5450 Massachusetts Avenue | Bethesda, MD 20816 | (301) 229-2960

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The Trailblazer

"At the time when I gather you": Daily Message from St. Dunstan's: May 20, 2020

Posted 12:37 AM by
Daily Message from
St. Dunstan's
 
May 20, 2020
Wednesday

Dear parishioners and friends of St. Dunstan's,

One of the greatest disappointments for me as your Rector during this time of separation has been not being able to gather with you for the Easter Vigil last month. (Was it really only last month?) Of all the liturgies in the Church year, I find the Vigil to be the most powerful: it is a service rich in symbolism, as we move from the darkness of death and the tomb into the new light and life of Easter. The Vigil includes several readings from Hebrew Scripture recounting "salvation history," or the story of God's saving relationship with God's people throughout the generations. Taken together, these lessons paint a hopeful picture of God's enduring faithfulness – even in (especially in) the face of human suffering.

My favorite Vigil reading comes from the prophet Zephaniah, who says

Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst...

Zephaniah goes on to share God's promise that, after a period of desolation and exile, God’s people will, eventually, have cause to rejoice:

At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord
(Zephaniah 3:16-17, 20).

I have always loved Zephaniah's vision of hope, and I have found myself returning to it time and again over these past several weeks. I have clung to this notion of being brought home: home to our beautiful church building, and - even more importantly - home to our warm, joyful, life-giving community of faith. I have missed you all desperately.

I know that I am not alone in longing for our St. Dunstan's home. As we begin to hear about places in Maryland, DC, and Virginia "opening up" in the coming weeks, we are probably all starting to wonder when and how we will be able to come home to our beloved church. It has been a long time of desolation and exile, and I'm sure that many of us are eager for our "fortunes" to be restored.

While we’re not there quite yet, I do want you to know that your parish leadership, in consultation with the Bishop of Washington, is working thoughtfully and prayerfully to prepare for the day when God does gather us again. Earlier this week your Vestry and I met and discussed at length many of the factors that will need to be considered before we can open our doors for public worship. Subsequently, I received a series of documents from the Diocese that will guide our careful planning. I now am in the process of calling together a “Regathering Team,” comprised of Vestry and other parishioners, who will work with me to think through the various contingencies to the best of our ability, given the information currently available. This is, of course, an iterative process, so I pray that we all can be flexible and open-minded as we move forward cautiously and in faith. The safety of our parishioners remains our highest priority.

I cannot say at this point exactly what to expect in the coming weeks, but I covenant to be as transparent as I am able and to keep you updated regularly. For the time being we will continue with our Sunday morning Zoom worship services which, while imperfect (Lord knows!), do afford us a precious opportunity to see and hear from each other. I am confident that, even after we are able to meet in person again, we also will offer some form of online worship – be it livestreamed or recorded – for those who are not yet ready to be present with us physically. Stay tuned!

As always, I invite and encourage you to be in touch with me to share your ideas and concerns, and I ask your indulgence a little while longer as we figure this out. I am so grateful for your support, patience, and general good humor during our exile, and I wait with eager anticipation for our homecoming.

The Lord our God is, indeed, in our midst, and we need never be afraid.

Your Sister in Christ,
Patty+
914.882.4221

Round 2!

Contactless Food Drive for Manna Food Center

Following on the enormous success of last week's contactless food drive for Manna Food Center, Alex Brown (a senior at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac) will stop by St. Dunstan’s again this Friday morning, May 22, to collect donations of non-perishable groceries.

If you would like to contribute canned or packaged foods to this collection, please leave your donations in the big box (labelled "For Manna Foods" - you can't miss it!) outside the glass doors on Friday morning before 10:30 a.m. Please do not leave food before Friday. Alex will deliver the donated items to Manna on our behalf to help provide for those experiencing food insecurity in our area.

 

Time is Running Out!

Double your Gift to the Emergency Relief Appeal

Concerned about people suffering from hunger and other hardships during this pandemic, a generous member of the St. Dunstan’s community (who wishes to remain anonymous) is setting up a challenge for us. This donor will match our contributions to the Diocesan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Appeal, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $1,000.  These funds will go to congregational leaders to provide direct emergency assistance for their members in need, and for those in surrounding communities. 

If you would like to double the impact of your donation and take advantage of the matching fund challenge, please send your check to St. Dunstan’s (5450 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda 20816), with the note “COVID-19 Fund” in the memo line. The deadline to participate is next Friday, May 22.



 At that time I will bring you home,
    at the time when I gather you...
~ Zephaniah 3:20

For your prayers:

Mildred Alexander

Cindy Ault

Nancy Bancroft

Roy Barber

Phil Carroll

Bill Darnell

The Rev. Patricia Downing

Kenny Farnsworth 

Warren Green 

Stephanie Krawczyk

The Montalvo Family 

Julie Petersmeyer

Pam Plaisance

Curt Shively

Lina Verville

Don Wasseman

 

May they rest in peace, and rise in glory:

Emily Hoffman

(cousin of Walter Douglas)

Airman 1st Class Fred D. Abrams IV

 

This Week at St. Dunstan's

TONIGHT! Wednesday Evening Compline

Compline, sometimes referred to as the "Goodnight Prayer of the Church," is said every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., and you are warmly invited to join us! The Zoom link for Compline may be found here, and the Order of Service is here

Friday Morning: Morning Prayer

Join us for Morning Prayer at 7 a.m. on Friday, May 22, via Zoom. To participate in the service, simply click here

Friday Afternoon: Community Fellowship Time

Come join your St. Dunstan's friends for an hour or so of connection and conversation! Use this Zoom link on Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. Invite a friend!

Sunday Morning: Sunday Worship with St. Dunstan's

Please plan to join your sisters and brothers in Christ for Morning Prayer via Zoom and Facebook Live next Sunday, May 24, 2020. To participate in the Zoom meeting, please use this link, which will go live beginning at 9:50 a.m.  Immediately following worship, stay online for Virtual Coffee Hour! We will finish in time for those who would like to "attend" the 11:15 service at the Washington National Cathedral to be able to do so. 

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