Announcements, May 25

TONIGHT…

Ascension Eucharist, Thursday, May 25, 5:30pm: Celebrate a festive service on the Feast of the Ascension, with our Thursday evening “Sandbox Worship” community. A simple meal will follow.

Christian Formation Committee Meeting, Thursday, May 25, 7pm: Our Christian Formation Committee will meet to review and plan our summer and fall Christian Formation programs. All interested people are welcome to attend and participate.

THIS WEEKEND…

Sunday School, Sunday, May 28, 10am: Our Sunday school classes will learn the story of Pentecost, in anticipation of our celebration on June 4.

Retirement Celebration for Martin, Sunday, May 28, Coffee Hour: Martin Ganschow, our Organist & Choir Director, is retiring from his role here after seven committed and fruitful years. We will celebrate Martin’s service and thank him with a festive coffee hour.

A Reminder to Ask Each Other’s Names! We are a growing parish and it’s OK to say, “Hi, I don’t know if we’ve met, I’m ____!” (Or alternately, “Hi, I know we’ve met but help me with your name once more; I’m ____!”) Rev. Miranda can attest that you are all really interesting and lovely people, and well worth getting to know. If you have a name tag, please remember to wear it, and if you don’t have one and would like one, there is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board under the big calendar in the Gathering Area.

Middle School Lunch & Learn, Sunday, May 28, 12-1pm: Rev. Miranda invites the 10-and-up youth of the parish to meet with her for lunch after church. We’ll dig into faith, Scripture, life, and our questions about all three. We’ll wrap up by 1pm, and we can arrange rides home for the kids if that helps the parents’ schedules.

Teen Clothing Drive for GSAFE: Do you have clothing collecting dust in your closet? Eager to support transgender teenagers struggling to build a wardrobe that makes them feel confident? Swing by St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 28th between 1pm-4pm to donate your gently used, teen-friendly clothing to GSAFE’s Youth Leadership Board for their clothing swap events!

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, May 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. To learn more, talk with Rose Mueller.

Coffee Hosts Needed in June: Please consider being a coffee host. If you would like to partner with someone for coffee host, please put your name in the column for a partner on the sign-up sheet. For more information, talk with Janet Bybee.

Evening Arts & Music Fundraiser, Friday, June 16: Some of the musicians and artists of St. Dunstan’s are organizing an evening event to raise funds for Voces de la Frontera, a community organization that focuses on the needs of immigrants in Wisconsin. We will have art and crafts for sale, and musical performances. If you’d like to contribute items for the sale, or share a performance of music or other original work, sign up in the Gathering Area or contact Phil Hassett.

Summer Flower Sign-Up: From June through August, we are trying something new with our altar flowers. We invite members to sign up to *bring* flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist as usual. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We are planting some 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 own vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, after the 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

St. Dunstan’s Second Annual Diaper Drive, May 14 – June 18:  We are having a diaper drive for sizes 4, 5, and 6 from Mother’s Day, May 14 to Father’s Day, June 18. We will donate the diapers to pantries around the area, including Allied Drive Food Pantry 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! We’ll dedicate all our gifts on Father’s Day. Thanks for your support!

THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Bat Count, Friday, June 2, 8 – 9pm:  Come hang out and count the bats emerging from the colony on our property. This is part of a statewide bat count to monitor bat populations, so it’s both science and a chance to get to know our (flying) neighbors. All are welcome!

Pentecost Sunday All-Ages Worship, June 4: 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!

Come at 9:30 if you’d like to help act out one of the readings!

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

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, June 4: Next Sunday, half the cash in our offering plate and any designated checks will be given to Middleton Outreach Ministry’s food pantry. Here are the current top-ten most needed items: toilet paper & paper towels; shelf-stable dairy/non-dairy beverages; oil and butter; whole grains (rice, quinoa, barley); nut butter (other than peanuts – allergy); ketchup & mayonnaise; dried lentils, garbanzo or black beans; canned tomato products; prepared meals in cans or boxes; baking supplies and mixes. Thank you for all your support!

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

Parish Picnic, Sunday, June 11, 12:00pm: Come for good food and good conversation at our annual June parish picnic. We’ll have fun activities for all ages, including our favorite face painter!  Bring something to share, if convenient – a bag of chips, a salad, a favorite dessert. Drinks and a main dish will be provided. The picnic will happen rain or shine. Mark your calendar and watch for more details!

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, June 14, 1-2:45pm: Julian understood the human heart and, through her sixteen revelations of Jesus, she understood the heart of God. Thomas Merton called her “the greatest theologian for our time.” Come to one of our monthly meetings and find out why—and learn about contemplative prayer. We’d love to see you. For more information, contact Susan Fiore.

Men’s Book Group, Saturday, June 17, 3pm: Candice Millard’s third book, “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill,” would make a fine movie, though Richard Attenborough did, in a sense, get there first. In 1972, he made “Young Winston”, drawn from Churchill’s own account of his early life, and it includes the same material Ms. Millard recounts so thrillingly: the future prime minister’s brash heroics in the South African Republic in 1899, which culminated in a prison break and nine days on the lam. Have a good read.

1 Samuel Study Group, Wednesday nights, June 21-July 26, 6:30-8:30 PM: Gather with a friendly group to explore the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel – a rich and complex tale of the rise and fall of kings. The study group is hosted by the McAlpines at their home in Fitchburg, about five minutes from the intersection of the Beltline and Verona Road. There will be a sample lesson on Sunday, June 4, at 9am; come try it out!

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

Announcements, May 18

THIS SUNDAY, MAY 21…

St. Dunstan’s Day All-Ages Worship & Hat and Tie Sunday: We will celebrate the feast day of our saint, Dunstan, on Sunday, May 21. It’s the 60th anniversary of our parish’s founding and naming! You’re invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie, serious or playful.  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 church; we hope you’ll stay to participate.

Holy Baptism, 8am: We will baptize Drew Robertson, a member of our 8am congregation. We rejoice with Drew and his fiancée Michele on this joyous occasion!

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

Making Our Grounds an Eternal Home: Discussing a Columbarium for St. Dunstan’s, 9am: Interested members are invited to a conversation about the legal and logistical differences between scattering ashes and interring urns, with the goal of establishing whether there is a  desire to create a columbarium here. If you have questions or input and can’t attend the meeting, talk with Sharon Bloodgood.

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

Evening Eucharist, 6pm: Come join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, 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.

Driving through Countryside Lane: Please take extra care and drive slowly on our neighbors’ roadway during this period of road construction. Our neighbors are not used to a lot of traffic and extra consideration will show we care and appreciate this access.

What Are Your Languages? On the feast of Pentecost (June 4), we read part of the Acts of the Apostles reading in many different languages. Is there a language that’s part of your heritage or story that you’d like to have included? Talk to Rev. Miranda or email her at revmiranda@stdunstans.com by Friday, May 26.

Art, Crafts & Music Wanted for an Evening Fundraiser: We have been invited to participate in a city-wide, interfaith effort to raise funds so that Voces de la Frontera, a community organization that focuses on the needs of immigrants in Wisconsin, can hire a staff member to help them better support immigrant families in Madison and beyond. Some members of our parish are organizing an event, tentatively planned for June 17, to feature an art and craft sale and musical performances. Would you like to contribute or participate? Sign up in the Gathering Area or contact Phil Hassett.

Summer Flower Sign-Up: From June through August, we are trying something new with our altar flowers. We invite members to sign up to *bring* flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist as usual. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We are planting some 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 own vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, after the 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

St. Dunstan’s Second Annual Diaper Drive, May 14 – June 18: We are having a diaper drive for sizes 4, 5, and 6 from Mother’s Day, May 14 to Father’s Day, June 18. We will donate the diapers to pantries around the area, including Allied Drive Food Pantry 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! We’ll dedicate all our gifts on Father’s Day. Thanks for your support!

Would You Like to Learn how to Tackle a Tree? As one way to approach the many dead trees on our Pine Island, we could take a group to learn about how to remove dead trees – and what to do with them afterwards – at TimberGreen Woods in Spring Green. The date of the training is TBD. Sign up on the interest sheet in the Gathering Area or talk with Rev. Miranda.

THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Ascension Eucharist, Thursday, May 25, 5:30pm: Celebrate a festive service on the Feast of the Ascension, with our Thursday evening “Sandbox Worship” community. A simple meal will follow.

Christian Formation Committee Meeting, Thursday, May 25, 7pm: Our Christian Formation Committee will meet to review and plan our summer and fall Christian Formation programs. All interested people are welcome to attend and participate.

Retirement Celebration for Martin, Sunday, May 28: Martin Ganschow, our Organist & Choir Director, is retiring from his role here after seven fruitful years. We will thank him over a festive coffee hour.

Sunday School, Sunday, May 28, 10am: Our Sunday school classes will learn the story of Pentecost, in anticipation of our celebration on June 4.

Middle School Lunch & Learn, Sunday, May 28, 12-1pm: Rev. Miranda invites the 10-and-up youth of the parish to meet with her for lunch after church. We’ll dig into faith, Scripture, life, and our questions about all three. We’ll wrap up by 1pm, and we can arrange rides home for the kids if that helps the parents’ schedules.

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, May 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. To learn more, talk with Rose Mueller.

Teen Clothing Drive for GSAFE: Do you have clothing collecting dust in your closet? Eager to support transgender teenagers struggling to build a wardrobe that makes them feel confident? Swing by St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 28th between 1pm-4pm to donate your gently used, teen-friendly clothing to GSAFE’s Youth Leadership Board for their clothing swap events! Not sure if your apparel and accessories are teen-friendly? Bring them by and let our teen volunteers be the judge. You’re welcome to bring donations ahead of time, as well. St. Dunstan’s is glad to host this event, to support GSAFE in their important work supporting kids in Madison’s schools.

1 Samuel Study Group, Wednesday nights, June 21-July 26, 6:30-8:30 PM: Gather with a friendly group to explore the book of 1 Samuel – a rich and complex tale of the rise and fall of kings. The study group is hosted by the McAlpines at their home in Fitchburg, about five minutes from the intersection of the Beltline and Verona Road. There will be a sample lesson on Sunday, June 4, at 9am; come try it out!

Pentecost Sunday All-Ages Worship, June 4: On this feast day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, and celebrate the Spirit’s continued action among us. Consider wearing something red for church!

Parish Picnic, Sunday, June 11, 12:00pm: Come for good food and good conversation at our annual June parish picnic. We’ll have good food and fun activities for all ages, including our favorite face painter! If you’d like to help with games or activities, contact the office at office@stdunstans.com or 608-238-2781. The picnic will happen rain or shine. Mark your calendar and watch for more details!

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

Sermon, May 14

Our guest preacher, Hal Edmonson, is a native of Madison and an M.Div. student at Harvard Divinity School. His sermon is entitled, “Seeing and Believing, or, Why Jesus is Like a Moonwalking Bear.”

It was about an hour into the protest when I first saw Jesus. I was standing on the steps of Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston on a January morning. Twenty-thousand or so people crowded into Copley Square, demonstrating against the order banning citizens of six predominantly-Muslim countries, and effectively ending refugee resettlement in this country. The rage was palpable. The signs were witty, maybe, but the knuckles that held them were white hot with fury. And there, held aloft by someone a few feet ahead of me, I never found out who, was Christ. An icon, The Christ of Maryknoll. Jesus is there, on the other side of a barbed-wire fence. His mouth is hidden behind the wires, leaving only his eyes truly visible; His hands rest on the tangle of metal, and though the steel talons have left stigmata of their own, his fingers yet curl their way around them—not a spasm of agony, but an embrace; a sign, almost, of blessing. Providentially, perhaps, in the crowd that left almost no room to breathe, Christ stayed in front of me; when speakers thundered their denunciation, when chants got into some very not-safe-for-church language, and when the crowd tried to make space in the middle of those twenty-thousand for some of the Muslim organizers to pray, there He was, staring at me. Wondering.

He hasn’t stopped. It’s an image I can’t seem to shake. He’s there, floating into my field of vision whenever I’m watching the news, in prayer, in reading, even on my long runs along the Charles River. Which, for me, is really rather strange. I’m in seminary and not art school for a reason: I like words. A lot. I encounter God in the syntax of things, and trust the power of the word to wind its way down in to the dusty corners of the human heart, dwelling there until it is needed most. But I’m not an image guy —I still have nightmares about a particular Art History final in Junior Year of college.

Don’t get me wrong, I find art beautiful. But images don’t stick with me the same way that a line of poetry does. There is always something intolerably ambiguous about images. They lack clarity, for there are always details that I miss. Take this icon, for instance: you can’t see Jesus’ mouth. There’s so much there that could change the whole picture. Or, what do I make of those eyes? Are they convicting? Pitying? Crying out for help? Uttering words of comfort? There is too much uncertainty, defying my desire to pick apart the motivation until I decode it all. That, I think, is why this particular image has been haunting me: I want certainty. And it won’t give it to me.

Our readings for today, and the Gospel in particular, are among the most often quoted in the New Testament—and if we can be real for a moment, also probably among the ones that make we Episcopalians most uncomfortable—because these passages, too, seem to be all about certainty. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” Jesus says. “None come to the Father but by me.” These are the words that launched a thousand missionary ships, used as the proof that salvation is beyond the hands of those who don’t see their place in the universe quite the same way. And what, for good or for ill, has come to define faith for many, many Christians—including, in the past or right now, probably a good number of us in this room: Belief, pure certainty, to the point that—like Stephen—we’d able to suffer and endure death on the strength of our conviction alone.

But the image of Christ in that icon has me wondering what it is that Jesus is really asking the disciples for, here. Remember that there weren’t really “Christians” yet. What we now consider to be truths, the distillation of them that we recite in the Nicene Creed, nobody had bothered to put together. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say what to believe in, as far as intellectual concepts. He’s a lot more cryptic. He says, “Believe in ME.” He doesn’t tell them the way, he says “I am the way.” I. Me. Myself. Jesus isn’t talking about all the theology and creeds that would eventually come to represent those things, or the scriptures that would tell about him. ’I’ doesn’t mean just what I do, or what I say, or what is accomplished on a cross, or in a tomb. It’s an all-of-the-above-and-then-some sort of situation. When Jesus says ‘I’, he means, well, that. He resists a reduction to some essence that is easier to digest. All of it, all of it, together, matters. Being the Incarnate Word of God is to defy simplification. Just as each of us have a core to our being that defies our worst moments, our most thoughtless words, and our greatest accomplishments, Jesus isn’t going to let himself be easily defined. Incarnation is to take on all the complexity, ambiguity, and irreducible beauty of humanity. To take any of that away is to take away the gift of incarnation itself. He is the way, accomplishing by the mere fact of his being a relationship between humanity and God that is inseparable. Following instructions isn’t quite enough. People are complicated, you see, even if you are, quite literally, God.

Which is a bummer, for the disciples, because they really want simple instructions. Thomas is hung up on this whole ‘way’ thing, and a number of commentators on the Greek point out that he’s confused by Jesus’ words—he’s picturing an actual road, going to a physical place, and probably thinking that if he’d had Google Maps, he could have skipped the whole following-Jesus-around-a-desert-thing. Phillip, meanwhile, wants Jesus to show him the Father, like, now, and that would satisfy him.

But instead, Jesus says you already have these things, in me—together in my words, in my works, and in the work of death and resurrection that is yet to come. None of them make sense without the others. They’ve missed the desert for the sand. What Jesus wants from them, in the end, isn’t their obedience, or their intellectual assent (though there are times when Jesus might have taken those too!). It’s their sight. It’s their willingness to see, look at the image right in front of them—the only image that can convey the fullness of Incarnation, to see what God’s mercy has wrought upon the earth, and the vision of the Kingdom that is coming, and is already here. Seeing, at least this time, is believing.

The trouble is, believing isn’t always seeing. There are these psychology test videos, maybe you’ve seen them, where there are two teams of people passing a ball back and forth, and you’re asked to count how many passes are completed. After about thirty seconds, the video freezes, and the narrator asks you how many passes were made, and then shows the correct answer. Then, she asks whether you noticed the moonwalking bear. And then you go back, and watch it slowly, and sure enough, there’s someone in a bear suit grooving their way across the floor. Our brains can only take in so much information, so we prioritize what to look for; we get the information we think we need, and filter out the rest. We’ve “succeeded” in the task before us, maybe, but if we failed to notice a moonwalking bear, what did we really see? It’s kind of the same with trying to believe in Jesus now. The world, same as it ever was, is overflowing with injustice. The demands on us to feed, to shelter, and to console are great. And it’s oh-so-easy to pray for just the things we think we need to do them, or to read the parts of scripture that seem to touch on them perfectly, that assure us we’re right, and doing our part, and so on. We’re much like the disciples, in that respect: we want the most efficient route possible. We want to know that we’ve done all we could, and followed our instructions.

But we miss things. We always do. We miss how easily, for instance, Christ-like compassion can slide into only showing compassion to those who are most Christ- like. We can miss the moments of weakness, and pain, and grief. We can get so caught up in the work of the world that it starts to become an idol in its own right. We can forget that we are called to a Christian life not on account of our own righteousness, but because we, too, are entangled with sin, and dependent upon God’s mercy.

That’s what happened to me, standing in that crowd in Copley Square, seething with anger and grief at the thought of families days away from being able to leave refugee camps only to be thrust back into limbo. I wanted to hold people accountable, to defeat them, to humiliate them with caustic poster-board signs. And there was this face of Christ staring back at me—not egging me on, just watching. Vanquish all your enemies, His eyes said; there will be new ones. Right all the wrongs; they won’t stay that way. Fortify your convictions as much as you want; God has a way of eluding your logic. I am the Way. I am the truth. I am the life.

It’s much easier to hate error than it is to love that truth. (I paraphrase here one of my favorite quotes from Michael Oakshotte, from his essay “Introduction to Leviathan”.)  Error is a lot more comprehensible, at least. But it matters that we keep this vision of our truth, of the whole person of Christ before us. Icons, obviously, are something I’ve gained a little appreciation for over the past couple of months, and I recommend you try praying with one if you never have. There are things to be learned from crucifixes, out of fashion though they are these days, or from paintings, or books that have been written imagining the bodies that Christ might have called His own. Precisely how one does this matters a lot less than that we keep looking, keep one eye on the image whenever we get caught up in words. It’s a discipline, you see. It takes practice. But one, I believe, that keeps us grounded. There will always be more work, more injustice, more pain. And in the moments of inevitable discouragement, when the certainty of prevailing is long gone, maybe what sustains isn’t inspiring words of scripture, or prayer, or self-care, but simply the image of the Word: the human form of Christ— limited, and frail, and broken, and because it is all these things, the reminder that God has already entered, irrevocably and fully, into our lives, is with us still, and that our salvation will not be on our own terms. Precisely the thing that frustrates me about images is their power: they keep teaching, keep drawing you out of yourself, inviting you to notice things that you never did before. Remember, in the work ahead, that in Christ, flesh is word, and word is flesh. Remember that image, even when it is unclear. Keep looking. You never know what you might have missed.

Announcements, May 11

THIS WEEKEND…

Creation Care Opportunities: Home Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale, Alliant Energy Center, Saturday, May 13th, 10am – 2pm: Members of St. Dunstan’s who have installed home compost or rainwater collection systems may be able to help you put your own system in place!  Pre-order at https://rainreserve.com/madison to guarantee availability. Learn more at this link. 

Native Plant Sale, UW-Madison Arboretum, Saturday, May 13th, 9am – 2pm: The sale will take place at the big tent on the lawn in front of Curtis Prairie, near the Visitors Center. Native plants generally require less care and are more environmentally sustainable.

Guest Preacher, Sunday, May 14: We welcome Hal Edmonson as our guest preacher this Sunday. Hal was raised in Madison, a stone’s throw from St. Dunstan’s, and is currently pursuing his M.Div. at Harvard Divinity School.

Sunday School, Sunday, May 14, 10am: This Sunday, our 3 year olds to kindergarten class will learn about the Good Shepherd and World Communion, while our elementary classes will learn about the apostle Stephen and his faithful service.

Driving through Countryside Lane: Please take extra care and drive slowly on our neighbors’ roadway during this period of road construction. Our neighbors are not used to a lot of traffic and extra consideration will show we care and appreciate this access.

What Are Your Languages? On the feast of Pentecost (this year, June 4), we read part of the Acts of the Apostles reading in many different languages. Is there a language that’s part of your heritage or story, that you’d like to have included? Talk to Rev. Miranda by Friday, May 26.

Summer Flower Sign-Up: From June through August, we are trying something new with our altar flowers. We invite members to sign up to *bring* flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist as usual. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We are planting some 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 own vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, after the 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

St. Dunstan’s Second Annual Diaper Drive, May 14 – June 18: 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, May 14 to Father’s Day, June 18. We will donate the diapers to pantries around the area, including Allied Drive Food Pantry 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! We’ll dedicate all our gifts on Father’s Day. Thanks for your support!

Would You Like to Learn how to Tackle a Tree? As one way to approach the many dead trees on our Pine Island, we could take a group to learn about how to remove dead trees – and what to do with them afterwards – at TimberGreen Woods in Spring Green. The date of the training is TBD and could depend on our group. Sign up on the interest sheet in the Gathering Area or talk with Rev. Miranda at 238-2781. Read more about TimberGreen Woods here:

http://timbergreenforestry.com/Full%20Value%20Forestry.html

 THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

St. Dunstan’s Day All-Ages Worship & Hat and Tie Sunday, May 21: We will celebrate the feast day of our saint, Dunstan, on Sunday, May 21. It’s the 60th anniversary of our parish’s founding and naming! You’re invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie, serious or playful.  Wear your own or borrow one from the collection at church. Easter Sunday saw a fine array of bowties on our members; can we top that number? We will formally welcome new members on this festive day. It’s our custom to take photos of the whole congregation after each service that Sunday; we hope you’ll stay a few moments to participate.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, May 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.

Making Our Grounds an Eternal Home: Discussing a Columbarium for St. Dunstan’s, Sunday, May 21, 9am: At St. Dunstan’s, members are welcome to scatter the ashes of their loved ones on our grounds, with the intention that those ashes become part of the soil of this place. We do not currently have a place or a practice for interring ashes in urns in a columbarium of some sort. Interested members are invited to a conversation about the legal and logistical differences between scattering ashes and interring urns, with the goal of establishing whether there is a desire among our congregation to create a columbarium here. If you have questions or input and can’t attend the meeting, talk with Sharon Bloodgood  or Rev. Miranda.

Spirituality of Parenting Lunch, Sunday, May 21, 11:30am: All who seek meaning in the journey of parenthood (at any age or stage) are welcome to come for food and conversation. Child care and a simple meal provided.

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, May 21, 6pm: Come join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, May 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.

Ascension Eucharist, Thursday, May 25, 5:30pm: Celebrate a festive service on the Feast of the Ascension, with our Thursday evening “Sandbox Worship” community. A simple meal will follow.

Christian Formation Committee Meeting, Thursday, May 25, 7pm: Our Christian Formation Committee will meet to review and plan our summer and fall Christian Formation programs. All interested people are welcome to attend and participate.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, May 19, 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 Sai Ba Thong at 6802 Odana Road in Madison. For more information,  please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Retirement Celebration for Martin, Sunday, May 28: Martin Ganschow, our Organist & Choir Director, is retiring from his role here after seven committed and fruitful years. We will celebrate Martin’s service and thank him with a festive coffee hour on May 28.

Teen Clothing Drive for GSAFE: Do you have clothing collecting dust in your closet? Eager to support transgender teenagers struggling to build a wardrobe that makes them feel confident? Swing by St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 28th between 1pm-4pm to donate your gently used, teen-friendly clothing to GSAFE’s Youth Leadership Board for their clothing swap events! Not sure if your apparel and accessories are teen-friendly? Bring them by and let our teen volunteers be the judge. You’re welcome to bring donations ahead of time, as well. St. Dunstan’s is glad to host this event, to support GSAFE in their important work supporting kids in Madison’s schools.

Parish Picnic, Sunday, June 11, 12:00pm: Come for good food and good conversation at our annual June parish picnic. We’ll have good food and fun activities for all ages, including our favorite face painter! If you’d like to help with games or activities, contact the office at office@stdunstans.com or 608-238-2781. The picnic will happen rain or shine. Mark your calendar and watch for more details!

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

Sermon, May 7

Who’s heard of Napoleon? The French general? What if I told you that Napoleon was actually… taller than average? This week I read a thought-provoking cartoon written by artist Matthew Inman, for his site The Oatmeal. Matthew uses goofy images to share some of what cognitive scientists have learned about how people respond to new information. It turns out that the response depends on the information – specifically, whether the information challenges an existing idea that’s important to us, that feels central to our worldview. He offers some examples like the one about Napoleon that are pretty easy to take on board. We just think, “Huh. Okay.”

And then he offers a few examples that he suspects some of his readers will find more challenging or unsettling. Like, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist. Neither of those gave me much pause, but your mileage may vary. Or take a piece I read recently that revealed that Margaret Atwood, the author of the famous feminist dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, once spoke up to support a fellow writer who’d been fired from his university job for harassing female students. There’s more friction, more discomfort, in taking in facts like these.

We are not equally open to new ideas. Some are just interesting new information that maybe changes our thinking or outlook a little, but is easy to integrate. Some new ideas stretch us, make us re-examine our assumptions. It might take some inner heavy lifting to take them on board. And some new ideas are so challenging that we shut down entirely. We lock up our minds. We build a wall. It doesn’t matter how persuasive the evidence is – whether that’s evidence in the form of data and facts, or the evidence of someone else’s life experience that casts a new light on our world and our thinking. In fact when something really challenges our deep-seated beliefs, more evidence may actually make us shut down even MORE, in a phenomenon called the backfire effect.

When we encounter a new idea that really shakes up our fundamental understandings, our brains respond the same way we would respond to a physical threat. Which is not by getting more flexible or thoughtful, but by flooding our systems with adrenaline, in preparation to FIGHT off the threat – or run away! In those moments, people get confused. Conflicted. Angry. Kind of like the Pharisees in the 9th and 10th chapters of the gospel of John.

Today’s Gospel is one of the times when we really need to know what came before it. If you start at chapter 10, verse 1, it’s easy to take this as just a theological speech, with no particular context or audience. But in fact the context and the audience are really important – and you know about them, if you were here on March 26. Because we had the 9th chapter of John, that Sunday, and we acted it out, just to make sure you’d remember it! There was a young man who was born blind – his eyes didn’t work. And then Jesus came along, and healed him! And that’s when the trouble began.

The leaders in his church, his synagogue, were confused and upset. This kind of healing is so unusual that it’s clearly a miracle. But does that mean that Jesus is using God’s power? Or is he using the Devil’s power instead, or dark magic? And if he is using God’s power – what does that mean? Because we have heard about this guy Jesus, and a lot of what he teaches is different from the way we understand the faith of our God and our ancestors! And if Jesus DOES have some uniquely close relationship with God, then what does that mean for the monotheism that is the non-negotiable heart of Judaism – there is only, always, ever, ONE God!…

The fact of Jesus’ healing of this young man is new information that is way at the fight or flight end of the spectrum for these Pharisees. Matthew Inman says, There’s no magic trick to get around these moment. All you can do is understand how it works, and when you notice it happening inside yourself, ride out that stress reaction and THEN give the new information a serious look and assess whether and how it should change your thinking. He concludes, “I’m not here to… tell you what to believe. I’m just here to tell you that it’s okay to stop. To listen. To change.” And that is exactly where today’s gospel starts: with Jesus trying to talk the Pharisees down a little bit. To get them to listen. Reflect. Wonder. Change.

We get this Gospel lesson today because at some point the Church named the fourth Sunday of Easter as Good Shepherd Sunday. Every year we have one of the passages where Jesus uses this image of himself as the Shepherd (or in this case, the Gate). And preachers usually preach on the image, the metaphor, and probably I will too, next time around. But once I realized that this is the end of that other story, I got more interested in the context and purpose of the conversation than its content.

This passage, Jesus’ extended metaphor of himself as the Good Shepherd, is the moment in the story of the healing of the blind man when Jesus and the Pharisees finally talk to each other. Before that, there was a lot of talking ABOUT Jesus, who he was and what to do about him. Some of them were saying, This man is not from God, for he performed this act of healing on the Sabbath, when God’s people are commanded to rest. Others were saying, How can a sinner perform such miracles? The Pharisees, this group of local religious leaders and scholars, were divided among themselves – and likely conflicted within themselves. And as the story moves along, their anxiety ratchets up, until they become pretty shrill and angry and panicky. (I have been in that mental space, 100%. Anybody else?) They cast out the Man Born Blind – and Jesus comes back around to affirm that young man in his stubborn faith in the One who gave him sight. And he offers one of his paradoxical pronouncements: “I came into this world to bring sight to those who do not see, and blindness to those who do see.” Some of the Pharisees are hanging around – and they say, “Wait. We’re not blind…?” They’re curious about Jesus, interested enough that they care what he thinks and what he has to say, even though he also upsets and challenges them.

Jesus says, “If you were really blind” – remember, folks, we’re talking about *figuratively* blind – “If you were really blind, nobody could blame you for your failures. But since you think you can see, you are culpable.” And then he starts talking about sheep. And gates. And bandits. And stuff. Reading this passage in light of chapter 9, and noticing the cues about the interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees, has really changed how I imagine the tone of this speech. A lot of sources assume that the “thieves and bandits” are an allusion to the Pharisees themselves, and that Jesus is attacking their leadership here, slamming them. But I think he’s actually trying to reassure them.

Here’s what I think he’s saying: “You have been fierce and valiant defenders of our faith. There have been thieves and bandits, over the centuries, who have tried to change or distort or destroy the faith of our God and our ancestors. There have been false prophets and false messiahs – so many. But I’m not one of them. I am the real thing. And you can know that by the evidence of your own eyes: because you saw how I tended one of my sheep, that young man whose eyes didn’t work, and how he responded to me, following my voice like a sheep who knows its shepherd. Those false prophets did what they did for their own gain, or to sow destruction and death. But God the Gatekeeper sent me here to give life to the sheep – abundant life.”

I think Jesus is trying to win them over, or at least to help them understand. And they don’t react like people who feel attacked. They react like people who are still trying to make sense of a big, hard, challenging new idea. That verse isn’t in today’s lesson but here’s how the scene ends: “Again they were divided because of these words. Many were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind!’ But others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon….’”

Divided. Conflicted. Challenged, but fascinated. Struggling to make sense of an unfamiliar truth. I feel for them. I have absolutely been there. It’s a difficult space, that space between the old and the new ways of thinking. A hard space – but also a holy one. This is why Turning is one of the practices of discipleship that we name and affirm here at St. Dunstan’s: We follow the teaching of Jesus Christ by being open to repentance, transformation, and call. This is why “Seek opportunities to learn, turn, and amend” is on the personal Rule of Life I read to myself every morning. Because one of the most important things that makes the Church not just an especially peculiar and anachronistic social club is our conviction that God isn’t done with us yet. That we don’t have it all figured out on our own. That in the words of one of our hymns, the Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from his Word. That there is deeper and farther to go into the mysteries of God and of our fellow human beings. Knowing that Turning is part of the life of faith is our way of telling ourselves and each other that it’s okay to stop. To listen. To change. Sometimes a new idea or perspective or truth will confuse us and unsettle us, even make us angry; but bit by bit, if we are faithful to the work, listening and wondering and attending to what God is showing us, will transform us into the image of Christ, in whom there is no falsity, and no fear.

In a moment we’ll perform the sacrament of baptism, one of our holiest rites, one of my greatest privileges. In this sacrament we are baptized into certainty: into belonging to a faithful God, marked as Christ’s own forever; into having a loving family of faith that will always welcome and support, no questions asked. But friends, we are also baptized into uncertainty. Into curiosity. Into growth, into change. Into seeking, wondering, repenting, turning. Baptized into life in God who is not done with us yet.

Matthew Inman’s comic may be read here. Language warning! 

Rev. Miranda Reflects on a Week Away

IMG_4646May 4, 2017
Dear friends,
I’m writing, first and foremost, to thank you for being so supportive of my post-Easter trip. It was great to feel that you were encouraging me in this opportunity to spend a little time away, and that there were many able and willing folks who would keep church running smoothly in my absence.
Thanks to a small grant from our diocese (and to my parents’ kindness in staying with our kids!), Phil and I spent a week at Penland School of Crafts, in the mountains of western North Carolina. Phil took a class on paper-cutting, and I took a pottery class. It was wonderful – demanding, refreshing, fun. Spending a week making messy, colorful art in a warm, friendly environment was probably more renewing than any clergy retreat could be!
Penland is just as wonderful as I always imagined it would be. Check out its website to learn more about the place and what happens there.  As we drove (sadly) down the mountain the final day, I found that I had some observations and thoughts to carry home. I think I noticed these things about Penland because they reminded me a little of St. Dunstan’s… but experiencing them at Penland made me think about them in a new way, and wonder whether we could live into them more fully. I’m sharing these thoughts with you (along with a few photos) as a sort of “What I Did On Vacation” report!
 IMG_4415
1. Hospitality in a porous community. 

I was a little bit worried about being a first-timer at Penland, and a relative beginner at my craft. In fact, it was very easy to be there, to learn, connect, find what we needed, and have fun. Penland’s hospitality isn’t the structured kind, of the sign-the-book-and-we’ll-show-you-around variety – perhaps because that kind of hospitality works best when there’s a fairly defined outsider/insider line, and that line doesn’t seem to be in Penland’s mindset. Instead there was a general culture or ethos of expecting newcomers. People – teachers, students, and staff, though there too the lines are fine and flexible – might be there for years, or months, or days, but everyone is there for love of the craft and the place, and it seemed like everyone loved to share about what they do. The big chalkboard in the dining hall outlining each day’s opportunities helped, and so did the maps, but what helped most was just the sense of a community that understands itself to be porous, to have fuzzy edges, and a general readiness to smile at someone and say, “Hey, we’re about to unload the wood-fired kiln, want to come watch?”

I wonder what that could look like in a church?

2. Collaboration and cross-fertilization.
Classes at Penland are taught by visiting artists who may be there for 18 months, 8 weeks, or just a week or so. The artists teaching and assisting during our session did slideshows during the week about their work, and I noticed that they consistently talked about their influences – artists or artistic traditions that had inspired them and shaped their work. And I also noticed experiments in collaboration among the artists at Penland – two potters decorating a mug together; someone in the print studio creating a poster for an event in the metal shop. There was no sense of “turf” or trespass, but rather a wonderful sense of curiosity and possibility. What someone else is doing – even in a totally different area or medium – could connect with what you’re doing to make something remarkable, or give you an idea that could take your work in a new direction.

I wonder what that could look like in a church?

IMG_48053. Place, community practice, and inner life as a united whole. 

While we were at Penland, my mother posted this quotation on Facebook:

“… I found myself thinking in new ways about monastic life as a whole, about how spiritual thought and practice are shaped by landscape and how the experience and perception of living in a place can be deepened through spiritual practice… the ancient Christian contemplative idea of weaving the inner and outer worlds into an integrated vision of the whole had the potential to offer something important to us in the contemporary moment.” – Douglas Christie, The Blue Sapphire of the Mind

Penland seems to have achieved a high degree of integration of sense of place and landscape, of community practice, and of inner life. The inner life is your focus on creativity and craft, your own engagement with matters of skill, beauty, and meaning; the community life is the rhythms of work, mealtime, and fellowship; and then there’s the loveliness of a green valley on a Blue Ridge mountainside. All work together to form a whole that is encompassing, effective, and gracious.

I wonder what that could look like in a church?

Thank you again, friends! And if any of my musings have sparked thoughts for you and you’d like to chat… let me know!

In gratitude and with affection,

Miranda+

Announcements, May 4

THIS WEEKEND…

Holy Baptism, Sunday, May 7, 10am: We will baptize a new member of Christ’s Kingdom, little Harlem. Please welcome the White family as they celebrate this holy occasion among us!

Spring Clean-Up Day, Sunday, May 7, 11:30-1pm: Join us after the 10 am 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! We will wrap up by 1pm.

Visitation and Memorial for Larry Alt, Sunday, May 7, 2:30pm: Larry Alt will be remembered with Visitation at 2:30pm, followed by a Memorial service at 3:30pm. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gloria and the family.

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, May 7, 6pm: Join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

 Birthday and Anniversary Blessings and Healing Prayers will be given this Sunday, May 7, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, May 7: 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 current most needed items: toilet paper & paper towels; oil and butter; ketchup and mayonnaise; dried lentils, garbanzo, or black beans; and baking supplies (all types, including boxed mixes). Thank you for your generous support!

Creation Care Opportunities in our Community: As a follow-up to St. Dunstan’s recent Creation Care Open Meeting, two upcoming public events on Saturday, May 13, offer opportunities consistent with our parish goals for environmental stewardship. Thanks to all who participated in the conversation last weekend!

 Home Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale, Alliant Energy Center, Saturday, May 13th, 10am – 2pm:  This annual sale provides discounted compost bins and rain barrels to area homeowners. This event is part of a community-wide effort by the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership to promote practices that reduce and improve stormwater runoff into Dane County lakes, rivers and streams. Members of St. Dunstan’s who have installed home compost or rainwater collection systems may be able to help you put your own system in place! Note: Supplies are limited! Pre-order at https://rainreserve.com/madison to guarantee availability. Additional information is available at https://www.cityofmadison.com/streets/compost/CompostBinSale.cfm.

Friends of the Arboretum annual Native Plant Sale, Visitors Center, UW-Madison Arboretum, Saturday, May 13th, 9am – 2pm: This sale offers more than 200 species of native plants suitable for a variety of light and soil conditions. No plants are dug from the wild. All are native to the area and, once established, require minimal care. During the sale, experts are available to answer questions. The plant sale is open to all. The sale will take place at the big tent on the lawn in front of Curtis Prairie, near the Visitors Center at the UW-Madison Arboretum. For more information, see https://arboretum.wisc.edu/get-involved/friends/native-plant-sale/.

 THE WEEK AHEAD & BEYOND…

Recovery Eucharist POSTPONED: Please contact Rev. Miranda at office@stdunstans.com or at  238-2781 if you have interest in this event.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, May 10, 1-2:45pm: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition. We meet every month for contemplative prayer and discussing the writings of 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.

Guest Preacher, Sunday, May 14: We welcome Hal Edmonson as our guest preacher this Sunday. Hal was raised in Madison, a stone’s throw from St. Dunstan’s, and is currently pursuing his M.Div. at Harvard Divinity School.

Sunday School, Sunday, May 14, 10am: Next Sunday, our 3 year olds to kindergarten class will learn about the Good Shepherd and World Communion, while our elementary classes will learn about the apostle Stephen and how he died for his faith.

St. Dunstan’s Day All-Ages Worship & Hat and Tie Sunday, May 21: We will celebrate the feast day of our saint, Dunstan, on Sunday, May 21. It’s the 60th anniversary of our parish’s founding and naming! You’re invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie, serious or playful.  Wear your own or borrow one from the collection at church. Easter Sunday saw a fine array of bowties on our members; can we top that number? We will formally welcome new members on this festive day. It’s our custom to take photos of the whole congregation after each service that Sunday; we hope you’ll stay a few moments to participate.

Making Our Grounds an Eternal Home: Discussing a Columbarium for St. Dunstan’s, Sunday, May 21, 9am: At St. Dunstan’s, members are welcome to scatter the ashes of their loved ones on our grounds, with the intention that those ashes become part of the soil of this place. We do not currently have a place or a practice for interring ashes in urns in a columbarium of some sort. Interested members are invited to a conversation about the legal and logistical differences between scattering ashes and interring urns, with the goal of establishing whether there is a desire among our congregation to create a columbarium here. If you have questions or input and can’t attend the meeting, talk with Sharon Bloodgood or Rev. Miranda.

Spirituality of Parenting Lunch, Sunday, May 21, 11:30am: All who seek meaning in the journey of parenthood (at any age or stage) are welcome to come for food and conversation. Child care and a simple meal provided.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, May 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.

Would You Like to Learn how to Tackle a Tree? As one way to approach the many dead trees on our Pine Island, we could take a group to learn about how to remove dead trees – and what to do with them afterwards – at TimberGreen Woods in Spring Green. The date of the training is TBD and could depend on our group. Sign up on the interest sheet in the Gathering Area or talk with Rev. Miranda at 238-2781. Read more about TimberGreen Woods here:

http://timbergreenforestry.com/Full%20Value%20Forestry.html

Teen Clothing Drive for GSAFE: Do you have clothing collecting dust in your closet? Eager to support transgender teenagers struggling to build a wardrobe that makes them feel confident? Swing by St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 28th between 1pm-4pm to donate your gently used, teen-friendly clothing to GSAFE’s Youth Leadership Board for their clothing swap events! Not sure if your apparel and accessories are teen-friendly? Bring them by and let our teen volunteers be the judge. You’re welcome to bring donations ahead of time, as well. St. Dunstan’s is glad to host this event, to support GSAFE in their important work supporting kids in Madison’s schools.

 

Summer Flowers: From June through August, we are trying something new with our altar flowers. We invite members to sign up to *bring* flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist as usual. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We are planting some 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 own vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, after the 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

 

Sermon, April 23

The Rev. Thomas McAlpine preached on Sunday, April 23. The lessons are here. 

Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Today’s Gospel sets before us a rich feast; here we’ll only be able to sample a little of it.

The first thing we might notice is that the Evangelist describes a scene that’s heavy with fear. The doors are locked “for fear of the Jews.” Fear permeated all of what we call Holy Week: the Jewish leadership fearful of things getting out of hand, Pilate fearful of how it will look if he lets Jesus go, the disciples fleeing in fear at Jesus’ arrest…

And this lethal stew of fears is one of our obvious connections with the text. Today there is plenty to be afraid of, and plenty more that various voices are trying to make us afraid of. But in contrast to the emcee in Cabaret, the Church’s invitation is not to leave the troubles and fears outside, but to bring them in—and see what Jesus might do with them.

And in the Gospel Jesus appears. Not a ghost or a resuscitated carcass, his body is…unique. He eats, invites his friends to touch him, goes through locked doors, and often isn’t recognized at first glance. N. T. Wright makes the intriguing suggestion that this body isn’t less physical but more. Jesus walks through locked doors with the same naturalness that we walk through the mists.

There are hints in this first encounter of a new creation: he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit…” As in creation God breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, so here Jesus breaths the beginning of a new creation.

New creation: In the world that Scripture portrays there are two Big Bangs. The first at the beginning of creation: “Let there be light.” The second: that Easter morning.

But it doesn’t stop with new creation. Here’s where it’s important to let each Gospel writer tell their own story. Our Church Year follows Luke’s chronology: the Holy Spirit’s given on Pentecost, 50 days after Easter, & at that point the disciples engage in mission. In John’s chronology, it’s Easter that morning and Pentecost that evening. This Jesus wastes no time: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

By the end of that encounter it looks like Jesus has done pretty much all he needs to do, and there’s no reason to think that he’ll show up again. And this creates a problem, because Thomas, one of the Twelve, was absent, and unwilling to accept the others’ testimony: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

So there’s a whole week in which the other disciples are all “Alleluia” and Thomas is holding out for some evidence. And no one has reason to think that this difference is going to be resolved anytime soon.

So it looks to me as though there are two sorts of miracles in today’s Gospel: Jesus’ appearances and the Twelve still being together at the end of that week. It would have been so easy for Thomas to have been excluded. In the midst of that lethal stew of fears it would have been even easier. And everyone would have been the poorer: Thomas, not encountering the risen Jesus, the others not learning from Thomas’ striking confession “My Lord and my God!”

So here’s our other obvious connection with the text, for pretty much in every age there are issues that threaten to divide Christians. We all—in Paul’s language—“see through a glass, darkly,” and nevertheless find it quite easy to communicate—usually nonverbally—if you think or feel that you don’t belong here. The fears in our environment make that even easier.

Well—it’s hard to think of an issue more basic than whether Jesus is alive or still in the tomb. Yet there Thomas is with the other disciples at the end of the week.

I wish the Evangelist had spelled out how that happened. But I think the Evangelist has given us some clues. Here are three; you may see others.

·         Just a few days ago Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet and said “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” My sister’s or brother’s feet matter more than my dignity, my perceptions. So perhaps that had something to do with the disciples’ being together at the end of the week.

·         Later Jesus had said “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Love is easy and natural when we’re in agreement on the important stuff… So perhaps the disciples actually heard some of what Jesus was saying and so stayed together.

·         And later Jesus had said “You did not choose me but I chose you.” The disciples aren’t together because they chose to be together but because what they have in common is that Jesus chose them. (What if that’s true today? Take a look around the sanctuary. What if we’re together because the fundamental thing we have in common is that Jesus chose us?) So, perhaps they’re still together at the end of the week because it’s sunk in that being together is not a matter of their choice.

Whatever the combination of reasons, a week later they’re together, and Jesus again appears. Jesus gives Thomas what he needs; Thomas’ confession is a gift to that and subsequent generations.

One of the questions these stories of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances deal with is how Jesus may be encountered by the readers, by us. So Luke’s story of the road to Emmaus presents a sort of mini-Eucharist, with Jesus explaining the Word, and then breaking bread at the Table. Word and Table. So John here suggests that encountering the risen Jesus has something to do with staying together—Thomas and all.

One final thing to notice: that last verse in our reading. It uses the plural, and so the KJV: “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” And the story we’ve just heard may suggest what believing together might mean in the midst of disagreements: washing each other’s feet, loving each other, recognizing that we are together because what we finally have in common is that Jesus has called us.

Announcements, April 27

THIS WEEKEND… 

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, April 28, 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 Cocina Real on 2518 Allen Blvd. in Middleton.

Outreach meeting, Saturday, April 29, 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.

Last Sunday All-Ages Worship, Sunday, April 30, 10am: Our last Sunday worship will focus on the Gospel story of two disciples’ walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Father John Rasmus will preach and celebrate. Our last Sunday worship is intended especially to help kids (and grownups who are new to our pattern of worship) to engage and participate fully. NOTE: Our 8am service always follows our regular order of worship.

How Shall We Care for Our Waters? Creation Care Open Meeting, Sunday, April 30, 9am OR 11:30am: Caring for God’s creation is a core aspect of St. Dunstan’s mission and identity. To live this out, our parish Creation Care Task Force invites us to set two or three simple, achievable goals for better environmental stewardship each year. For the first year of this practice, we have identified Water as the focus – as in the water that sustains life, the water of our beautiful lakes, the waters of baptism! At this open meeting, we’ll briefly explore local and global challenges related to water, and choose 2 – 3 simple steps we can take, as individuals and/or as a parish, to be better stewards of water. If you have questions, or can’t attend but have ideas, talk with John Laedlein.

Middle School Lunch & Learn, Sunday, April 30, 12-1pm: JonMichael Rasmus will be meeting with the 10-and-up youth of the parish for lunch after church this Sunday. Conversations will dig around faith, Scripture, life, and our questions about all three. We’ll wrap up by 1pm, and we can arrange rides home for the kids if that helps the parents’ schedules.

Weeders Wanted! While we allow much of our property to flourish on its own terms, we do try to keep the garden beds in front of the church, around our sign, and outside the windows of the nave looking pretty and tidy. Would you like to help by taking responsibility for one of these areas for the growing season? A visit every couple of weeks should be enough, and you’re welcome to share the work with a buddy. A “Weeders Wanted” signup is in the Gathering Area.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

URINETOWN, May 4 – 6 at 7:30pm at the Middleton Performing Arts Center:  In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides that he’s had enough and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom! Urinetown is a darkly humorous satire which raises keen questions about freedom and survival. Members of St. Dunstan’s with an interest in creation care are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $10 ($8 students and seniors) and can be purchased at https://mhswi.booktix.com . A group will attend together on Thursday night, May 4.

Birthday and Anniversary Blessings and Healing Prayers will be given next Sunday, May 7, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, May 7: Next Sunday, half the cash in our offering plate and any designated checks will be given to Middleton Outreach Ministry’s food pantry. Here are the current top-ten, most needed items: toilet paper & paper towels; shelf-stable dairy/non-dairy beverages; oil and butter; whole grains: rice, quinoa, barley; nut butter (other than peanut butter – allergy); ketchup and mayonnaise; dried lentils, garbanzo, or black beans; canned tomato products; prepared meals in cans or boxes; baking supplies (all types, including boxed mixes). Thank you for your generous support!

Holy Baptism, Sunday, May 7, 10am: We will baptize a new member of Christ’s Kingdom, little Harlem. Please welcome the White family as they celebrate this holy occasion among us!

Spring Clean-Up Day, Sunday, May 7, 12-2pm: Join us after the 10 am 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! A list of tasks will be posted by Sunday, April 23rd.

– Lunch Host(s) Needed for Clean-Up Day! Would you like to prepare a simple meal to feed our workers? We could use your help. Food expenses can be reimbursed. Contact Rev. Miranda at 238-2781 oroffice@stdunstans.com.

Visitation and Memorial for Larry Alt, Sunday, May 7, 2:30pm: Larry Alt will be remembered with Visitation at 2:30pm, followed by a Memorial service at 3:30pm. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gloria and the family.

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, May 7, 6pm: Join us for a simple service before the week begins. All are welcome.

Recovery Eucharist, Tuesday, May 9, 5:30pm: The Recovery Eucharist, celebrated in many churches around the country, is designed for those recovering from any addiction and for those who support them in their recovery.  Elements of the service are drawn from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, and the 12 Step readings. The Eucharist (Holy Communion) will be celebrated with grape juice instead of wine. All are welcome; feel free to invite a friend. A Beginners’ AA meeting follows at 7pm, in the Meeting Room; this AA meeting is held weekly at St. Dunstan’s, and anyone is welcome to attend.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, May 10, 1-2:45pm: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition. We meet every month for contemplative prayer and discussing the writings of 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.

Guest Preacher, Sunday, May 14: We welcome Hal Edmonson as our guest preacher this Sunday. Hal was raised in Madison, a stone’s throw from St. Dunstan’s, and is currently pursuing his M.Div. at Harvard Divinity School.

St. Dunstan’s Day All-Ages Worship & Hat and Tie Sunday, May 21: We will celebrate the feast day of our saint, Dunstan, on Sunday, May 21. You’re invited to mark the occasion by dressing up with a fancy hat and/or tie, serious or playful.  Wear your own or borrow one from the collection at church. Easter Sunday saw a fine array of bowties on our members; can we top that number? We will formally welcome new members on this festive day. It’s our custom to take photos of the whole congregation after each service that Sunday; we hope you’ll stay a few moments to participate.

Making Our Grounds an Eternal Home: Discussing a Columbarium for St. Dunstan’s, Sunday, May 21, 9am: At St. Dunstan’s, members are welcome to scatter the ashes of their loved ones on our grounds, with the intention that those ashes become part of the soil of this place. We do not currently have a place or a practice for interring ashes in urns in a columbarium of some sort. Interested members are invited to a conversation about the legal and logistical differences between scattering ashes and interring urns, with the goal of establishing whether there is a desire among our congregation to create a columbarium here. If you have questions or input and can’t attend the meeting, talk with Sharon Bloodgood  or Rev. Miranda.

Summer Flowers: From June through August, we are trying something new with our altar flowers. We invite members to sign up to *bring* flowers, instead of ordering them through our florist as usual. During these months, local flowers are readily available, at the farmer’s market or in your own gardens. We are planting some 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 own vase, or one of the vases here at church. Please take your flowers home, or give them to a friend, after the 10am service. Questions? Talk with Gail Jordan-Jones or Rev. Miranda.

 

 

Announcements, April 20

THIS WEEKEND… 

Islam from the Heart of our Muslim Neighbors: Forthright Questions and Honest Answers, Saturday, April 22, 9am – 1pm, hosted by St. Dunstan’s Church: This event, organized by a coalition of local advocacy groups, will be a unique opportunity to meet local Muslims and to ask questions about the practices and beliefs of Islam, to address the many misconceptions that fuel our divisions.

Men’s Book Club, Saturday, April 22, 10am: The book is All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. Warren wrote the book in 1946 to enormous critical acclaim and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1947. It’s about Huey Pierce Long, Jr., self-nicknamed The Kingfish, who was an American politician who served as the 40th governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a member of the United States Senate from 1932 until his death from assassination in 1935. There is something about Huey, his combination of magnificent abilities and a genuine if primitive idealism with bottomless corruption and lust for power, which fascinates the literary was well as the political mind.

Clergy Presence during Rev. Miranda’s Travel:  Rev. Miranda will be away from April 23 through May 2. Father Tom McAlpine will celebrate and preach on Sunday, April 23, and Father John Rasmus will celebrate and preach on Sunday, April 30. If you need the care or counsel of a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence, you may reach Father Tom  or Father John at (608) 238-2781.

Acolyte training, Sunday, April 23rd at 9:00 am: All aspiring acolytes are welcome. This is a refresher course for our continuing acolytes as well.

Sunday School, Sunday, April 23, 10am: Our 3-5 year old class will explore the Faces of Easter, while our elementary classes will learn about Jesus’ visit to his disciples after he rose from the dead. Our Sunday school classes usually meet on the second and third Sundays of every month. All kids are welcome!

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday April 23, 7pm: Every fourth Sunday, a loyal group of St. Dunstan’s folk provides dinner for residents at the Grace Church shelter, and breakfast the next morning. See the signup sheet in the Gathering Area to help out. To learn more, talk with Rose Mueller.

Weeders Wanted! While we allow much of our property to flourish on its own terms, we do try to keep the garden beds in front of the church, around our sign, and outside the windows of the nave looking pretty and tidy. Would you like to help by taking responsibility for one of these areas for the growing season? A visit every couple of weeks should be enough, and you’re welcome to share the work with a buddy. A “Weeders Wanted” signup is in the Gathering Area.

Volunteers Needed for DeCanstruction, Sunday, April 30, 7:00pm: Help take apart the giant sculptures built from cans and boxes of food, as part of this year’s CanStruction competition, a food- and fund-raiser for Middleton Outreach Ministry. This year’s CanStruction will take place at West Towne Mall, and structures can be viewed there all week, starting Monday, April 17. To help with the “de-Canstruction” work, you must be reasonably able-bodied (but not everybody has to do heavy lifting). Sign up in the Gathering Area if you’d like to join this year’s team; we are looking for a team of 4 – 6 people.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for the month of May! Please consider being a coffee host. Contact Janet Bybee  for more information.

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

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Gospel of John Study Group Last Session, April 26, 6:30-8:30pm at the McAlpine’s: This year the Daily Office Lectionary has us reading the Gospel of John from the last week of Epiphany through the second week of Easter. All are welcome as we conclude our reading of this challenging and important Gospel. We meet at the McAlpine home in Fitchburg; check your directory or call the church office at 238-2781 for more information.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, April 28, 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 Cocina Real at 2518 Allen Blvd. in Middleton.

Outreach meeting, Saturday, April 29, 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.

Last Sunday All-Ages Worship, Sunday, April 30, 10am: Our last Sunday worship will focus on the Gospel story of two disciples’ walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Father John Rasmus will preach and celebrate. Our last Sunday worship is intended especially to help kids (and grownups who are new to our pattern of worship) to engage and participate fully. NOTE: Our 8am service always follows our regular order of worship.

How Shall We Care for Our Waters? Creation Care Open Meeting, Sunday, April 30, 9am OR 11:30am: Caring for God’s creation is a core aspect of St. Dunstan’s mission and identity. To live this out, our parish Creation Care Task Force invites us to set two or three simple, achievable goals for better environmental stewardship each year. For the first year of this practice, we have identified Water as the focus – as in the water that sustains life, the water of our beautiful lakes, the waters of baptism! At this open meeting, we’ll briefly explore local and global challenges related to water, and choose 2 – 3 simple steps we can take, as individuals and/or as a parish, to be better stewards of water. If you have questions, or can’t attend but have ideas, talk with John Laedlein.

URINETOWN, May 4 – 6 at 7:30pm at the Middleton Performing Arts Center:  In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides that he’s had enough and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom! Urinetown is a darkly humorous satire which raises keen questions about freedom and survival. Members of St. Dunstan’s with an interest in creation care are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $10 ($8 students and seniors) and can be purchased at https://mhswi.booktix.com . A group will attend together on Thursday night, May 4.

Spring Clean-Up Day, Sunday, May 7, 12-2pm: Join us after the 10 am 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! A list of tasks will be posted by Sunday, April 23rd.

– Lunch Host(s) Needed for Clean-Up Day! Would you like to prepare a simple meal to feed our workers? We could use your help. Food expenses can be reimbursed. Contact Rev. Miranda at 238-2781 or office@stdunstans.com.

6205 University Ave., Madison WI