Announcements, July 19th

THIS WEEKEND….  

Eucharist with Holy Baptism, Sunday, July 22, 10am: We rejoice to celebrate the baptisms of Andrea (Andi) and Magdalena Becerra in our worship this weekend.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Open Door Project Update: So when do we start? Our total pledged stands at $1,064,451 – an amazing sum for a church our size, and pledges are still coming in! Thanks to these generous gifts, we anticipate that we will be able to fulfill most or all of our plans. People are naturally curious to know when we’ll be able to actually start the renovation work. The Vestry and Buildings & Grounds leadership, in consultation with capital campaign leaders, are beginning to explore next steps towards turning our vision into reality. Our next step is to interview general contractors and identify a company to work with, in collaboration with our architectural partners, Engberg Anderson Architects. There is a lot to figure out before we begin knocking down any walls. We need to set up financing so that we can do the work while pledge payments are still coming in, and we need to work with the contractor and architects to establish the best sequence for our projects. (For example, the parking lot, though it seems like we’d want to do it early because it’s in bad shape, will probably be one of the last things we do, because the heavy equipment brought in to do other work might damage the pavement.) We know we’re all eager to begin to see what our generosity can do to transform this place – and it’s a bummer to begin another year of Sunday school and youth group in cramped spaces. But improvements are coming – and soon! We will keep the parish updated about plans and timelines, as they take shape.

Criminal Justice Reform in Wisconsin, Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30 pm: A presentation and discussion of criminal justice reform and the work of MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, & Solidarity). We will welcome presenters Tom and Jan Gilbert, Middleton residents and members of MOSES, as they shine light on the many areas of our criminal justice system that need addressing and why it matters.  We hope to see you there!

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, July 25, 1:00 – 2:45pm: A Julian Gathering is for 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 and reading/discussion of St. Julian’s revelations.  We meet the second Wednesday of each month.  For additional information, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Open Office Hours with Rev. Miranda, Thursday, July 26, 3-5pm, and Sunday, July 29, 12-2pm: If you want to visit with Rev. Miranda before her sabbatical, to hear a little about her plans or just chat and check in, she has set aside some time to be available. If you want to talk with Rev. Miranda but can’t make these times, email office@stdunstans.com or call 608-469-7085. Rev. Miranda will be back at St. Dunstan’s at the end of October.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, July 27, 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 The Nile, 6119 Odana Road, Madison. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt at kathwhitt@yahoo.com or call Debra Martinez at (6080 772-6043.

Lost & Found:  Please take a moment to look at the Lost & Found items in the coat room and reclaim your items. There are many items including several hats and gloves, a knit scarf, a stuffed animal, a couple of umbrellas and a carry-all. Unclaimed items will be given away after August 5th.

SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon. If you’d like to help out, talk to Sharon Henes or email her at shenes@myfrontiermail.com.

Women’s Mini Week 2018, “Courageous Women of God!” August 9-12 at Camp Lakotah in Wautoma, WI:

Come and join us for Women’s Mini Week to get some sun on your cheeks and we aren’t a bunch of geeks

You can play on the beach or listen to Rev. Liz preach

There are fun activities and games, you won’t think this is lame

Lovely camp fires for your hearts desire

End your weekend, with many new friends.

More info at www.womensminiweek.org  Scholarships are readily available.

School Supplies for Middleton Outreach Ministry:  Although we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy, the ads are encouraging us to think about “Back to School!”  And, that means it is time to think about school supply donations for the MOM Backpack program.  You are always so generous with your contributions, giving students the chance to have the needed items to succeed in school! Please check the Gathering Space for the collection box and lists of most needed items. Deadline for contributions is Sunday, August 12! Thank you!

STAFF NEWS…

Parish Leadership During Rev. Miranda’s Sabbatical:Leadership during our Rector’s sabbatical will be a team effort. Father Jonathan Melton, the campus minister at St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center on the UW campus, will preach and preside most Sunday mornings. Father Jonathan’s primary commitment during the week is to his work at St. Francis House, so week-to-week oversight of church life will be shared by our Wardens, Shirley Laedlein and Michelle Der Bedrosian, and two of our associate clergy, Father John Rasmus and Father Tom McAlpine. Sharon Henes is the point person for our Parish Renewal calendar. Most of our ongoing ministries and events will continue as usual. As always, with general questions, contact Ann in the parish office at (608) 238-2781 or office@stdunstans.com . Ann is usually in the office 8am – 2pm on Monday, Friday, and either Wednesday or Thursday. Please read the “Covenant Agreement” and “What You Need To Know” pages for more information.

PRAYERS

We pray for all people to be held in God’s unfailing care and love, especially Berr, Dirk, Maryanne, Clint, Robert, Natalie, John, Chuck, Tina, Jeni and Gene, Kim,  Michael, Eliot, Terry, Ginny, Marie, Sagu (SAH-goo), Terri and Mike. Pray for all people of the world, and for these military personnel and their families: Diane, Nicholas, Brent, Eric, Alice, Danel (“dan-YELL”), Sam, Mia, Tim, Sam, Alyssa, Brian, Nawal, Josh, Nathan, and Ben, and their families.

Announcements, July 15

News & Notes – July 15, 2018

TODAY….  

Resources for Kids at Worship: We have many resources for kids at church during the summer. The “Sunday Papers” (in versions for older and younger kids) introduces the day’s Bible lessons. We also have reflective coloring pages based on texts from the Sunday readings. These are always available on the way into church and on the coloring table at the back of church. In addition, kids can pick up a “Big Blue Bible” on the way into church. A bookmark in the Bible will direct them to a version of one of the day’s Bible stories, in an illustrated version appropriate for an elementary-level reader.

THE WEEKS AHEAD….

Vestry Meeting, Wednesday, July 18th at 6:45pm: The Vestry is the elected leadership body of our parish. Any members are welcome to attend our meetings, to observe or raise questions or ideas.

Second Summer Bat Count, Friday, July 21, 8:30pm: If you enjoy counting bats and learning more about our little furry flying friends, come to church Friday night, July 21, for our mid-summer (post-volancy, that is, after baby bats) count. We count our bats as participants in statewide monitoring of the health of bat colonies. The bats will likely be emerging around 9pm; come by 8:30, we’ll have a fire going in the fire bowl. If you have favorite bug spray, you may want to bring it!

Criminal Justice Reform in Wisconsin, Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30 pm: A presentation and discussion of criminal justice reform and the work of MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, & Solidarity). We will welcome presenters Tom and Jan Gilbert, Middleton residents and members of MOSES, as they shine light on the many areas of our criminal justice system that need addressing and why it matters. The Gilberts spoke to the St. Dunstan’s Outreach committee earlier this year and we were so moved by their presentation that we want to share it with the whole congregation. We hope to see you there!

Sandbox Worship: We’ll plan to gather again on July 19 and 26, before taking a longer hiatus during Rev. Miranda’s sabbatical.

Open Office Hours with Rev. Miranda, Thursday, July 26, 3-5pm, and Sunday, July 29, 12-2pm: If you want to visit with Rev. Miranda before her sabbatical, to hear a little about her plans or just chat and check in, she has set aside some time to be available. If you want to talk with Rev. Miranda but can’t make these times, email office@stdunstans.com or call 608-238-2781. Rev. Miranda will be back at St. Dunstan’s at the end of October.

STAFF NEWS…

Meet our New Office Coordinator, Ann! Ann McGrath has joined our staff as our new Office Coordinator. Ann lives in Lodi, Wisconsin, with her husband Brooks and two little girls. She has a small farmer’s market business selling homemade jams, jellies and pickles. She’s very excited to be here and looks forward to meeting everyone!

Rev. Miranda will be on sabbatical for August, September, and October. The Rev. Jonathan Melton, chaplain at St Francis House Episcopal Student Center and friend of St. Dunstan’s, and his family will be with us on Sundays during Miranda’s absence, while Father John Rasmus and Father Tom McAlpine will coordinate with staff and lay leadership to help keep the daily life of the parish running and be available to those who need special prayer or counsel. To arrange a visit with one of our clergy or to alert us that someone else may need a visit, please talk to Father Jonathan, Father Tom or Father John on a Sunday, or contact the church office at 238-2781 or office@stdunstans.com. Prayer requests, as always, may be sent to prayers@stdunstans.com.

SUMMER…

SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon. 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.

School supplies needed for Middleton Outreach Ministry: Although we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy, the ads are encouraging us to think about “Back to School!”  And, that means it is time to think about school supply donations for the MOM Backpack program.  You are always so generous with your contributions, giving students the chance to have the needed items to succeed in school! Please check the Gathering Space for the collection box and lists of most needed items. Deadline for contributions is SUNDAY, AUGUST 12!  THANK YOU!!!

PRAYERS

We pray for all people to be held in God’s unfailing care and love, especially Berr, Doris, Dirk, Maryanne, Clint, Robert, Natalie; Rose, Jerry and Brent; John, Sue, Charles, Tina, Jeni and Gene, Kim,  Michael, Eliot, Terry, Ginny, Marie, Sagu (SAH-goo), Terri and Mike. Pray for all people of the world, and for these military personnel and their families: Diane, Nicholas, Brent, Eric, Alice, Danel (“dan-YELL”), Sam, Mia, Tim, Sam, Alyssa, Brian, Nawal, Josh, Nathan, and Ben, and their families.

 

Announcements, July 5

THIS WEEKEND…

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, July 7, 10am: The book is Deep, Down, Dark by Hector Tobar. It is the untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free. HAVE A GOOD READ.

General Convention, July 4 – 13:  This summer our church holds its triennial gathering in Austin, TX, and Rev. Miranda will attend as an alternate deputy from our diocese. To get news from our deputation, follow “The Diocese of Milwaukee at General Convention” on Facebook or email info@diomil.org to subscribe to our diocesan e-news.

The Rev. Tom McAlpine will preach and celebrate on Sunday, July 8, while Miranda is away serving the larger church. Father Tom will be available if anyone urgently needs to speak with a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence.

 Resources for Kids at Worship: We have many resources for kids at church during the summer. The “Sunday Papers” (in versions for older and younger kids) introduces the day’s Bible lessons. We also have reflective coloring pages based on texts from the Sunday readings. These are always available on the way into church and on the coloring table at the back of church. In addition, kids can pick up a “Big Blue Bible” on the way into church. A bookmark in the Bible will direct them to a version of one of the day’s Bible stories, in an illustrated version appropriate for an elementary-level reader.

 Composing Together: Psalm Refrain, Sunday, July 8, 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.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, July 11, 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.

Vestry Meeting, Wednesday, July 18th at 6:45pm: The Vestry is the elected leadership body of our parish.  Any members are welcome to attend our meetings, to observe or raise questions or ideas.

Criminal Justice Reform in Wisconsin, Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30 pm: A presentation and discussion of criminal justice reform and the work of MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, & Solidarity). We will welcome presenters Tom and Jan Gilbert, Middleton residents and members of MOSES, as they shine light on the many areas of our criminal justice system that need addressing and why it matters. The Gilberts spoke to the St. Dunstan’s Outreach committee earlier this year and we were so moved by their presentation that we want to share it with the whole congregation. We hope to see you there!

Sandbox Worship: NOTE: NO SANDBOX for the next few weeks. We’ll plan to gather again on July 19 and 26, before taking a longer hiatus during Rev. Miranda’s sabbatical.

 SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon. 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: Ladies, do you need a long blessed weekend away? Do you know of other women in your lives that could benefit from such a weekend? Women’s miniweek -an annual retreat for adult women, offers opportunities for relaxation, friendship, refuge and renewal. Once again we will be at Camp Lakota (formally Camp Webb) in Wautoma, WI. 180 acres of beautiful pine and oak forest, nestled
along the shores of Little Hills Lake. The weekend is geared toward honoring the participants. It provides the opportunity for them to learn new things, make new friends, take long naps and not do dishes! It is a welcome respite from all the cares of life. This will be the 42nd year for Miniweek and it started here at St. Dunstan’s! Talk to Dianne McCoy, Shirley Laedlein, Rose Mueller,Connie Ott, Robin Ertl, Laura Norby, Ellen Rishel about Miniweek for memory sharing. Dates – August 9-12
More info at www.womensminiweek.org  There are scholarships readily available.

Diocesan Opportunities to Serve:  If you are interested in having a greater role in the Diocese, there are several positions becoming available. Open nominations are happening from now until August 13, 2018. To learn more about the positions, talk with Rev. Miranda and/or see the information sheets posted under the bulletin board calendar.

STAFF NEWS…

Rev. Miranda will be on sabbatical for August, September, and October. The Rev. Jonathan Melton, chaplain at St Francis House Episcopal Student Center and friend of St. Dunstan’s, and his family will be with us on Sundays during Miranda’s absence, while Father John Rasmus and Father Tom McAlpine will coordinate with staff and lay leadership to help keep the daily life of the parish running and be available to those who need special prayer or counsel. To arrange a visit with one of our clergy or to alert us that someone else may need a visit, please talk to Father Jonathan, Father Tom or Father John on a Sunday, or contact the church office at 238-2781 or office@stdunstans.com. Prayer requests, as always, may be sent to prayers@stdunstans.com.

Announcements, June 27

THIS WEEKEND…

Outreach Committee Meeting, Saturday, June 30, 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.

Birthday and Anniversary blessings and Healing Prayers will be given next Sunday, July 1, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, July 1: 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 a few of the current top-ten, most needed items: pouches/cans chicken or ham; whole grains: rice, quinoa, barley; olive oil; canned or dried tomatoes; honey, stevia; dried fruit; toilet paper/paper towels; nut butters (think allergies). Thank you for your generous support!

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, July 1, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Resources for Kids at Worship: We have many resources for kids at church during the summer. The “Sunday Papers” (in versions for older and younger kids) introduces the day’s Bible lessons. We also have reflective coloring pages based on texts from the Sunday readings. These are always available on the way into church and on the coloring table at the back of church. In addition, kids can pick up a “Big Blue Bible” on the way into church. A bookmark in the Bible will direct them to a version of one of the day’s Bible stories, in an illustrated version appropriate for an elementary-level reader.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

General Convention, July 4 – 13:  This summer our church holds its triennial gathering in Austin, TX, and Rev. Miranda will attend as an alternate deputy from our diocese. To get news from our deputation, follow “The Diocese of Milwaukee at General Convention” on Facebook or email info@diomil.org to subscribe to our diocesan e-news. The Rev. Tom McAlpine will preach and celebrate on Sunday, July 8, while Miranda is away serving the larger church. Father Tom will be available if anyone urgently needs to speak with a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence.

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, July 7, 10am: The book is Deep, Down, Dark by Hector Tobar. It is the untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free. When the San Jose mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped 33 miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking 69 days. In a master work, Hector Tobar tells a miraculous emotionally textured account of the 33 men who came to think of San mine as a kind of coffin, as a “cave” inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer while the world watched from above. HAVE A GOOD READ.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for July 8 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, July 11, 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.

Vestry Meeting, Wednesday, July 18th at 6:45pm: The Vestry is the elected leadership body of our parish.  Any members are welcome to attend our meetings, to observe or raise questions or ideas.

Learn about Restorative Justice in Middleton, Tuesday, July 24, 6 – 7:30pm: The Community Restorative Court work with victims, offenders, residents, and community stakeholders to help provide a non-traditional approach to restoring harmony and balance in neighborhoods affected by crime. Several St. Dunstan’s folks have gotten involved. Hear more about this effort at this gathering at the Middleton Public Library, “Introducing the Middleton Community Restorative Court: Repairing Harm, Reducing Risk, and Rebuilding Community.”

Presentation: Criminal Justice Reform, Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30 pm: St. Dunstan’s Outreach Committee invites you to a presentation about Criminal Justice Reform and the work of MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, & Solidarity). We will welcome presenters Tom and Jan Gilbert, members of MOSES, as they shine light on the many areas of our criminal justice system that need addressing and why it matters.

STAFF NEWS…

Meet our New Office Coordinator, Ann! Ann McGrath is joining our staff as our new Office Coordinator. Ann lives in Lodi, Wisconsin, with her husband Brooks and two little girls. She has a small farmer’s market business selling homemade jams, jellies and pickles. She’s very excited to be here and looks forward to meeting everyone!

Pamela Street, who has served as our Office Coordinator for four years, is retiring at the end of this month. Pamela is looking forward to having more time to spend with her family. We are so grateful for the gifts of organization, communication, and collaboration, and the warm and friendly spirit Pamela has shared with our parish during her time here! If you’d like to thank Pamela in person, come by on Friday, June 29, between 11am and noon.

Deanna Clement honored with Frazer Scholarship: Our Director of Music Ministry, Deanna Clement, has been chosen as the recipient of the first Frazer Scholarship. The scholarship fund is stewarded by St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center, and is awarded to a UW-Madison student who embodies the gifts of holy movement, holy stability, and holy friendship. We celebrate with Deanna and are glad to count her among our holy friends here at St. Dunstan’s!

SUMMER…

SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon. 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: Ladies, do you need a long blessed weekend away? Do you know of other women in your lives that could benefit from such a weekend? Women’s miniweek -an annual retreat for adult women, offers opportunities for relaxation, friendship, refuge and renewal. Once again we will be at Camp Lakota (formally Camp Webb) in Wautoma, WI. 180 acres of beautiful pine and oak forest, nestled
along the shores of Little Hills Lake. The weekend is geared toward honoring the participants. It provides the opportunity for them to learn new things, make new friends, take long naps and not do dishes! It is a welcome respite from all the cares of life. This will be the 42nd year for Miniweek and it started here at St. Dunstan’s! Talk to Dianne McCoy, Shirley Laedlein, Rose Mueller,Connie Ott, Robin Ertl, Laura Norby, Ellen Rishel about Miniweek for memory sharing. Dates – August 9-12
More info at www.womensminiweek.org  There are scholarships readily available:)

Announcements, June 21

THIS WEEKEND…

Sandbox Worship, Thursday evening, 5:30pm: We will have simple worship with shared reflection on the Lord’s Prayer, followed by a light meal (provided). All are welcome!

NOTE: NO SANDBOX for the next few weeks. We’ll plan to gather again on July 19 and 26, before taking a longer hiatus during Rev. Miranda’s sabbatical.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, June 22, 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 Common Grounds, 2644 Branch Street in Middleton. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Rev. Miranda’s Vacation: Rev. Miranda will be on vacation from June 23 through 30. Father John Rasmus will preach and celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday, June 24. Father John will be available if anyone urgently needs to speak with a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence.

Resources for Kids at Worship: We have many resources for kids at church during the summer. The “Sunday Papers” (in versions for older and younger kids) introduces the day’s Bible lessons. We also have reflective coloring pages based on texts from the Sunday readings. These are always available on the way into church and on the coloring table at the back of church. In addition, kids can pick up a “Big Blue Bible” on the way into church. A bookmark in the Bible will direct them to a version of one of the day’s Bible stories, in an illustrated version appropriate for an elementary-level reader.

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, June 24, 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.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Outreach Committee Meeting, Saturday, June 30, 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.

Birthday and Anniversary blessings and Healing Prayers will be given next Sunday, July 1, as is our custom on the first Sunday of the month.

MOM Special Offering, Sunday, July 1: 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 a few of the current top-ten, most needed items: pouches/cans chicken or ham; whole grains: rice, quinoa, barley; olive oil; canned or dried tomatoes; honey, stevia; dried fruit; toilet paper/paper towels; nut butters (think allergies). Thank you for your generous support!

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, July 1, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

General Convention, July 4 – 13:  This summer our church holds its triennial gathering in Austin, TX, and Rev. Miranda will attend as an alternate deputy from our diocese. To get news from our deputation, follow “The Diocese of Milwaukee at General Convention” on Facebook or email info@diomil.org to subscribe to our diocesan e-news. The Rev. Tom McAlpine will preach and celebrate on Sunday, July 8, while Miranda is away serving the larger church. Father Tom will be available if anyone urgently needs to speak with a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence.

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, July 7, 10am: The book is Deep, Down, Dark by Hector Tobar. It is the untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free. When the San Jose mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped 33 miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking 69 days. In a master work, Hector Tobar tells a miraculous emotionally textured account of the 33 men who came to think of San mine as a kind of coffin, as a “cave” inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer while the world watched from above. HAVE A GOOD READ.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, July 11, 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.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Preach in La Crosse, WI, on June 23: Our Presiding Bishop will speak at two worship services in the La Crosse area, to commemorate the first Christian worship in the La Crosse area back in 1850. There will be a short service at Granddad Bluff at 11am, followed by a festive Eucharist at Christ Church, La Crosse, at noon. Christ Church is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Madison.

STAFF NEWS…

Meet our New Office Coordinator, Ann! Ann McGrath is joining our staff as our new Office Coordinator. Ann lives in Lodi, Wisconsin, with her husband Brooks and two little girls. She has a small farmer’s market business selling homemade jams, jellies and pickles. She’s very excited to be here and looks forward to meeting everyone!

Pamela Street, who has served as our Office Coordinator for four years, is retiring at the end of this month. Pamela is looking forward to having more time to spend with her family. We are so grateful for the gifts of organization, communication, and collaboration, and the warm and friendly spirit Pamela has shared with our parish during her time here! If you’d like to thank Pamela in person, come by on Friday, June 29, between 11am and noon.

Deanna Clement honored with Frazer Scholarship: Our Director of Music Ministry, Deanna Clement, has been chosen as the recipient of the first Frazer Scholarship. The scholarship fund is stewarded by St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center, and is awarded to a UW-Madison student who embodies the gifts of holy movement, holy stability, and holy friendship. We celebrate with Deanna and are glad to count her among our holy friends here at St. Dunstan’s!

SUMMER…

SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon. 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.

Homily, June 17

My daughter and I have a little early-summer routine, a special mother-daughter ritual. We watch for our gooseberry and currant bushes to leaf out and begin to set fruit. We look for signs that the plants are being attacked by the larva of the gooseberry sawfly – tiny green caterpillars that will devour the leaves, laying a whole plant bare, if they get the chance. We find a time and go outside together, pluck the larva off the bushes, and murder them by drowning them in a container of soapy water. I treasure these shared moments. 

The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.

If you’ve ever soaked a bean and tucked it in to sleep in a Dixie cup of potting soil, you have seen the mystery of growth. How does a plant that spreads and climbs as tall as me emerge from a bean the size of the tip of my pinky finger? How does something little get big? How does something simple and unformed become complex and complete? The seed sprouts and grows, he does not know how. 

Growth is a mystery and a wonder. Even if you understand the processes at work, it’s still amazing that it works. That’s what Jesus wants us to notice, with this parable. But if you plant something hoping for a particular outcome, you don’t just sit on your hands.You don’t just sleep and rise night and day, and look out your window at the garden now and then. 

You pick off the sawfly caterpillars. You mend your irrigation system that some creature has nibbled over the winter. You break off some of the green fruit so the young tree won’t fruit too heavily and break itself. Maybe you even take a Q-tip and patiently pollinate the flowers, as I did with our church kumquat tree last week. You help and direct the growth; you give the growing plant what it needs, and protect it from pests and other threats. 

With the best care in the world, there are no guarantees. A late frost, an early blight, a bad batch of seed, a hungry and ambitious rabbit – anything can happen. But sometimes it all comes together –  our care and efforts, and the living force of growth – that dearest freshness that lives deep down things, in the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. It all comes together, and something flourishes. Something matures.  Something bears fruit. 

Of course, we are not simply talking about plants. Human processes are similar – both within us and among us. Fulfillment is slow and uncertain. In today’s text from First Samuel, young David is anointed king. He doesn’t actually become king for another fifteen years – after serving in King Saul’s court, having to flee and hide from Saul and his armies, and leading a rebellion against Saul. Sometimes it takes a while for something to come to fruition. 

Tomorrow we will declare the fundraising phase of our capital campaign complete. This is a fulfillment that has been a long time coming. People were talking about the need for a capital campaign when I came here, at the beginning of 2011. The idea lay fallow for a long time – because renewing a sense of hope and direction in the congregation, and getting our finances stabilized, were the immediate priorities. We started to explore the process more seriously in 2015. We took our time, even when that was hard – even when it was tempting to rush, to cut short a conversation, to jump to a conclusion. We let things emerge. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.

And here we are. You – we – have pledged over a million dollars to the Open Door Project, our capital campaign to renovate and improve our church buildings and grounds. Early on our consultant thought we should aim for $600,000, maybe $700,000, based on their experience and expectations. We said, “That’s not enough to do what we feel called to do. Let’s follow this vision a little further, and see what happens.” 

The seed sprouts and grows, I don’t know how. 

Well: I know some of how. We’ve worked and prayed hard to do this well. So many of you have participated, in so many different ways. We’ve picked off the sawfly larva and fixed the irrigation system and shooed away the rabbits. We’ve nurtured the growth of this project and everything it means for our church. 

But even at our busiest, we’ve stayed mindful that we are not the only ones at work in the garden. That in and with and under and behind us and our efforts is the living force of growth, that freshness deep down things, the buoyant fidelity of the Holy One, whose purposes we strive to serve. We are, of course, not done yet. In a certain sense we’re just getting started. We’ll gather in the final pledges – reconcile our pledged total with our project list, and set priorities – talk to architects and contractors – collect bids, develop timelines – get rid of unnecessary stuff so we have room to put away the necessary stuff while renovation is taking place… Things will be busy, and inconvenient, and exciting, for many months ahead. 

And even when the final truck drives away and we vacuum up the last plaster dust – we’ll still just be getting started. We said we wanted to do all these things so we’d have capacity to grow our ministries; accessibility and welcome for all; more engagement with our grounds; more space and resources to share with our community.  When the dust settles, it’ll be time to follow through on those hopes and intentions. We’ll be busy with the Open Door Project and where it leads us for years come. 

It takes time for things to mature and bear fruit. But I’m not worried, friends. The soil is good; there’s water and sun aplenty; there are many faithful hands at work; and the One who gives growth is blessing us and urging us on. 

Let’s listen to the Gospel again, and let it sink into our hearts. I’m using a different translation this time – The Gospel according to Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. 

Read The Carrot Seed, a story about a little boy who plants a carrot seed and takes care of it though nobody around him believes it will ever come up, and at the end, a HUGE carrot grows. 

Announcements, June 14

THIS WEEKEND…

Tonight at Sandbox, our Thursday evening worship: Reflecting on the Gospel through the gracious words of writer and theologian Dorothy Sayers, whose feast day falls this week. We gather at 5:30 for song, engagement with Scripture, shared reflection and prayer, followed by a light meal. All are welcome!

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, June 17: 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.

PICNIC TIME! On Sunday, June 17, to celebrate the end of the fundraising phase of the Open Door Project, and the conclusion of a wonderful program year, we’ll celebrate with a picnic at Marshall Park (just around the corner off Allen Boulevard)! After a short 10am liturgy, we’ll head over to the park around 11am for food and fun, including soccer, face-painting, bubbles, and whatever else you want to bring!  

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, June 17, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, June 17, 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.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Vestry Meeting, Wednesday, June 20, 6:45pm: The Vestry is the elected leadership body of our parish. Any members are welcome to attend our meetings, to observe or raise questions or ideas.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, June 22, 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 Common Grounds, 2644 Branch Street in Middleton.

Rev. Miranda’s Vacation: Rev. Miranda will be on vacation from June 23 through 30. Father John Rasmus will preach and celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday, June 24. Father John will be available if anyone urgently needs to speak with a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence.

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, June 24, 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.

Outreach Committee Meeting, Saturday, June 30, 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.

General Convention, July 4 – 13:  This summer our church holds its triennial gathering in Austin, TX, and Rev. Miranda will attend as an alternate deputy from our diocese. To get news from our deputation, follow “The Diocese of Milwaukee at General Convention” on Facebook or email info@diomil.org to subscribe to our diocesan e-news. The Rev. Tom McAlpine will preach and celebrate on Sunday, July 8, while Miranda is away serving the larger church. 

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, July 7, 10am: The book is Deep, Down, Dark by Hector Tobar. It is the untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free. When the San Jose mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped 33 miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking 69 days. In a master work, Hector Tobar tells a miraculous emotionally textured account of the 33 men who came to think of San mine as a kind of coffin, as a “cave” inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer while the world watched from above. HAVE A GOOD READ

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Preach in La Crosse, WI, on June 23: Our Presiding Bishop will speak at two worship services in the La Crosse area, to commemorate the first Christian worship in the La Crosse area back in 1850. There will be a short service at Granddad Bluff at 11am, followed by a festive Eucharist at Christ Church, La Crosse, at noon. Christ Church is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Madison. 

SUMMER…

SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon.

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. 

Sermon, June 10

We are halfway through the third chapter of the Gospel of Mark, and already there are crowds mobbing Jesus; religious officials sent out from Jerusalem to inspect him, and rumors circulating that he’s out of his mind. How did we get here? 

Mark is the oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the books of the Bible that tell about the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus. Mark is also my favorite Gospel. I’m drawn in by his skillful and efficient storytelling. In the Revised Common Lectionary, the three-year cycle of Sunday readings that we follow, we’ll be in Mark’s Gospel for much of this summer and fall. So it’s a good moment to pause and introduce Mark, get a sense of the voice that will be telling us the Good News of God in Christ in the weeks ahead. 

Today’s lesson starts 92 verses into Mark’s Gospel, but a LOT has already happened. Mark’s introduction to his Gospel is famously brief, compared to the other three: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Then he introduces John the Baptist, with a quotation from the prophet Isaiah. John appears in the wilderness, oddly dressed and preaching an odd message of repentance and ritual washing. And then Jesus appears – “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River.” The Spirit of God descends upon Jesus and calls him Son and Beloved. He fasts in the desert for forty days, and is tempted by Satan, and tended by angels. Then he comes back to Galilee and begins proclaiming that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near, and calls people to change their hearts and trust the good news. 

He calls his first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John – four fishermen he finds on the shores of the sea of Galilee, who think, Well, following this guy seems more interesting than mending nets for my dad. The little group heads to the town of Capernaum – where in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus seems to have a home base of some sort. Maybe it’s a home of his own – he was thirty years old, after all; maybe it’s Simon and Andrew’s home, where Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law from a fever, so she could make them dinner. 

Jesus is teaching in the synagogue when a man who is possessed with an unclean spirit cries out and names him as the Holy One of God. Jesus sends out the spirit, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” People are amazed and start talking about Jesus: “What is this? A new teaching – and this man doesn’t just have words; he also has power and authority!” And his fame begins to spread. 

That evening, people gather at the house where he’s staying – practically the whole city. They bring him the sick and the demon-possessed, and he heals them. Early in the morning, he sneaks out to go pray by himself. But his friends soon track him down and say, “Everyone is looking for you!” And Jesus says, Let’s go on to the neighboring towns. We need to spread the message around. 

So they travel around Galilee, proclaiming the message and casting out demons. In one town, he cures a man afflicted by leprosy, and asks him please not to say anything to anyone, but the man is so joyful about his healing that he tells EVERYONE about it. The crowds become so great that Jesus can’t even go into towns anymore. He stays out in the countryside, and crowds come to him, from all over the place. 

That’s chapter 1. 

After this healing tour, Jesus goes home to Capernaum for a break – but people hear that he’s back, and quickly a crowd gathers again, packed in front of the house. Jesus stands in the doorway, teaching them. Some people bring a man who is paralyzed, carrying him on his mat; they can’t get through the crowd so they somehow get themselves, and the paralyzed man, onto the roof of the house, break through the roof tiles and beams, and lower the man down to Jesus. Jesus tells the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

Now, some scribes are among the crowd – maybe even towards the front, either as recognition of their status or because they were chumming it up and talking Scripture with Jesus. These scribes were probably the local Scripture scholars, people who had studied the Torah and taught at the local synagogue. Jesus scandalizes them when he says this man’s sins are forgiven, because in Judaism, that’s not something people can do; that’s something only God can do. Jesus perceives their doubt and indignation – and demonstrates his power by giving the paralyzed man healing of body as well as spirit. Stand up, take your mat and go home, he says; and the man does. 

The people are amazed and glorify God. But the scribes start to worry about whether Jesus’ teachings are compatible with their faith as they understand it. Is he a prophet – or a problem? 

Then Jesus makes things worse by starting to keep notably bad company. He calls a tax-collector to join his followers.  Everyone knows those guys collaborate with the Romans, the despised foreign power that controls Judea; and they line their own pockets by taking too much from people already desperately poor. Jesus goes to dinner at this man’s house, sitting among tax collectors and sinners. No doubt it was a wonderful meal, paid for by the wages of the penniless!

This time Mark names the people questioning Jesus as Pharisees. The Pharisees were a movement within Judaism at this time. They wanted all Jews to return to faithful practice of the laws and traditions of Judaism, rather than losing their distinctive identity and faith and assimilating to the Greco-Roman cultural context. In the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul talks about being a Pharisee before he became a Christian and calls it, “The most exacting sect of our religion.” 

For the Pharisees, things like food purity practices and Sabbath observance – keeping Saturdays as a day of rest, as commanded by God – were really important. Not because they were superficial or legalistic but because they believed that the heart of Judaism was faithfulness to a distinctive way of life that God had given them through Moses. For the Pharisees, if you are a rabbi, a teacher of God’s ways, you’ve go to walk the talk, and that means you do NOT share a meal with a tax collectors. And you observe certain days of fasting – which Jesus and his disciples did not do. And you don’t do any work on the Sabbath, including picking grain – which Jesus and his disciples did.

Jesus’ perspective is that the Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath. Sabbath-keeping is a tool to help us rest and re-center on God. This difference of perspectives on Sabbath-keeping is an honest disagreement between people of faith. But at the beginning of chapter 3, things come to a head on another Sabbath. 

Jesus is again at the synagogue. And a man approaches him who has a withered hand – an old injury or a birth defect. And the Pharisees watch him to see what he’ll do. 

This is a bit of an edge case in terms of Sabbath-keeping. Jewish law has a robust and ancient teaching that preserving life is always the overriding value. For example: If a wall collapses on a child on the Sabbath, of course you do the work of lifting the bricks to save the child. However, by the same teaching, if the situation is not life-threatening, then Sabbath observance should prevail. This withered hand isn’t life-threatening, so Jesus is actually stretching the law here – from saving life to alleviating suffering. You can be sympathetic to that move – I am – but the Pharisees see it as a slippery slope. Jesus heals this man’s hand today, on the Sabbath, when he could just as well have healed it tomorrow. In their eyes, he’s undercutting the ancient, holy patterns of life that they’re trying to renew. 

Mark tells us, The Pharisees went out and immediately began to conspire against Jesus with the Herodians – those in the inner circle of King Herod, the ruling class who were collaborating with Roman colonial rule of Judea. The Herodians and the Pharisees do not have a lot of interests in common. But Mark wants us to understand that Jesus was becoming a threat to people who were invested in the status quo in many different ways. 

Jesus leaves town with his disciples but a crowd follows – and others gather from all over the place, even as far as Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon. He has his disciples have a boat ready, in case he needs them to take him out on the lake so he can preach without being crushed. And he continues to heal people and send out demons, who frequently shout out, “You are the Son of God!” He sternly orders them not to talk about him – but we can see how well that’s working. 

After preaching by the lake, he somehow escapes up a hill and calls his closest friends and followers to join him there. He names twelve of them to be sent out to proclaim and send out demons, in his name – a way to try and spread the ministry around and manage the crowds! But it doesn’t work; everybody wants Jesus. He comes home to Capernaum and a crowd gathers AGAIN – so packed that they can’t even eat. 

That brings us to today’s Gospel. Jesus’ family hears that he’s back in town. And they go out to try and restrain him – that’s a physical word: to take hold of him, to seize him. Because he’s in danger. People are saying he’s out of his mind. He’s disrespecting the community’s religious leaders. And look at these crowds! Things could go wrong in an instant. 

Now, as his mother and brothers and sisters are marching across town to fetch him, Jesus gets into a lively little dispute with some scribes, Scripture scholars, who have come down from Jerusalem, the Holy City, to evaluate his teaching. Their assessment? He certainly can cast out demons – but they think he’s doing it by using the power of a stronger demon. Namely Beelzebul, who was thought to be a prince of demons, second only to Satan himself. 

Jesus overhears – or reads their minds – and says, “Really? Satan is casting out Satan, now? Well, I guess our work here is finished, because if Satan’s realm is divided and fighting itself, then his end has come. But we all know that’s not what’s going on here. Look, if you want to plunder goods from the home of a strong man, the first thing you have to do is tie up the strong man himself. Then you can can take whatever you want. That’s what I’m doing: stealing from Satan’s house, freeing people whom Satan has held in bondage. You have said that I’m possessed by an unclean spirit, that it’s by demonic power that I heal and cast out demons. Listen: I assure you that human beings will be forgiven for everything, for all sins and insults of every kind. But whoever insults the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. That person is guilty of a sin with consequences that last forever.”

Jesus tells these experts in Jewish law from the Great Temple in the Holy City that they are so blind to God’s presence that they see the Holy Spirit of God at work and they name it as a demon… and God is not amused. 

Then his mother and his brothers and sisters show up. They can’t get through the crowd but they stand at the edge and call his name. Jesus! JESUS! Jesus BarJoseph, YOU COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW!  Word passes through the crowd, as it does, and the people near him tell him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.” And he replies, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’  And he looks around at them and says, ‘You are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’ This would have been an even bigger insult in Jesus’ time and place, where family loyalty was core cultural value. 

I find that there’s a duck/rabbit quality to this scene for me. Sometimes it just sounds like some archetypal cult leader smarminess. “All of you are my family now!” … But then I look at again and see something hopeful and liberative: We are not bound by who we have been in the past. If where you came from doesn’t fit who you are, you’re not lost. You don’t have to be alone. We can choose new families, when we need to.  

That’s the first three chapters of Mark’s Gospel, friends. Many of the things that scholars name as characteristic of Mark have shown up already in the text. It’s a text that marches at a breakneck pace towards the Cross. Mark’s Gospel is only sixteen chapters long, and by the beginning of the third chapter, people are already plotting to have Jesus killed. There’s a sense of urgency in the text- “immediately” is one of Mark’s keywords; listen for it in the weeks ahead. 

Another hallmark of this Gospel is what scholars call the “Messianic secret”: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, but he keeps telling people (and demons) NOT TO TALK ABOUT IT – whether because the time for full revelation has not yet come, or because he’s just tired of dealing with the crowds. Mark’s narrative style is direct and simple – but not simplistic. People thought of Mark as the least sophisticated Gospel for a long time – but Biblical scholars have come to recognize that there is a LOT going on here, narratively and theologically. That’s one of the things I really like about Mark’s Gospel – he’ll tell you the story and leave you to think about what it means, instead of trying to explain it to you. 

This is, by many standards, a terrible sermon. I’m supposed to draw something out from the assigned text that we can apply to our lives in the contemporary world. But I looked at this Gospel and I thought, I just want us to receive this story. To understand how it fits into Mark’s fast-building narrative, and what it tells us about Jesus. 

Because I like Jesus. I’m drawn to him. That’s one of the touchstones of my faith: I find Jesus compelling. I find Mark’s portrayal of Jesus compelling.

In our Godly Play classroom downstairs, the Jesus stories begin, Once there was a man who said such amazing things and did such wonderful things that people followed him. That’s what we see here, in these first chapters of Mark. And it still happens. I know because I’m one of those people. Amazed, and wondering, and following. 

Our Godly Play stories end with questions, like: I wonder where you are in this story? I love that wherever I place myself in this story, Jesus has something for me. When I’m coming to him with pain, my own or that of a loved one, he sees and offers the touch of healing love. When I’m facing him as a religious leader who feels defensive of my understanding and my way of doing things, he’s there to challenge and liberate me. If I’m feeling anxious about respectability and order and not being too “out there,” he’s there to remind me that the movement of the Spirit and the will of God matter more than human expectations.  And when I’m just one of the crowd, showing up to see and hear and talk about it with friends, well, I’m in the story too. Showing up to hear – once more, and always – that the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. 

Announcements, June 7

Still hoping to pledge to the Open Door Project? We made it easy! We hope to have all pledges gathered by Monday, June 18. We’re over 90% of the way to our goal, but your pledge still matters! If you’d like to contribute to the Open Door Project, our capital campaign to  make our buildings more accessible, usable, and beautiful, you can now make your pledge online at our capital campaign website. Just click here!  

Sandbox Worship, Thursday, 5:30pm: The wisdom (and cynicism?) of the book of Ecclesiastes. We’ll share simple evening worship and reflect on Scripture together, then share a light meal. 5:30 on Thursday. We’ll use the outdoors if it’s pleasant! Next week, we’ll celebrate the work of novelist and Christian writer Dorothy Sayers. 

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!

Sunday School, Sunday, June 10, 10am: Next Sunday our 3 year olds to kindergarten class will learn about The Part That Hasn’t Been Written Yet, while our Elementary classes will talk about Israel’s desire to have God give them a king. This is our final Sunday school session before the summer break. 

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.

PICNIC TIME! On Sunday, June 17, to celebrate the end of the fundraising phase of the Open Door Project, and the conclusion of a wonderful program year, we’ll celebrate with a picnic at Marshall Park (just around the corner off Allen Boulevard)! After a short 10am liturgy, we’ll head over to the park for food and fun, including soccer, face-painting, bubbles, and whatever else you want to bring! If you have food or an activity to contribute, sign up in the Gathering Area or email the church office.

Attention all members of St. Dunstan’s Care Network!  Mike and Kendra Dando have recently welcomed a new member to their family, and have asked for a few meals to help them make the transition to their new family life.  To sign up to help, go to St. Dunstan’s website and click on the Fellowship and Learning tab.  Scroll down to Sharing Meals and click on it to link to the Lotsa Helping Hands website, where you can sign up to provide a meal for the Dandos. Thanks for all you do to help with our mission of hospitality!

Fragrance Sensitivities: We ask those attending worship at St. Dunstan’s to please avoid using heavily scented products (perfume, colognes or scented lotions). Some people are sensitive to chemicals and strong fragrances. Using fragrances lightly or not at all means that others can worship in greater comfort. Thanks for your consideration! 

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.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, June 13, 1:00 – 2:45pm: Julian of Norwich was a 15th Century English mystic. Julian prayed often in silence, and at a Julian Gathering we support each other in the practice of contemplative prayer and contemplative spirituality.  Each meeting includes time for contemplative prayer, fellowship, and reading and discussion of Julian’s book.  We meet the second Wednesday of each month.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund Offering, Sunday, June 17: 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, June 17, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, June 17, 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.

Vestry meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 6:45pm. Any members are welcome to attend. 

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, June 22, 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 Common Grounds, 2644 Branch Street in Middleton.

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, July 7, 10am: The book is Deep, Down, Dark by Hector Tobar. It is the untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free. When the San Jose mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped 33 miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking 69 days. In a master work, Hector Tobar tells a miraculous emotionally textured account of the 33 men who came to think of San mine as a kind of coffin, as a “cave” inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer while the world watched from above. HAVE A GOOD READ

SUMMER…

SaintFest 2018 will be August 5 – 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm! SaintFest is an all-ages festival of saints, skills and sharing! Everyone is invited. Look for more information soon. 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, June 3

It is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. – 2 Cor 4:6-7

Several years ago I attended an event called the Festival of Homiletics, an annual gathering at which clergy from a wide range of denominations gather to hear sermons and talks by some of the greatest preachers and teachers of our time. I heard a lot of good things, but the one that stuck with me the most was a talk by Walter Brueggeman, one of the greatest living scholars of Scripture. He happened to be speaking on today’s Epistle, this portion of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.

He began by inviting us to imagine the apostle Paul, leafing through the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible, looking for a sermon text to support what he wants to say to the Corinthians. The Corinthians are majoring in the minors, and Paul wants to remind them about what really matters. And he finds this bit about the clay pots, which we used as our Old Testament reading this morning. As preachers do, he takes that text, this image of God as Divine Potter, and he does something new with it – thinking about the purpose of that clay pot, what it’s meant to hold. 

The church in Corinth, the church Paul is addressing, is afflicted and perplexed and persecuted and struck down. We 21st-century mainline Christians can relate! Our budgets and membership rolls are shrinking. Our faith is associated with policies we do not recognize. In the eyes of many, our convictions appear irrelevant at best, oppressive at worst. The temptation for the church, whether long ago or today, when it is afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, is to give in to being crushed, forsaken, and destroyed. We may feel hopeful about St. Dunstan’s – but there’s plenty of cause to feel helplessness, frustration or despair about the state and future of the larger church. 

But when we do that, say Brueggeman and Paul, we are taking our clay pot too seriously, and confusing the pot with the treasure. Paul says, We have confused the container and the stuff contained. As Christians, as church folks, we often start to think our ministry, our mission, is the point. We think that WE’RE the treasure… but we’re really the pot. The container for something much more important – and much less fragile – than anything we can make or do. 

The treasure is the good news of God in Christ. It is forgiveness in a society that holds grudges forever. It is generosity that overcomes lack in a society of scarcity and selfishness. It is hospitality in a society that closes doors to the immigrant. It is justice that protects the vulnerable in an unjust society. It is the old old story of God giving Godself for love of God’s creatures. THAT is the treasure. Everything else is clay pots. Fragile. Likely to break. Never able to fully and reliably contain the treasure. 

It’s easy for people like me – pastors, but not just pastors; church folk, people who just love the church – it’s easy for us to worry about the pot. But when we think about it, we know the pot is not the treasure. At the Festival, Brueggeman stood at the podium in front of a giant hall full of pastors and preachers and said, NOBODY thought our hymnal would last forever, or our prayer book, or our favorite seminary, or our diocese, or  … And I laughed to myself, because I knew, and he knew, that the room was FULL of people who thought exactly that. 

Myself included.

But in our most honest moments, we know that no form of the church will last. Because clay pots don’t last. They wear out, they chip, they break. Sometimes they shatter. The church is not durable, not eternal, in any form or manifestation, even the ones that we value the most.

But Paul says, If we keep our focus on the treasure – that should prevent us from taking the vessels so seriously. The value and beauty of the treasure should help us avoid getting too invested in the longevity of any given clay pot. It is the treasure, the Gospel, the very light of God shining forth in the face of Jesus Christ, that lets us say, with Paul: We are afflicted in every way,  BUT NOT crushed; perplexed,  BUT NOT driven to despair; persecuted,  BUT NOT forsaken; struck down, BUT NOT destroyed. It is the “but not” that matters. When we fall into despair and cynicism, when we spend our energy and resources arguing trivialities – I say this as someone who will soon spend ten days at our church’s national convention, God help me! – When we are seized by the urgency of keeping church the way it used to be – or the hubris of creating our own maps of the church of the future! – then we have made the pot more important than its contents. We have forgotten that the Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath. 

And our over-investment in our particular clay pot is often tied up with a certain egotism. Brueggeman said, We have been seduced by the American can-do attitude to trust too much in our own skill and our own work. But transcendent power, the power to change hearts and transform the world, that power does not come from good planning or good scholarship. It certainly doesn’t come from watching the right webinars or hiring the right consultants. It comes from vulnerable self-giving. It comes from trusting in the treasure. 

This is a hard time to be Christian in public. Some awful stuff is being said and done in the name of Jesus. There’s cause to worry about how all that will affect our clay pots. I know there are people in this household of faith who find that the toxicity of public Christianity right now makes it hard for them to come to church, even though they know that’s not what we’re about here. I’m sure there are people whose faith and commitment to this body remain strong, but who are more hesitant to speak about those things to friends or acquaintances. Because we wouldn’t want people to get the wrong impression. 

But the value of the treasure is not diminished, the light of God’s glory is not dimmed, by prominent people mispreaching a Gospel of prosperity, exclusion, callousness and judgment. The Bible shows us that when people are speaking falsely about God, God sends prophets to speak truly about God – like our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who told a worldwide audience that Love is God’s way, and then marched his convictions right to the White House as part of the Reclaiming Jesus vigil last week – a vigil proclaiming that the God of Scripture, the God made known to us in Jesus Christ, calls us to reject racism and sexism, nationalism and authoritarianism, xenophobia and neglect of the poor. 

After that Royal Wedding sermon, lots of clergy I know posted on social media to say, Hey, if you liked what that guy had to say, come check out your local Episcopal church! Friends, I would love it if some folks came to our doors seeking a Gospel of love and justice, and found it preached and lived here. But Bishop Curry isn’t doing what he’s doing to make more Episcopalians. To save and strengthen our particular clay pot. He’s bearing witness to the treasure. He’s letting the light shine. 

This conflicted, scary, vulnerable moment for the historic churches, here in the early 21st century, this may be a moment when we need to focus on the treasure and let God take care of the container. Brueggeman said: People in institutional leadership, pastors, treasurers, vestries, are often exhausted and perplexed… The good news is, More is going on than us. In and with and under and behind us and our efforts is this bouyant fidelity – Brueggeman’s words, I love them – this buoyant fidelity that abides and sustains, no matter what.

So we are watching the clay pots being smashed, like Jeremiah imagines old Jerusalem being smashed, for being disobedient and complacent, too comfortable with national ideology and middle-class morality. The pots are being smashed on behalf of Jesus, so the treasure can break loose in the world. 

We like our clay pots to be just so. The handles and the shape and the color. The prophet Isaiah names this human tendency to question the potter: What are you making? Where are the handles? A pot has to have handles, you know!… (Isaiah 45:9) We like church just so, and all its trappings, buildings and books and committees and ministries. 

But what if, what if, in our days, before our eyes, the pot is being remade because it no longer pleases the potter? Because it’s not the right vessel for the treasure, in this season of the life of the world? 

Brueggeman said, This is my word to you, as a white, male, tenured, retired guy who has no risks to run:  Care more for the treasure. Because here’s the truth: There is not any single person anywhere who does not eagerly hope for the news of God’s reconciling, liberating love. Not one. That treasure breaks free and fills some new containers, some of which will surprise us, some of which will make us anxious. 

For me as a pastor, the clay pot we currently inhabit includes my salary and health care coverage, and my family’s security. For all of us as church people, that clay pot includes our beloved buildings, our denominational structures, our Books of Common Prayer. We worry about all that stuff, we care about it, for some good reasons, but those things are not the treasure. The treasure is not at risk. 

We are indeed afflicted… but we are not crushed. We are indeed perplexed… but we are not driven to despair. We are indeed struck down… but we are not destroyed. And because of the treasure, because of the Light shining forth in the face of Jesus, we do not lose heart. 

Full text of Brueggeman’s talk:

http://time.com/110732/sermon-series-getting-smashed-for-jesus/

The Reclaiming Jesus statement:

http://www.reclaimingjesus.org

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