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Bulletin for July 11

9AM Zoom online gathering: We use slides during worship that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Sunday, July 11 Bulletin

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…
1. Print it out!

2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).

3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin for June 13

9AM Zoom online gathering: We use slides during worship that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin for June 13

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…
Print it out!
2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).

3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin for June 6

9AM Zoom online gathering: We use slides during worship that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin for June 6

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…
Print it out!
2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).

3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Sermon, April 18

Today’s Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48

In the Gospel stories about the risen Jesus meeting with his friends, there’s a fascinating paradox about the nature of his body. It’s clear that there is something beyond ordinary embodiment here. The risen Jesus can pass through locked doors, and turn up in unexpected locations. He has a habit of not looking like himself until, quite suddenly, he does. It’s tempting to read all this through the lens of science fiction and hypothesize that the risen Jesus gained the power to rearrange his own atoms at will. 

On the other hand, the witnesses to the Resurrection take care to tell us that what they saw isn’t some intangible spirit.  He can be held and touched. You could put your finger in his wounds, if you felt the need to do so. He eats food. I love the specificity of the boiled fish, here!

The resurrected body of Jesus is not entirely like our bodies, but it also *is* a lot like our bodies. It was important to Jesus to show that to his friends and followers, and it was important to them to pass it on to us. Ghosts and spirits were familiar concepts in that time and place; there’s a story in Acts where someone sees Paul and thinks she’s seeing Paul’s ghost. But the witnesses to the resurrection are clear that that’s not what this is. 

Presbyterian pastor, blogger and Bible scholar Mark Davis writes, “It would be so easy just to say that death releases us from the confines of the body and allows our spirits to be free as the wind. That would have been compatible with the popular Greek notions of the mind/body or spirit/body relationship. It would give credence to popular current notions about the body as some kind of shell with which we are stuck for a time, to be released one day. But, that’s not what the gospels say. The risen Christ is the embodied Christ.”

The witnesses tell us: we touched him. We embraced him. We shared a meal with him. We felt his breath on our faces. We were joyful, and doubtful, and we had so many questions. But there he was. He was there. 

I enjoy the hint in today’s Gospel that Jesus was actually kind of hungry. And that the disciples just stood around and gaped at him while he ate! And then – he wants to talk to them about the Bible. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He wants to help them know that – as he says in Mark’s Gospel – our God is a God of the living. That God has always been bringing life from death. 

Davis writes, “The rise and fall of kingdoms, the suffering and return of exiles, the despair of the suffering servant, the hope of the one “coming in clouds,” the expectation of Elijah’s return—all are stories of how inasmuch as God lives, so do God’s promises. Resurrection makes all the difference between seeing the Scriptures as accounts of things that happened but are not happening any more; and accounts of things that happened and marvelously continue to be happening because God lives.”

Jesus wants to help his friends understand that the new faith being born in their hearts and minds is compatible with the faith of their ancestors, with God’s work with and through God’s chosen people Israel. After all, at every Easter Vigil, we hear the prophet Ezekiel sharing God’s promise to bring Israel up out of their graves and give them new life!

But there’s more here. Because Resurrection faith isn’t just about God; it’s also about us – and the world we live in. Richard Swanson writes, “The Resurrected Messiah eats.  That implies that Resurrection works out its meaning in the real world, not in heaven. Stop and think about that.  The Resurrected Messiah engages the real, physical, earthly, social, political, economic, complicated world.”

That’s not always how we think and speak about resurrection – about life after death. Often Christians speak as if life beyond the grave lessens the value, the importance, of life before the grave. Life on this earth becomes nothing more than a pilgrimage or a passageway to that ultimate destination. At its most extreme, this mindset leads to the idea that things like environmental crisis and systemic injustice don’t matter. Because this world is not the point. 

But that mindset – I believe – is unfaithful to the God who created this world, in its beauty and complexity. To the God who spoke to Moses from a burning bush and did NOT  say, “Tell my people to put up with their enslavement; it doesn’t matter, because they’ll be free and happy after they die.” It’s unfaithful to Jesus, who healed. And fed. And ate. 

Davis writes, “[Seeing Scripture and world through the lens of] resurrection is not a fatalistic capitulation to the inevitable death of all things. It increases the value of life—life of the earth, life of the community, even life of the enemy—because where there is life, there is God.”

Thinking about life from death as a theme throughout Scripture makes me think of another thread woven through the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments alike: the many repetitions of the words, Don’t be afraid. Fear not. Or sometimes: Take courage. Take heart. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: Why are you frightened? 

If God’s purposes in the world consistently involve bringing life from death, turning endings into beginnings, then it makes sense that one of God’s core messages for humanity is: It’s going to be OK. You don’t have to be so afraid. 

Where does fear hold us back from new possibilities for rebirth and renewal? 

Fear of a diverse and multiethnic America drives white supremacist violence, and keeps refugee children imprisoned at our southern border.

Fear of changing understandings of gender, biology, and self are feeding anti-transgender legislation in many states that will wound and kill. 

Fear of what people like me, historically privileged by virtue of our whiteness, might lose, holds us back from a real reckoning with the past and work towards meaningful reparations. 

Fear of having to radically change our way of life, our constant casual consumption, keeps us paralyzed in the face of climate disaster. 

Fear and failure of imagination about other ways to order our common life hold us bound to models of policing that consistently inflict senseless violence on black and brown bodies. George, Breonna, Duante, Tony… so many. 

I’m not shaming anyone for having those fears. I share many of them. 

Psalm 4 speaks truly:  Many are saying, “Oh, that we might see better times!” What if we believed that where there is life, there is God? Really believed it? What if God has the power, working with and through and among us, to bring about better futures? Futures of possibility beyond the fears that bind and burden us? 

Why are you frightened? asks Jesus, and then, Do you have anything here to eat? His friends give him some fish and he bites, and chews, and swallows. And they stand around and watch: joyful, half-disbelieving, still wondering. He is real and impossible, familiar and strange. He is alive, a living body in the same real, physical, earthly, social, political, economic, complicated world that we share. And his triumph over death which is also our triumph over death is not to free us from the complicated world, beloveds, but to free us for it. 

Fear not. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen! 

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! 

 

SOURCES

Mark Davis, “The Politics of Resurrection Hermeneutics” 

https://politicaltheology.com/the-politics-of-resurrection-hermeneutics-luke-2436-48/

Mark Davis, “Opening their minds to the Scriptures,” https://leftbehindandlovingit.blogspot.com/2015/04/opening-their-minds-to-scriptures.html

Richard Swanson, “A Provocation: Third Sunday of Easter,” https://provokingthegospel.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/a-provocation-third-sunday-of-easter-april-15-2018-luke-2436b-48/

Bulletin for April 11

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday!

9AM Zoom online gathering:  We use slides during worship  that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin for April 11

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!

2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).

3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin & Script, Jan. 31

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s 9AM Zoom online gathering.   NOTE: We use slides during worship  that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin for January 31

This Sunday we will also receive a Zoom drama of the story of Jonah. If you’d like to follow along with the script, you can do that here.

Jonah Script 

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN…

  1. Print it out!

2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).

3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window.

Bulletin, January 17

Here is the bulletin for this Sunday’s 9AM Zoom online gathering.   NOTE: We use slides during worship  that contain most of this information, but some prefer to follow along on paper.

Bulletin for January 17

The link for the Zoom gatherings is available in our weekly E-news, in our Facebook group St. Dunstan’s MadCity, or by emailing Rev. Miranda:  .

THREE WAYS TO USE AN ONLINE BULLETIN… 

  1. Print it out!

2. Open the bulletin on one device (smartphone or tablet) while joining Zoom worship on another device (tablet or computer).

3. On a computer, open the bulletin in a separate browser window or download and open separately, and view it next to your Zoom window

Sermon, Dec. 20

So let’s talk about today’s Old Testament lesson, from the first book of the prophet Samuel. I’m going to go ahead and say this is the oddest Old Testament lesson in all three years of Advent lessons. The rest are all prophetic texts – about God coming to deliver, redeem, and restore. This is the only narrative text out of twelve. So let’s play “Why is this in the lectionary?”

One superficial reason is that Jesus is of David’s lineage – both by his parentage and in terms of people’s expectations about him. When folks call him “Son of David,” they’re expressing the  hope that Jesus will throw out the Romans and re-establish the kingship in Jerusalem, as in rose-tinted memories of King David’s time 1000 years earlier. 

But then, why THIS story? Why not any other of the many stories about David, Israel’s great long-ago King? And what is even going on here?… 

Let’s revisit what the Ark of God is, because while our Godly Play class covered that recently, the rest of us may be fuzzy on the subject. 

During the wilderness journey after leading God’s people out of bondage in Egypt, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments – the way they are to live as God’s people, under God’s protection. The Commandments are written on tablets of stone by the finger of God. Moses breaks the first set, after discovering that the people have started worshiping a golden calf while he was off on a mountaintop talking with God, but God instructs Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke.” (Exodus 34:1)

So those tablets – and eventually, other holy documents and objects – are what’s INSIDE the Ark. The Ark itself is a very special, very holy box, that is made on the wilderness journey – along with a very special, beautiful tent. In Exodus 25, God tells Moses what the Ark should look like: 

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make a moulding of gold upon it all round. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on one side of it, and two rings on the other side. You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, by which to carry the ark…. You shall put into the ark the covenant that I shall give you.” (Exodus 25:10-14, 16)

Then they were commanded to make a kind of throne – a “mercy-seat” – with two gold cherubim on top of the ark; and God tells Moses, “There I will meet you, and… from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.”

So: The Ark is the most precious and holy thing the Israelites possess. It stands for God’s living presence among them, and their duty of faithfulness to God. They carry it on their journey; they carry it into battle with them… for example, the enemy city of Jericho is defeated when priests march around it seven times carrying the ark. 

But the Ark is not a weapon of mass destruction. It doesn’t guarantee victory. About twenty years before David became King, the Philistines, a neighboring tribe, were attacking Israel and causing trouble. So the elders of Israel said, “Let’s bring the Ark to the front lines, so that God may come among us and save us from our enemies.” But it didn’t work. There was another battle; Israel lost; thirty thousand soldiers died; and the ark of God was captured. 

I wish I had time to tell you about the ark causing mischief while it’s in enemy hands; read 1 Samuel 5 for that story. Gold mice are involved. So the Philistines give the ark BACK… it ends up in an Israelite town called Kiriath-jearim, and stays there for twenty years. 

Now we are early in the second book of Samuel. After many years of bloody civil war David finally becomes king over all Israel. The FIRST thing David does is claim the city that will become Jerusalem from the Jebusites, who live there. Then, he has a fancy house built for himself, and takes a bunch more wives and concubines – he already has a few. 

And then he decides that what his new capital city really needs is the ark of God. So he takes a group to bring the ark from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem. It’s an occasion of GREAT celebration: “David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.” (2 Samuel 6:5) UNTIL there’s a sobering moment that reminds the people that the Ark is not to be trifled with. The cart carrying the Ark is going over rough ground and one of the priests tending the ark reaches out his hand to steady it, and falls dead on the spot – for touching the Ark. (Those of us who remember the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, may have some vivid mental images for this story. The Ark’s power to melt Nazis is based on some Biblical precedents.) 

SO David gets jumpy and decides maybe he DOESN’T want the ark around after all. He leaves it in the home of a fellow named Obed-edom, who lives nearby, for three months. But then he hears that things are going really great for Obed-edom with the ark at his house, and David decides to bring it to Jerusalem after all. So they have ANOTHER procession, with trumpets and dancing and celebration, and bring the Ark all the way to Jerusalem this time – to a tent that David has prepared for it.

The ark is used to tents, of course. But Israel doesn’t live in tents anymore. People live in villages, towns, and cities. They’ve ARRIVED. They’ve settled. So it starts to bother David that the ark is in a tent. Which brings us to today’s lesson. “Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’”

Nathan is the prophet of God who succeeds the great prophet Samuel. David doesn’t always like what Nathan has to say, but he trusts him, because he knows Nathan will tell him the truth. But after giving David the OK to build a grand house for the Ark, Nathan has a dream, in which God gives him a word for David. I like what the Message Bible paraphrase does with this passage: 

“Go and tell my servant David: This is God’s word on the matter: You’re going to build a ‘house’ for me to live in? Why, I haven’t lived in a ‘house’ from the time I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt till now. All that time I’ve moved about with nothing but a tent. And in all my travels with Israel, did I ever say to any of the leaders I commanded to shepherd Israel, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?’”

God goes on to remind David that God raised him up from being a humble shepherd boy to being King of all Israel. And God explains that actually it’s GOD who is building DAVID a house – giving him the kingship, defeating his enemies, and establishing his lineage so that his son will sit upon his throne after him. 

After Nathan tells him all this, David goes to the ark and prays to God there – a long prayer of praise and gratitude, concluding, “You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, “I will build you a house”… Therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you.” 

It’s hard to tell any of the David stories in isolation because David is such a strong personality. ALL the David stories together tell you a lot about how to read any ONE story. This coming summer, the lectionary will bring us more texts from 1 and 2 Samuel – which might be another reason we get this text this Advent, anticipating those readings – though it’s still weird!

But maybe even if you don’t know David already, you can hear from what I’ve shared that David is a man of ambition – even hubris. His deep and genuine – though complicated – faith in God might be the only curb on his self-esteem. David is a great man, but not consistently a good man. 

When Father John and I were talking through this passage, as we do, Father John recalled a quotation form Mark Twain: “Scripture tells us that God created Man in God’s image, and Man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” David thinks that God is like David. That God wants a fancy house, and power and riches and adulation. And David – let’s be clear – wants the glory of building that house for God. This project would have been partly about honoring God – and partly about honoring David. 

So God is displaying a lot of perceptiveness about David, here. If God allows David to build God a house, David’s sense of being God’s Special Dude might totally overwhelm him. David might really start to think of God as his pet deity, something he owns and commands. 

So God says, Slow your roll, David. Don’t get it twisted. I’m the one building a house here. YOUR house. 

It’s a terrific chapter in the saga of David’s kingship. And… it’s a really interesting story to receive here, today, right before the Gospel of the Annunciation. Of Mary’s Yes to God.

It is Solomon, David’s son, who actually builds the first great Temple in Jerusalem. But Mary, too, is a descendant of David’s lineage who is blessed with the privilege of housing God. Of being the means by which God comes to be housed, to incarnate, to dwell in the very world God created. 

Besides God’s choice about when, where, and how to pitch God’s tent among mortals, God’s rebuke to David has another theme in common with today’s Gospel: God’s refusal to align neatly with human systems of power and status. 

What David is offering and imagining is very commonplace in human history, and very dangerous: God and King as allies, with King in the driver’s seat. History has seen plenty of gods who were bound and beholden to particular human leaders or regimes. Gods used to legitimize the use or abuse of human power. 

The God of Israel – the God we know in Jesus – refuses all such arrangements. Insists on holding rulers accountable to God’s expectations – things like caring for the poor, maintaining a just social and economic order, and tending the land with respect. God says No to David, because God knows David’s rule is shaped by the desire for wealth and status. Mary says Yes to God, because she knows that God’s rule is not. 

The God who comes among us as Jesus Christ is a God who persistently holds the most powerful to account for the well-being of those with the least power. Mary sings that ancient truth in the Magnificat, her hymn of fierce hope about her son, and about what God has done and will do: “He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”

We’ll now receive the Annunciation Gospel, then sing Mary’s song, in a poetic setting written by poet Rory Cooney.