Category Archives: Hospitality

Our Immigrant Stories

As immigration has become a major topic in our national conversation, we as Christians are mindful that our holy book commands us to be kind to the stranger residing among us. You shall love the stranger living among you, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt, says Leviticus 19 – one of many places where mercy towards the outsider is mentioned.  Our Scriptures and our God call us to treat immigrants with kindness and respect – remembering that we or our ancestors were once immigrants seeking a new home. To help us understand the lives, needs, and fears of our immigrant neighbors, some members of St. Dunstan’s have been sharing their own “how I got here” stories.


My immigrant story really is my grandmother’s story. I never knew her, because she died in the mid-1930s, when my father was a teenager. But I spent most Wednesday afternoons after school with my great-aunt Frances, her sister, and she loved to talk about my grandmother to me.

My paternal grandparents emigrated from one of many German enclaves in Romania in the first decade of the 20th century, before World War I. Their entire village and the extended families of both my grandmother and grandfather immigrated to the United States together. My grandfather was possessed of a simple ambition: to own his own land, for back in Romania he never would have been allowed to do so, as he was only a peasant.

After a few years of working hard in America, he achieved his dream and bought his own dairy farm. Many members of their families and fellow villagers settled in the same area, about 60 miles north of Detroit, Michigan. My grandparents had four children, two born in Romania and two, including my dad, born in this country. They were contented on the farm. My grandfather planted roses around the house and by the barnyard fence for my grandmother, roses that still bloom by our horse paddock gate here in Wisconsin. He made the old farmhouse as pretty as possible for her, too, with wallpaper and paint and a marble-topped table in the parlor. He was one of the first farmers in the area to install an indoor bathroom in their house. All this and more to make my grandmother happy.

And she was, I think, mostly contented. But she dreaded going into town. Back then, people disliked and looked down on immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, especially if they were Catholic. When she went into town with her children, people were unfriendly, some even going so far as to cross the street to avoid the newcomers. “Why do they hate us so?” she used to ask her sister, my great-aunt Frances, tears pouring down her face. All the older German women who knew her used to tell me after mass each Sunday that she was the sweetest, gentlest soul they ever knew, and perhaps this is the reason she never grew accustomed to the prejudice she faced. One day, she laid her head down on the table at breakfast and said, “I’m so tired,” and died.

My great-aunt Frances always maintained to me that my grandma died of a broken heart, that she wore herself out pining for something that would never be given to her, no matter how spruce her home and farm, no matter how white and starched the immaculate lace dresses she put on her three young girls for town visits. She craved respect and friendship from the people among whom she settled, and she never got that. Of course, who knows whether that unrequited dream contributed to her death? But I’m certain that she felt the sadness my great aunt told me about, for they were very close.

This seems a sad story, doesn’t it? But its ending is not sad, I hope. Before I share the end of the story, though, let me first share a few facts. My German grandparents came here during a period when this country, according to the Pew Research Center, had a very high percentage of foreign-born residents. And it’s predicted that we may break the record for that percentage within the next few years. Many things about immigration have changed since my grandparents came over from eastern Europe. Here are just a few: there are now more immigrants who are Hispanic, though that also will change in the future, Pew Research analysts predict; there are more refugees in the world than at any other time in the last seventy years except right at the end of World War II; and there are many foreign-born residents here without legal authorization who have not been able to, and will not be able to, secure that authorization. One can gain legal permission to remain here through work, family ties, or for humanitarian reasons, but those exceptions don’t apply to many of the undocumented immigrants in our country. There is, at this point, no line for a large percentage of the undocumented immigrants in this country to go stand at the end of, so that they can secure permission to stay here.

It’s true that as a society today, we don’t always agree about how to address the challenges of today’s undocumented immigrants and others who arrive in our country. But I think some things about immigrants, authorized or otherwise, remain the same as when my family emigrated here. People still want to feel welcomed to our country, and accepted. And other people still feel threatened by people with a different culture and a different language, perhaps fearful that the way of life that is theirs will change.

As for my grandmother, I believe she would be happy to see that her family has thrived in America, that all her grandchildren have college degrees while many have obtained advanced professional degrees. My grandparents valued education, as well as hard work, music, and beauty. Naturally, my grandfather, being German, also valued a bottle of good beer! We feel part of the life of this country. It took about two generations for the German Catholic community from Romania to fully integrate into the small town where I grew up, but it did. Even though we are no longer strangers to this country, however, I don’t forget my grandmother’s pain. I remember Barbara Loeffler’s story.

I think about her path as a stranger to this country, and I think about my path to this church of St. Dunstan’s. My journey, nowhere near as difficult as hers, was made easy by so many people here. And I thank you all for that, and for listening to my grandmother’s story.


We were born in South Africa. At the time we emigrated in 1985 we had lived most of our lives there. This was where we grew up, were educated, had our family and worked for more than a decade. Peter grew up Methodist, I was Anglican and after our marriage, we worshipped in both communions. South Africa was also where our parents and siblings lived. Why, then, did we leave?

South Africa was an apartheid society, with power and wealth in the hands of whites (who were less than 20% of the population). As we grew up, resistance to the status quo by the subservient black population led to draconian laws that limited where black people could live, who they could marry, what jobs they could hold, and what consequences they faced if they transgressed. To manage this, the apartheid government ramped up security forces – both police and the military. After high school, all white males were conscripted for at least two years: their primary purpose was to maintain the status quo. States of emergency that suspended normal civil liberties were imposed. The polarization between white and black increased to the point that mediation efforts appeared to be withering, and outright civil war seemed a distinct possibility. Small wonder, then, that in spite of our deep roots, we decided South Africa was not a country where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives.

The next question was: Where should we go? Since both of our ancestral families were from the UK, and that is where we both went for postgraduate study and where we met, this might have seemed an obvious choice.  But 2½ years in Vancouver, Canada where Peter had a post-doctoral fellowship and I did my master’s, changed our minds: we’d have happily stayed. There were personal reasons – we look back on that time as an extended honeymoon, we made life-long friends and Fraser, our son, was born there, I completed my master’s and Peter found new professional directions. But there were no jobs. After 6 years back in South Africa, a sabbatical gave us the opportunity to spend more than a year in Ithaca, NY. This was highly influential for both of us in our professional development. Once again, we’d have happily stayed. Two in-depth, decidedly positive North American experiences convinced us that this is where we could happily live. It took, however, another 5 years back in South Africa before contacts initiated in Ithaca bore fruit with a faculty position at the UW-Madison.

We are conscious that we have been extraordinarily privileged in our lives. Our decision to leave was not forced on us by deprivation, persecution, or civil war. As white English-speaking South Africans, we had access to excellent schools that opened doors to university education in South Africa and to study-abroad opportunities after graduation. These gave us a perspective on other parts of the world beyond the borders of South Africa. Our decision to come here was also a choice that we could pursue on our terms, and do so in an orderly manner: we received a job offer at the UW-Madison where they held the position open for more than a year until our green cards were issued. To get established here we were indebted with the support we received from many quarters: professional, social and spiritual.

These two questions – Why leave? and Where to go? – faced many of our own ancestors, as they do for the vast number of migrants and refugees we see in the world today. Shortly after we were married we met an Indian physicist in Canada. He told us he was a citizen of the world, and he had a newsletter to promote this concept. We signed on, and that is what we are today: citizens of the world.

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!
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,


Craft-In 2015 – Reflections

IMG_7881On Friday, November 27, St Dunstan’s held our second annual Black Friday Craft-In. From 1 – 4pm, we were open to the public, with our Gathering Area and Meeting Room full of tables covered with crafting materials. Crafts included decorative ornaments, flower headbands, stamped notebooks and cards, cardboard shields, tiny clay pot nativity scenes, knitting demonstrations, magnets, and more. Over the course of three hours, about sixty people came – and stayed. They stayed to make crafts together, to chat, to share cookies and cocoa, to take a break and have a little fun together on a busy holiday weekend.

IMG_7879Aside from our terrific team of volunteers, almost no members of St Dunstan’s attended. Our guests were folks from the neighborhood, other area churches, and the wider community. They came because it sounded like a fun way to get out of the house for a few hours. Grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles brought kids of all ages, and kids and adults enthusiastically engaged with our craft stations. Strangers helped each other – my six-year-old daughter made fast friends with two sweet eighth-grade girls. Susan, one of our hospitality volunteers, remarked on how much people seems to be enjoying the time together: “Last night as I thought about the greatest reward of the arts and crafting, I felt like it was the friends, parents and grandparents involved with each other in a way that created a very memorable holiday experience; everyone seemed to be extremely grateful to be there.”

IMG_7873I was really touched that we had at least two households who had come last year, for our first Craft-In, and have been looking forward to coming again, ever since – even spreading the word and bringing friends. What a wonderful affirmation!

Last year, our Craft-In was something new, and we got a little press about it, which helped with our pre-event publicity. Planning for this year, I wondered if we’d get much turn-out without the media boost. But in fact, turnout was substantially higher, we were better organized, and the event was amazing. We ate all the cookies and used up most of the craft supplies, and people had a wonderful time. IMG_7877This is an event people like enough to talk about and plan ahead to attend. That’s really exciting! I hope next year’s Craft-In will be even bigger and better – and we’ll buy a few more cookies.

– Rev. Miranda+


The creative impulse originates in the heart of God. God is present, the divine energies are present, in every creative impulse. The human being, made in the image and likeness of God, shares in God’s creative energies.

-Br. Mark Brown, Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Sermon, May 10

I know it’s Mothers’ Day, but I have a story for you today about fathers. Two fathers, a couple, who live and attend church in Orlando, Florida. Rich and Eric attend the Cathedral Church there, and when they became parents, they sought to have their baby son, Jack, baptized at their church. The Dean of the Cathedral agreed to the baptism, but he explained that the congregation includes some conservative folks who would have a hard time accepting and celebrating Rich and Eric’s partnership and parenthood. The Dean suggested doing the baptism at a smaller evening service, attended by more “open” folks. Fine. But then, a few days before the baptism, Rich and Eric got a message from the Dean. Some members of the congregation were opposing the baptism, and the Dean explained that it would need to be delayed, in order to resolve those difficulties. Angry and sad, Rich took to the Internet to share the story and ask for prayers. After an outpouring of support for the family and anger at the Cathedral, word is that the Dean and the family are discussing next steps, and that Jack likely will be baptized at the Cathedral soon.

Today’s lesson from the Acts of the Apostles is about baptism – and who’s entitled to it. This is the end of the story of Peter and Cornelius the Centurion. Cornelius was pious and generous man. But he was also a Roman, a member of the occupying army. Not quite an enemy combatant… but in that ballpark. And he was a Gentile, a non-Jew. The apostle Paul was going around saying that Gentiles could become Christians without following Jewish religious practices, including being circumcised. The apostle Peter was not on board with that, seeing it as wishy-washy anything-goes feel-good inclusivity. But then Peter has a holy vision, in which God says to him, “What God has made clean, you must not call unclean.”  And moments later he is called to the home of Cornelius, to teach him about the Christian faith. So Peter preaches the Gospel to Cornelius and his household. And they are so stirred by his words that the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and they praise God with wild abandon. And Peter says, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” It’s a rhetorical question. The only person likely to withhold the water is Peter himself, and his heart has been changed. Cornelius and his family are baptized on the spot.

Peter’s question should remind us of another one, from last week’s Acts lesson, just a couple of chapters earlier. Philip the deacon, walking the wilderness road, meets a court official from Ethiopia. Like Cornelius, he’s a pious man, with a heart open to God. Like Cornelius, he’s a Gentile, an outsider to the covenant. He’s not an enemy combatant -but he’s a black African, and he’s a eunuch;  his body has been mutilated in a way that would have made him ritually impure for a lifetime, within the purity codes of the Jewish religion. But Philip, like Peter, heeds God’s call to welcome this seeker into the body of Christ. After Philip preaches the Gospel to him, the eunuch says, “Look, here is some water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Well… Nothing. The eunuch is baptized, marked as a member of the household of God, clean and pure and whole in God’s eyes, and goes on his way rejoicing.

Can anyone withhold the water? What is to prevent me from being baptized? One of the central themes of the book of the Acts of the Apostles – and, for that matter, of the Gospel of Luke, by the same author – is the early church’s discovery, and rediscovery, again and again, that God’s mission is bigger than their understanding. That where they see barriers, God sees doorways. That where they see dividing lines, God sees connections. That where they see distinctions and differences,  God sees unity and belonging. As Peter says at the moment of his great epiphany,  “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.” God has no favorites. All who seek, find. All who enter are welcomed.

Good news. And…  the story of two thousand years of the life of the church is a story of the church’s forgetting this, or failing to realize it fully, again, and again, and again. The 19th-century poet and priest Frederick William Faber put this into words so beautifully in a hymn known to us as “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.” It’s in our hymnal, but some of the best words aren’t included: “For the love of God is broader than the measure of the mind, and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind. But we make God’s love too narrow by false limits of our own; and we magnify its strictness with a zeal God will not own.”

We make God’s love too narrow by false limits of our own. That has been the story of the church, over and over and over again. Rich and Eric and Jack are only the latest to feel the sting of being told that they are only mostly children of God. Most of the comments I’ve seen on their case mirror my own immediate reactions: the Dean had NO RIGHT to create a barrier for this child’s baptism; my church would have agreed to baptize this baby in a heartbeat; et cetera, et cetera. But I’ve also seen a point raised that gives me pause.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer moved the rite of Holy Baptism back into Sunday worship, into the regular liturgical life of the congregation, after centuries of baptism largely being practiced as essentially a private family rite, performed after church or at another time. In our baptismal rite, the congregation stands for the Church Universal, the Church in all times and places, as it welcomes a new believer. And our baptismal rite gives the congregation a voice. At the beginning of the rite, the congregation is asked, Will you do all in your power to support this person in her life in Christ? And you answer – WE WILL. I love that part! And at the end of the rite, the congregation says, “We receive you into the household of God,” and invites the newly-baptized to share the life of faith.

The question raised by this kerfuffle in Florida is, can you – should you – perform a baptism if the congregation gathered is unable, through their convictions, to commit to supporting that child, that family; and to receiving them as fellow members of God’s household? I don’t like saying that the Dean may have a had a point, in asking this family to wait. But the Dean may have had a point. I can’t imagine how awful and awkward and sad it would be to perform a baptism, to name a child, and mark him as Christ’s own forever, and have few or no voices from the congregation speak up to welcome and affirm. Should the Dean have withheld the water? No. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe there’s any justification in our church laws or our sacramental theology for turning away that family. Is it a real issue that the congregation of that Cathedral was not able to assent to Jack’s baptism with boldness and love? Yes. I do believe that. I think the Dean made the wrong call; but it was a tough call. The family was ready; the child was ready; God was ready; but the people weren’t ready. The church wasn’t ready.

Listen, I can’t talk about this situation in Florida from a position of smug inclusivity. I could, and would, baptize a child with two daddies – or two mommies – without a moment’s hesitation. But right now, I can’t tell a gay candidate for ordination that their sexual orientation won’t be an issue in some dioceses of our church. Right now, I can’t say yes to a gay couple who want to celebrate their marriage as a sacrament of the church. I hope those things will change soon. If that is your hope too, keep on praying.

But I don’t believe in preaching sermons that only point a finger elsewhere. I wouldn’t tell you the story of baby Jack and the Dean just to say, Thank God that we are not like them! … I’ve been asking myself, where does our church draw lines, create distinctions, make barriers? Where would today’s curious guest or seeker, today’s Cornelius or court official, find our welcome to be restrained, our hospitality qualified, our inclusiveness conditional?

It’s not an easy question to answer, which makes it all the more important to ask. We think of ourselves as inclusive Christians; it’s a strong value for us, that wide welcome. We Episcopalians often define ourselves against churches that exclude, that limit the access and authority of certain types of people. To paraphrase the immortal words of comedian Tom Lehrer, “Some churches do not love their fellow man, and we HATE churches like that!” We make a point of welcoming everybody. No, really – EVERYBODY. St. Dunstan’s has a welcome statement that we crafted and adopted, several years ago; you can read it on our website. I’m proud of that statement. I think it matters.

But when we adopted that statement, one of our members reminded us, You know you can’t just adopt this and then sit around feeling smug. You still have to actually welcome people. To use the language of the baptismal liturgy, each visitor and newcomer poses a question for the congregation: Will you receive this person as part of this household of God, and do all in your power to support her in her life in Christ? And the people of the congregation have to be able and willing and ready to say a resounding, WE WILL!…

There isn’t a clear-cut place in the life of St. Dunstan’s as a parish where we are drawing lines and placing limits around a category of people for whom Christ died, and we have to quit it. It’s not that straightforward for us. What is to prevent the stranger from being baptized? Who is withholding the water?  Where do we, unintentionally or accidentally-on-purpose, draw lines and build barriers that make it hard to enter, connect, belong?  The questions raised by these lessons from Acts – those questions require deep, reflective, risky engagement. They require the demanding and paradoxical work of looking for who isn’t here. Like those pictures they sold in mall kiosks, twenty years ago,  where you had to stand and stare at them until your eyes crossed, and then you might start to see the outline of … something. It’s kind of like that, figuring out who isn’t here, and then trying to figure out why.

We are a quirky church – St. Dunstan’s in particular and the Episcopal Church in general. And we’ve always kind of assumed that the people who would join our churches would be people basically like us. People who are literary enough to enjoy the high language of our liturgy. Who are musically trained enough to appreciate our classic hymnody. Who inhabit their bodies in such a way that they can sit still for 75 minutes. Who know how to dress and behave with basic middle-class decorum. Who’ll bring the right kinds of food to our potluck suppers. Who’ll somehow magically already know about all our pet projects and ministries and three-letter acronyms, so we don’t have to keep explaining ourselves. So tedious!…  I’d say our tolerances at St. Dunstan’s are pretty good; we’ve got folks who don’t fit that mold, in lots of ways, who are nonetheless beloved members of this fellowship of faith…  But we’re still haunted by that image of the archetypal Episcopalian. We still use “we” to mean “people like us”, without recognizing the lines we’re drawing.

In his book “People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity,” Dwight Zscheile talks about our expectations and how they shape our capacity to welcome the guest and stranger. He tells a story of visiting another Episcopal church with his family – a church that proudly proclaimed “Radical Hospitality” on a banner hung outside. Dwight and his wife are both Episcopal priests; they are white, middle-class, educated; they know how to dress and how to behave in church. Ideal guests, right? However: they had their young son with them. He was the only child in church. And they quickly realized, from the glares around them when their son so much as rustled his drawing paper, that they were expected to have him out of church – in a glassed-in “cry room” or a distant nursery tucked away in the basement.

Zscheile writes, “Radical hospitality is a wonderful idea, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of the leaders who [proclaim] it… Living into the reality is another thing, however…. In practice, the Episcopal Church has been best at including those who share its existing predominant socioeconomic class and culture…. The Episcopal Church has become a boutique, niche church, serving a narrow audience of self-selecting members.” He quotes another Episcopalian who described the Episcopal Church as being like NPR: with an audience that is “small, but discerning.” And in fact, there’s probably a lot of overlap between NPR’s constituency and that of the Episcopal Church – well-educated, affluent, liberal.  But, Dwight says, this rather self-satisfied posture can lead us to “abdicate responsibility for engaging neighbors who differ from us. We assume that those who want to worship how we already worship, [and] who think like we do, will find us, and we can then ‘include’ them.”

Those words convicted me. Because I have told myself pretty much exactly that: We’ve got a good thing going here, we Episcopalians; But we’re such a nuanced, sophisticated kind of Christian that not many people can really appreciate it. We’ll probably always be a small denomination; that’s just the way it is. It’s kind of a hipster thing: artisanal, small-batch church. You’ve probably never heard of it.

Zscheile challenges me to have more faith in the gifts of the Episcopal Way. He himself was raised unchurched, came to the Episcopal Church as a young adult, and fell in love. Listen to what he says about this church of ours, this way of being Christian: “Anglicanism offers a richly textured Christianity with ancient roots, expansive sources, a living commitment to justice and reconciliation, and space for people to explore, question, and grow along the way. It embodies the wisdom of centuries, not just the latest fads. Its historical embrace of…  cultural context … mandates that it speak the language of the people. At the same time, it is inhibited in many places by a traditionalism that obscures the power of its traditions; by elitism that restricts [access to] its treasures; and by a lack of theological and spiritual clarity and urgency that would fuel a renewed sense of purpose. Episcopalians still largely assume that people will find the church, rather than recognizing that [we are pushed] out into the world, on the arms of God, to serve and embrace the stranger.”

THAT’S Peter in Cornelius’s living room,  making the choice to let the baptismal waters flow.  THAT’s Philip standing by some muddy roadside puddle with the Ethiopian court official, acknowledging that Jesus has already chosen this man as his own, and our job is just to assent and receive. THAT’s the hard and hopeful and necessary work for us: of trusting that what blesses us here, could bless others too, and daring to offer, proclaim, invite.  That’s the work that should tug at our imaginations as we begin to envision what this church will look like, could look like, in five years, or ten, or fifty; as we craft a vision, in words and worship, poetry and song, marker and glue and pipe cleaners and Lego, of St. Dunstan’s as the church of our wildest dreams.