Outreach Committee Meeting, Saturday, May 26, 8-10:30am: All are welcome to join our conversations about how St. Dunstan’s can best serve the world with our resources and our hands. We begin with an optional potluck breakfast at 8am.

Composing Together: Psalm Refrain, Sunday, May 27, 9:30am: Come compose a simple sung refrain to our Sunday psalm together! All ages are welcome. We’ll gather in the Nave at 9:30.

Trinity Sunday & Rogation Procession, Sunday, May 27: Following the 10am liturgy next Sunday, all are welcome to join our annual spring Rogation procession, a walk around our grounds to pray over our property and the plants and creatures with whom we share it. It will take about 15 minutes.

Are You Recycling Right?  Our 4th & 5th grade group has prepared some posters to remind us of the basics of recycling. Recycling is being compromised in many places by people putting the wrong things in the recycling, which hurts the system. Review recycling guidelines, and if you’re not sure, look it up or throw it out!

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, Mary 27, 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.

Summer Flowers start in June: From June through August, we invite members to sign up to “bring” flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We have flowers on the church grounds as well, which can certainly be used! If you’d like to contribute flowers, simply sign up for your chosen Sunday. You can still make a dedication, and we will include it in the bulletin as usual. You may use your vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, aft her 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

The History of the Episcopal Church: Inquirers’ Group session 2, Sunday, June 10, 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 second book is, “The Episcopal Story: Birth and Rebirth,” by Thomas Ferguson .  Rev. Miranda will have a few copies available, or you can also buy it online in print or Kindle editions. No need to sign up for the group, or to have come to a previous session. Just read (or skim) the book, come on the 10th, and join in!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…                                                                                            Memorial Day, Monday, May 28 – the office will be closed.

New Member’s Welcome, Birthday and Anniversary blessings and Healing Prayers will be given next Sunday, June 3. All who consider themselves new members of St. Dunstan’s will be invited to come forward at the Announcements to be formally welcomed by the rest of the congregation. (No pressure if you’d rather not!)

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, June 3: 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 some of the current top-ten, most needed items: toilet paper and paper towels; canned chicken; 100% juice; laundry detergent; raisins and other dried fruit; olive oil. Thank you for your generous support!

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, June 3, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Clothing Recycling: As you’re spring cleaning, if you find you have old clothes that are too damaged (torn, stained, etc.) to donate for resale, you can bring them here to the bin in our front entryway. Clothing will be bundled up, labeled for recycling, and dropped off. This helps keeps fabric out of the landfill.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, June 13, 1:00 – 2:45pm: Julian of Norwich was a 15th Century English mystic and anchoress. (What’s an anchoress? In the Middle Ages, certain women and men chose to live a life intensely devoted to prayer permanently enclosed in a small room, called an anchorhold, attached to a parish church.) Little is known about Julian’s life, but she wrote a book, as far as we know the first in English written by a woman, about a series of revelations which opened her to the depths of God’s unconditional love for us in Jesus Christ. Nearly forgotten for 600 years, Julian’s insights and gentle wisdom are becoming ever more widely known and appreciated. Thomas Merton called her “the greatest theologian for our time.” Julian prayed often in silence, and at a Julian Gathering we support each other in the practice of contemplative prayer and contemplative spirituality.  They are open to all who want to deepen their life of faith through the practice of contemplative prayer, for beginners as well as those already practicing. Each meeting includes time for contemplative prayer, fellowship, and reading and discussion of Julian’s book.  We meet the second Wednesday of each month.  For additional information, contact Susan Fiore.

SUMMER…

Our Vacation Bible School this summer will be August 5 – 9! Our VBS meets in the evening – 5:30 to 7:30pm. We’ve got some great ideas cooking up for this year. If you’d like to help out, talk to Sharon Henes.

Women’s Mini Week 2018, “Courageous Women of God!” August 9-12 at Camp Lakotah in Wautoma, WI: Spread the Word, Ladies! You are invited to Women’s Mini Week, beginning at Thursday dinner, August 9th through Sunday brunch, August 12th. For registration materials and to answer questions, go to the website: www.womensminiweek.org or email to womensminiweek@gmail.com.

 

Sermon, May 20

HAND OUT PROPS: Fire: tinsel pompoms.  Wind: People blowing – same as in the Ezek story. Water: Blue ribbon sticks. Doves: paper doves. 

Today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the early Church! People had known and experienced God’s Spirit at work for a long time before Jesus came. In the beginning of Creation, God’s Spirit moved across the waters of chaos. We just heard the story of Ezekiel’s vision of the Dry Bones – when a holy Wind, the breath of God, turned skeletons into living people – as a sign of how God’s Spirit would revive the people of Israel in a time of hopelessness and despair. The Hebrew Bible also speaks often of Lady Wisdom, as an aspect of God – her name is Hokmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek – she welcomes those who seek her and leads them in right pathways. The story of Pentecost is the story of how God’s Spirit of life and wisdom and promise came to the first Christians – when they were fearful and uncertain, missing Jesus, wondering how to go on without him – and gave them confidence and joy to undertake their mission. 

Though Pentecost was an important beginning for Christians, Pentecost existed before Christianity. Our Acts lesson begins, “When the day of Pentecost had come…” That makes it sound like there was already such thing as Pentecost – because there was! Jesus and most of his first followers were members of the Jewish people and had been formed by the Jewish faith. Pentecost is the Greek name for a Jewish religious festival, called Shavuot in Hebrew. Shavuot falls seven weeks or 50 days after Passover – Shavuot means Weeks, Pentecost means Fifty. On Shavuot, Jews celebrate the gift of the Torah, when God called the Jewish people into covenant and told them how to live as a people of holiness, mercy, and justice. It is a feast of chosenness and covenant – almost like a wedding, but between people and God. Some Jews observe Shavuot by staying up all night reading Torah together. Shavuot is also celebrated by decorating with spring flowers and eating dairy products. There’s a beautiful layering of meaning here: the first Christians, who were also Jews celebrating Shavuot, felt their new covenant relationship with God confirmed through the Divine Spirit on this holy day. But I wish early Christians had come up with their own name for this new feast, instead of borrowing the name from Judaism! 

The Holy Spirit can be pretty mysterious, so Christians have named her and described her through symbols.  In the Pentecost story, Jesus’ friends and followers say that the Holy Spirit felt like fire! Where is the fire? …. Fire is still one of the symbols we use for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can make people feel like they’re burning up with excitement or joy! Sometimes the Spirit’s fire is frightening, too – sometimes she works in us to burn away parts of our souls that are keeping us from being our true and holy selves. Thank you, Fire! 

The Church struggled for three hundred years with how to understand the mystery of one God whom we know in three ways – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – and finally they just said, It’s a mystery, and we’re going to call it the Trinity – Three in One, three faces of one loving God. 

Different types of churches talk more about different aspects of God. Some churches are heavy on Jesus; some are big on the Spirit. In Episcopal churches, we tend to talk a lot about God the Creator and Source, whom Jesus names as Father, and about Jesus Christ. But we don’t know quite what to make of the Holy Spirit. We invite the Holy Spirit to show up every time we perform a sacrament – Holy Communion, baptism, confirmation – but we don’t talk much about how she might feed us or guide us or help us in our daily lives, outside of church. And that’s too bad, because she bears many gifts. 

Another symbol Christians have used to describe the Spirit is water. Where’s my water?…. The Spirit can clean people who feel dirty inside, and refresh people who feel thirsty inside – that’s how she’s like water. The waters of baptism remind us that the one being baptized is also washed in the grace of God’s spirit! Thank you, Water! 

You’ve probably noticed that sometimes I call the Holy Spirit, “she.” I don’t really think the Holy Spirit is a girl. But there are a couple of reasons that I, and others, sometimes use feminine language for the Holy Spirit. For one thing, our Scriptures and prayers usually talk about God saying “he” and “him,” as if God were a man. But we know that God is really bigger than male or female. So using “she” for the Spirit can help us remember that men and women are equally made in God’s image. Also, both of the Bible’s original languages, Hebrew and Greek, have words that are male or female – like Spanish or German.  And in Hebrew and Greek, many of the Spirit’s names are feminine – Ruah, wind; neshama, breath; hokmah and sophia, wisdom; pneuma, wind or spirit. The Spirit has always had many names, and taken many forms. So you can call the Spirit whatever you like – but do call upon her! 

Wind is both a name and a symbol for the Spirit. Let me hear the sound of the wind again!…. The Spirit is like wind because you can’t see the wind itself, but you can see what it’s doing. The wind can be refreshing; it can also sweep away the old, and bring the new! In Hebrew and Greek, wind and breath are the same word – so the Spirit is also God’s breath, that enters lifeless things and gives life to all creation. Thank you, Wind! 

Letters and sermons written by the first Christians, tell us many ways they experienced the Spirit – and Christians have been experiencing the Spirit in the same ways, ever since. Here are some ways God’s people have found that the Spirit can help us. The Spirit helps us know what to say, when we’re speaking for God! The Spirit helps us pray and cry out to God, when we’re in trouble. The Spirit gives us each gifts and skills for the common good – all activated by the same Spirit, who allots to each one just as she chooses.  The Spirit binds us together into one body, one household of faith, across our differences – we are all one through God’s Spirit. The Spirit working in a human heart, or a human community, can bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The gifts we invoke for every person we baptize are gifts of the Spirit, named in Scripture: an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere; a spirit to know and to love God; and the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works. Aren’t all of these blessings well worth receiving? 

We have one more symbol of the Spirit to share – the dove!… The Gospels tell us that God’s spirit came down upon Jesus like a dove when he was baptized. Doves are associated with purity and gentleness, and with the promise of new life – because in the Flood story, a dove brought news of dry land and growing plants to Noah on the ark. Water, wind, and fire can all be powerful and fierce, and so can the Holy Spirit; but often the Spirit is gentle as a dove –bringing us gifts of clarity, wisdom, peace, and power.

All of this sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? It makes me want the Holy Spirit to be in my life, every day. Here’s a big word for us all: Invocation. It means to call on something. It’s not like magic, in some of your books – we can’t control or manipulate God with our words or our actions. But the Spirit likes to be invited.  We have to make room for her instead of trying to handle it all on our own. We have to open a door to let her come in and help us. So the Church has always taught God’s people to call on the Spirit… to invoke the Spirit.  No magic words, it’s easy: Come, Holy Spirit!

But if you like magic words, there’s a wonderful word that early Christians used: Maranatha!

It’s in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, and it means, Come, Lord! Maranatha! 

Come, Holy Spirit! Maranatha!

Bless your church and your people; work within us and among us; heal us, connect us, encourage and empower and guide us, today and always. Amen! 

Announcements, May 17

Sandbox Worship: This Thursday at 5:30pm, we’ll have an outdoor Eucharist, followed by a simple meal. We’ll start down by the stone altar on the Pine Island.  We hope to do this many weeks over the summer, as weather permits!

The Open Door Project Kick-off is this weekend! Over the last couple years, we have identified core priorities:  We need space to grow, worship, play, eat, learn and create.  We value accessibility, our grounds, and our wider community.  We want to grow as an intergenerational household of faith.  This weekend we kick off The Open Door Project to make our space reflect our values.  An amazing number of people are already helping out. We’ll celebrate and share at the party Saturday from 4 – 6pm, then commission our campaign volunteers at the 10am service on Sunday. And we’ve got good news to share!

THIS WEEKEND…

DATE CHANGE – Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, May 18, 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 Village Green Bar & Grill, 7508 Hubbard Avenue in Middleton. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Men’s Book Club, Saturday, May 19, 10am: The book is All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr. “A beautiful story about a blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a German boy, Werner, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.” Werner grows up enchanted by a crude radio he finds and becomes an expert at fixing these new instruments, a talent that wins him a place in the Hitler Youth and a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. HAVE A GOOD READ.

St. Dunstan’s Diaper Drive, May 13 – June 3: Imagine having to choose whether to pay rent, pay utilities, buy food, or buy diapers for your baby or toddler. Nearly 1 in 3 American families struggle to afford enough diapers, which cannot be purchased with food stamps. Learn more by reading today’s bulletin insert. We are having a diaper drive for sizes 4, 5, and 6 from Mother’s Day through June 3. We will donate the diapers to pantries around the area, including Allied Drive Food Pantry, Kennedy Heights, and MOM. You can shop around for a great deal ($.20 or less per diaper) or make a check or online donation to St. Dunstan’s designated for the Diaper Drive and let our skilled diaper shoppers do the shopping! Thanks for your support.

Inquirers’ Group Begins Sunday, May 20, 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. We’ll begin with “The Episcopal Way,” by Eric Law and Stephanie Spellers. Rev. Miranda has a few copies available, or you can also buy it online in print or Kindle editions. Talk with Rev. Miranda if you need help finding the book. No need to sign up for the group; just come on the 20th and join in!

Pentecost Sunday Worship, May 20: On this feast day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, and celebrate the Spirit’s continued action among us. Red is the church’s color for this holy day; consider wearing something red for church. You’re also invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie – wear your own or borrow one from the collection at church. We will formally welcome new members on this festive day. It’s our custom to take photos of the whole congregation after the 10am service that Sunday; we hope you’ll stay a few moments to participate.

Rectory’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, May 20: 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, May 20, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, May 20, 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

Calling our bakers! Would you like to contribute a pie or other favorite dessert to our Kickoff Party on May 19? If you love to bake and would like to share your talents, sign up in the Gathering Area or email office@stdunstans.com. Thank you!

Take A (Red) Hymnal Home! If you’d like to get to know our hymnal better, or sing all the verses of an old favorite, please take one or more red hymnals home for your own use. We are still seeking good homes for many red hymnals, after replacing them with blue hymnals last fall. 

Summer Flowers start in June: From June through August, we invite members to sign up to “bring” flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We have flowers on the church grounds as well, which can certainly be used! If you’d like to contribute flowers, simply sign up for your chosen Sunday. You can still make a dedication, and we will include it in the bulletin as usual. You may use your vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, aft her 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Trinity Sunday & Rogation Procession, Sunday, May 27: Following the 10am liturgy next Sunday, all are welcome to join our annual spring Rogation procession, a walk around our grounds to pray over our property and the plants and creatures with whom we share it. It will take about 15 minutes.

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, Mary 27, 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.

Memorial Day, Monday, May 28 – the office will be closed.

Clothing Recycling: As you’re spring cleaning, if you find you have old clothes that are too damaged (torn, stained, etc.) to donate for resale, you can bring them here to the bin in our front entryway. Clothing will be bundled up, labeled for recycling, and dropped off. This helps keeps fabric out of the landfill!

IN THE COMMUNITY…

PFLAG Madison meeting, Sunday, May 20, 2-4pm at Friends Meeting House at 1704 Roberts Court in Madison: Parents, families, friends and allies with LGBTQ people are welcome to attend the monthly meeting (every 3rd Sunday of the month). This month The Demeter Foundation which advocates for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in the Wisconsin Women’s Correctional (prison) System will have speakers. They provide services and support to all women’s facilities and have also reached out to the LGBTQ women and hope to provide specific resources for them. For more information, go to http://www.pflag-madison.org.

SUMMER…

Our Vacation Bible School this summer will be August 5 – 9! Our VBS meets in the evening – 5:30 to 7:30pm. We’ve got some great ideas cooking up for this year. If you’d like to help out, talk to Sharon Henes.

Women’s Mini Week 2018, “Courageous Women of God!” August 9-12 at Camp Lakotah in Wautoma, WI: Spread the Word, Ladies! You are invited to Women’s Mini Week, beginning at Thursday dinner, August 9th through Sunday brunch, August 12th. For registration materials and to answer questions, go to the website: www.womensminiweek.org or email to womensminiweek@gmail.com.

 

Sermon, May 13

In those days Peter stood up among the believers and said, “One of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us… must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts chapter 1)

The Calling of Matthias, Movement 1: Congratulations, You Have An All-Male Panel!

Back in 2015, a Finnish scholar, Dr. Saara Sarma, started a blog called Congrats, You Have An All-Male Panel! She’d been noticing for years that panels of experts were very frequently all male – regardless of whether the field under discussion was agriculture in the Sudan, developments in the music industry, advances in chemical engineering, global banking regulation, or even women’s reproductive rights. (Source) Her blog quickly went viral as people began submitting photos of “expert” lineups that meet the All Male Panel criterion. In one recent example, a magazine asked the question, “What can the real estate industry do to better promote gender equality?”, and shared responses from… four men. 

If you go to Sarma’s blog – and you should – you’ll find that the header image at the top of the page is Leonardo da Vinci’s famous image of the Last Supper. You know the one: “We’d like a table for twenty-six.” “But there are only thirteen of you.” “That’s OK, we’re all going to sit on the same side.”  The image makes the point that Jesus’ Twelve Disciples are one of the classic All-Male Panels. 

The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus – overwhelmed by the crowds seeking him out for healing – calls his disciples to him and appoints twelve of them “to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.” (Mk 3:14-15). Matthew and Luke follow Mark’s lead in naming the Twelve. Twelve was an important number; it called to mind the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and suggested completeness and fulfillment. So after Judas’ betrayal and death, and after Jesus’ final ascension into Heaven, the remaining Eleven decide they need to fill that slot. The verses just before today’s Acts text tell us that among the 120 people present, there were many women, including Mary the mother of Jesus. And yet, when it comes time to pick candidates for the role, somehow they turn out to be men. 

Why would you expect otherwise, Miranda? In a patriarchal society and era?Well: the thing is, Jesus called women to follow him. Jesus’ inner circle included women – Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, Mary and Martha, and others. And women were important leaders in the early church – Lydia, Phoebe the deacon, Prisca, Junia the apostle, and more. 

Dorothy Sayers, one of my favorite writers of both mystery novels and theology, commented on this point back in the 1930s: “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them…; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend…” 

(From Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society)

I’ve often heard the question: How can someone who believes wholeheartedly in the capability and called-ness of women, be  loyal to a holy text that is so profoundly marked by sexism? I am loyal to Scripture – more, I love Scripture – because Scripture teaches me that God is not sexist. In both the Old and New Testaments, the dignity, strength, resourcefulness, intelligence, and simple humanity of women is honored. Not everywhere! But here and there, by the grace of God and the guidance of the Spirit, the Bible shows us humans living into a fuller understanding of humanity as made in God’s image, regardless of biological sex or gender. 

The calling of Matthias is not one of those times. Simon Peter, always trying to earn that gold star, reckons that since Jesus appointed twelve men, that means there should ALWAYS be twelve men. I think it’s interesting when the church turns to prayerful discernment, in this story. Not about whether it’s important to “replace” Judas and have Twelve again – that’s Peter’s idea. Not about the candidates for the open slot – Matthias and Barsabbas are suggested by an undefined “they.” Only when it comes to choosing one of those two men does the assembly open their hearts towards God before casting lots – a lot like rolling dice, only you pray first. I wonder how the outcome could have been different if those first church leaders had sought the Spirit’s guidance earlier in this process… 

A task force called to study how the Episcopal Church calls bishops, those with oversight of the church in a certain region, recently released its report.  That report shows that the current bishops of the Episcopal Church are 90% male and 90% white. Which is much closer to an all-male panel than it really ought to be, given our church’s teachings and membership. Just like in the first chapter of Acts, somehow, when it comes time to pick candidates for a leadership role, they turn out to be men. 

The Calling of Matthias, Movement II: The Deeds of the Apostle Matthias

Acts chapter 1, verse 26, says, “And they cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.” That is the last time Matthias is mentioned in Scripture. We have no idea how or whether he lived out his apostleship – a word that just means, One who is sent.  There are texts that claim that Matthias became an important evangelist, that he spread the faith in the region of Cappadocia, that he was eventually martyred there. There are also traditions that say he was stoned to death and beheaded in Jerusalem; and that he died of old age. His grave is claimed by sites in the countries of Georgia and Germany.  Many of these texts are from a thousand years after the events they claim to describe. There are some earlier texts, dating from the third century, such as one known as the Acts of Andrew and Matthias. In that story, Matthias is sent as a missionary to a city where the people eat only human flesh. He is captured and drugged, as a first step towards making him into a meal, but the drugs have no effect on him and he prays for God’s help. Meanwhile, the apostle Andrew comes to rescue him, carried on a boat piloted by Jesus Himself. It’s all quite exciting! – but I would definitely place it in the genre of fanfiction, rather than history. 

So it’s pretty hard to know if Matthias actually went on to do great things that just didn’t make it into the texts that give us our best historical record of the early church – or if Matthias just didn’t do much. He might have been kind of a dud; or he might have been a faithful, effective, kind, ordinary saint, whose acts of charity and grace were simply too everyday to be remembered. Like most of us! 

Meanwhile, the Book of the Acts of the Apostles goes on to tell us about the adventures and struggles of others who traveled the ancient world, preached the Gospel, and built up the first churches:  Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Philip, Lydia, and others. These are the heroes that Scripture remembers. Not Matthias. 

In selecting Matthias, Peter and the rest of the Eleven were doing a very churchy thing – a very institutional thing: We have this vacancy on our board; we’d better recruit someone. Looking at this story in light of the rest of the Book of Acts, it sure looks like this bit of sacralized bureaucracy didn’t actually matter much to what God was doing in and with the church. I’ve heard this approach summed up as “filling the slot instead of fulfilling the volunteer.” – focusing on maintaining a certain way of being, rather than letting the gifts, skills, and passions of those called into our fellowship of faith lead the way, perhaps into a new way of being. 

A lot of churches do this; I think we do it less than some, but we still do it, for sure.  I carry the list in my head: who’s the next greeter, the next Sunday school teacher, the next Vestry candidate….  Sometimes I’m able to say, Well, you know, if nobody’s clamoring for the role, let’s leave it empty and see what happens, or think about how we might restructure that ministry… Let’s just trust that God is at work in the church, and that we’ll have the people we need to do what God wants us to do. But I’m a person in institutional leadership, and I get anxious about filling slots sometimes. I feel the temptation to seek out a Matthias with an arm I can twist. Gently and lovingly, of course. 

The good news is that God’s work in the world is bigger than the church – and God’s work in the church is bigger than the church’s institutional leadership. Peter thought they needed a twelfth apostle to meet God’s expectations and be the church Jesus intended. But while the church was fretting about matters of order and hierarchy, God was changing hearts and minds and lives. Matthias may or may not have helped spread the Gospel and build the church, but Philip did. Paul did. Barnabas did. Lydia did. And Luke and Timothy and Phoebe and so many others. 

The Calling of Matthias, Movement III: What About Barsabbas? 

There were two finalists for the role of Twelfth Apostle: Matthias and Joseph Barsabbas, known also as Justus.  If Scripture says little about Matthias, it says even less about Barsabbas.  All we know is that he’s loser. Not the right man for the job. 

Mike Kinman, a wonderful preacher now serving at All Saints in Pasadena, preached about Barsabbas a few years ago. Kinman observed that the matter of winners and losers, chosen and not-chosen, is one where most of us have not fully taken the teachings of our faith to heart. Jesus says things like, “the last shall be first and the first last” and “those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” And then he dies on a cross – the very image of failure, loss, rejection, shame mockery. And we name it as triumph and glory and salvation. We know all of this. But Matthias has a feast day, and Barsabbas doesn’t. 

We’d just as soon not think about somebody like Barsabbas.  Many of us live in fear of becoming a Barsabbas – or having it discovered that we’ve been Barsabbas all along. 

Losing – being not chosen – is painful. It means we miss some opportunity, yes, but there’s more to it than that.  Kinman writes, “Not being chosen, whether it be in a job, in a relationship, in the church or wherever – not being chosen taps into our deepest insecurities and triggers painful memories. Not being chosen can fill us with embarrassment and shame. It can make us feel two inches tall and want to run away and hide. Not being chosen stabs like a knife. It makes our hearts cry out “Why not me? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough.”  Or even worse, it makes our hearts crumble and whisper: “See, I knew it, I’m not good enough. I was right all along.” Not being chosen is like a giant amplifier for all the voices in our head and our heart that tell us we are less than, that we are unworthy, that we are unlovable. Losing stinks. Not being chosen hurts.”

But it happens to most of us, at one time or another. Most of us – maybe all of us – have had moments like this.  And yet in the church, where we’re called to love each other, where we should know better than to measure our worth by the standards of any human institution, we still don’t handle these situations very well. Kinman observes that he’s seen church folk deal with these moments in one of three ways: We “silver lining” it – insisting that people see a bright side in the situation, even if it takes binoculars or a microscope to find one. We offer consolation prizes – “You don’t get to do that, but maybe you’d like to do this?” Or we say and do nothing. We just don’t mention it, because we fear that bringing it up will be painful. Or we just never get around to calling the not-chosen person… because you never know; failure might be contagious. All of those responses – while very human and very understandable – are basically about managing our own discomfort, rather than actually caring for the person who’s struggling with a Barsabbas moment. 

What’s the alternative? 

Being not-chosen hurts – often disproportionately to the actual opportunity lost – because it feels like a rejection of who we are as a person. It undermines our sense of worth.  Could we instead take those Barsabbas moments – ours or someone else’s – as opportunities to remind ourselves of our true and unshakeable worth in the eyes of the God who made us? In our Gospel today we see Jesus speaking to his followers’ sense of being rejected, not taken seriously, of not fitting into the world as it is. He says, You may not belong here – but you belong to God; you belong to Me. 

Mike Kinman writes, “The deepest truth of our faith that our Barsabbas Moments invite us to lean into is that our goodness and belovedness come from God and God alone… Our Barsabbas Moments are opportunities for us not to lean on the admiration… [of other humans], but in those moments where we are feeling the deepest rejection to lean back into the loving arms of a God in whose eyes we are always good and always worthy and always deeply, deeply beloved.”

So before he drops out of the story, let’s pause to name and claim and celebrate Barsabbas, who did not become the twelfth apostle. Friends, Barsabbases all, listen, hear, remember, believe: Whatever opportunities or rejections the world or the church may hand you, you are never not chosen. Never not wanted. Never not worthy. 

Some sources: 

The origins of Congrats, You Have An All Male Panel!

The Acts of Andrew and Matthia

Kinman’s sermon in full

Announcements, May 10

It won’t be a party without you…

Have you been meaning to send in your RSVP card? The deadline to reply for our party to kick off The Open Door Project is Monday, May 14. Many St. Dunstanites have already responded, and it’s going to be a great party. If you’ve been meaning to reply, you can grab an RSVP card this Sunday at church and turn it in, or email office@stdunstans.com. See you at the party!

Ascension Eucharist at The Sandbox, Thursday, May 10, 7pm (TIME CHANGE): A simple Eucharist to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, as the Church honors the story of the risen Jesus saying a final farewell to his friends.

THIS WEEKEND…

Sunday School, Sunday, May 13, 10am: Next Sunday, our 3 year olds to kindergarten class will learn about the story of Pentecost, while our Elementary classes will reflect together on the calling of Matthias and seeking God’s guidance for decisions.

Calling our bakers! Would you like to contribute a pie or other favorite dessert to our Kickoff Party on May 19? If you love to bake and would like to share your talents, sign up in the Gathering Area or email office@stdunstans.com. Thank you!

Inquirers’ Group Begins Sunday, May 20, 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. We’ll begin with “The Episcopal Way,” by Eric Law and Stephanie Spellers. Rev. Miranda has a few copies available, or you can also buy it online in print or Kindle editions. Talk with Rev. Miranda if you need help finding the book. No need to sign up for the group; just come on the 20th and join in!

Take A (Red) Hymnal Home! If you’d like to get to know our hymnal better, or sing all the verses of an old favorite, please take one or more red hymnals home for your own use. We are still seeking good homes for many red hymnals, after replacing them with blue hymnals last fall.

THANK YOU FOR A GREAT CLEAN-UP DAY! Lots of people pitched in and we got a lot done! Thanks so much to all our workers, to the B&G team for their prep work and leadership, and to those who fed the team! 

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Clothing Recycling: As you’re spring cleaning, if you find you have old clothes that are too damaged (torn, stained, etc.) to donate for resale, you can bring them here to the bin in our front entryway. Clothing will be bundled up, labeled for recycling, and dropped off. This helps keeps fabric out of the landfill!

DATE CHANGE – Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, May 18, 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 Village Green Bar & Grill, 7508 Hubbard Avenue in Middleton. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Men’s Book Club, Saturday, May 19, 10am: The book is All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr. “A beautiful story about a blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a German boy, Werner, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.” Werner grows up enchanted by a crude radio he finds and becomes an expert at fixing these new instruments, a talent that wins him a place in the Hitler Youth and a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. HAVE A GOOD READ

Pentecost Sunday Worship, May 20: On this feast day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, and celebrate the Spirit’s continued action among us. Red is the church’s color for this holy day; consider wearing something red for church. You’re also invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie – wear your own or borrow one from the collection at church. We will formally welcome new members on this festive day. It’s our custom to take photos of the whole congregation after the 10am service that Sunday; we hope you’ll stay a few moments to participate.

Rectory’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, May 20: 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, May 20, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, May 20, 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.

SUMMER…

Our Vacation Bible School this summer will be August 5 – 9! Our VBS meets in the evening – 5:30 to 7:30pm. We’ve got some great ideas cooking up for this year. If you’d like to help out, talk to Sharon Henes.

Women’s Mini Week 2018, “Courageous Women of God!” August 9-12 at Camp Lakotah in Wautoma, WI: Spread the Word, Ladies! You are invited to Women’s Mini Week, beginning at Thursday dinner, August 9th through Sunday brunch, August 12th. For registration materials and to answer questions, go to the website: www.womensminiweek.org or email to womensminiweek@gmail.com.

Changes at St. Dunstan’s:

Dear Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

Life is taking me on a new, exciting path of retirement and becoming a grandmother, but sadly this means leaving St. Dunstan’s. It has been my joy to serve you and Rev. Miranda. I have felt blessed every day that I come to this beautiful setting and have the opportunity to work with a group of people who are dedicated to reaching out to help others, to preserving our beautiful world and to creating a warm and welcoming community. You are fortunate to have each other and your amazing rector, Miranda. Thanks for welcoming me and for letting me be a part of your community for a time. Wishing you all the best and a mighty victory for your capital campaign!

God Bless,

Pamela Street

Sermon, May 6

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

What does Jesus command us? Jesus teaches. He tells stories. He models kindness, righteous anger, self-sacrificial love. He calls people to transformation of heart and life. But does he command? 

If you can’t think of one of Jesus’ commandments at the moment, don’t feel bad. There is a fair amount of talk about commandments in the Gospels, the books of the Bible that tell about Jesus’ life and teachings, and in the Epistles, the letters of the early church.  But broadly, most of those texts are addressing a big question for the first Christians: In the new relationship with God brought about by and through Jesus Christ, do the commandments of the Old Testament still apply? Are Christians supposed to follow Jewish law? 

Jesus’ teaching about the Great Commandment was important for early Christians because it gave them a touchstone for wrestling with that question. Someone asks Jesus, What is the most important commandment, in the whole of Jewish law? The dialogue is a little different in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; Luke is my favorite because Jesus does that teacher thing: “Well, what do *you* think?” And the man says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus says, Yep. That’s it. That’s all the Law you really need. 

It took many decades, but Christians eventually resolved that this teaching – and Jesus’ other teachings that touched on law, obedience, and holiness – meant that Christians are not bound by Jewish law, the commandments of the Hebrew Bible.  

Today’s Acts lesson gives us a glimpse of the apostle Peter in a moment of epiphany: “Look, the Holy Spirit of God has come down even upon these Gentiles, non-Jews who are unholy and unclean! I guess if God will baptize them with the Spirit, we should baptize them with water!” 

So the Great Commandment is powerful stuff. Love God as hard as you can, and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself: If you carry those intentions into daily life, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to put them into practice. 

But that’s not what John’s Jesus is talking about here. The Great Commandment doesn’t appear in John’s Gospel. Yet Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” What command does Jesus have in mind, here? 

Our Gospel and Epistle today have the same name: John. Biblical scholars talk about a Johannine community – a church that gathered around a particular teacher, identified by tradition with John, one of Jesus’ disciples. That community seems to have received and developed some distinctive memories or understandings about Jesus, which gives the Gospel and the letters that that community produced their special theological perspective. I’ll keep talking about our author here as John, because that’s the easy; but let it be noted that that is a shorthand. We don’t know that the core voice here was a disciple named John; we don’t know that the letters and the gospel were written by the same person, although there is clearly influence and overlap. 

These texts that bear John’s name have a distinctive voice in lots of ways. 

John’s Gospel overlaps with the other three – Matthew, Mark, and Luke; it’s clearly telling the same story about the same person. But it tells it very differently – with events and characters that don’t appear, or appear differently, in the other Gospels; and with Jesus making some theological speeches that have no parallel elsewhere – except in the letters that extend some of their themes. 

It’s in these texts – the Gospel of John, and the Johannine letters – that Jesus tells his disciples to obey his commandments.  Jesus doesn’t talk about following him that way, elsewhere. Sure, he tells his followers what they should do, and how they should act. He just doesn’t use that Old Testament vocabulary of obedience to a commandment, in other texts. 

So to understand what John’s Jesus means when he says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you,” we need to look at the Johannine texts and see what they say about Jesus’ commands. That is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. The Johannine texts are notoriously dense; the grammar can be hard to untangle; they’re full of cryptic and mystical sayings whose meanings are far from obvious. But fortunately, if we follow the vocabulary of command and commandment through these texts, there is a pretty strong pattern. The gist is, Love each other. 

It starts in John’s Gospel, at the Last Supper, when Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. This is how people will know you are my disciples: by your love for one another.” (13:34) Later in the same speech, we have the passage that comes to us as today’s Gospel:  “This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you….  My command to you is to love one another.”  (John 15)

That core command comes up repeatedly in the first (and longest) letter of John – in the third chapter: “This is [God’s] commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) And again in chapter 4: “ The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters* also.”

So by the time we come to today’s passage in chapter 5, we should be pretty clear that God’s command is to love and trust in God, and, most of all, to love one another:  “We know that we love God’s children, when we love God and keep God’s commandments.” The second letter of John is only one short chapter long, but still this theme of the core commandment shows up again:  “Dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning: Let us love one another.” (2 John 1:5)

If I were John’s editor, I would ask him to tidy up these texts a little. Sometimes “commandment” is singular, sometimes plural; sometimes loving God or trusting Jesus is part of the commandment too, but not always. But nevertheless there’s a solid, consistent theme: Jesus commands his followers to love one another. 

There is overlap with the Great Commandment here, for sure: Love your neighbor as yourself. But it’s pretty clear that Jesus means “neighbor” quite expansively. Your neighbor isn’t just the person standing next to you, or the person who lives next door. Your neighbor is anyone whose path crosses yours. Anyone to whom you might show – or from whom you might receive – kindness and care. 

The “love one another” command is more specific. Jesus is speaking to his gathered disciples. And the letters are addressed to churches, Christian fellowships.  This commandment has to do with how we treat each other, within a faith community. If that’s not clear from words themselves, we can look at context. The first statement of this core commandment, in the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, follows Jesus’ washing his disciples’ feet – an action which, for John, is the core symbolic act of Jesus’ last evening with his friends. And it’s very clear that the action is a teaching about how Jesus’ friends should treat one another: “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Love each other. Serve each other. This is what Jesus commands. 

I’d guess some of you feel some resistance to this idea. It sounds so inward-looking, and we want our faith to be other-oriented… rightly so. Many other Scriptures direct us to care for the wellbeing of our neighbors, expansively defined. Why does John’s Jesus, Jesus as the Johannine community remembers him and gives him voice, lean so hard into love within Christian community? 

There are hints that conflict may have an issue in John’s community or other early Christian fellowships. Like this one from First John chapter 4: “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20; see also 2:7-10). 

But John isn’t just pushing a love agenda to try to get people to be nicer to each other, to quit their infighting and get on with the work of the church. There’s more to it than that. This isn’t just about organizational stability and effectiveness. This is ecclesiological and theological, for John. 

Ecclesiological means having to do with our understanding of the ekklesia, the church. Why did Jesus call Christians to do what they do in groups, not just follow his path individually? What is church for? You could be a Great Commandment Christian without a church – well, at least you could try. But John thinks church matters. John thinks our obedience to Christ begins with our capacity to extend faithful and generous love to one another. John sees Christian community as a practice field for mercy, kindness, repentance and righteousness. 

And that rings true to me. I have seen it at work here – though we could go much further. The more we love each other, the more we tell each other our truths. And the more we tell each other our truths, the more we discover how much scope there is to grow in wisdom and compassion, right here, right among the people in this room. 

I promise I won’t bring everything back to the capital campaign for the next six weeks, but there’s a very real sense in which that whole process has been an exercise in love and listening. I came to the conversation with my own list of stuff that bugged me about the building, like many others. Mostly the lack of storage space and the floor in this room!… 

And then, through focus groups and surveys and casual conversations, I learned about more and more things that had never been a problem for me, but are problems for people I love – the loft stairs that fascinate crawling infants and terrify parents; the heavy front doors; the oppressively small bathroom stalls; the introvert-torturing coffee hour setup; the terrible acoustics in the meeting room; and so on. We named the campaign the Open Door Project because it really became focused on making it possible for all kinds of people to come and be present here in safety and comfort and joy. 

Could talking and listening here, within this community, and coming to understand the importance of push-button doors – or gender-neutral bathrooms – or chairs with arms – or toddler-safe spaces – could carry over into our daily lives in the world? Could make us more mindful of, and compassionate towards, the comfort and safety of others whose needs may differ from our own? I think it could. I think it does.

And that’s just thinking about physical needs; the effect is so much bigger when we also talk and listen about hearts and minds and souls. Doubling down on loving one another isn’t insular or inward. It can be mind-opening and heart-changing. 

This is kind of a crazy year for me and for St. Dunstan’s. If you get our church emails, you got one on Friday reminding you that I’m taking a sabbatical later this year, starting in August. That hasn’t been a secret or anything – we announced it to the parish when we first got the grant. But we haven’t talked about it much for a while because we were focusing on the capital campaign. It’s only three months now till my sabbatical begins, so it was clearly time to remind everyone that this is happening, but the Vestry and I worried about it a little bit – not, Will St. Dunstan’s be OK?, because St. Dunstan’s will be OK, but, Will this make anybody’s anxiety shoot through the roof? Having a parish capital campaign AND a rector’s sabbatical in the same six-month period? I mean, we’re Episcopalians. Consistency is kind of our deal. 

I hope nobody’s anxiety is shooting through the roof. I see the Holy Spirit’s hand in how things are falling into place, with both of these big projects, and so I’m able to feel hopeful and curious instead of anxious. Mostly. But I’m not going to lie: it’s a lot to manage. Right now I’m trying to do all the normal church stuff I do,

Plus organize things for an extended absence, plus plan travel and study for my time away, plus help organize the parish’s renewal project, plus help run our capital campaign. 

In the moments when it starts to spin out of control – when anxiety starts to overwhelm hope – tou know what keeps me grounded? What makes it all seem possible, and worthwhile?

Loving you. That’s what anchors me, and what drives me. Loving you. 

I said earlier that this whole “love each other thing” is both ecclesiological and theological.  Meaning it has to do with both the nature of the Church, and the nature of God. John or John’s Jesus says many times that when his followers are one with each other, they – we – also approach oneness with God through Jesus Christ. The best-known example is probably from the 17th chapter of John, when Jesus prays that all his followers may be one, just as Jesus and God the Father are one. But there are lots of passages that point towards this vision of a mystical fulfillment that is achieved when our love for each other within Christian community draws us into union with the Divine. And that this is somehow the goal of the whole endeavor. 

I have no idea what that means. I can repeat John’s words – they are beautiful – but John is talking about levels of reality that are beyond our human perception and comprehension, here. 

But maybe we glimpse it, now and then. In those moments when our care for each other makes our differences into strengths instead of weaknesses.  In those moments when someone walking a new road finds a companion here who’s been that way before. In those moments when simple acts of kindness lift someone’s spirit or lighten their load. In those moments when the Spirit gives us words of peace, comfort, or encouragement, for one another. In those moments when we love each other, and God fills the space between us. 

Announcements, May 3

Did your Kickoff Party invitation arrive?  If an invitation hasn’t shown up in your mailbox yet, just call the church office at 608-238-2781 or email office@stdunstans.com and we will send one out. Rev. Miranda also has some extras available to pick up on Sunday.  We want everyone to enjoy the fun on May 19 at 4pm – 6pm when we gather for a kickoff party. Kids and significant others are very much invited, and childcare will be available. If your invitation has already arrived, what are you waiting for? RSVP today!  Please note: we will not ask for pledges at this event, but we hope you’re thinking and talking about your household’s readiness and capacity to contribute to the campaign.

THIS WEEKEND…

Basics of Major Gifts and Tax Law, Sunday, May 6, 9am: John Scherer will offer an overview of some different ways to make major gifts to the church or another beloved organization, and the impact of changes in tax law on charitable gifts.  

Spring Clean-Up Day, Sunday, May 6, 11:30am – 1pm: Join us after the 10am service to enjoy a time of shared work on our beautiful grounds, tidying them up and preparing for the growing season. A list of tasks will be posted in the Gathering Area ahead of time. Wear or bring your scruffy clothes and work gloves. Lunch will be provided!

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

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, May 6: 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 some of the current top-ten, most needed items: Rice, Barley, Quinoa, Oats;  Canned Chicken, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna; Pasta: Penne, Elbow, Bowtie; Canned Veggies: Mixed, Artichokes, Asparagus, Mushrooms; Toilet Paper/Paper Towels; Size 6 Diapers. Thank you for your generous support!

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

Calling our bakers! Would you like to contribute a pie or other favorite dessert to our Kickoff Party on May 19? If you love to bake and would like to share your talents, sign up in the Gathering Area or email office@stdunstans.com . Thank you!

Inquirers’ Group Begins Sunday, May 20, 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. We’ll begin with “The Episcopal Way,” by Eric Law and Stephanie Spellers. Rev. Miranda has a few copies available, or you can also buy it online in print or Kindle editions. Talk with Rev. Miranda  if you need help finding the book. No need to sign up for the group; just come on the 20th and join in!

Looking for Coffee Hosts May 27: Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee for more information.

Seeking Sponsors for our Kids & Youth!  Your $25 sponsorship helps one of the children or youth of St. Dunstan’s attend Camp Webb or our summer youth mission trip. Each shareholder will receive a postcard from one of our kids or youth, during their time at camp or on the youth mission trip. We also plan a late summer social event for kids and sponsors, when kids can share about their trips.  You can contribute with a check in the offering plate with “Camp Sponsorship” on the memo line, or online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Meal Helpers Needed: New parents Kate and Alex have asked for some meals as they adjust to life with a baby. They will be without “Grandparent help” during the month of May, and would like a couple of meals a week during that time. Shirley Laedlein has created a calendar where every day in May is selected, but would ask that if you sign up, you would spread out the meals to twice a week to cover the whole month rather than clump them up. Alex has a couple of recipe ideas if you don’t know what to make. Shirley will be get those from her so let her know if you want them. You can access the calendar by going to St. Dunstan’s website, clicking on the Fellowship and Learning tab, and then going to the Sharing Meals tab. Contact Shirley with questions. Thanks so much for all you do!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Buildings & Grounds Meeting, Monday, May 7, 6pm: Weather permitting, we will gather outside at 6pm for some outdoor tasks, and then meet inside at 7pm to talk about some current projects and needs and how to tackle them. If you’re interested in helping out with these kinds of tasks but can’t attend this meeting, talk to John Ertl or Jim Whitney, or email office@stdunstans.com and we will follow up.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, May 9, 1:00 – 2:45pm: 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.

Ascension Eucharist at The Sandbox, Thursday, May 10, 7pm (TIME CHANGE): A simple Eucharist to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, as the Church honors the story of the risen Jesus saying a final farewell to his friends.

Sunday School, Sunday, May 13, 10am: Next Sunday, our 3 year olds to kindergarten class will learn about the story of Pentecost, while our Elementary classes will reflect together on the calling of Matthias and seeking God’s guidance for decisions.

Men’s Book Club, Saturday, May 19, 10am: The book is All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr. “A beautiful story about a blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a German boy, Werner, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.” Werner grows up enchanted by a crude radio he finds and becomes an expert at fixing these new instruments, a talent that wins him a place in the Hitler Youth and a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. HAVE A GOOD READ

Pentecost Sunday Worship, May 20: On this feast day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, and celebrate the Spirit’s continued action among us. Red is the church’s color for this holy day; consider wearing something red for church. You’re also invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie – wear your own or borrow one from the collection at church. We will formally welcome new members on this festive day. It’s our custom to take photos of the whole congregation after the 10am service that Sunday; we hope you’ll stay a few moments to participate.

SUMMER…

Our Vacation Bible School this summer will be August 5 – 9! Our VBS meets in the evening – 5:30 to 7:30pm. We’ve got some great ideas cooking up for this year. If you’d like to help out, talk to Sharon Henes.

Women’s Mini Week 2018, “Courageous Women of God!” August 9-12 at Camp Lakotah in Wautoma, WI: Spread the Word, Ladies! You are invited to Women’s Mini Week, beginning at Thursday dinner, August 9th through Sunday brunch, August 12th. For registration materials and to answer questions, go to the website: www.womensminiweek.org or email to womensminiweek@gmail.com.

Announcements, April 26

CHECK YOUR MAILBOX!  Invitations to the party to kick off the Open Door Project, our capital campaign, will arrive this week. The party will be on Saturday, May 19, from 4 – 6pm, and everyone who considers St. Dunstan’s their church home is invited! Please RSVP using the enclosed postcards.  We hope to have the whole congregation present as we begin this exciting journey together. Kids are very much welcome. Please note: we will not ask for pledges at this event, but we hope you’re thinking and talking about your household’s readiness and capacity to contribute to the campaign.

We’ll share an evening of food, music, and exploring St. Dunstan’s past, present, and future!

THIS WEEKEND…

Sandbox Worship, Thursday, April 26, 5:30pm: In the Sandbox this week, we will study the Acts lesson for this coming Sunday, then prepare a scripted version of the lesson to use in worship on Sunday. If you would like to read one of the parts and will be at church on Sunday the 29th (either 10am or 8am worship), please come! A light dinner will follow.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, April 27, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we’ll be celebrating the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog, at The Imperial Garden at 2039 Allen Blvd., Middleton, just across from St. D’s. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt  or  Debra Martinez.

Water is Life, April 27th, 7-9 pm @ St Francis House, 1011 University Ave.: St. Francis House is bringing together interfaith, academic, and Native People’s perspectives to discuss water rights and justice. John Floberg, Episcopal priest and an organizer of Clergy Standing with Standing Rock, comes from North Dakota to St Francis House as a special guest. Join us for his talk, additional perspectives, and a panel discussion to follow. This event is sponsored by St Francis House Student Episcopal Center and the Center for Religion and Global Citizenry; co-sponsored by Pres House, Badger Catholic and His House.

Last Sunday All Ages Worship, April 29, 10am: Our Last Sunday Worship this month will focus on our call to care for God’s creation. This service 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.

Falk Friends Pantry Prep, Sunday, April 29, 11:30am: Helpers of all ages are welcome to help pack our Falk Friends Pantry bags after the 10am liturgy!

Looking for Coffee Hosts May 13 and 27: Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee at (608) 836-9755 for more information.

Seeking Sponsors for our Kids & Youth!  Your $25 sponsorship helps one of the children or youth of St. Dunstan’s attend Camp Webb or our summer youth mission trip. Each shareholder will receive a postcard from one of our kids or youth, during their time at camp or on the youth mission trip. We also plan a late summer social event for kids and sponsors, when kids can share about their trips.  You can contribute with a check in the offering plate with “Camp Sponsorship” on the memo line, or online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Meal Helpers Needed: New parents Kate and Alex have asked for some meals as they adjust to life with a baby. They will be without “Grandparent help” during the month of May, and would like a couple of meals a week during that time. Shirley Laedlein has created a calendar where every day in May is selected, but would ask that if you sign up, you would spread out the meals to twice a week to cover the whole month rather than clump them up. Alex has a couple of recipe ideas if you don’t know what to make. Shirley will be get those from her, so let her know if you want them. You can access the calendar by going to St. Dunstan’s website, clicking on the Fellowship and Learning tab, and then going to the Sharing Meals tab. Please contact Shirley with any questions. Thanks so much for all you do!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Basics of Major Gifts and Tax Law, Sunday, May 6, 9am: John Scherer will offer an overview of some different ways to make major gifts to the church or another beloved organization, and the impact of changes in tax law on charitable gifts.  

Spring Clean-Up Day, Sunday, May 6, 11:30am – 1pm: Join us after the 10am service to enjoy a time of shared work on our beautiful grounds, tidying them up and preparing for the growing season. A list of tasks will be posted in the Gathering Area ahead of time. Wear or bring your scruffy clothes and work gloves. Lunch will be provided!

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

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, May 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 some of the current top-ten, most needed items: Rice, Barley, Quinoa, Oats;  Canned Chicken, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna; Pasta: Penne, Elbow, Bowtie; Canned Veggies: Mixed, Artichokes, Asparagus, Mushrooms; Toilet Paper/Paper Towels; Size 6 Diapers. Thank you for your generous support!

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

Buildings & Grounds Meeting, Monday, May 7, 6pm: Weather permitting, we will gather outside at 6pm for some outdoor tasks, and then meet inside at 7pm to talk about some current projects, needs, and how to tackle them. If you’re interested in helping out with these kinds of tasks but can’t attend this meeting, talk to John Ertl or Jim Whitney, or and we will follow up.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, May 9, 1:00 – 2:45pm: 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.

Ascension Eucharist at The Sandbox, Thursday, May 10, 7pm (TIME CHANGE): A simple Eucharist to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, as the Church honors the story of the risen Jesus saying a final farewell to his friends.

Men’s Book Club, Saturday, May 19, 10am: The book is All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr. “A beautiful story about a blind French girl, Marie-Laure and a German boy, Werner, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.” Werner grows up enchanted by a crude radio he finds and becomes an expert at fixing these new instruments, a talent that wins him a place in the Hitler Youth and a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. HAVE A GOOD READ

SUMMER…

Our Vacation Bible School this summer will be August 5 – 9! Our VBS meets in the evening – 5:30 to 7:30pm. We’ve got some great ideas cooking up for this year. If you’d like to help out, talk to Sharon Henes.

Women’s Mini Week 2018, “Courageous Women of God!” August 9-12 at Camp Lakotah in Wautoma, WI: Spread the Word, Ladies! You are invited to Women’s Mini Week, beginning at Thursday dinner, August 9th through Sunday brunch, August 12th. For registration materials and to answer questions, go to the website: www.womensminiweek.org or email to womensminiweek@gmail.com.

 

 

Sermon, Jan. 21

This is what I’m saying, friends: Our time is short. From now on, married people should not be preoccupied with their partner, family and home. Those who are sad should look beyond their sadness, and those who are happy should look beyond their happiness. Everyone should not be so concerned with how they make or spend money. Those who make use of the world and its opportunities should be like people who are detached from the world. Because this world in its present form is passing away.

That’s today’s Epistle, from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. (1 Cor 7:29-31) A few verses earlier, leading up to this passage, Paul writes, “In view of the impending crisis…”

Those are words you really don’t want to hear from the rector of your church in her annual meeting address: “In view of the impending crisis…”

In preparing sermons, I often use a wonderful webpage called The Text This Week. It compiles and presents commentaries and reflections and sermons and liturgical resources for every reading on every Sunday, following the Revised Common Lectionary. The Text This Week has a long list of commentaries and articles on this text – but not a single sermon. So apparently people have LOTS to say about this passage, but nobody cares to preach on it.

Well. Here goes.

One of the reasons it’s a difficult text to preach is that Paul seems to expect, in this passage, that Jesus will return soon – like, next week soon – so Christians really can detach from this world, because there’s no point in saving for college or setting up autopay on your mortgage.  And we shrug off the passage because, well, Paul was wrong. We’re all still here.

But Biblical theologian Alastair Roberts says that’s missing the point. What Paul says here isn’t that the world is passing away, but that the present form of this world is passing away. The Greek word is “schema”, the shape or appearance of the world as it is. Paul wrote this letter perhaps a decade before the first Jewish revolt against Roman rule, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the great Temple. It was a world-changing event for early Christians – and Paul may well have seen it coming; Jesus certainly did. So: Paul wasn’t wrong. When we stop being 21st-century observers and put ourselves in the shoes of 1st-century Christians experiencing the upheavals of that time: Yeah. The schema was passing away, bigtime. As many, many schemas have passed away in the two millennia since then.

Furthermore, Roberts says, Paul’s point here isn’t just about historical changes and endings. It’s also about theology – how we see the world in light of our understanding of God. You don’t have to believe that the world is literally going to end soon, to see the world through the lens of the expected fulfillment of God’s promise to transform and renew the whole cosmos.

Roberts says that the New Testament expresses the first Christians’ sense of eschatological imminence – the sense that God’s Kingdom is just over the horizon. And that sense arises from the Church’s experience of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The first Christians understood that reality had already been fundamentally transformed by the events of Good Friday and Easter. Roberts writes: “Life after these events is characterized by a radical relativization of the current world order and an intensified sense of its penultimacy.”

Let me try to rephrase that. Christians living after Easter and before the Second Coming should believe and know that the way things are is not the way they are meant to be – or the way they will be when God brings God’s purposes to fulfillment. “Relativization” means being able to see whatever is most familiar and seems most natural to us, as only one option among many, and not necessarily the best.

And the world as it is – even in its best and grandest moments – is not yet what it will be. Penultimate means, Next-to-last. Not final, complete, or ultimate, but whatever comes before the final, the complete, the ultimate. So: Life in the time of the church – 2000 years and counting – is marked by a sense of relativization and penultimacy: a recognition that things are not as God would have them; that we live and die, work and pray, hope and strive, in the crepuscular glimmer of God’s future, just beyond the horizon of our limited sight.

Bringing that lens to this text, Paul’s guidance to the Christians of Corinth doesn’t sound like the rantings of a prophet whose doomsday predictions missed the mark. Paul is reminding the Corinthians not to take the world-as-it-is for granted. To hold it lightly. Everything is provisional, everything is temporary – both the things you hate and the things you love. Don’t take anything too seriously; don’t lose yourself in the preoccupations of everyday life in the here-and-now.

Read in this light, Paul’s words don’t feel distant and irrelevant. They feel like good advice that I don’t really want to take,either as Miranda, a wife and mother and friend and citizen who wants a safe, stable, predictable future for those I love, or as Rev. Miranda, Rector of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church.

Across mainline Christian denominations right now, the ethos is anxiety bordering on panic. Membership numbers have fallen sharply since their high point in the 1950s – for a variety of big, sweeping historical reasons. Mainline Protestantism’s position of cultural and institutional centrality in American life is long gone. Churches and denominations are struggling to adjust to the changed religious, economic and social landscape, making tough choices about how to use decreasing resources to maintain what they have or to cut their losses and try something new. Look up the current struggle over the Episcopal Church’s budget for a lively case in point. We all know – in our best moments – that the Church and the Gospel will outlive the forms of institutional church that took shape in the mid-20th century. But we live in those forms, and love them, so there is grief and fear and struggle in this season, across American Christianity. A schema is passing away.

But St. Dunstan’s is growing. Slowly, but surely. I don’t know why. I don’t understand it. I’m grateful, and puzzled, and sometimes overwhelmed. But here we are.

During my seven years here, the treasured, committed, active, long-time members of the church have been joined by many treasured, committed, active new members. We’ve reached the point where we actually need to bring some energy and intention to making sure people know each other – that’s the impetus behind the Neighbor Dinners you’ll hear more about later. And though we’ve lost some folks to jobs in other cities or to the nearer presence of God, there continue to be enough of us to sustain this fellowship of faith, with the needed resources of time and skill and heart and, yes, money. For each of the past three years, we’ve modestly expanded our budget, to accommodate needs and areas of growth. The Vestry and the Finance Committee ask for what we think we need, and the congregation steps up. It’s amazing. Sometimes, honestly, it’s a little hard to talk with my clergy colleagues, when my challenges are things like too-small Sunday school classrooms and improving our capacity to integrate new members.

BUT, but, but: Growth doesn’t mean we’re exempt from the changing times. That we get to keep the schema of the present world. At best our current flourishing is a temporary reprieve from having to reckon with the tectonic shifts in American religion;  at worst it may prevent us from seeing and adapting to the ways in which those tremors have already shifted our foundations.

I’m going to resist diving headlong into the sociology of 21st century American Christianity, but here’s an incomplete list of some of the ways that epochal shifts in the cultural and economic landscape have an impact on how we do church.

Let’s start with committees! In 1960 – the boom years for American mainline churches – 70% of American households had a man who worked, and a woman who stayed home. Our images and memories of churches busy day in and day out with committees and guilds and service projects and craft sales reflect that era. Most women didn’t work outside the home; they were, let’s face it, bored and lonely; church was one place to take their energy and skill. Today, over 60% of American households are dual-income households, in which both adults work. What that means for churches is that people have fewer hours to offer to church committees and ministries. People still want to commit their time and skill – but often in more specific, targeted ways.

And people are, simply, tired on the weekends. What’s more, the loss of cultural centrality for Christianity means that sports and other events happen on Sunday mornings now. For folks with kids at home, Saturday and Sunday are a jumble of activities, laundry, and trying to snatch a little rest and togetherness. I get it. I’ve become pretty protective of my Saturdays, because during the school year it is my only day home with my family. So when people whom I know are committed to this church, and love God and love this community, are not here every Sunday – I miss you, but I sympathize. Life is really full, and pretty exhausting.

And that shift in work patterns is just one factor among many. The rise of the Religious Right in the 1980s began an era in which Christianity increasingly associated with hard-line moral conservatism. I know we have members who struggle with toxic Christianity, in its public manifestations or in their own past. Being church in the 21st century means both being inevitably tainted by Christianity’s brand issues, and continuously having to remind ourselves and each other that we follow Jesus, but not in that direction.

Another big shift is in patterns of institutional loyalty and giving. People don’t join and give as a normal, default behavior anymore; a church or nonprofit has to earn peoples’ loyalty and generosity. I think that’s a good change, but it is a change.

And outside of evangelical Christianity – which is having its own struggles right now! – church has really shifted from the center of American life. Many people not only don’t belong to a church, but honestly have no idea what it’s all about, or why anyone would want that.  There’s a tendency to pin that shift on GenX or the Millennials, but it actually started with the Boomers, with the freedom they felt to walk away from inherited norms – including church attendance – and chart their own path in life. The result is that for a huge swath of the American public, we are quaint and peculiar. I recently ate lunch at a restaurant that seemed to be a re-purposed church building – a cute little white country church. You could still see organ pipes up in the loft. You see that a lot – churches that have closed being turned into cafes or condos. But my friend told me, This building is new. This is not a former church; this is a hip restaurant built to look like a former church. That’s where we are in the life of American Christianity, friends.

OH, and ALSO, the fundamental epistemological shift from modernity to postmodernity means that people are no longer certain that there’s any such thing as truth! ….

“In view of the impending crisis…”

We do church – we gather, pray, and sing, welcome, share, and nurture, feed and work and serve – we do church in a new time. In a changed and changing schema. We do church in the shadow of profound change, and profound loss, in the faith landscape of our nation. We are growing here – but even the growth comes with the ache and uncertainty of change. New members bring ideas and energy and heart; but they don’t necessarily want to put their efforts towards maintaining existing structures and habits, extending the past into the future. They didn’t come here to help us maintain the schema. They came here to find a community with whom to follow Jesus.

The gist of it all, friends, is that even though St. Dunstan’s is flourishing right now, if we are wise, we still hear Paul’s call to hold it all lightly. We still live with a sense of relativization and penultimacy. Even the most familiar or most sacred of our acts are experiments, approximations, rough drafts of God’s future. Everything we do is provisional – the things we’ve been doing for decades, or centuries, as much as the things we try for the first time.

This is a terrible Annual Meeting message. Especially for a year when we’re actively talking about a capital campaign. I am supposed to be telling you that this church could be your everlasting monument. That if you endow a brass candlestick, your grandchildren will be able to visit St. Dunstan’s in fifty years and read your name on the plaque. I’m supposed to be telling you that if you commit your time and treasure to this church, it will keep being the exact thing you love right now, forever. This sermon I’m preaching, about how everything is changing and the future is unknowable: this is opposite of the sermon I’m supposed to preach today.

I’m preaching it anyway because I think it’s true, and I don’t want to lie to you. The past half-century has brought epochal changes in American culture, society, economy, and faith. Big stuff has changed, and is changing, and will yet change.

And I’m preaching it anyway because I actually find some freedom and grace in remembering that both the church and the future belong to God. Not to us. There are choices and challenges before us at St. Dunstan’s – the good kind. The choices and challenges of growth; of wisely and lovingly integrating old and new, received and emerging; of having, for the moment, enough, and discerning how to best to use what we have to further God’s purposes among and around us.

This past week at our Vestry meeting, our senior warden Shirley Laedlein read us a prayer which says, in part, “Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us… We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.” I like that image of planting seeds, as a metaphor for the work of the church – but, friends, the seed packet is NOT labeled. We do not know what’s going to grow, nor what ecology the young plants will become part of, nor what they’ll have to withstand, nor what they will produce when they mature.  But we ARE planting seeds. And providing light, and water, and good soil. I believe that. And God gives the growth, and blesses the harvest. I believe that too.

May we have the courage and faith to experience provisionality as freedom, and uncertainty as opportunity. To commit our resources and our efforts towards God’s future with hope and trust. And when we witness the schemas of this world passing away, may we lift our eyes to the horizon, to see what holy possibilities are dawning.

Alastair Roberts’ post about this 1 Corinthians text: 

http://www.politicaltheology.com/blog/the-politics-of-eschatological-imminence-1-corinthians-729-31/

The full prayer that is the source of the excerpt about seeds:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prophets-of-a-future-not-our-own.cfm

Announcements, January 18

The Capital Campaign Survey Is Coming on February 2! We ask each household in the parish to respond. Responses will go to our partners in this process, the Episcopal Church Foundation, who will use your input to help us understand which parts of the proposed projects are the highest priority for members of the congregation, and what is a realistic goal for fundraising.

The survey will be accompanied by a document summarizing our projects and options, but please take a few moments in the weeks ahead to re-familiarize yourself with plans and details. You can look at the display in the Gathering Area at church, or view the same information on our website: http://stdunstans.com/capital-campaign-possibilities-december-2017/

THIS WEEK…

Annual Parish Meeting, Sunday, January 21, 9am: Come to hear parish updates, including the 2018 budget, and help elect our parish leaders. All are welcome to attend! Child care will be provided during the meeting.

Get your picture taken for a new photo directory! St. Dunstan’s is a growing parish and putting faces to names can help us get to know each other better. We are putting together a photo directory. Father Tom McAlpine will be available to take photos before and after the 10am liturgy on Sunday, Jan. 21 and 28. If you have a photo from home that you would prefer to use, please email it to Pamela in the office at office@stdunstans.com.

Sunday school, Sunday, January 21, 10am: Our younger class will learn about baptism, while our elementary classes continue to explore the theme of being called by God. Sunday school meets during our 10am worship, and kids ages 3 through 5th grade are invited to participate!

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, January 21: Half the cash in our collection plate, and any designated checks, will go towards the Rector’s Discretionary Fund this day and on every third Sunday. This fund is a way to quietly help people with direct financial needs, in the parish and the wider community. Please give generously.

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, January 21, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, January 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.

Survival Backpacks: We are collecting items to fill backpacks for homeless high school youth in the Madison school system. They need basic necessities in a simple form that they can carry with them. Please check the window in the Gathering Area for items needed. Take a slip, buy the items, and bring them back by Sunday, February 4. Feel free to take more than one slip if you feel able to meet the need. We will also happily accept donations for the most expensive items; please write “Backpack” on the memo line of a check made out to St. Dunstan’s. Thanks for your generosity! Questions? Contact Bonnie Magnuson. 

Seeking kids who love to read out loud! We are looking for strong readers, kids and youth, who would like to join the group of people – called lectors – who read our Bible readings out loud in church on their assigned Sundays (usually once every few months). We ask kids to sign up WITH a parent or other adult who will be responsible for responding to emails about scheduling, keeping track of the calendar, and printing out readings (sent by email a few days ahead) for the young reader to practice. If you know a kid who’d like to be a lector, or if you ARE a kid who’d like to be a lector, please let us know by talking to Rev. Miranda .

 Pledge envelopes: If you have had pledge/contribution envelopes in the past or requested envelopes on your pledge card, they will be on the table outside the nave door on Sunday. If you would like envelopes please contact Valerie.

The Sandbox Evening Worship, every Thursday at 5:30pm: We gather at 5:30pm for a simple, all-ages Vespers service of candle-lighting, Scripture and prayer. After our prayers, someone shares something: a hands-on project; a favorite song, poem, storybook or image; a practice of prayer; a memory or reflection… there are many options! Afterwards, we eat a simple dinner together (provided, though folks can sign up to bring food if they wish). Our Thursday evenings are a friendly and informal time to build relationships and explore faith. All are welcome.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, January 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 Amber Indian Restaurant on 6913 University Avenue in Madison. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Outreach Committee Meeting, Saturday, January 27, 8-10am: All are welcome to join our conversations about how St. Dunstan’s can best serve the world with our resources and our hands. We begin with an optional potluck breakfast at 8am. Contact Evy Gildrie-Voyles for more information.

Housing & Hope, Sunday, January 28, 9am: High rent is a major contributor to poverty and instability for low-income families in Dane County. Come learn about a concrete, focused way to help from our guest speaker, Sarah Shatz, who coordinates support for low-income families in Middleton and beyond as part of Joining Forces for Families.

Epiphany Pageant & Candlemas Blessing of the Flashlights, Sunday, January 28: The children of St. Dunstan’s will present a pageant telling the story of Jesus’ birth and the visit of the Wise Men on Sunday, January 28. There will be a rehearsal after church on Sunday, January 21. All kids are welcome to participate! We will also celebrate Candlemas with a brief story and candle-lighting prayers at the end of our liturgy. Bring your flashlights and emergency candles from home to be blessed!

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, January 28, 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.

Ash Wednesday services will be at noon, 4pm, and 7pm on Wednesday, February 14. The 4pm service is especially intended for kids and families. Rev. Miranda will also offer Ashes to Go by the main driveway from 7:30 – 8:30am and 5 – 6pm.

Have you been baptized? The Prayer Book tells us, “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church.” From the earliest years of Christianity, the season of Lent (which begins February 10) was when new Christians studied the faith and prepared for baptism at Easter. If you have never been baptized, or aren’t sure, and would like to learn more about this rite, please contact Rev. Miranda at 238-2781.

Diocesan Leadership Day, 9am – 3pm, February 24, Zion Episcopal Church, Oconomowoc: Come learn about the concept of discernment – seeking God’s guidance in big decisions and daily life. We’ll try out some tools of spiritual discernment for individual use, and for your church community to use together. Please let Rev. Miranda know by Feb. 9 if you’d like to attend; carpooling is possible.

 

6205 University Ave., Madison WI