Category Archives: Uncategorized

Announcements, November 27

THIS WEEK…

Thanksgiving service, Wednesday, November 27, 7pm: There will be a simple Eucharist service on Wednesday evening. All are welcome.

Black Friday Craft-In, Friday, Nov. 29, 1-4PM:  A free all-ages crafting and gift-making event for all ages, open to the wider community. Come join the fun and invite a friend!

Advent Begins on Sunday, December 1! Advent is the beginning of the church’s new year.  Advent is a wonderful season to celebrate at home! Advent materials are available in the Gathering Area! Please take whatever you will use.

Bite Size Climate, Sunday, December 1, 11:50 – 12:10: Many of us are fearful and sad about climate change and its many impacts.  An important first step towards change is to be informed citizens who understand the issue and can talk about it with others – since we’ll all need to work together for change. This time, we’ll learn about the science of climate modeling. This video is a little longer (12 minutes), but we’ll keep our 20 minute total time.

There are still a few ornaments to claim for Winter Wishes (formerly Sharing Christmas)!  As a congregation, we will be buying gifts for  4 families with a total of 7 adults and 6 children. The wishes are on the paper ornaments near the main door in the Gathering Area. Directions are on the table underneath the ornaments and the sign-up sheet is there also. Gifts should be brought to St. Dunstan’s, wrapped, with ornament attached,  by Sunday, Dec. 8th. Questions? – contact Connie Ott. (Thanks for your generosity:).

Furnishing our Renewed Spaces: Before the renovation, there were benches along the east wall in three sections of the main floor of our main building. The benches were a permanent feature – they had to be bolted to the floor to be stable, and could not be moved. Those benches moved out when the new carpet was installed, and we need to decide whether and where they should come back. We can make a different decision for each area: the Gathering Area; the area near the kitchen and restrooms; and the Meeting Room. The decision is not whether to have seating or not; it’s clear that we often need seating in these areas – but we have the option of using benches or chairs that can be moved when we have opportunity or need to use the space in a different way, such as setting up tables for an event. Over the next couple of weeks, when you are at church, please notice these spaces and think about how they have been used and could be used. There are sheets up on the windows in each area where you can share some thoughts! You can also email thoughts to Rev. Miranda . We’ll try to make a decision by the end of December.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Advent Quiet Day, Saturday, Dec. 7, 9am – 4pm, Holy Wisdom Monastery: All are invited for an Advent day of contemplative prayer, song, and reflection. Mediations will be offered with ample time for silence and reflection. $15, including lunch. Pay when you arrive. Please register by emailing PCruse@rwbaird.com . Offered by Living Compass and our sister parish, Christ Church, Whitefish Bay.

Bring Christmas Cheer to St. Dunstans! Celebrate what’s important to you with a gift that helps us decorate for Christmas and honors a loved one or a special event. Please see the red Christmas Flowers sign-up sheets in the Gathering Area. Write “Christmas Flowers” on the memo line of your check or on the envelope containing cash. Suggested donation is $25.

Christmas Eve Helpers Needed: We are in need of assisting ministers in several positions for our holiday services including: ushers, greeters, and serving refreshments. There are signup sheets in the Gathering Area. Please consider offering a bit of your time to these joyful services!

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, December 11, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Las Posadas Party, Saturday, Dec. 14, 6pm:  Las Posadas (Spanish for “the inns”) is an Advent celebration practiced in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, revolving around the concept of hospitality. We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst. We’ll celebrate Posadas with an intergenerational gathering for food, fellowship & fireworks! All are welcome.

POSADAS FOOD SIGNUP: Could you bring a bowl of guacamole or a batch of rice or beans? Sign up in the Gathering Area or let Miranda know!

Announcements for E-news: If you have an announcement you would like to see in the weekly e-news or the Sunday News and Notes, we are happy to include it. Send announcements to the office at . We ask that all announcements be submitted by the end of the day on Wednesday, because we prepare the E-news and News & Notes on Thursday morning.  If you have an announcement or event you’d like to share but are uncertain whether it’s appropriate for the e-news, you can send it to Rev. Miranda .

Announcements, November 21

THIS WEEK…

This Friday is C. S. Lewis’ (“Surprised by Joy”) feast day. We’re celebrating with a brief medley of this writings and Holy Eucharist, starting at 5:30 pm at St Dunstan’s and lasting about 30 minutes.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, November 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 Los Gemelos Restaurant at 6713 Odana Road, Madison. On Odana, turn into the parking area immediately west of the paint store, in the area with the Indian restaurant with the blue awning. Then, drive to the back of the building where the sign says Los Gemelos grocery and restaurant. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t! For more information, please contact Kathy Whitt.

Piece Be with You! Fall Giving Campaign Celebration Pie Brunch, November 24, 9:00am: Please join us for a festive, all-parish potluck brunch celebrating our prayers, hopes, and financial pledges for our parish life in the coming year. We will enjoy fellowship, delicious pies, quiches, and other offerings. Look for a signup soon, to sign up and bring your favorite pie or quiche. (Precut pies with labeled pie servers appreciated!) Thank you!

Christ the King All-Ages Worship, Sunday, November 24, 10am: We will reflect on and celebrate the paradoxical Kingship of Christ in our worship this Sunday. Our last Sunday worship is intended especially to help kids (and grownups who are new to our pattern of worship) to engage and participate fully. NOTE: Our 8am service always follows our regular order of worship.

Remember to contact your elected officials on behalf of Bread for the World this week!  This Sunday we will bless the letters (and emails, calls, and Tweets) our members have sent to our elected officials this week, urging them to remember the hungry, and in particular to increase funding for global nutrition programs for mothers and infants. If you write a letter or postcard, bring it this Sunday and we will bless it!

Thanksgiving service, Wednesday, November 27, 7pm: There will be a simple Eucharist service on Wednesday evening. All are welcome.

Our annual Black Friday Craft-In, a free all-ages crafting and gift-making event that we open to the wider community, will be Friday, November 29, from 1 – 4pm. If you’d like to help out with hospitality, with a craft station of your own, or as a helper at somebody else’s station, sign up in the Gathering Area or email Rev. Miranda!

Advent Begins on Sunday, December 1! Advent is the beginning of the church’s new year.  Advent is a wonderful season to celebrate at home! Advent materials are available in the Gathering Area! Please take whatever you will use.

Ushers and Altar Guild Members Wanted! Would you like to help out with our Sunday worship? Members of these ministry teams would love to welcome and train you!  What does an USHER do? Give people their bulletin & hymnal(s) on their way into church; count how many people are in church that day; carry bread & wine up to the altar, then circulate the collection plates, before Communion. What does an ALTAR GUILD MEMBER do? Get familiar with and help care for the things we use in our worship (like special cups and plates, napkins and candles); come 20 minutes early and/or stay 20 minutes late to set up for Eucharist or clean up afterwards; sometimes, gather to help decorate the church for special celebrations All kinds of people can do either of these jobs! A kid could sign up with a grownup buddy! Sign up in the Gathering Area or tell Rev. Miranda if you’d like to help out.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

We again will be sharing Christmas (with a new name – “Winter Wishes”) with Middleton Outreach Ministry. We have 4 families with a total of 7 adults and 6 children. The wishes are on the ornaments on the windows in the Gathering Place. Directions are on the table underneath the ornaments andthe sign-up sheet is there also. Gifts should be brought to St. Dunstan’s by Sunday, Dec. 8th. Questions? Contact Connie Ott.

Bite Size Climate, Sunday, December 1, 11:50 – 12:10: Many of us are fearful and sad about climate change and its many impacts.  An important first step towards change is to be informed citizens who understand the issue and can talk about it with others – since we’ll all need to work together for change. This time, we’ll learn about the science of climate modeling. This video is a little longer (12 minutes), but we’ll keep our 20 minute total time.

Bring Christmas Cheer to St. Dunstans! Celebrate what’s important to you with a gift that helps us decorate for Christmas and honors a loved one or a special event. Please see the red Christmas Flowers sign-up sheets in the Gathering Area. Write “Christmas Flowers” on the memo line of your check or on the envelope containing cash. Suggested donation is $25.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, December 11, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Las Posadas Party, Saturrday, Dec. 14, 6pm:  Las Posadas (Spanish for “the inns”) is an Advent celebration practiced in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, revolving around the concept of hospitality. We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst. We’ll celebrate Posadas with an intergenerational gathering for food, fellowship & fireworks! All are welcome.

Announcements for E-news: If you have an announcement you would like to see in the weekly e-news or the Sunday News and Notes, we are happy to include it. Send announcements to the office at . We ask that all announcements be submitted by the end of the day on Wednesday, because we prepare the E-news and News & Notes on Thursday morning.  If you have an announcement or event you’d like to share but are uncertain whether it’s appropriate for the e-news, you can send it to Rev. Miranda at  .

Announcements, November 14

THIS WEEK…

Annual Giving Campaign Dedication Sunday, Nov. 17: We are currently collecting pledge cards from members, to help us plan our church’s 2020 budget. We hope to have all pledges gathered by Sunday, November 17! We’ll celebrate together on Sunday, Nov. 24 with our Pie Brunch at 9am, including blessing our new elevator. See announcement below, and sign up to help out or contribute if you would like!

Outreach Hearts: At St. Dunstan’s we use hearts to represent offerings made by our Outreach Committee to organizations helping those in need locally, nationally, and internationally.   Each heart represents 100 dollars.  These hearts are presented at the offering to remind us that our gifts to others are gifts to God.  In October the outreach committee donated the following:

$500 (5 hearts) to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services

$500 (5 hearts) to GSAFE to help support safer schools for LGBTQ+ youth across Wisconsin

$575 (5 hearts) to MOSES

Sunday School at St. Dunstan’s: Our Sunday school classes for kids meet during 10am worship on the second and third Sundays of most months. We have three Sunday school classes: for kids age 3 through kindergarten, for grades 1 – 3, and grades 4 – 6. Kids are welcome to try it out at any time, and parents may come along too! If you’d like to get involved, contact Sharon Henes.

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

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

Saturday Book Club, November 16, 2019 at 10 am: This month’s book is Manhattan Beach by Jenifer Egan. Getting a hard copy of the book: The Madison Central Library (next door to the Overture Center) has a Book Club section – located on the western end of the second floor. This section contains multiple copies of selected books. The next meeting’s book – Manhattan Beach – is available in this section. If you check it out at the main desk and say it is a Book Club book, they can also give you an extended time to read it.

Vestry Meeting, Wednesday, November 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.

Ushers and Altar Guild Members Wanted! Would you like to help out with our Sunday worship? Members of these ministry teams would love to welcome and train you!  What does an USHER do? Give people their bulletin & hymnal(s) on their way into church; count how many people are in church that day; carry bread & wine up to the altar, then circulate the collection plates, before Communion. What does an ALTAR GUILD MEMBER do? Get familiar with and help care for the things we use in our worship (like special cups and plates, napkins and candles); come 20 minutes early and/or stay 20 minutes late to set up for Eucharist or clean up afterwards; sometimes, gather to help decorate the church for special celebrations All kinds of people can do either of these jobs! A kid could sign up with a grownup buddy! Sign up in the Gathering Area or tell Rev. Miranda if you’d like to help out.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, November 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 Los Gemelos Restaurant at 6713 Odana Road, Madison. On Odana, turn into the parking area immediately west of the paint store, in the area with the Indian restaurant with the blue awning. Then, drive to the back of the building where the sign says Los Gemelos grocery and restaurant. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t! For more information, please contact Kathy Whitt.

Piece Be with You! Fall Giving Campaign Celebration Pie Brunch, November 24, 9:00am: Please join us for a festive, all-parish potluck brunch celebrating our prayers, hopes, and financial pledges for our parish life in the coming year. We will enjoy fellowship, delicious pies, quiches, and other offerings. Look for a signup soon, to sign up and bring your favorite pie or quiche. (Precut pies with labeled pie servers appreciated!) Thank you!

Thanksgiving service, Wednesday, November 27, 7pm: There will be a simple Eucharist service on Wednesday evening. All are welcome.

Our annual Black Friday Craft-In, a free all-ages crafting and gift-making event that we open to the wider community, will be Friday, November 29, from 1 – 4pm. If you’d like to help out with hospitality, with a craft station of your own, or as a helper at somebody else’s station, sign up in the Gathering Area or email Rev. Miranda!

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, December 11, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Altar Flowers: Fall dates available – sign up at church or by email! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers on a special date! At church, sign up on the clipboard under the big calendar in the Gathering Area, and place a check or cash in an envelope labeled “Flowers” in the offering plate. From home, email office@stdunstans.com with your preferred date and dedication, and make your gift online at donate.stdunstans.com. Thank you for beautifying our worship space!

Announcements for E-news: If you have an announcement you would like to see in the weekly e-news or the Sunday News and Notes, we are happy to include it. Send announcements to the office at . We ask that all announcements be submitted by the end of the day on Wednesday, because we prepare the E-news and News & Notes on Thursday morning.  If you have an announcement or event you’d like to share but are uncertain whether it’s appropriate for the e-news, you can send it to Rev. Miranda .

Sermon, Sept. 15

Jesus was traveling through the small towns near Jerusalem, and pausing to teach and heal along the way. One day he was speaking to a large crowd, and all the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. Now, Judea was under Roman rule; both the Roman colonizers, and the local government that collaborated with the Romans, demanded high taxes from the people. Tax collectors were Judeans who worked for that double-layered government, demanding payments from even the poorest, and a little on top for themselves. As for the sinners, who knows? Probably some were people whose personal lives did not meet general moral standards. Others might be petty thieves or general good-for-nothings. None of these characters were probably very welcome in their local synagogue on Saturdays, to hear the Scriptures read and interpreted. But Jesus preaches outdoors, where anybody can listen; so they gather around to see if he has any good news for them. 

Now, there are also some of the self-appointed gatekeepers of righteousness around: some Pharisees, who are part of a religious movement within Judaism to call people back to daily observance of the Old Testament Law; and some scribes or legal experts, who spend their days reading Scripture and debating how it should be understood and applied. And they start grumbling to each other about Jesus: “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Judaism has a lot of laws to do with purity and food, so eating with sinners – unclean people – is real gross.) 

So Jesus tells a little story, as he often does. In fact, he tells three stories, though we only get two today. He says, Suppose you had a hundred sheep and you lost one. Wouldn’t you do anything to find the lost one, and bring it home tenderly, and call your friends to share your rejoicing? Or suppose you had ten coins and you lost one. Wouldn’t you light your lamp and sweep the whole house until you found the lost one, and then celebrate with all your friends? In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.

The Gospels suggest that a lot of people in Jesus’ time thought there were two kinds of people in the world: righteous people and sinners. It’s the kind of harsh binary thinking to which humans are particularly prone when we are stressed and anxious: In or out. Us or them. Good or bad. But Jesus says, Nope. Nobody is worthless or irredeemable. God doesn’t write anybody off. 

The lost coin and lost sheep stories – and the prodigal son story, which follows them – are pretty familiar to many of us. And rightly so; I think these parables tell us something really important about the heart of God, made known to us through Jesus Christ’s words and witness. But this year I’m especially drawn to the thing that Jesus’ critics say about him: This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.

Let me tell you another story about a time when Jesus met a sinner. This one is in John’s Gospel. Listen. 

Jesus is preaching in the Great Temple. And some legal experts and Pharisees – the same kinds of folks criticizing Jesus in today’s Gospel – drag this woman forward. They say, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery – having intimate relations with somebody who is not her husband. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this – to throw stones at her until she is dead. What do you say?” They said this to test him. They knew he was unlikely to say the woman should be killed – everybody knew he was a big softie about sinners! But if he went against the clear judgment of the Law of Moses, from the Book of Deuteronomy, then they would have grounds to accuse him of heresy. 

But Jesus didn’t answer right away. Instead he bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. They kept questioning him – Should we stone her? What does the Law require, Jesus? And finally he stood up and said, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Then he went back to writing on the ground. 

There was a little silence. Then one of the elders who was standing there, one of the ones who’d been shouting angrily a moment ago – he turned, and left, pushing his way through the crowd. Another followed. The men holding the woman – so many angry hands – first one released its grip, then another. In a moment nobody was holding her. One man awkwardly tried to straighten her dress. One by one, the accusers vanished into the crowd. Finally the woman stood alone before Jesus, in the center of all those people.

Jesus was still writing in the dirt. I can’t tell you how much I love that weird detail. There have been many hypotheses over the centuries about what he might have been writing. One early theory was that he was writing, “Earth accuses earth.” Like, we’re all dirt; why are we wasting time trying to hurt each other? I’ve also heard a modern theory that he was writing, “Where’s the man?”

Now Jesus straightens up and looks at the woman. He says to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?” She says, “No one, sir.” Jesus says, “I don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”

This story is not in our lectionary cycle. I assume that’s because modern Scripture scholarship sees it as sort of quasi-canonical. It appears in the eighth chapter of John, but our earliest and best manuscripts of John’s Gospel don’t include it; it’s first mentioned in a text from the 300s. So it seems like it was added to the Gospel fairly late. That doesn’t mean it’s not a real Jesus story, passed down by another channel and eventually pasted into John’s Gospel. The theologian Jerome, writing in the early 5th century, hypothesized that some men didn’t want this story in the Bible because it might make their wives think it was OK to mess around. Whatever the reason, this story has an ambiguous standing as Scripture, these days. The NRSV, the Bible translation used by most mainline churches, puts double brackets around it: “I dunno about this part.” 

But this story sure sounds like Jesus to me. It is part of *my* Gospel. The people bringing this woman to Jesus believe themselves to be righteous people who have identified a sinner. Jesus’ response breaks open their assumption about the two kinds of people in the world. He asks them to examine their own hearts and lives: Who here has never sinned? Step right up! Grab a rock! And – to their credit – they pause. They reflect. And somebody – bless him – dares to be the first to turn away. To acknowledge that he has no grounds to judge anybody. 

The whole concept of sin, of being a sinner, comes from religion. A sinner is somebody who breaks God’s rules, right? And yet – this whole area of how we think about sin and sinners has long been one of the biggest gulfs between Christ and His Church. The Church, through the ages, has been too wiling to accept and propagate the idea that there are two kinds of people in the world: saints or sinners, in or out, good or bad, us or them. Not only that, the Church, though the ages, has been quite selective in the sins it condemns and penalizes – reserving its harshest judgment for sins of the body and the passions. 

One of my favorite authors, the 20th century British novelist and theologian Dorothy Sayers, wrote about this phenomenon with great insight. She wrote, “Perhaps the bitterest commentary on the way in which Christian doctrine has been taught in the last few centuries is the fact that to the majority of people the word “immorality” has come to mean one thing and one thing only…. A man may be greedy and selfish; spiteful, cruel, jealous, and unjust; violent and brutal; grasping, unscrupulous, and a liar; stubborn and arrogant; stupid, morose, and dead to every noble instinct – and still we are ready to say of him that he is not an immoral man. I am reminded of a young man who once said to me with perfect simplicity: ‘I did not know there were seven deadly sins: please tell me the names of the other six.’” 

It’s not that Jesus didn’t call out sin; he definitely did. But he – like the prophets before him – saved his harshest words for the sins of power, avarice, and callouness. The worst he ever says to anyone caught in sexual sin is, Hey, do better next time. 

And – this is really important – he is always, always inviting people to change. Jesus thinks there are two kinds of people in the world, too: People who know that they need to continue the work of turning their hearts and lives towards God; and people who are in denial. Who think they already have it all figured out. 

This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them. 

Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.

The story of this woman, and the men so eager to condemn her, was on my mind because Bryan Stevenson alludes to it in his book Just Mercy, which I read recently, along with some other St. Dunstan’s folk. The book walks you relentlessly through some of the many, many ways our criminal justice system is broken. Pervasive racial bias at every level, every step. Police and DAs willing to collaborate and fabricate evidence to secure a conviction, regardless of guilt. Harsh legislation leading to more and longer prison terms. Lack of compassion for the impact of poverty, trauma, addiction and mental illness in people’s lives – especially in kids’ lives. Late in the book Stevenson wonders, in frustration and grief: “Why do we want to kill all the broken people? What is wrong with us, that we think a thing like that can be right?” (288)

A few pages later, he describes meeting an older African-American woman sitting in the courthouse where he’s just spent a draining day fighting for justice. She tells him that she comes to be present for people who need a kind word or a shoulder to cry on. She tells him, “I just started letting anybody lean on me who needed it. All these young children being sent to prison forever, all this grief and violence. Those judges throwing people away like they’re not even human, people shooting each other, hurting each other… it’s a lot of pain. I decided that I was supposed to be here to catch some of the stones people cast at each other.” (308)

Stevenson continues, “Today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even… Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion… We can’t simply watch that happen… We have to be stonecatchers.” 

Stonecatchers. Not stone-throwers. Stone-catchers. People who watch for the moments when someone’s getting ready to throw a metaphorical stone – to attack, scapegoat, blame, diminish somebody because we think they’re Out and we’re In; or more likely because we hope that making them Out will help us feel In. That naming them as Bad will help us feel Good. Catch those stones. Because there is no clear line between sinners and saints, good and bad.  We are all in this together. Stevenson writes, “I do what I do because I’m broken too… Our shared brokenness [connects] us…. Simply punishing the broken – walking away from them or hiding them from sight – only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.” (289-90)

The lost coin, the lost sheep, the condemned woman: all these Gospel stories tell us what Jesus has to say to sinners, to those miserable wretches who fail our tests of morality and righteousness. And what Jesus has to say to sinners is: God is seeking you with urgency and love. I don’t condemn you.  Come, share a meal. Go, and sin no more. 

Sources: 

Some excerpts from Dorothy Sayers on sin: 

http://oafak.com/category/the-other-six-deadly-sins/

Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Spiegel & Grau, 2015. 

Announcements, August 8

THIS WEEK….

MOM School Supply Drive – Please bring in items by this Sunday, August 11!  Middleton Outreach Ministry is gathering school supplies for households in our community. Some of the most needed items include:

#2 Ticonderoga pencils and pencil sharpeners

Loose leaf paper – college ruled

3 x 5 ruled index cards

Crayola markers – thin

Look for a donation box in the Gathering Space. Thank you for supporting this community program that will distribute nearly 800 backpacks this year to students in Pre-K through high school!

Many thanks for your generous school supply donations for the MOM Backpack Program. All the items will help fill the backpacks with much needed supplies and will give students the confidence that they are well prepared for the new school year!

Also—-MOM need paper grocery bags!  Thank you!

Buildings & Grounds Meeting, Monday, August 12, 6 – 8pm: All interested folks are invited to Buildings & Grounds meetings (usually on first Mondays). We usually do small tasks around the building from 6 – 7, then meet to discuss needs & plans at 7pm.

Just Mercy Study Opportunities: Online and face-to-face discussion opportunities around the stories and issues raised in the non-fiction bestseller Just Mercy begin on August 11 and continue through August 31.  Pick up a copy of the Just Mercy at St Dunstan’s Bookmark for a complete listing.  All face-to-face discussions take place upstairs at Common Ground Cafe (2644 Branch Street in Middleton).   Feel free to purchase a beverage and/or food at Common Ground to bring with you to the discussion groups.  Please note that Common Ground Cafe does not allow outside food or beverage to be carried in.

A New Directory is Coming Out Soon! To help make sure this new directory is as correct and inclusive as possible, please take a look at the draft copy on the table in the Gathering Space. If corrections to your information are needed, please write them in. If all looks correct, please put a check mark by your name. To be included in the new directory if you are not already listed, please fill out one of the forms.

A Reminder to Parents & Guardians: Please remind kids to stay clear of construction zones (or keep an eye on kids too young to follow instructions). Normally we are glad that St. Dunstan’s building and grounds are a relatively safe place to roam, but due to the renovation there are numerous not-so-safe areas right now. In particular, kids should not be playing or hanging out unsupervised on the lower level of the main building. Thanks!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Clergy Presence during Rev. Miranda’s Travel:  Rev. Miranda will be away from church August 14 – 19 and 23-26. Father John Rasmus will celebrate and preach at St. Dunstan’s on Sunday, August 18, and Father Tom McAlpine will celebrate and preach on Sunday, August 25. If you need the care or counsel of a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence, you may reach Father Tom or Father John Rasmus.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, August 14, 1:00-2:45pm: What is a Julian Gathering? A Julian Gathering is open to everyone and you are welcome at all times. We support each other in the practice of contemplative prayer and contemplative spirituality, and have the quintessentially Anglican writing of St. Julian of Norwich at their core. They are 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. Don’t worry if you’ve never practiced silent prayer before, we can set your mind at ease.  We meet on the second Wednesday of each month.  For information, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Youth Group Mission Trip Sharing Reception, Wed., Aug, 21, 7PM: The Youth Group will be hosting a reception on Wednesday, August 21st beginning at 7:00 pm at St Dunstan’s to share their mission trip experiences.  All are invited to come listen to the stories and see the pictures.

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, August 23, 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 Restaurant at 6119 Odana Road, Madison. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Bonnie Magnuson.

Outreach Committee Meeting, Saturday, August 24, 8-10:30am: All are welcome to join our conversations about how St. Dunstan’s can best serve the world with our resources and our hands. We begin with an optional potluck breakfast at 8am.

All-Ages Worship, “Cookie Church” Style, Sunday, Sept. 1, 10AM: Our 10am worship on September 1 will follow the structure of “Cookie Church,” our seasonal evening child-centered worship. Come get a taste of Cookie Church!  Note: This will be more of a departure from normal Sunday worship than our regular monthly All-Ages Worship! Our 8am worship will follow our regular order of service.

Blessing of the Backpacks, Sunday, September 1: Students (and teachers!) of all ages are invited to bring backpacks, laptops, etc., to be blessed in this service, as we pray for our schools and universities. Blessed backpack tags will be available on Sunday, Sept. 8, as well.

Saturday Book Club, September 28 at 10am: A Good American Family by David Maraniss. Getting a hard copy of the book: The Madison Central Library (next door to the Overture Center) has a Book Club section – located on the western end of the second floor. This section contains multiple copies of selected books.

Green Habits Challenge Badge, July – September 2019: Part of our parish Creation Care Mission Statement invites us to pattern our daily lives as caretakers of Creation. Many of us are trying to make our daily habits “greener”, so let’s try together! Pick up a green leaflet under the big calendar in the Gathering Area or go to stdunstans.com/faith-practices/green-challenge-badge-summer-2019/ to see a list of eleven changes and challenges you could undertake. Complete five by the end of September to earn a badge!

Monday Morning Art Group: Each Monday morning from 9:30 to 11:30 an adult group meets in the chapel area to share their creative arts and crafts projects, which might include drawing and painting to needlework.  It’s become a wonderful time to share some of our personal history, or more recent experiences and/or challenges.  Feel free to come along and join us! Because of improper ventilation for toxic materials, we ask that no paint solvents or smelly glues be required during this period.

Sunday Papers: For those worshiping with children: We always have copies of The Sunday Paper and The Sunday Paper Jr. for kids to pick up on the way into church (at the prayer desk on the right). The Sunday Paper is based on the lessons for each Sunday. It invites kids to color, draw, read, and wonder. It helps children to acquire a vocabulary of Scriptural images, and to relate the Gospel to the Old Testament, the life of the Church, and their own lives. Adults may find it worth reading too. You are encouraged to check it out!

Announcements, June 23

THIS WEEK….

St. Dunstan’s LGBTQIA+ & Allies Campfire, June 21, 6:30pm: As part of our continuing intergenerational exploration, we will be having a potluck s’mores bonfire on June 21, at 6pm, for anyone who feels they are in the LGBTQIAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, and/or allies) community.  This is a safe space and time deliberately created to sit around a bonfire, eat soup and s’mores, and visit about your personal experiences within this community, as LGBT+ people, family of LGBT+ people, and friends of LGBT+ people.  All ages are not only welcome, but encouraged.  Feel no pressure to identify with any label at this event, but feel free to talk openly about your experience if you want to.  Dinner provided (soup and rolls), BYFSS (bring your favorite smores supply!). Questions? Talk to Rev. Miranda or Michelle Der Bedrosian.

Clergy Presence during Rev. Miranda’s Travel:  Rev. Miranda will be away from June 22 through 29. Father Tom McAlpine will celebrate and preach on Sunday, June 23. If you need the care or counsel of a priest during Rev. Miranda’s absence, you may reach Father Tom  or Father John Rasmus.

Seeking Sponsors for Middle School Mission Trip: St. Dunstan’s Youth Group is headed out on a mission trip from July 29 to August 1! They will visit other churches around the Diocese of Milwaukee and help out with service projects. We’re sending a big, lively group of kids this year! Would you like to help sponsor the trip?  Your $25 sponsorship helps cover trip expenses. Each sponsor will receive a postcard from one of our youth, during or after the trip.  You can contribute with a check in the offering plate with “Camp Sponsorship” on the memo line, or online at donate.stdunstans.com . Thank you!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, June 28, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at Tanner’s bar & Grill, 1611 Deming Wai, Middleton (Greenway Station). For more information please contact Debra Martinez.

Cookie Church Returns! 6 – 7pm, Wednesdays in July: Cookie Church is simple bedtime church. It is child-centered but not just for kids; we find that youth and grownups like it too! We will share singing, story, Eucharist, and a snack. (Yes, there will be cookies.) We end with bedtime prayers and it’s OK to come in your pajamas! Cookie Church is planned for Wednesdays in July. If you’re away for a weekend but still want to come to church, come try it out! Sign up in the Gathering Area if you’d like to make a batch of cookies for us one week. We ask for at least 20 cookies, and it’s OK to drop them off Sunday morning (clearly labeled so they don’t get eaten at Coffee Hour).

Farewell Party for the Rev. Jonathan Melton & Family: Father Jonathan, the Episcopal chaplain at UW-Madison and friend of St. Dunstan’s, and his family are moving to Texas for a new ministry position. There will be a farewell party for the family at St. Francis House (1011 University Ave.) on Tuesday, July 9, from 5 – 8pm. Please RSVP to Sharon Henes  if you plan to attend!

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, July 10, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: During a time of great turmoil in England and Europe, Julian came to believe unshakably that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  Please join us for contemplative prayer and discussion of Julian’s optimistic theology! For more information, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN .

Learning about Solitary Confinement, Sunday, July 14: One current area of agreement across the U.S. political landscape is the need for criminal justice reform. This is true in Wisconsin with diverse groups such as MOSES and the Tommy Thompson Center advocating for reform.  This summer at St Dunstan’s we will have two opportunities to learn more about what is driving this consensus, both sponsored by St Dunstan’s own Outreach Committee. On Sunday, July 14, we will have the opportunity to go inside a Solitary Confinement Cell on our way into or out of the morning services. And during the weeks of August 11 – 31, we will have multiple opportunities to join in reading and discussing the New York Times bestseller “Just Mercy.”  Stay tuned!

Saturday Book Club, August 3rd at 10am: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Getting a hard copy of the book: I recently discovered that the Madison Central Library (next door to the Overture Center) has a Book Club section – located on the western end of the second floor. This section contains multiple copies of selected books. The next meeting’s book – The Ocean at the End of the Lane – is available in this section. If you check it out at the main desk and say it is a Book Club book, they can also give you an extended time to read it. Don’t worry if via your online account you are put on a lengthy hold list; the Book Club copies aren’t included in the online catalog

Creation Care Ideas, Summer 2019: Our open Creation Care meeting in May generated some great ideas. Plans already in the works include a Creation-focused all-ages Vacation Bible School on the evenings of August 4 – 8; and some opportunities to seek God in Nature on summer Sundays. With some ideas, we’re seeking a group of interested folks who can move it forward. Are you interested in contributing to an Idea Fair to share green practices you’ve taken on or things you’ve learned about caring for the world? Do you have a green crafting or “upcycling” project to share? Would you like to help care for the nearby Heim Fox Mound with some seasonal weeding? Is there a “green” product you find really useful that you’d like us to explore bulk buying? If you have thoughts on any of these fronts, sign up at church in the Gathering Area or email our office coordinator Ann at  .

Healing Prayer Ministry: Do you like to pray for others? We are seeking a few people who feel drawn to praying for the healing of another’s body, mind, and spirit, as part of our parish’s monthly Sunday morning healing prayer ministry. We can train and support you! If you’re interested, talk with Rev. Miranda , Deacon Laura or Father John.

It’s Time to Update our Parish Directory! If you are new to St. Dunstan’s and would like your address and contact information to be in our church directory, or if you have a change of address or contact information, please let our Office Coordinator Ann know at 608-238-2781 or . Our church directory is shared with members; it is not posted publicly.

Update on our Church Neighbors Foundry414: For several years we’ve shared space with Foundry414, a friendly and open-minded non-denominational church. Foundry meets in the Parish Center, which will be renovated this summer for use as youth group space (lower level) and meeting and community space (upper level). Starting on June 2, over the summer, Foundry will be meeting in our nave and Meeting Room on Sundays at 4:30pm. Please help leave the church tidy for them, and if you have a reason to stop by on a Sunday evening, be respectful of their space. Thank you!

SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES… 

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL 2019: SAVE THE DATES – AUGUST 4 – 8! Plans are just starting to take shape but we expect to spend a lot of time outdoors, and to invite the adults of St. Dunstan’s to join our kids and youth for shared learning and fun, as we did in 2018. Mark your calendars!

Women’s Mini-Week, August 8 – 11: The mission of Women’s Mini-Week is to provide an annual retreat event for adult women, offering refuge, friendship, relaxation, and fun. Mini-Week combines opportunities to learn with fellowship, spiritual exploration and delicious food as we invite all women to participate as much or as little as they would like and need. Mini-Week is held at a beautiful lakeside camp in northern Wisconsin. Many members of St. Dunstan’s have attended, planned, and led, over the years. Visit womensminiweek.org to learn more and make Mini-Week part of your summer plans.

Easter Sermon, April 21

Why are you here? Seriously. There are so many reasons not to be in church. Not to own the name “Christian.” If you follow current events at all, it can often seem like Christianity is all about judgment, control, and turning back the clock on the great movements towards allowing people to be their whole, true selves in public. I have conversations with people – not often, but regularly – people who are exploring church, or not-so-churchy friends or acquaintances – conversations whose subtext seems to be: You seem smart, Miranda; why are you still a Christian? 

Why am I still a Christian? When the faith I claim has been used to confine women to home and hearth, and to silence women speaking out about abuse? To tell LGBTQ+ people that their lives, their partnerships, their bodies, are less valid, less worthy? To say the Earth is ours to use and use up, rather than a sacred responsibility? When my faith has even been used to say that the wellbeing of the homeless, the hungry, the immigrant, the asylum seeker, is none of our concern? It is really hard to make the Bible say this, folks, but some people manage… And the icing on the cake: when my faith, our faith, has been used to insist on niceness, when folks start to get uppity about calling for change? 

Christianity became the religion of institutional power seventeen hundred years ago.In the intervening years, our scriptures and teachings and liturgies have often been made instruments of control rather than wholeness; of maintenance rather than transformation; of rigidity rather than renewal; of shame rather than joy. Why would anybody still be a Christian? 

I can’t tell you why you should be – though if you come here every Sunday, I’ll try. But I can tell you why I am. There are a lot of answers to that question, but today the answer begins with Mary Magdalene. 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed. So she ran and told Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. They all returned to the tomb together, and saw the linen cloths lying there, the ones that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body. Mary stayed there when the others left, weeping for her lost friend. Then a voice said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?…” 

The story of Jesus’ life, death, and rising again from the dead, comes to us in four different versions – the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They were compiled and composed at different times, by people with different sources, understandings and intentions. The four texts agree about many things, and disagree about many others. One of their clearest agreements is that Mary Magdalene was the first, or among the first, to learn that Jesus had risen from the dead. Mark, Matthew, and Luke all list Mary first among several women who went to the tomb immediately after the sabbath day of rest – when it was forbidden to handle dead bodies. They wanted to wash and anoint the body of their beloved friend, who had been buried in haste before the sabbath. Instead, they found the tomb empty, and received a mysterious and joyful message: He’s not here. He has risen! 

The Gospel of John tells the story a little differently. One of the many quirks of this gospel is its frequent mention of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” – known as John to the other Gospels. The Gospel of John makes John a central figure in the unfolding story. For example: It’s the only gospel that claims John visited Jesus’ tomb. And by this account, John is the first one to get it – he sees the empty tomb, and believes. But even the gospel of John doesn’t dare unseat Mary Magdalene; after John has left the scene, she is the one who meets the risen Christ, names him – Rabboni! My teacher! – and embraces him. 

Though they tell the story in different ways, the four Gospels are unanimous in placing Mary Magdalene as first witness to the Resurrection – the church’s big word for the raising of Jesus from death to life. Mary Magdalene’s place of honor is all the more amazing when you consider the context from which these texts emerged. First-century Jewish culture and law was patriarchal and male-dominated, while the Hellenistic cultural influence in the region was heavily sexist. To take one relevant example: Women could not be witnesses in a legal setting. You can’t trust them, you know? Their brains … 

The Gospels reflect that context in their readiness to overlook women. Mark and Matthew literally named Mary Magdalene and other women just verses earlier, as Jesus is dying… NOT because that the women just showed up; they have been there the whole time. Listen to Mark:  “There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James … and Joses, and Salome. These used to follow Jesus and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.” OH, BY THE WAY, Jesus had a bunch of female disciples too, who were supporting and looking after the whole motley crew! And it was a big deal for women to up and leave home, so their presence suggests devotion and courage at least equal to that of their male counterparts. 

In his Gospel, Luke – who takes women a little more seriously – even alludes to the sexism of the times, when he describes the male disciples’ reaction to news of the resurrection from Mary Magdalene and her companions: It “seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” 

The Gospels reflect the sexism of their context. But… not entirely. Because they are built on the foundation of the Hebrew Scriptures, from which the faces of bold and faithful women peek out, despite the overwhelming dominance of men’s voices and men’s stories: Deborah, Abigail, Tamar, Naomi, Ruth, Judith, Esther, Rahab, Miriam, Sarah, and so many others.  And because the man at the center of the Gospels was different. The great novelist and Christian writer Dorothy Sayers wrote, “It is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man… A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them [or condescended to them]; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never [told them where they belonged]; who had… no uneasy male dignity to defend.” 

No wonder Mary wept at his tomb, thinking him dead. To hear that voice silenced, to see that vision crushed. And no wonder she wept even harder when she heard his voice, saw his beloved face, and knew that not only was it not over, it was just beginning. 

Why am I still Christian? Most fundamentally, because of Jesus. I’ve been talking about women here, but there are so many ways Jesus’ teachings and actions break open our categories of clean and unclean, righteous and unrighteous, deserving and undeserving, insider and outsider. He taught and showed and lived that there is no line that divides those who do and do not deserve our compassion, our solidarity. Even though people and institutions of faith have fallen short and distorted the message, again and again and again, the Gospels – the Scriptures – carry within them the seeds of liberation, healing, and renewal. 

And – the point of Easter is not just that God has the power to bring somebody back from the dead. I mean, that’s cool, but this week scientists zapped the brains of dead pigs and got some cells to start functioning. Who knows – within the next few years, reanimation may move from miraculous to mundane. The point of all this is not that God brought somebody back to life; the point is that God brought Jesus back to life.The guy who said all those amazing things and did all those wonderful things. To use a metaphor that may be relevant: In raising Jesus from death, God endorsed Jesus’ platform and sent out an email blast inviting us all to join the movement. 

But, listen: This isn’t just about remembering that Jesus was one woke dude. The late Bishop Stephen Bayne wrote that churches often act as if they were “a sort of memorial association for a deceased clergyman named Christ, whose ideals were important.” Jesus was great; but if what we’re about is getting together to talk about how great Jesus was, then I’m out. That’s not enough. Have you looked at the world? Stories – even really beautiful, profound stories – do not equip me to live in these times. I need a living God, not a dead one. I need the witness of Mary Magdalene: The tomb is empty! He’s alive!  And I need him to call me into life – abundant life, deep, true, fierce, wholehearted life.

In icons – holy images – of the Resurrection from the Eastern Orthodox churches, 

Jesus doesn’t just wake up in the dark tomb, sit up, unwind the burial cloths. Instead, he descends to the place of the dead and frees everyone – a cosmic jailbreak. He’s shown with broken doors, shattered locks and chains, around his feet. And he’s never shown alone: He grips the hands with a man and a woman, 

Adam and Eve, representing all of humanity, freed from the bondage of death, dragged back from the place of shadow and forgetting. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! 

Last night we gathered here for the Easter Vigil, a liturgy that begins in the darkness of the tomb, with waiting and remembering, then celebrates the moment of Easter: Alleluia! Christ is risen! I don’t preach at the Vigil. Instead some voices from the early church speak to us across the centuries: Blessed Euthemius, the 5th century abbot, and blessed John Chrysostom, a 4th-century preacher and writer. In these ancient Easter sermons, Euthemius and Chrysostom, like the icons I described, name the Resurrection as an invitation. 

Euthemius gives Jesus these words: “I order you, O sleeper, to arise. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell… Rise up, work of my hands, created in my image. Rise up, let us leave this place! For I have died with you, and you shall rise with me.The banquet is ready, the throne of angels awaits; the Kingdom of Heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity!” 

Chrysostom preaches Easter as the invitation to a cosmic party: “Rich and poor, sing and dance together. You that are hard on yourselves, you that are easy, 

celebrate this day. You that have fasted and you that have not, make merry together. The meal is ready, come and enjoy it; you will not go away empty. There’s hospitality for all, and to spare.” 

Somewhere in the intervening centuries, we lost some of this urgency and joy. We started treating the Resurrection as Scripture, as Doctrine, as an Historical (or possibly not so Historical) Event – instead of God taking my hand and leading me into the best party ever, with food and people and joy and no awkwardness and so much music. 

This is why I’m still a Christian, and not just “still”, but fiercely, joyfully Christian: Because Easter is not just about Jesus; it’s about us. It’s not just a remembrance; it’s an invitation. To walk right out of the machinery: Rise up, let us leave this place!  To seize the brave conviction that there’s more love somewhere – as we sing in Lent – and we are gonna keep on till we find it. An invitation to transformation rather than maintenance; wholeness rather than control; renewal rather than rigidity; joy instead of shame. The Orthodox theologian Patriarch Athenagoras says, the Resurrection is not just the resuscitation of a body; it is the beginning of the transformation of the world.

Christ is risen. Join the movement. Share the feast.

This sermon is indebted to this wonderful article by Jim Friedrich: 

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/opinion/preaching-easter-sunday-isn-t-about-convincing-people?fbclid=IwAR2fJTimeZOsx9Tt0UEfkGD6Fog-J9N5_Bklkj2Rie-TSytAeht1avZJU2A

Bishop Bayne is quoted in Beyond Colonial Anglicanism, Ian Douglas & Kwok Pui-Lan (eds.), 2000.

 

The Sayers quotation is from  Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society. 

Announcements, April 11

THIS WEEKEND…

Palm Saturday Intergenerational Gathering:  On Saturday, April 13, from 10 – noon, all are invited to get ready for Easter together by preparing our space, our hearts, and our minds. We’ll spend about an hour sharing various activities, then gather for our participatory Easter Pageant at 11am.

Palm & Passion Sunday Worship, 8 & 10am:  Weather permitting, our worship will begin outside. This is a long liturgy, in which we re-tell the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his confrontations with the authorities there, and his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. In the past we’ve found that many kids like to be present. Our child care staff can take younger or restless kids to another room as needed.

Cookie Church, 6-7pm, Sunday, April 14: Cookie Church is simple bedtime church. It is child-centered but not just for kids. We will share singing, story, Eucharist, and a snack. (Yes, there will be cookies.) We end with bedtime prayers and it’s OK to come in your pajamas! We’re trying this out for a season to see what we learn; come try it out with us! Sign up in the Gathering Area if you’d like to make a batch of cookies for us one week. We ask for at least 20 cookies, and it’s OK to drop them off Sunday morning (clearly labeled so they don’t get eaten at Coffee Hour).

Easter Flower & Coffee Hour Sign-Up: Would you like to help with our Easter celebration on April 21? To contribute to our special coffee hour after 10am worship, or to sponsor and dedicate flowers for the Easter services, please see the sign-up sheets in the Gathering Area under the big calendar.  Remember, you can make your flower donation online at donate.stdunstans.com .

Maundy Thursday (April 18, 6pm) Meal Sign-up: Our Maundy Thursday liturgy includes a shared meal as we remember Jesus’ final meal with his friends before his crucifixion. Sign up in the Gathering Area to contribute lentil soup, hummus, lives, or other items. Thanks for all your offerings!

Night Watch Vigil Sign-up: From 8:30pm to midnight on Thursday, March 29, following our Maundy Thursday service, and from 6am to noon on Good Friday, March 30, members of St. Dunstan’s will keep vigil of prayer in the church, in pairs. Sign up in the Gathering Area for your desired shift. Talk with Connie Ott with any questions. The church is locked in the evening for safety; if you do not have a key, please contact Ann in the office at or (608) 238-2781.

St. Dunstan’s Easter Egg Hunt 2019:  As a response to the call to reduce single-use plastics (which includes trinkets that are only interesting when first found), we’re trying something new with our egg hunt this year. Eggs will contain plastic tokens, which kids are invited to put into one of three jars – for Briarpatch Youth Services, GSAFE, and Episcopal Relief and Development, the same three organizations that will receive our Holy Week special offerings. Kids can choose how to distribute their tokens, and later, St. Dunstan’s will send an additional gift to those organizations based on the kids’ choices. We will also be giving out small goody bags containing a little nut-free candy, stickers, and such. We will have some non-candy bags available upon request. Please talk to Rev. Miranda or Krissy Mayer if you have questions, concerns, or ideas!

Neighborhood Stations of the Cross, Good Friday, April 19, 2pm:  This is a new opportunity this year. The Stations of the Cross Walk takes us through Jesus’ journey to the cross as we walk through the neighborhood around our church.  The total walk will be slightly over one mile, and will take about an hour and a half (including stops and readings). We will gather at St. Dunstan’s to begin the walk.

HOLY WEEK

Thursday,  April 18, 6:00pm:

Maundy Thursday Meal & Worship. This is a great liturgy for all ages – it moves from joyful to solemn, with lots of participation and symbolism.  If you wish, bring an offering in coins to remind us of Judas’ betrayal.

Friday,  April 19 – Good Friday.

12pm & 7pm: Formal Good Friday services with Passion Gospel of John

2pm: Stations of the Cross Walk – starts at the church; see announcement above.

4pm: Children’s Stations of the Cross

Following the 7pm liturgy, several prayer stations for quiet meditation will be offered.

Saturday, April 20 – 8pm: Great Vigil of Easter

The Easter Vigil is great for older kids who can handle a late night (we wrap up around 10pm). We tell ancient holy stories by firelight, then sing and shout a lot!

Sunday, April 21 – Easter Sunday

An egg hunt for children follows both the 8am & 10am services. At 10am we will celebrate the Rite of Holy Baptism with baby Hope and her family.

Holy Week Offerings

Every year, our Holy Week offerings – gifts given at these particular liturgies – are given to help specific organizations. This year the offerings will be given as follows:

Maundy Thursday – Briarpatch youth services: In Dane County it is estimated that every night approximately 300 youth go to bed homeless. Briarpatch provides resources, emergency shelter, access to restorative justice programs and job trainings to help these youth reach safety and success. 

Good Friday – GSAFE – Gay Straight Advocates for Education: GSAFE increases the capacity of LGBTQ+ students, educators and families to create schools in WI where all youth thrive, through leadership development, advocacy, teacher training, and more.

The Easter Vigil – Episcopal Relief and Development: Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with Church partners and local organizations in almost 40 countries worldwide, creating long-term, local strategies to address global challenges like poverty, hunger, and disease.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, April 26, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at The Village Green at 7508 Hubbard Ave., Middleton. For more information please contact Kathy Whitt.

“The Death and Life of the Great Lakes,” Book Group Discussion, Saturday, May 4, 10am: The monthly Saturday morning book group will meet to discuss an award-winning book of science and history, examining the past, present, and future of the Great Lakes. St. Dunstan’s members with an interest in ecology and creation care are invited to join the regular Saturday group to discuss this book. To participate, read The Death and Life of the Great Lakes (Dan Egan, 2017) by May 4! If you’d like to buy the book and cost is a barrier, talk to Rev. Miranda. Please note, the Saturday book group has traditionally been known as the “Men’s Book Group” but it is open to everyone!

Groundbreaking Sunday, 9am, Sunday, May 5: We wondered, planned, raised money, prepared – and now it’s time to begin! The Open Door Project, a major renovation to improve the comfort, safety, beauty, and usability of our church buildings, is about to begin. We will kick it off on Sunday, May 5, with a ceremony between services at 9am, and photo opportunities both between services and after the 10am service. Mark your calendar and plan to attend!

Middleton outreach Ministry (MOM) Needs Clothing Donations: Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) has a clothing closet with gently used clothing available at no cost for their clients. Their racks  for infants and toddlers are quite low at this time. During your spring cleaning, if you find any clothing for newborn to 4T that you no longer need please consider bringing them to church and we will deliver them to MOM. Questions? -Connie Ott or Janet Bybee

SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES… 

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL 2019: SAVE THE DATES – AUGUST 4 – 8! Plans are just starting to take shape but we expect to spent a lot of time outdoors, and to invite the adults of St. Dunstan’s to join our kids and youth for shared learning and fun, as we did in 2018. Mark your calendars!

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 .

Camp Webb 2019 (June 16 – 22) is accepting applications now! Camp Webb is an outdoor ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, for children and youth grades 3 through senior high. It is held at a camp outside Elkhorn, WI. Camp tuition is $400, with a deposit of $100 due at the time of registration. St. Dunstan’s offers $150 in aid to all our campers, with additional assistance possible; contact Rev. Miranda for financial assistance. http://www.diomil.org/forming-disciples/children-youth-and-family-ministries/camp-webb/ for registration forms. Camp Webb IS EXPECTED TO FILL this year, so apply soon!

Women’s Mini-Week, August 8 – 11: The mission of Women’s Mini-Week is to provide an annual retreat event for adult women, offering refuge, friendship, relaxation, and fun. Mini-Week combines opportunities to learn with fellowship, spiritual exploration and delicious food as we invite all women to participate as much or as little as they would like and need. Mini-Week is held at a beautiful lakeside camp in northern Wisconsin. Many members of St. Dunstan’s have attended, planned, and led, over the years. Visit womensminiweek.org to learn more and make Mini-Week part of your summer plans.

Homily, March 24

Luke 13:1-5, paraphrased

While Jesus was teaching one day, someone asked him about a terrible thing that had happened: Some people were offering sacrifices to God, in the region of Galilee, and Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, sent his soldiers to kill them. What were those people doing wrong, that such a terrible thing happened to them? 

Jesus answered, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No! Or what about the tower that collapsed the other day, the Tower of Siloam, and killed 18 people – do you think those 18 people were the worst 18 people in Jerusalem? No! Death will come to everyone. Stop looking for scapegoats and easy explanations. You can’t get on God’s good side somehow and avoid the hurts and losses that are part of being human. Instead, change your heart and change your life, to serve God and your neighbor with the time you have.”

This is probably nobody’s favorite story about Jesus. He’s saying some hard things here. But he’s right. 

When bad things happen to people, it hurts. So we look for a way to not care. It’s far away. They’re a different kind of people than we are. They’re used to it; stuff like that happens to them all the time. They should have known better. In fact, they had it coming. Have you ever felt that inside yourself? Seen somebody in trouble, and heard some tiny nasty voice inside yourself say, Well, maybe if they’d made different choices…

Jesus says, Tell that voice to shut up. We all make bad choices sometimes. And we all hurt sometimes. Stop looking for ways not to care about your neighbor. 

But there’s another question here, right? Why do bad things happen at all? Why did those soldiers kill those people? Why did that tower fall on those people? Why would God do that? 

But let’s think about those questions a little harder. Why do you think the tower fell? Do buildings usually just fall down?… If a tower fell down today, here, in America, what would you wonder?You’d think maybe people didn’t build it very well, right? That the people who made this disaster happen were the people who wanted to build a tower as cheaply as possible – and the builders who were willing to do a sloppy, careless job – and the safety inspectors who looked the other way. You might not think about it much when you’re a kid, but we have lots and lots of ways we make sure our buildings are safe and WON’T just fall over on people. (That’s part of why it’s going to cost us $200,000 to put in an elevator – because we don’t just want an elevator; we want a SAFE elevator!)

But sometimes people get sloppy about making sure things are as safe as they should be. Usually because of money. The grownups have been reading in the news this week about a company that makes airplanes, and how the government decided mostly to let the company decide for itself whether its airplanes are safe to fly. Well, guess what? The company wants to sell airplanes, so they were maybe not quite as careful as they could have been. 

Why did that tower fall, in Jerusalem? Because of people. Not because of God. 

Okay, what about the soldiers killing those people while they were worshiping God? Was that God’s idea? Whose idea might it have been? ….  Those are some good guesses. There isn’t much about this story in other historical texts. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; it means that it didn’t seem very important to the people who were writing history back then. So we don’t really know what these people did that upset the Romans. But I think it’s safe to say that this tragedy happened because of people. Not because of God.

God made us free. That’s really important to understand. We’re not dolls. We make choices, individually and all together. And our choices have consequences. I bet you’ve had conversations like that with your grownups! But it’s true for grownups too. 

Sometimes people make choices that result in hurtful things. We use our free will to pollute the air and the water. There’s a town in Michigan, called Flint, that had dangerous levels of lead in their water, the water that comes out of the faucet. Lead is poisonous, especially for babies and kids. The problem for the kids in Flint isn’t that God didn’t care about their safety. It’s that people didn’t care about their safety. There are so, so many examples like that.

I’m going to ask you a couple of important questions now. When humans create systems and situations that hurt somebody – like the bad water in Flint, or not building enough places for people to live, or even changing the climate of our planet so there are worse and worse storms – who is more likely to be hurt by it, poor people or rich people? 

That’s right. Usually poor people, because they don’t have the resources to get out of the situation and protect themselves. 

Here’s the second question: Does God love rich people more than God loves poor people? 

No. No, God loves people who are poor. God loves kids living in places of war. God loves families on the run from violence. God wants all God’s children to have safety, kindness, and hope.

Living the way God asks us to live, loving God and loving other people, doesn’t mean we get out of the hard stuff. It means we choose to take care of each other when we hurt – and to work to make things better. We are all in this together. And we have to work together, to change our cities, our country, our world, so that there are fewer systems and situations that hurt people. 

God made us free. We make choices, and our choices have consequences. What are some choices we can make to make things better for everybody?…. Those are all good ways we can use our freedom and our choices to join God in making the world better for all God’s children! 

When our hearts feel heavy because of hard things happening in the world or to people we care about – or to us – one thing we can do is pray about it. Hold it up to God, and ask God to take care of those people – and help us carry our heavy hearts – and show us what we can do to help. We’re going to spend some time praying now – and we’re going to try praying in a lot of different ways…. 

 

Further Reading: Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on theodicy… https://twitter.com/TheRaDR/status/1090360431556866048

Announcements, February 14

Happy Valentines Day!

THIS WEEK…

Men’s Book Club, Saturday, February 16th, 10:00am: This month’s selection is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

A Crash Course in Liturgical Space, 9am on February 17 & 24: Come explore what it means to have a place of worship and what our place of worship says about us, in a series of discussions based on the work of liturgical scholar Richard Giles. No homework necessary, and it’s OK if you can’t come to all the sessions. All ages welcome – these conversations would be enriched by some generational breadth!

Sunday School at St. Dunstan’s: Our Sunday school classes for kids meet during 10am worship on the second and third Sundays of most months (February 10 & 17). We have three Sunday school classes: for kids age 3 through kindergarten, for grades 1 – 3, and grades 4 – 6. Kids are welcome to try it out at any time, and parents may come along too! If you’d like to get involved, contact Sharon Henes.

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, February 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.

Open Door Project Plans: Look for posters around the church building to tell you about our upcoming renovation! Construction is expected to begin after Easter. Talk to Rev. Miranda or any member of the Vestry if you have questions or ideas.

What Gifts Do We Bring? Gift is one theme of Epiphany, and in this season, the people of St. Dunstan’s are invited to speak up about the gifts you bring and the gifts you notice in others in the church community. What are we good at, and what do we love to do? Fill out a yellow or purple slip and put it in the big green present box near the church doors. Our answers will help point us towards new ideas and opportunities in our common life as a church household. (P.S. We will not assign anyone to a ministry based on these slips – PROMISE!)  Please fill out slips by Sunday, February 24!

Looking for Coffee Hosts for March 2019! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee for more information.

Altar Flowers: March dates available – sign up at church or by email! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers on a special date! At church, sign up on the clipboard under the big calendar in the Gathering Area, and place a check or cash in an envelope labeled “Flowers” in the offering plate. From home, email office@stdunstans.com with your preferred date and dedication, and make your gift online at donate.stdunstans.com. Thank you for beautifying our worship space!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Greeting Card Recycling! Do you have old, used greeting cards around that you don’t have the heart to just recycle? Our 4th & 5th Grade group is planning a project using pictures from old cards, and we’ll put them to good use! Bring them in and give them to Miranda or Krissy, or leave them in Miranda’s mailbox. We prefer general or nature- and spring-type images – nothing Christmassy, please!

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, February 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 Amber Indian Cuisine at 6913 University Ave., Middleton. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt.

Spring Youth Retreat: All youth in grades 6 – 9 are invited to our Youth Retreat, which will begin on the evening of Friday, March 1, and run through midday on Sunday, March 3. The retreat will be structured around the spiritual practices known as the Way of Love. It will include fun, reflection, service, and worship.  Link to registration form is below. We suggest a $20 donation per child to help with food and materials costs, but finances should not be a barrier.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Tuesday, March 5, 5:30 – 6:30pm: Tasty food and intergenerational fellowship! We’ll gather at 5:30 with prayer and song, share a meal, and mark the turning season by burying Alleluias. Friends welcome! Suggested donation of $5 per adult, $10 per household. Kids eat free. All proceeds go to support the St. Dunstan’s Campership Fund, which helps cover costs for St. Dunstan’s kids to attend Camp Webb, our diocesan summer camp. We’ve got more kids going every year, so please give generously! If you’d like to help out or contribute to the meal, see the signup sheets in the Gathering Area.

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

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, March 13, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Making Church Connections: In the spirit of Postcard Pals, are there adults who could spare a little time and would like to be friends with one of our elders who don’t get to church often? It might be occasional visits, or it might be calls & cards. If you’d be interested, talk with Rev. Miranda .

Camp Webb 2019 (June 16 – 22) is accepting applications now! Camp Webb is an outdoor ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, for children and youth grades 3 through senior high. It is held at a camp outside Elkhorn, WI. Camp tuition is $400, with a deposit of $100 due at the time of registration. St. Dunstan’s offers $150 in aid to all our campers, with additional assistance possible; contact Rev. Miranda for financial assistance. http://www.diomil.org/forming-disciples/children-youth-and-family-ministries/camp-webb/ for registration forms. Camp Webb IS EXPECTED TO FILL this year, so apply soon!