Children

Children

Children's Formation

Posted 7:53 PM by
Children's Formation

On Sunday January 21  we will learn the story of covenant that God makes with Abraham and hear about the visit from three messengers bringing the news that made Sarah laugh. This is a wonderful story of making all things possible with God. When was the last time God made you laugh?
 
_______________________________________________________________
 
Youth Formation
 
D.Y.G. 
4th Monday - January 22
6:30 p.m. Simple Supper
7:00-8:00 p.m. Program

We missed our first gathering of the new year because of ice roads. Hopefully we will have fair weather on January 22. Our focus turns from the relationships we have with each other - family and friends - to our relationship with God. 

December P.R.A.Y. Event

MLK Day of Service
Monday, January 15
9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Washington Hebrew Congregation

Please contact Sue if you are still planning to attend. The sign-up deadline is past. Youth should be dropped off and pick up at the main door of the temple.

February P.R.A.Y. Event
The Museum of the Bible
Sunday, February 10
Time TBD 
L Sue von Rautenkranz
Children and Youth Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Children's Formation: 09/17/2017

Posted 5:43 PM by
 
 
What's Your Favorite Story?

On Sunday, September 17 we begin our journey into the Old Testament by hearing about favorite stories. 
All children are encouraged to bring their favorite story book - picture or chapter book - to church for a Show and Tell time. 
 
 
The Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures, are full of stories - some are historical, some are told in song or poetry, and others try to explain how God and God's people grew in relationship over time.  Join us from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m.
 
Please help us out and fill in a simple registration form for Children's Formation.

If you have children who are infants through 4th grade please fill out this Children's Form


 

link

Pageant, Blessing of the Children's Altar & Chili Supper

Posted 8:07 PM by
 
Pageant, Blessing of the Children's Altar 
& Chili Supper
Saturday, December 19 at 5:00 p.m.
 
The children and youth of St. Dunstan's will present the Christmas story and all will join them in singing familiar carols. All children are welcome to participate and there will be a short run through on that day beginning at 3:30 p.m. No other rehearsals will be needed. We do a simple pageant of movement that requires no lines to be learned or extra time. And welcome grandchildren who may be visiting.

Our Bishop, Mariann Budde, will be with us to bless our new altar and Michael has written a special song for this occasion. All of this will be followed by a chili supper, including a competition for various categories of chili. 

 
Just come and join in as there will be plenty of food!
And there is always room for one more angel, shepherd and animals!


 

link

Children's Ministry

Posted 4:51 PM by

AN ALTAR FOR OUR CHILDREN

It's a beautiful thing to see our children - even very young ones - bring the bread and wine to the altar and set the table for Holy Eucharist. We have enjoyed this tradition at the early service, where we use a simple table for an altar.

This fall, the 9 a.m. service will be moving into the church, so that that congregation can enjoy the beauty of the space, the excellent acoustics, and learn patterns of reverence for God's house. For this purpose, we have commissioned a fine woodworker to build a new altar to be used on the nave floor level. This beautiful table, in maple and tiger maple woods, will be at a height accessible to our children. The altar will be movable, so it can be used in several places in our building.

Some generous gifts have already been received to underwrite the cost of $3,700. Parishioners are invited to make donations of $100 or more in memory or in honor of loved ones. These will be recorded on a permanent plaque on the new altar.

We are excited to bring our early worship service into the church this fall! As announced earlier, new video screens will be mounted in the church soon to facilitate this service and other communication strategies. They will change the appearance of the church somewhat, but will not be obtrusive once we are used to them. Thank you all for your support!   JBM

  Children's Choir

Beginning on September 17, 2015 our Children's Choir will begin weekly rehearsals at 5:45pm. We'll play games, play instruments, sing, and most importantly - have a great time learning about worshiping God through music. Children's Choir is open to kids PK-5th grade.
 
To make it even easier for you to join us, we will have a simple dinner available between choir rehearsals on 
Thursdays at 6:30p.m.
Michael Austin

Growing the Faith of our Children 
Children learn faith in so many ways. In their early years it is through watching and copying the practices of adults around them. As they grow it is vitally important for them to be active participants in those liturgies. This can take place in many ways - being an usher or greeter, serving as an acolyte, bringing gifts forward, or singing in a choir. Our 9:00 liturgy is a great way for children to engage actively in the service and learn the patterns of worship.
 
Another aspect of learning about the faith is through traditional formation programs such as Sunday School. While participation in these programs is not on the increase, learning stories of our faith from other adults and with peers is another aspect of growing faith. Hopefully, these times of learning about our ancestors in the faith will help children as they begin to formulate their own faith story. Adults who give their time to the children and youth of our parish really help to create a foundation for faith formation. If you might be interested in being a part of the team for the coming program year, just let me know. If you have never considered serving in this way - please do - and be prepared for my call in the next couple of weeks,
Sue von
 
 





 

link

Ministry with Children

Posted 6:26 PM by

AN ALTAR FOR OUR CHILDREN
It's a beautiful thing to see our children - even very young ones - bring the bread and wine to the altar and set the table for Holy Eucharist. We have enjoyed this tradition at the early service, where we use a simple table for an altar.

This fall, the 9 a.m. service will be moving into the church, so that that congregation can enjoy the beauty of the space, the excellent acoustics, and learn patterns of reverence for God's house. For this purpose, we have commissioned a fine woodworker to build a new altar to be used on the nave floor level. This beautiful table, in maple and tiger maple woods, will be at a height accessible to our children. The altar will be movable, so it can be used in several places in our building.

Some generous gifts have already been received to underwrite the cost of $3,700. Parishioners are invited to make donations of $100 or more in memory or in honor of loved ones. These will be recorded on a permanent plaque on the new altar.

We are excited to bring our early worship service into the church this fall! As announced earlier, new video screens will be mounted in the church soon to facilitate this service and other communication strategies. They will change the appearance of the church somewhat, but will not be obtrusive once we are used to them. Thank you all for your support!   JBM

 Children's Choir
Beginning on September 17, 2015 our Children's Choir will begin weekly rehearsals at 5:45pm. We'll play games, play instruments, sing, and most importantly - have a great time learning about worshiping God through music. Children's Choir is open to kids PK-5th grade.
 
To make it even easier for you to join us, we will have a simple dinner available between choir rehearsals on 
Thursdays at 6:30p.m.
Michael Austin

Growing the Faith of our Children 
Children learn faith in so many ways. In their early years it is through watching and copying the practices of adults around them. As they grow it is vitally important for them to be active participants in those liturgies. This can take place in many ways - being an usher or greeter, serving as an acolyte, bringing gifts forward, or singing in a choir. Our 9:00 liturgy is a great way for children to engage actively in the service and learn the patterns of worship.
 
Another aspect of learning about the faith is through traditional formation programs such as Sunday School. While participation in these programs is not on the increase, learning stories of our faith from other adults and with peers is another aspect of growing faith. Hopefully, these times of learning about our ancestors in the faith will help children as they begin to formulate their own faith story. Adults who give their time to the children and youth of our parish really help to create a foundation for faith formation. If you might be interested in being a part of the team for the coming program year, just let me know. If you have never considered serving in this way - please do - and be prepared for my call in the next couple of weeks,
Sue von
 





 

link

Advent Offerings for all ages

Posted 6:22 PM by
 
 
Here are some ways to engage and participate in the season:
 
Advent in a Bag is offered for families of all ages and sizes. Similar to our Lent to Go boxes last spring this give us another way to bring the season home. There will be a calendar to follow the season, prayers and scripture with a simple Advent wreath, and other activities to help us focus on the season. Pick one up in Founders' Hall beginning on December 3.

 
Coloring the Season will give all an opportunity to create some wonderful images that will decorate our parish hall and teach us about the weekly journey through the season. All ages are welcome to help create these wonderful posters. These will be available in the Parish Hall each Sunday. Stop by and color for a few minutes.
 
Living Well through Advent: Practicing Wonder With All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind
The seasons of Advent and Christmas are filled with the presence of wonder, if only we remember to pause and open ourselves to receiving this gift. This resource will assist us to take time to discover how the gifts of wonder might be born in us  again this year. Pick up your booklet in Founders' Hall beginning December 3.
 
 
Advent Giving Tree
Beginning on Sunday, December 3 and continuing throughout Advent, we will have the opportunity to support the work of Episcopal Relief & Development. This amazing outreach arm of our church provides aid and development around the world working with existing organizations on the ground. This year the focus will be on monetary donations because we have the chance to double our gifts. ERD has received their most generous matching gift in the history of their work - up to $760,000 will be matched. Just think of the possibilities!
 
Join this endeavor by taking an envelope from the Giving Tree in the Parish Hall, adding your check to the envelope, and placing it in the offering plate or handing it to Jeff or Sue. 
 
A couple of online ways to engage the season!
 
 
AdventWord - the Anglican Communion's Global Advent Calendar - begins on Sunday, 3 December, 2017, with images and meditations available via email, FaceBook, InstaGram and Twitter . During the 23 days of Advent, a daily email featuring the #AdventWord of the day will go out at 5 a.m. each day, and respondents are encouraged to share their responses to the meditations and images to the aggregated prayer walls within the advent calendar. To sign up click here.
 
 
Busted Halo, resources from the Roman Catholic Paulist Fathers, offers a simple on line calendar - click here each day to access the daily offering. Each day the link on the calendar will lead you to a daily jolt and a micro challenge.
 
L Sue von Rautenkranz
Children and Youth Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Dunstan's Dialogues

Posted 7:17 PM by
Dunstan's Dialogue with Rep. Jamie Raskin and Delegate Ana Sol-Gutierrez
 
A good crowd of parishioners and members of the local community joined us on Tuesday night at St. Dunstan's for an informative and emotional discussion of immigration issues. U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, who represents our area, told us about Congressional attempts to pass legislation to allow the children of immigrants to stay in this country regardless of the immigration status of their parents.  Maryland State Delegate Sol-Gutierrez whose parents are from El Salvador spoke movingly about the difficulties of families with temporary immigration permits face, now that their permits have been rescinded.  She urged us to act to protect these families. Conversation and dialogue were aided by a good supply of cookies and brownies graciously provided by Lisa Moy Martin and Sue Carroll.
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 12/10/2017

Posted by

Five Talents Saves Lives

Our friends and longtime mission partners from Five Talents will be here at both services this Sunday, Dec. 10, and between services during our social time, to share their recent ministries.  St. Dunstan’s is currently supporting the project in South Sudan, a place where few aid organizations can even work due to instability there. 

Five Talents is the Anglican microfinance ministry – with a difference: FT doesn’t just make small loans and hope it will help poor people.  FT works through local Anglican churches.  It creates local communities called savings circles, give training in business practices, and walk with these brave entrepreneurs who start businesses to support their families.  Most FT group members are women, who use their money to buy food and medicine, and pay school fees for their children.  Each small loan (often under $100) lifts up many lives out of extreme poverty, saving lives, giving dignity and hope.    

What could be more fitting in this Advent season, when we pause to remember how God came to a poor family in Palestine, in order to bring hope to a world full of poor and scared people?  Our own needs may not be material, but we are spiritually thirsty for something to encourage us in a world that’s often pretty dark.  Some of us are despairing of the hatred and indifference we see in societies today.  We need the hope and light of Jesus just as much as a South Sudanese woman who is trying to keep her children safe and fed. 

God gives something to each of us – maybe five talents (a whole lot!), maybe just one talent (still considerable resources).  Each of us is responsible to use what we’ve been given for God’s glory.  How are you using the resources entrusted to you by God?  JBM  


 

link

10/22/2017-Help Us Help Refugees

Posted 6:34 PM by
Refugee Training for Volunteers and More

Volunteers who would like to work one-on-one with refugee families are required to attend a short training session presented by Lutheran Social Services, the lead refugee settlement agency in this area.  St John's Norwood parish is arranging a training session in the near future and has invited interested members of St Dunstan's to join them.  

St John's will be settling a refugee family and the required training is an early step on the process.  St Dunstan's hopes to assist in the process by contributing volunteers, household goods, tutoring and transportation from time to time.  While St Dunstan's is probably too small to sponsor a family on its own, we can help make St John's efforts--and those of other congregations--a success.  Please consider how you might wish to help.  
 
St John's does not have a firm date for the training yet  but will keep us posted.
 
In the meantime, Donna Alvarez attended tutor training sponsored by Montgomery County's Welcoming Our New Neighbors program.  Other St Dunstan's volunteers have expressed interest; more are welcome.  Patty Larson is a coordinator with that program and you can contact her at 240-355-5140 for details.
 
Our Winter Coats Drive continues through October.  Already, several coats for men, women and children have arrived at St Dunstan's.  If you have coats to contribute, please leave them at the church, in the foyer by the table near the basement stairs.
 
As always, your help is appreciated widely.
 
Ray Donnelly


 

link

Trail Notes: 10/15/2017

Posted by

The Possibilities of Spring

We come this Sunday to our third season in Creation Time: Spring.  After the cold, dark, and fallowness of wintertime, Spring is always welcome – a sense of possibility, newness, growth, and surprise come with this season. 

In the Gospel today (Matthew 22:1-10) Jesus tells the story of a king who gives a wedding banquet for his son – certainly one of the most significant parties one ever throws, tied up with the hopes and dreams we have for our children.  He sends advance invitations (the first-century equivalent of “save-the-date” cards), and the guests reply.  Then when the moment comes, he sends messengers to bring in the guests who had promised to come.  Then all hell breaks loose.

The guests give excuses for not coming – new property purchases, recent marriage, new livestock to tend.  The king is not amused.  (Here the story lapses into hyperbole about murder and mayhem among the guests and the king’s servants.  This seems to be a reference to the historical misfortune of prophets (messengers or slaves), and the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years after Jesus told this parable.  Thus, these violent outbursts are probably not original to Jesus’ parable, but added later.) 

What I take from this story is about God’s invitation to us to step away from our day-to-day lives and consider something new.  There’s a banquet laid for us in life, but we have to be willing to step out, explore what’s new, and perhaps change our course in life from time to time.  Aunty Mame of Broadway fame once said, “Life’s a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”  That’s what can happen when we don’t accept God’s invitation to try new things, explore new possibilities, new callings, new ministries.  What better way to honor Spring?  JBM  


 

link

Trail Notes:9/17/2017

Posted by

(How) Does God Answer Prayer? 

Today’s Gospel invites a frank discussion of prayer, and what we expect from our prayers.  “If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven,” Jesus says in Matthew 18. 

What do we really thing happens when we pray?  What is our part?  What is God’s part?  I’m sure many thousands have asked these questions as they’ve endured the hurricanes and earthquakes recently.  How may prayed to be spared damage and death, and were not spared?  How many believed their prayers were “answered”?  Is Jesus really saying that, when my wife and I agree to pray for a new car, God will have to provide it?  What about when we pray for the cure and healing of a sick child? 

Prayer seems simple when we teach children:  “God bless mummy and daddy and sister and even crotchety old Aunt Matilda….”  But prayer is not simple.  We’ll try to talk honestly about it in Sunday’s sermon.  JBM  


 

link

Sermon 8/13/2017

Posted 4:53 PM by
Sermon, Proper 14A                                                                      Jeffrey B. MacKnight
13 August 2017                                                                          St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

A lady went to the doctor and said, “Doctor! Doctor! Help me — I'm shrinking! I'm shrinking!” The doctor replied, “Madam, you'll just have to be a little patient.” 

Well, that’s not far off our story of Jesus, Peter, and walking on water – only it’s Peter crying, “Lord! Lord!  – I’m sinking!  I’m sinking!”  

Be a little patient, Peter!  Peter is so eager to show off in front of Jesus and everybody.  None of the other disciples thought it was their place to try to imitate Jesus’ water-walking abilities.  But Peter was proud, and probably insecure in his relationship with Jesus.  Maybe he wanted to show that he was the #1 disciple – the best, compared to all the others.  

My wise mother-in-law Nan often says, “Comparisons are odious.”  She’s so right.  When it comes to comparing people, or comparing ourselves to others, it usually leads to unhappiness, disappointment (as in Peter’s case)…and sometimes even violence and destruction.  

In the continuing saga of Jacob and his family, we meet his children this Sunday – 12 sons and one daughter (Dinah).  Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel.  Now, Leah was fertile and bore children.  Rachel was not, so she gave her handmaid to Jacob as a surrogate to bear children who would be Rachel’s to raise.   (This is the story that is the basis for the current dystopic novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.  The U.S. is suffering from depopulation, so men dub themselves “Sons of Jacob” and enslave and rape women as “handmaids” to bear their children. Lovely.)

Jacob’s family story is filled with comparisons, jealousies, and rivalries. Rachel envies her sister’s fecundity, and seeks a child through her handmaid.  (You may recall that the same thing happened with Abraham and Sarah, Jacob’s grandparents.  After Sarah’s handmaid gave birth to Ishmael, Sarah treated her abominably.)  

Later, jealousy, rivalry, and hatred arise among Jacob’s twelve sons. Finally, Rachel gave birth! She had a son Joseph, whom Jacob loved above all his other sons, and the others knew it.  Their jealousy of Joseph (and his arrogant remarks to them) filled them with such rage that they decided to kill Joseph.  In the end, they relented and sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt instead.  (Is this really what we mean by “biblical family values”?)  

Comparison and competition don’t serve these folks very well – they bring untold anger, heartache, and breakdown of relationships.  Joseph is nearly killed; his brothers are shamed by their behavior; Jacob is deprived of his beloved son.  Still, this is the great saga of the Hebrew partriarchs, so all is made to serve the grand plot of the story, that is, to move the Hebrew people to Egypt, where they would eventually become enslaved, and finally liberated under Moses.  

So, why do we devote so much energy in life to comparisons?  Why talk ourselves up and run other people down?  What does this say about us?  I believe it’s all rooted in our insecurity about who we are, our value, and our place in the world.  And that’s a spiritual problem.  If we really believe we are made in God’s image, and loved unconditionally, we don’t have to prop ourselves up with worldly accolades.  We don’t have to run others down to look good.  We can rest peacefully in the love of God, as a baby rests peacefully in the arms of an adoring mother or father, never doubting that she is loved more than anything.  

At this point in the sermon, I had a low-key, soft illustration of how we compare ourselves to each other.  But instead, I must say something about the horrible events in Charlottesville yesterday.  What a scene: vile signs, police in riot gear, yet uncontrolled violence as opposing groups beat each other. Armed militia groups in full camo were in the middle of the crowds.  White supremacists, including KKK members, were marching supposedly in opposition to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a proponent of slavery.  Fourteen people were injured in the fighting, with one woman killed and 19 hurt by a murderous driver in a car.  One man marching was quoted, “They are pulling up southern culture, white culture, Christian culture by the roots….” As a Christian, I must stand up and say this is not Christian culture – this is not Christian culture! - this is its opposite. God doesn’t have favorite races, or skin colors, or nationalities. God doesn’t romanticize the enslavement of millions in the Old South. In addition to pure hatred and bigotry, this is a deep case of the odiousness of comparison, of envy, of jealousy.  Whenever men and women attack and tear down others in order to build up their own group, they are straying far away from the teachings of Jesus.  As a white person, I must raise my voice against this, lest anyone think that, by my silence, I agree.  

Whenever we tolerate bigotry by our silence – in a neighbor’s trash-talk across the fence, a politician’s rhetoric, or even that cranky old uncle at the family dinner table – we are part of the problem.  America is now on notice that racism and prejudice are alive and well and living among us.  The LGBTQ community is now under attack in the military.  Immigrants have been vilified, as if we are not all immigrants!  Only our clear, vocal proclamation that God loves every human being, that the dignity and equality of every human being must be upheld and protected, can bring our country back toward its highest self, its highest calling as a nation that welcomes diversity.  If that’s not what the church stands for, then we stand for nothing.  We have a long way to go.  

The disciple Peter was insecure in his identity as God’s beloved, so he tried to prove himself and act like Jesus.  Jacob’s sons were insecure in their father’s love, and tried to eliminate their competition from little brother Joseph.  Many Americans seem to feel so insecure in their identity and their worth that they lash out against the nearest target.  But if we can find our rest in God, in God’s declaration that we are created good, we are loved beyond measure, even with our faults and our failures, then we won’t need to compare and compete.  We won’t need to run others down to try to build ourselves up. Why can’t we be content with who we are, as finite, imperfect, but treasured human beings, made lovingly in the image of God?  Why can’t we look for God in each other – in black and brown faces, in gay and trans faces, in young and old faces?  Why can’t we walk in love, as Christ loves us?  


 

link
| comments (0)

Sermon: 08/06/2017

Posted 4:49 PM by
Sermon, Proper 13A                                                                      Jeffrey B. MacKnight
6 August 2017                                                                            St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

“When it was evening…”  That’s a little detail often overlooked in the story of the feeding of the five thousand.  The day was over; Jesus had been preaching.  The people were captivated! Now, night was falling. Where would they all find something for supper?  Strange things can happen in the nighttime.  All the people sat down on the green grass, and something unexpected happened – a little became a lot, with the blessing of Jesus.  Hungry people were satisfied.  Weak people were strengthened.  Hmm.  

Almost two millennia earlier, we see Jacob.  He is beside himself with fear of his brother Esau, whom Jacob cheated out of his father’s blessing – his birthright - as a young man.  Haven’t we all cheated somebody out of something?  In a sense, Jacob has been running from that ever since.  Now Esau has caught up with him, and Jacob is terrified.  

Jacob tries to protect his household from Esau’s approaching army of men.  Jacob has two wives (we heard about Leah and Rachel last week), two maids, eleven children, plus flocks and herds and possessions.  He is not a poor man.  He sends them all across the Jabbok River hoping they’ll be safe – not a lot of protection, but then, what else can he do?  Then, “Jacob was left alone,” the scripture says.  Alone.  Jacob is finally stripped bare, without defenses, to face his life: his past transgressions, his present danger, his uncertain future.  

Nighttime is when we often feel the most alone – with our thoughts, our anxieties, our old well-worn worries ….  Sometime sleep won’t come, so we take pills to help.  When we get to sleep, we may be afflicted by what I call “tumultuous dreams” – not exactly nightmares, but unsettling dreams nonetheless.  When we wake from these, we may feel more exhausted than rested, like we’ve been working – or wrestling – all night.  

Jacob was alone: it was night; he fell asleep…or did he?  Was it all a dream?  We don’t know….  The story only tells us he wrestled a man until daybreak.  Who was this man?  It doesn’t say, but it seems pretty clear this man was from God – and that makes him an angel.  (Most angels don’t have gauzy gowns and fluffy wings. This one must have been pretty strong.)  

Jacob is persistent; he won’t stop wrestling.  Finally, the angel has had enough.  “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”  Jacob responds with impressive strength: “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”  

“What is your name?” asks the man/angel.

“Jacob.”  

“You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”  

Fast-forward again to Jesus and his disciples – 

It is evening after a long day.  The disciples struggle with the problem of a very hungry crowd of people; they want to escape, avoid the situation.  They are still learning about this man Jesus.  “Send the crowds away, Lord….”    Jesus forces them to face their fears and anxieties: “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  But they wrestle with him: “But Jesus, we don’t have what it takes…there are only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish!”  

There are times – often nighttimes – when we have to face the situation: our anxieties about our own capacities, our fears of external forces.   God does not allow us to turn and run any longer.  And so we wrestle.  And it’s in the wrestling that we can experience God’s presence in a new way.  It may be a mixed experience – God is not a granter of wishes and dispenser of chocolate kisses!  Life is often hard, challenging, difficult.  God is not a rescuer, but a sustainer, a companion.  

We may end up with a limp, a scar….but also a blessing….  Maybe even the abundance of a great feast, enough to share with a hungry world around us.  

I just read a little book by Kent HarufOur Souls at Night.

A sweet novella about an old woman, a widow, who makes a strange proposition to an old man, a widower, who lives around the corner: that he come and spend nights in her bed – just to talk.  (Really.)  She was lonely.  She was tired of sleeping alone.  So he comes over, every evening.  

Soon, wonderful conversations are happening in the nighttime, and both people are happier….  Much happier.  There is no pretense.  They talk about their lives, their spouses, their children, their jobs, all the things that weren’t right, the disappointments as well as the happy times.  And together, acknowledging the scars and limps they carried, they find a blessing.  They find a new happiness in the moment, in the day that is given.  

I wonder if we might be able to find more joy in our lives if we took a few chances -  took some chances to get closer to people, to be honest with people, to share our lives more deeply…maybe even talk far into the night…wrestle a bit, even.  Who knows what might happen.  Maybe if we could acknowledge how hunger we are for connection, for honesty, we might find the food that satisfies.  We might find that others – our friends, our spouses -  are hungry for that real connection too.  We might find, in retrospect,  that we’ve encountered a bit of God during the dark hours.  We might find that our scars are acknowledged, that our limp is not so bad. That in fact others are limping too – we all are.  We might find a certain blessing to be had.  

So this evening, when darkness falls, and it is eventide, acknowledge your deep hunger, and ask God to feed you, to fill you.  Open up, and see what might happen to your soul at night.  Be ready to wrestle with a God who will not let you go.  Be prepared to come away with a bit of a limp, but also a blessing on your life – your one, real, imperfect, human life.  AMEN.  


 

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes: 08/06/2017

Posted by

Mysteries of the Nighttime

Jacob was having a bad day.  A very, very bad day.  His brother Esau was spitting mad, and coming after Jacob with 400 men! 

Jacob tried to protect his family (two wives, two maids, eleven children) by sending them across the river Jabbok.  Then he spent the night and waited to see what would happen. 

Sometimes strange things happen at night.  Jacob was sleeping rough, and he would encounter a strange man – an angel from God – who wrestled with him all night until daybreak!  That’s a lot of wrestling. 

I have had a few nights like that – wrestling with a decision, a terrible event; wrestling with myself, and with God.  Maybe you have, too.  Strange things can happen in the nighttime.  Our true, vulnerable selves seem very exposed: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Dreams can be disturbing.  We may feel very alone, scared, even terrified.  We may feel exhausted, unable to take another step forward. 

But these night journeys are thin places – places where the boundary between ourselves and God are very thin and porous.  Strange, sometimes wonderful encounters can occur.  That’s what happened with Jacob – he ended up marked forever with a limp…and also with a blessing. 

How might God be present – and speaking – with you during the dark hours of the night?  JBM  


 

link

Trail Notes: 07/30/2017

Posted by

All in the Family

This Sunday in Genesis 29 we read a strange story of Jacob and his Uncle Laban, his mother Rebecca’s brother.  If you think your own family is strange, the biblical family is probably stranger!  Abraham and his descendants do not display “biblical family values,” whatever those are – there is manipulation, deception, misuse of women, not to mention multiple wives and concubines. 

Here, Rebecca does not want her favored son Jacob to marry a Canaanite woman (not our kind of people), so she encourages him to travel to her brother Laban. (Rebecca was rather controlling.)  There he meets and falls in love with the beautiful Rachel, younger daughter of Laban (marriage to first cousins was common then).  Jacob agrees to work 7 years for Laban in exchange for Rachel’s hand.  (Modern men might balk at that!)

After 7 years, Jacob asks for his wife as agreed, and a wedding is held.  But Laban slips his elder daughter Leah into the marriage tent instead of Rachel, and Jacob doesn’t notice!  (Here, both deception and drunkenness seem to be at work.)  So Jacob is tricked into “marrying” Leah – and ends up working another 7 years before he gets Rachel too.   

What do we make of all this?  Well, God’s leaders in Israel were certainly flawed and imperfect people; sin and dishonesty were at work throughout the patriarchs’ lives.  God even seems to use the deviousness of dishonesty to further the patriarchal family.  God also makes a pattern of raising the younger offspring over the firstborn to establish the dynasty. 

In our own families, we run into controlling behaviors, manipulation, deception  and infidelity with some regularity.  I often wonder why we can’t be more honest with family members?  If we were more open and honest, we could talk to our older kin about death and dying.  We could talk with our children about our own mistakes in life, and our hopes for them.  We could be more open with spouses and partners about our own hopes for our relationship, our dreams for the future, and our disappointments.  Those are the kind of “family values” that could make life better and richer for us.  JBM 


 

link

Movie Night- Save the Date!

Posted 4:33 PM by
 
Summer Movie Night II
 
Saturday, July 8
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Dinner followed by a movie
 
We are inviting children and their parents from our collaboration congregations for a summer movie night. This evening is being hosted by the Bentleys and Calvin and Frederick will be making our movie selection. The movie selected will be appropriate for rising 2nd -5th graders.
 
A simple dinner and drinks will be available before we begin the movie, and of course fresh popcorn will be offered during the show!
 
Bring your pillow and/or sleeping bags or a blanket to sit on. Contact Sue von if you are interested in attending.

 

 

link

Proper 7: 06/25/2017

Posted 2:54 PM by
Sermon, Proper 7A                                                                       Jeffrey B. MacKnight
25 June 2017                                                                              St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

 

Jesus said, I have come, not to bring peace, but a sword. 

When was the last time you hesitated to raise a subject because you knew it could cause conflict?  The other night I was out in the yard, chatting with neighbors, when a young mom expressed her negative views about having her young son vaccinated.  I don’t agree, but I didn’t speak up, because I didn’t think it was my business, and I’m not that well informed.  My kids are way past that! 

But on other issues, I feel I must speak up and speak out.  One of these is health care for all people.  I like to point out that Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan is the first recorded instance of health insurance.  The Samaritan agreed to pay what was needed, for a perfect stranger.  Why?  Because human dignity requires it. 

I know that not everybody agrees with me on this, but at this critical moment in our nation’s political battles over healthcare, I feel compelled to speak.  I believe this is a Gospel imperative, and the U.S. is cruel in the way we allocate healthcare.  For years, St. Dunstan’s has paid copays for medicine people need to live – insulin and syringes, HIV medications. I’m tired of this.  It is beneath dignity for human beings to have to beg for these necessities.  Ours is the only wealthy nation I know that requires human beings to grovel for basic care, for medicine.  Children’s care is on the line in Congress right now too.  How is it that some children – like our well-insured kids – should get great care, and others get little or none?  Where is the justice in that?  This is not a partisan political issue for me.  It is an issue of humanity, of compassion, of justice.  It’s very much a religious issue, because Jesus said so. 

Jesus said, I have come, not to bring peace, but a sword.

Now, I don’t speak lightly of what Jesus said we must do, and I don’t like it when others take liberties in that way.  Jesus preached a unified vision of God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. So, we should ask:  what exactly are these Kingdom values that Jesus would not compromise?  Notably, although many religious folks focus on it almost exclusively, sexual morality was not high on Jesus’ list of moral issues.  He spoke little about that, only to affirm that we should keep our marriage vows.  And I’m all for that. 

Jesus was a compassionate person – he reached out when people were suffering.  And he knew that compassion translated into common life, into the Kingdom, is justice.  The more I study the Gospel texts, the more I see that Jesus’ primary concern was justice, particularly for the weakest in society.  Everybody deserved a decent life, a decent share of the earth’s resources.  If sick people didn’t get care, there was no justice.  If the poor were in misery, there was no justice.  If children and orphans and widows were destitute, there was no justice.  If peasants were buried in debt and defrauded of their land through foreclosure (which they were), there was no justice.  If the rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer, there was no justice.  Economic justice is a religious issue…very much so. 

In Jesus’ time, the Roman occupiers took a huge portion of the production of the land and people through taxation – to support the Roman elite, infrastructure, and military.  Maybe Jesus didn’t expect any better from them.  But the Jewish leaders in occupied Palestine were answerable to Yahweh, the God of Israel.  These priests of the Temple claimed devotion to a God who cared for poor people, sick people, weak people – their own people – Jewish people!  Yet they collaborated with the Roman government to ensure their own comfortable lives. 

I’m reading a history of the USSR from Krushchev in the 1950’s up to Putin’s new Russian dictatorship.  One theme that comes through is how the middle and upper management – the “elite” – were rewarded by the system.  There were perks such as cars and chauffeurs, deluxe apartments, dachas in the country, which were provided by the Kremlin – as long as these bureaucrats toed the party line and didn’t question the exploitation of masses.  From first century Palestine to twentieth century Moscow – it seems there is nothing new under the sun. 

No wonder Jesus symbolically upset the Temple courtyard, where a brisk business of buying and selling sacrificial animals was taking place.  (We’ll look at that sacrificial system in more detail next week – watch for Trail Notes in Thursday’s Trailblazer.)  The Temple had become a machine to extract money from the poor and create a very comfortable lifestyle for the priests and bureaucrats.  Surely this was not what God wanted. 

A few weeks ago, I visited England to spend time with a friend Ray. I had a cut on my finger that became infected, so Ray took me to the local NHS walk-in clinic.  I signed in – a foreigner! – and waited about 30 minutes until I was called.  The nurse quickly dealt with my need and sent me on my way, without charging a cent.  Ray is receiving excellent care for his cancer as well, all without worrying about catastrophic medical expenses and possible bankruptcy, on top of the stress of having a serious illness.  How I wish the U.S. had a system like that.  I know it’s not perfect…nothing is.  But it is fair and generous.  It is compassionate.  It is just. 

Jesus said, I have come, not to bring peace, but a sword.  Sometimes, when it’s important, we have to speak up for what we believe is right.  AMEN.  


 

link
| comments (0)

Easter 7A- 05/28/2017

Posted 2:50 PM by
Sermon, Easter 7A, Sunday after Ascension                               Jeffrey B. MacKnight
28 May 2017                                                                             St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

One day in the Garden of Eden, God comes to Adam and Eve and tells them God has two gifts — one for each of them. The first, God says, is, well, the ability to pee standing up. Adam starts jumping up and down excitedly and loudly declares that he wants it. Eve, listening to him jabbering on and on about it, rolls her eyes and asks God what God has in mind for her. "Brains," says God.

That’s the kind of story that would put a smile on our daughter Maggie’s face – she’s a strong young woman with views.  Just what we hoped she’d be. 

I still remember like it was yesterday the day my wife Leslie and I took Maggie to Dulles airport to fly to Edinburgh, Scotland to begin veterinary school there.  That was 4 years ago now.  I knew it was the right thing for Maggie – a wonderful opportunity for her to pursue her life-long dream.  That made it the right thing for Leslie and me, too.  But I still was overwhelmed by the sadness of so much separation in the coming years.  Standing in that soaring, iconic airport terminal, outside the security barrier, my eyes brimmed with tears – I was far from the strong, stoic father image that’s common in our culture.  I just didn’t want to let her go. 

Perhaps that’s how the disciples felt about Jesus when he set out for a different kind of ascension, when he had to end his time walking the earth with him.  Maybe they had some understanding of why this had to happen, why this was the best thing for the spread of Jesus’ good news; maybe not.  But I don’t doubt it was a sad, painful parting.

Jesus’ ascension from earth into heaven is a way of describing the end of Jesus’ appearances on earth, and his return to his Father God.  Jesus had prepared his disciples, his followers, as well as he could.  He had trained them to go out and preach, teach, and heal in his name.   They knew his vision for the Gospel to spread beyond Palestine into Asia Minor, Rome – to the ends of the earth.  But were they ready?  I’m sure they would have loved to stay with Jesus, listen to him teach, and enjoy the warm bonds of fellowship they had formed.  But that was not to be.  The times, they were a-changing. 

St. Dunstan’s congregation is in a similar place, I think.  Like the disciples – we are a scrappy band of folks, with lots of opinions, but a common bond of devotion to Christ and his ministry in this place.  We cherish the traditions we’ve enjoyed here, the good times of the past – and rightly so.  We have much to cherish and be thankful for. 

In particular, I sorely miss the band of founding members of our church, who worked and sacrificed for decades here.  When I arrived, they were elders, and they amazed me because their support was unwavering, but they did not try to control the parish.  They wanted it to change and flourish, not be shackled to some image of the past.  That was a remarkable combination: steadfast support and good humor, along with a willing “letting go” of the reins.  I think of them often, and give thanks for their faithfulness and friendship.  On this Memorial Day, I remember them. 

But – and there’s always a “but” – I’m not sure Jesus will let us stay the way we once were.  It’s a new world, and people are not flocking into the churches as they once did.  They still need to hear about the love and forgiveness of Jesus – that hasn’t changed.  But fewer folks are coming through these doors.  So Jesus is leading us out – out onto the sidewalks, the streets, the shops, the schools, the offices and workplaces – to be Christians in the world. 

Our “inner circle” as a congregation is smaller than it once was, but our impact in our neighborhood, in the city, and even in other parts of the world is as strong as ever!  Thousands of people encounter St. Dunstan’s through children’s programs, musical events here, and outreach projects, in addition to those in worship and fellowship and formation.  Many of those will never come to worship with us, but still we are offering a Gospel of hospitality, of open discussion and inquiry, of beauty and art.  Many of us are involved in refugee ministry now – I’m amazed how many are going to the Orthodox church this Saturday to support refugees in the camps.  Today we make sandwiches for hungry Washingtonians, as we do every month.  We are working more with neighboring congregations.  St. Dunstan’s is a small but mighty church!   

It’s hard to let go of the way things used to be…just as it was hard for the disciples to let go of Jesus’ physical presence with them.  But they had no choice…and frankly, we have no choice.  As a parish priest, I was much more comfortable when thoughtful worship, creative programs, and pastoral care was enough to build up a congregation.  I would love to go back to those days.  But we can’t.  The world moves on; the church moves on, into new forms that we probably can’t even imagine.  God will sustain God’s Church the way God chooses.  We cannot control what that Church will be like, no matter how hard we try to hold on. 

Over the last four years, Leslie and I have learned to let go. We’ve had to trust. Maggie has grown and changed, and she will become the young woman and dedicated vet that she needs to become.  The strain and stress of letting go, of change, will be worthwhile. 

And so it is with the Church.  After 33 years of ordained ministry, I understand Jesus more and more, and I can predict the future of the Church less and less.  But a future there will be.  We need to be like the wonderful founders of St. Dunstan’s, who supported this lovely community at every turn, yet set it free to become what God would make of it.  Each of us is a member of this body, the Body of Christ, which comes into being as Jesus’ human body ascends into the heavens.  Each of us has a call, a ministry to do.  Maybe you know what God is calling you to do, and you are firmly engaged.  If you are unsure, I’d be glad to talk with you about your call. 

What I know is this: together we can be the hands and feet of Christ.  Together, we are stronger than we are alone.  Together, we can navigate the uncertain road that lies ahead of us, certain only that God is with us and that God is love. 

 


 

link
| comments (0)

Summer Formation 2017

Posted 7:17 PM by
 
Summer Movie Night
 
Sunday, June 25
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Dinner followed by a movie
 
We are inviting all rising 3-5 graders and their parents from our three collaboration congregations for a summer movie night. But no one will be checking ID's at the door - so really all are welcome. Just know that the movie selection will be for children who are primarily in this age category.
 
A simple dinner of hot-dogs with the fixings, drinks and of course fresh popcorn will be offered. Bring your pillow or sleeping bags or a blanket to sit on. Please sign up in Founders' Hall no later than Sunday morning, June 25 or use this simple form
 
Grow Christians
 
This is a new resource available through Forward Movement Inc. and I have found it to be a good read each day. The blog is written by various authors and gives practical and implementable ideas for parents to assist them in forming the faith of their children. You can read the latest posts at this link. If you find it helpful or something you might like to receive  on a daily basis, just scroll the left side of the blog and sign up for a daily email. 
 
 
Street Church at Church of the Epiphany DC
Tuesday, June 27
11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Rising 6-12 grade Youth
 
Calling all youth for a day in the city preparing food, worshiping God, and feeding the hungry! Earn some SSL hours for school next year! Have fun with other youth!
 
Get a real flavor of life on the streets of DC for those who do not have a place to live and rely on the generosity of others for food. Plan to arrive at Epiphany no later than 11:00 a.m. and leave no earlier than 2:30 p.m.
 
Sign up in Founders' Hall or on this form no later than Sunday, June 25
 
L Sue von Rautenkranz
Children and Youth Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

May 14, 2017: In My Name

Posted 2:47 PM by

 

Acts 7:55-60

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.  Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.  While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  When he had said this, he died.

John 14:1-14

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you will know my Father also.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.  Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

Ray and I were down in South Carolina a few weeks ago

                    one of the grandsons was in a soccer tournament.

I had the first shift of driving

                    the morning we headed back north

          As I was trying to find my way through unfamiliar city roads and traffic

                    Ray decided to make conversation.

          “What is the scripture you'll be preaching about at St. Dunstan's?” he asked.

Well, I had read these texts

          and found them a little overwhelming

                    I was afraid that if I tried to discuss them at that moment

                              I'd either get us totally lost

                                        or crash the car.

So I said,

          “I'm sorry, honey,

                    I can't talk about scriptures right now

                              That would be texting while driving.”

I hope you can forgive me the bad pun.

Now that we're here

          we're in a perfectly appropriate place to study the texts

                    so let's go!

What struck me first in today's gospel is that last line

          “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

Really?

          I've known so many prayers to go unanswered

                    prayers by good people, for good causes.

          On its face, that line of the text has not seemed to be true.

So, what on earth could this mean?

          I read it again.

Anything you ask for in my name.

If we are asking for something in his name,

                    it means

          we are asking for something as if we were Jesus.

What have we seen in Jesus?

          Compassion for everyone he encounters

                    Speaking truth to power

                              Inclusion, reaching out to known sinners,

                                        to the “unclean,” to children, to non-Jews

          Miracles like healing, walking on water

                              and forgiveness.

                                        Over and over again,

                                                  he forgives

                                                            and he talks about the importance of

                                                  forgiveness.

          But never forces anyone to behave a certain way.

                    No coercion,

                    No mind tricks

                              No Obi-Wan Kenobi, “These are not the droids you are looking for.”

          And we know from his 40 days of temptation in the desert

                              that Jesus did not use his power for his own glory

So when we ask for something in Jesus name

          we are asking for something that he would ask for,

                    it is probably not appropriate to ask for a parking space.

In the text from Acts

          Stephen is being stoned by the crowds

                    What he asks for is not “Make them stop!”

          He asks they they be forgiven.

          Hmm, just as Jesus asked that those who crucified him be forgiven

Apparently, forgiveness is important.

          In “the prayer that Jesus taught us”

                    “Forgive us” is in the middle of a very short list of things prayed for

So, okay, Forgiveness.

          These  texts

                    taken together

          Maybe they are pointing toward forgiveness.

And forgiveness

          not necessarily in the sense of saying that “What you did is okay”

                    Stephen was not saying that

                              those who were stoning him were right to do so

          and also, not requiring that the one behaving wrongly

                    ask for forgiveness. 

                              The ones stoning Stephen did not ask to be forgiven

                              The ones crucifying Jesus did not ask to be forgiven

Mayo Clinic says that forgiveness is important

                    for your own mental and physical health,

          that holding on to grudges, resentment, anger is

                              bad for your blood pressure and your immune system

I think, beyond the personal benefits

                    forgiveness is essential in God's kingdom

                              because it is essential to relationship and community.

          Without forgiveness, ongoing relationship is hobbled

          Without forgiveness, life together

                    in community

                                        is blocked.

Some forgiveness is easy.

          You forgave me my bad pun

                    (or at least I didn't see anyone walk out)

          On Mother's Day, let's give a moment to think about

                    all the things that mothers forgive.

          Jesus told Peter that we should forgive someone “Seventy Times Seven”

                    How many good mothers have you known who forgive their children

                              seventy times seven times a day.

          How many of you have known a Mom

                    holding a precious little bouncing bundle of joy in her lap

                              when the baby bounced right up &

                                        with the back of its precious little head

                              bashed mom in the face

                    leaving her with a black eye or a fat lip?   

                    Did they hold a grudge agains the little one who hurt them? 

                              No.

          How many of you have known a Mom whose heart was bruised

                    when a sullen adolescent wouldn't engage

                              with anything beyond monosyllabic grunts

                                        even on Mother's Day

         The good mom might give a good, corrective conversation with the little ingrate

                              but she moves past it

                    because the important thing here is

                              beyond the moments of hurt;

                    The important thing is ongoing, loving, nurturing relationship.

Forgiveness can be hard.

One of my  favorite theologians, Anne Lamott, says:

          life is forgiveness school – it is the hardest thing we have to learn,

                    and we have to do it over and over again

                              and, she points out, it starts with forgiving ourselves.

One of my other favorite theologians, Rosi Sweeney

                    says that forgiveness is a decision

                              to never use someone's wrong behavior against them

          AND

                    to move on, to let it go.

It is possible to accept the reality that someone has done something wrong

                                        something that causes harm

                    but, with forgiveness,

                              being able to go forward

                                        in relationship with that person.

Nelson Mandela understood the vital importance of forgiveness

                    for himself and for his whole nation.

          After being unjustly imprisoned for 27 years, he wrote this:

          “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,

                    I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind,

                              I’d still be in prison.”

So, for his own peace of mind, his own well-being,

                    he knew

          he'd have to forgive.

And also

          for the well-being of his country.

                    He could not bring such a broken nation together

                              if he did not set a public example of moving on in forgiveness.

          It has been noted that

                     it was the example of his forgiveness

                              that allowed his country to move on without a bloodbath.

Sometimes, forgiveness feels nigh on to impossible.

          For instance, what if someone is freely causing harm

                              right and left

                    and “moving on in relationship” with them

                                        would be seriously dangerous

                              physically or emotionally?

I do not believe that forgiveness means that you have to trust someone again

                    If you know that someone is

                              prone to a certain kind of bad behavior

                              if they have caused you harm, and you have every reason

                                        to think that they would do it again

                              You do not have to put yourself in harms way

                                        In order to forgive.

                    You can move on

                              … at arms length.

But, what if the harm that was done to you

                    still hurts so keenly

                              that you cannot even think of forgiving?

In the hymn we just sang, “A Place at the Table”

                    there is a line that made me gasp

          it says “Abuser, abused, a place at the table.”

          “Really?”  I thought

                              the first time I heard it.

                    “How could that possibly be right

                              How could I possibly be asked to sit at the table

                                        with my abuser?”

          But the answer was right in front of me.

                              it is in front of us...

                    The table is God's table

                              and in God's kingdom

                    everyone is welcome

                              everyone is forgiven

                                        everyone is loved

                    and it will be all right.

So maybe that is the time to fall back on Jesus' promise

          Jesus, I cannot forgive this person.

                    But I trust that you can.

          We can ask

                    “In the name of Jesus, dear God, please forgive this person.”

          And then

                    keep yourself safe

                              but let it go

                    and move on.

Let's watch a video together.

          It's about wolves.

                    Early in the 1900s, wolves were considered predators

                                        and they were – they killed cattle, and sheep

                                       This was considered a bad thing

                              especially if it was your cattle & sheep that were getting killed

          You might say that the wolves were considered “unforgivable.”

          So, throughout Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

                    killing wolves was encouraged.

                   Eventually, by 1926, the last wolves in Yellowstone Park were killed.

So, In 1995, fourteen wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park

When the 14 wolves were placed in the park,

          they of course started hunting and killing deer.

                    The population of deer began to decrease, rapidly.

          The remaining deer began to avoid the areas where they were an easy prey.

The deer's absence from those areas meant that

          the plants the deer had been over-eating

                    could grow again.

Aspen and willow trees began to flourish.

          With those trees, and other bushes, came more berries and bugs.

                    Thanks to that, various bird species returned to the park.

          And the beaver, which had been extinct in the region, came back.

                    The beaver dams attracted otters, muskrats, and reptiles.

          The wolves also killed coyotes,

                    so the mice and rabbit populations grew.

This in turn attracted red foxes, weasels, badgers and hawks to the park.

          Even the population of bald eagles rose.

                    But it gets even more interesting.

          The reintroduction of the wolves even changed the rivers.

                    With the better balance of predators and prey

                              other species could thrive.

Increased vegetation growth made erosion decrease...

                    and river banks were stabilized.

          Channels narrowed.

          More pools formed.

                    And the rivers stayed more fixed in their courses.

So, the wolves did not only give Yellowstone's ecosystem new balance,

          they changed the park's physical geography.

 * * *

What it comes down to, I think,

                    is that God's world is for all God's creation.

          We may not understand it

                    but there is

                              there needs to be

                    a place at the table, like the hymn we sang

                              a place at the table for everyone.

This means recognizing that we are all flawed.

                    Not one of us is perfect, far from it.

          But we are also

                    all

                              necessary.

God's creation is apparently constructed in such a way

                    that we need all of it

                              and all of us

                    to make it work.

          And if we are to live with ourselves and others

                              in any sort of peace

                                                  in relationship

                                                  in community

                                        with shared resources

                                                  common goals

                              with any hope of productive effort to make this world better

                    we have to be able to forgive ourselves and others

                                        our sometimes MASSIVE flaws

                              and move on.

          If we fail to forgive

                    if we decide to hold on to our hurts and our grudges and our judgements

                                        what path is open to us?

                              How can the conversation continue?

                              How can the community figure out how to cooperate

                                        and do the work we are called to do...

                                                  Which I believe is no less

                                                            than the healing of the world?

                    So

                    In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

                              May we all be forgiven

                              May we all forgive

                    And may we all get on with the work that He began.

          Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

link
| comments (0)

2017 Summer Formation

Posted 5:21 PM by
Summer Movie Night
 
Sunday, June 25
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Dinner followed by a movie
 
We are inviting all rising 3-5 graders and their parents from our three collaboration congregations for a summer movie night. But no one will be checking ID's at the door - so really all are welcome. Just know that the movie selection will be for children who are primarily in this age category.
 
A simple dinner of hot-dogs with the fixings, drinks and of course fresh popcorn will be offered. Bring your pillow or sleeping bags or a blanket to sit on. Please sign up in Founders' Hall no later than Sunday morning, June 25 or use this simple form
 
Grow Christians
 
This is a new resource available through Forward Movement Inc. and I have found it to be a good read each day. The blog is written by various authors and gives practical and implementable ideas for parents to assist them in forming the faith of their children. You can read the latest posts at this link. If you find it helpful or something you might like to receive  on a daily basis, just scroll the left side of the blog and sign up for a daily email. 
 
 
Street Church at Church of the Epiphany DC
Tuesday, June 27
11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Rising 6-12 grade Youth
 
Calling all youth for a day in the city preparing food, worshiping God, and feeding the hungry! Earn some SSL hours for school next year! Have fun with other youth!
 
Get a real flavor of life on the streets of DC for those who do not have a place to live and rely on the generosity of others for food. Plan to arrive at Epiphany no later than 11:00 a.m. and leave no earlier than 2:30 p.m.
 
Sign up in Founders' Hall or on this form no later than Sunday, June 25
 
L Sue von Rautenkranz
Children and Youth Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Sermon: Easter -4/16/2017

Posted 6:27 PM by
Sermon – Easter 2017                                                                  Jeffrey B. MacKnight
16 April 2017                                                                            St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

God is Green

Happy Easter, everybody! 

A week ago we had a little surprise at our house: no hot water. When I checked out the water heater, it was leaking slightly, so I knew it had to be replaced, which fortunately we got done the next day.  But even a brief time without hot water reminded us of what a lovely luxury it is – hot showers loosen the tension in my back and help me wake up in the morning!  Clean, fresh water is a great gift of Creation that it’s easy to take for granted.

Many of us grew up saying grace before meals, reminding us of the goodness of God’s creation:

“God is great and God is good….” 

Even as children, this prayer helped us remember that God’s Creation is good – very good – and gives us both life itself, and much joy.  Everybody loves food; it is a natural channel for our gratitude. Water and food – two blessings we might take for granted, but in the rest of the world they are still precious privileges.

This Easter, coming so close to Earth Day, I propose a new prayer for us – a prayer not just for food, but for the whole Creation:

“God is great and God is green,
Your great glory we have seen
in Creation.  Bless the earth;
Bring us all to second birth.”

Every Easter we hear the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, showing that God wants to bring new life out of death.  God demonstrated that in Jesus; God wants to redeem and save each of us.  No past sin, failure, or mistake can change God's love for us, God’s desire for us to be alive, and joyful, and whole.  Whatever you think cannot be forgiven or overcome, God can transcend.  If God can raise the dead to life, God can vanquish our human sins and offenses. 

But this year, I want to focus on a broader picture: the redemption, the salvation of the whole Creation.  Christianity teaches that God not only loves each and every human being, but God loves the world, the earth, the cosmos.  “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son….”  Jesus comes not just to save individual humans from our brokenness; Jesus is the Christ of Creation who brings renewal to the whole world and all its creatures.

St. Paul writes in Romans 8 about his “hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves.”  Our salvation is tied up with the salvation of the whole earth.

Springtime in Washington helps us see how overwhelmingly beautiful this gift is – all Creation springing forth into life: a riot of colors, textures, fragrances, and a green everywhere: such an intense, vivid green.  We are really blessed to live where each season (with the possible exception of winter) is such a display of God’s handiwork!

Back when the world was new, Adam and Eve were set up in a beautiful Garden – a symbol of all that is good in Creation.  But they rebelled against God’s rule. (Human beings don’t seem to like to be told what to do.)   God sent them away from the beautiful garden of Eden: they were alienated from the earth.  Genesis tells us that God cursed the earth itself because of human sin.  Since then, we have become alienated from the very world we live in.  We have used the earth, not as a cherished home, but as a cash-cow we could exploit.  We all know that the earth is sick now – staggering under the weight of human exploitation and abuse, just as surely as Jesus staggered under the weight of his heavy cross. 

In the resurrection story, you noticed that Mary is mistaken when she first sees Jesus.  She doesn’t recognize Jesus.  She thinks he is the gardener.  Well, I’ve come to believe that he is!  He is God’s gardener, bringing forth life from the earth.

I’m not much of a gardener, (I have a very brown thumb), though I really wish I were, especially as I get older.  I’m working on it.  Connecting with the earth, and participating in God’s giving growth, moves me more and more.  I enjoy the simple things, like a few flowers by the front door, and around the back patio.  I love the sound of a swiftly flowing stream of fresh, cool water, kicking up a spray that catches the sunlight.  A brisk walk with the dogs (dogs are another sign that God loves us). 

Maybe this Easter, we could think of our lives as a garden, and ourselves as junior gardeners – God’s apprentices, so to speak.  How can we bring beauty into our own lives, and into the lives of those around us?  How can we better tend our earthly home – from picking up litter, to reducing our energy use?  What garden tools might we need?  Well, a rake to clean out what is old and dead.  A shovel to dig holes to plant God’s new tree of life.  And most of all, we need the fellowship of other gardeners, to encourage and teach one another – I have a lot to learn!  We can think of the church as a garden club – where all are welcome to join in celebrating and tending God’s creation. 

I am quite sure that a clean, green earth is God’s vision, God’s preferred future for our world.  God has immense power to bring new life out of death, but humanity must cooperate; we must partner with God in tending the Garden we have been given.  We may not live in Eden, but that doesn’t mean our earthly home cannot be beautiful, fragrant, and supportive of all kinds of life. 

This Easter, God is bringing new life, both to us as individuals, and to the whole earth.  And God wants us as partners – to be God’s junior gardeners to help till, plant, nourish, and enjoy the fruits of the earth – fresh water, wonderful foods, beautiful flowers and foliage. This is both a gift, and a challenge to us.  Together, we can work with God for the salvation, the rebirth of the earth. 

God is great, and God is green. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!   


 

link
| comments (0)

Lent 2: 03/12/2017

Posted 1:11 PM by
Sermon, Lent 2A                                                                          Jeffrey B. MacKnight
12 March 2017                                                                           St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

 

“This hills are alive with the sound of music….”

Have you ever lived in the mountains?  Every morning you walk out and look around, and it’s just as the psalmist said:  “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come?”  Something in the grandeur of the mountains reminds us of the solidity and dependability of God. 

And yet sometimes we just don’t feel it.  We may go through all the motions and do all the right things, but still not feel God in our lives.  That seemed to be the case with Nicodemus, a strong Jewish man, a leader, and yet he was missing something huge…or else he wouldn’t have taken the risk to come talk to Jesus late that night long ago.  Something was missing for Nicodemus. 

And of course, we are Nicodemus in this story!  You and I have times when things aren’t working, our faith may seem dry, our hope exhausted, we wonder if it’s all worth it.  That’s when we need to come again to Jesus, by day or by night, in prayer or in worship or on a mountain.  “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”  God’s creation, God’s handiwork, tells us of God’s power and care.  It is blessed assurance that God is still with us. 

Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again.  What’s that about?  Many of us may have a jaded view of being “born again,” from other Christians who push and prod about what day and hour we gave our hearts to Jesus, or got saved, or declared Jesus our personal Lord and savior. 

I’m sure that is NOT what Jesus was talking about!  This rebirth, this renewal, was much more mystical than that – it’s about God’s Spirit blowing through us like a refreshing breeze, blowing away all the dust and grime that clouds our vision and clogs us up, bringing in the fresh scent of pine and mountain wildflowers. 

And this renewal doesn’t just happen one day in your life, and then it’s done.  It’s an ongoing thing, a journey, a long trek over mountain trails – some parts hard climbing, other times easy going across a hidden meadow, and occasionally, now and then, arriving at a place of such indescribable beauty that it takes our breath away.  That’s what happened to Abraham: God  called him to leave what was familiar, and voyage into the unknown…another kind of rebirth. 

When Maria, in The Sound of Music (who will always be Julie Andrews in my mind!), went into the mountains, she thought her God-given path in life was the convent, a life of service to God.  Little did she know that she would be completely reborn when she met all those bratty little von Trapp children!  Sometimes the obvious path isn’t the right path.  God is a God of surprises.  Be prepared to alter course!

The same holds true for Christian communities, too.  St. Dunstan’s as a congregation is being born anew.  Our journey continues, sometimes in surprising ways. 

Your new Vestry met in retreat last week, 4 hours with a facilitator, and 5 more on our own, with our new Senior Warden Julie Anderson capably leading us.  What did we come up with? 

We looked at who we are, and we like it!, and we decided to focus on what’s important to us:

  • We are a real voice in Bethesda for justice and welcoming the “stranger” as in our refugee and asylum-seekers ministry
  • The beauty and vitality of our Anglican worship is important to us
  • We want to keep welcoming children and youth here

We know we want to be welcoming and inclusive of all people, and we want to practice love: to be kind, with humility.  We are a modest church; we can’t be all things to all people.  We’re not going to agonize over growth in numbers anymore.  We’ll focus on God’s call to us, just as we are. 

Our core values end up aligning very well with the prophet Micah’s well-known description of faithful life with God:

Do justice
Love Kindness
Walk humbly with our God.

We’re going to come to you, the congregation, with our plans and proposals, and ask your input, your thoughts, your suggestions.  Because of course St. Dunstan’s is all of us, from the youngest baby to the eldest senior. 

Scholars now tell us that “born again” is not the best translation in this passage.  A better translation is “born from above.”  I’ve thought about what that means, and I believe it means getting our DNA from God, not just from human parents.  As individuals, we are not just looking at life from a human perspective, looking out for ourselves.  We now look at the world from God’s perspective, and we look out for God’s world, God’s beloved people and creatures – all of them. 

So, we hope that St. Dunstan’s can offer you support and guidance and inspiration and joy as you walk your walk with God.  And we ask your support and help and input as we chart our course as a parish, ever knowing that God’s Spirit is our true guide…our help is in the name of the Lord.  As our lovely sequence hymn puts it:

And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
   shall far outpass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace, till Love create a place
   wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.               (Hymnal 516)


 

link
| comments (0)

Lent 1: 03/05/2017

Posted 1:05 PM by
Sermon, Lent IA                                                                          Jeffrey B. MacKnight
5 March 2017                                                                             St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

 

Lead me not into temptation…I can find it myself! 

What are you most tempted by right now?  We’re all tempted by different things, I guess….some love other people a bit too much…did you hear the one about…

“Why did the cannibal get sick after eating the missionary? You just can't keep a good man down.” 

Our liturgy tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, but did not sin. 

What does that mean, he did not sin?  As a child was he not self-centered as all children are?  Did he never sneak out at night with his friends?  He never stole an extra snack from the pita jar, or a few more matzah balls at Passover time?  We don’t even LIKE people like that…we call them goodie-two-shoes.  Sin is not really about the little temptations and little foibles that make us human. 

When Jesus was around 30 years old, he got serious about his mission in life.  He learned from John the Baptist.  But after Jesus’ baptism, there was no luncheon served to celebrate.  He was sent – by God’s Holy Spirit – directly into the wilderness to be tested – tempted by Satan.  Sounds like God’s version of basic training before a ministry assignment.  Jesus was tempted in three ways…

Stones into bread.  Hunger is powerful!   “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” 

Jumping off the pinnacle.  This would have been sheer hubris, daring the angels to let him fall

“You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”  Tempting others, whether it’s God or another person, can be a major sin

Ruling the world, if only Jesus would worship Satan

“You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” 

We’ve all had our own versions of these temptations, I imagine…who wouldn’t steal food to keep from starving?  Who hasn’t ever wanted to show off in front of other people?  I’ve certainly dreamed of a world where we were in charge, thinking I could do a much better job of running things. 

But all of Jesus’ temptations came down to one thing – the temptation to usurp God’s role, God’s power…to play God ourselves…not to let God be God. 

Now, our own temptations may be a bit more pedestrian.  Not every temptation rises to the level of usurping God’s place and power.  There are little temptations vs. big temptations – a range of temptations with a range of consequences.  The whole advertising industry is designed to heighten our temptations, and get us to succumb to them, both small and large.

For instance, there are temptations: to cheat and steal.  I’m told that cheating in school is quite common these days, which is worrisome.  As for stealing, while shoplifting a small item is definitely a problem, it hardly compares with Bernie Madoff stealing people’s life savings.

Psych experts actually advise us to give in to some of our little temptations, like a latte in the morning, or a special dessert, in order to save our willpower for the really important things….  Maybe this is smart; I don’t know. That advice is not in the Bible, I’m afraid. 

So what is really important to us as Christians?

We believe in that we, and all our neighbors, are created in God’s image.  That means we need to tend and respect and care for both ourselves and others around us.  The most important temptations – the biggies – that we need to resist are those that denigrate or destroy our selves or other people. 

Our bodies can be damaged by our appetites for food, and for alcoholic drinks. I certainly enjoy my wine with dinner and a bit of scotch (sorry, that’s in my blood!)  I watch myself to see that alcohol doesn’t become a problem in my daily living. I have another vice, though.  My own body suffers from my lack of appetite…for exercise!

We also need to resist temptations that hurt other people, deprive other people, or ruin relationships.  Cheating and lying to other people hurts them…and hurts ourselves by disrespecting and damaging our own integrity. Drinking too much can hurt family and friends, and strangers too if we drive drunk.  Malicious gossip damages communities terribly – including church congregations.  The tongue can be a powerful and destructive weapon. 

A number of us were just on an overnight spiritual retreat – an experience I can recommend to all of you.  Good food, good conversation, and a spirit of rest and peace in a beautiful place!  We talked this year about living our lives as self-referenced, vs. living our lives as Christ-referenced.  When we are self-referenced, we are making decisions, and giving in to temptations, based on our own wants, desires, and satisfactions.  We’re not thinking about Christ, or about other people. 

When we live as Christ-referenced, we are putting Christ at the center of our lives, instead of ourselves.  That changes a lot of our choices, decisions, and priorities.  It’s a big challenge!  But worth thinking about…the next time you are faced with something very tempting.  What would Jesus want?  Why would I do this?  What is motivating me?  A little thought, and maybe a bit of prayer, might change the course of your actions.  Maybe that cannibal might think twice about enjoying that nice, tender missionary.  He might even become a vegetarian, who knows?    


 

link
| comments (0)

Refugee Update- This Sunday at 9:50 a.m.

Posted 9:23 PM by
 
Refugee Program Meeting Between Services:
 Help St Dunstan's Help Refugees.

We will meet in the parish hall to discuss our options for further support of refugees here and abroad.  Ideas to be discussed include:

1)  Continue to collect Welcome Kits as a way of providing practical support to refugee families through Lutheran Social Services.

2) Work with the International Rescue Committee;  this is an old and respected organization that has long served refugee families.  

3)  Explore ways to assist refugees who are "stuck" in camps in the Middle East and elsewhere.  As our speaker from the International Orthodox Christian Charities described, the needs are great.  Doctors without Borders also serves this population. 

4)  Look for ways to interact with refugees at a personal level, as in help with English, assistance in obtaining medical care and placing children in schools, and similar needs.

5)  Offer support to St Columba's parish and other congregations when they are assigned a refugee family.

6)  Undertake advocacy work at the local and state government level to "smoothe the way" for good policies affecting refugees.  
 
7) As part of Advocacy, develop stronger relationships with churches, synagogues and community groups who are working to address refugee needs.

Please come, add your thoughts to the discussion and help St Dunstan's help Refugees.
 
Ray Donnelly


 

link

Formation 1/22/2017

Posted 7:11 PM by
Children's Formation ...
 
Follow Me: would we stop what we are doing and follow?
 
This Sunday, January 22 we hear one of the stories of Jesus calling his disciples who were fisherman. In this version he calls two sets of brothers, Andrew and Simon (Peter) and James and John. They are doing their daily work, probably sorting and fixing their nets after an early morning out in their boats. All Jesus says is follow me, and off they go leaving their nets, boats and even their father. 
This week our children will learn about not only how Jesus called the fishermen, but others to follow him and how he asked them to fish for people. Please ask your children what they learned in their class today. 
 

Youth Formation ...

Dunstan's Youth Group - Thursday, January 19
All 5th through 12th graders!
Dinner 6:30 p.m.
Program 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
 

What do we believe?

Over the next couple of Thursday evenings we will begin to look at the Creeds, what the Episcopal Church believes and how we as individuals make choices about what we believe. Then we will look at how our beliefs help us to make day to day decisions. Decisions like - How do we treat others? Will we cheat or lie or steal? Who are we called to love? All of these decisions and choices are formed by our faith.
 
 
P.R.A.Y. (Potomac River Anglican  [Area-Amazing-Awesome] Youth)
 
Our next P.R.A.Y. event will be held on Sunday, February 12 in the afternoon. Please stay tuned for more information. Details will be in next week's newsletter and emailed to parents. IT WILL BE FUN - so mark your calendar NOW!
 
Please put the following dates on your calendar for these joint youth events:
March 19  +  April 9  +  May 21
 
Friends are always welcome at any youth program!
 
Adult Formation ...
 
Did you ever wish you had a better grasp on the Bible - the big picture - main events in the story of God's people through the ages? 
 
This Sunday, January 22, we'll continue to explore the "big" Bible narrative through five major acts or moves that define our faith: Creation, Slavery/Liberation (The Exodus), Learning How to Live (the prophets), Jesus Changes Everything, New Creation in Christ. Please join us in the Parish Hall

 

link

Sermon: 12/11/2016

Posted 4:46 PM by
Sermon, Advent IIIA                                      Jeffrey B. MacKnight
11 December 2016                                          St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

When John the Baptist asked Jesus if he was indeed the Messiah of God, Jesus replied: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” 

My brother-in-law Andre visited over Thanksgiving and told this joke –
 “What did the blind man say when he walked into the bar?  Ouch!” 

Andre’s one of the most active, hard-driving, yet gracious people I know.  Due to a rare congenital condition, he lost his eyesight a few years ago in his late 50s, first in one eye, then in the other.  He is now legally blind.  He has had to live with his blindness since – not an easy change to accept, much less adapt to.  He was cast into the wilderness.  He also got fired from his job because of his blindness.  Oh, and he happened to contract cancer too. 

Andre set out to reorder his life.  Andre and his wife Nancy moved to a house closer to public transit in Denver, where they live, so Andre can get around town on his own. Andre has gotten a service dog Pelham – a smart and gentle yellow lab who serves as his eyes. 

One of Andre’s greatest loves is bicycling – the heavy duty, long distance kind.  Without his sight, he has had to learn to ride tandem: in the back, not in the driver’s seat. He said that’s required learning humility.

Andre has learned to be amazingly independent – still an excellent chef, he’s also astute with technology.  But he’s also learned to ask for help when he needs it – something most of us need to work on. 

Jesus’ message of healing at first seems like welcome news for all of us, and at a deep level, it is.  But there is a catch: in order to receive Jesus’ healing, we must first accept our blindness, our deafness, our state of utter need.  We have to admit that we are not in control, we are not sufficient unto ourselves, we are wandering in the dark, in the wilderness.  We have to be humbled.  We need help.  That’s why Jesus added, at the end, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”  Blessed is anyone who can admit his state of need, blessed is she who can ask for help. 

Franciscan spiritual writer Richard Rohr observes that the Christian life is a process – of traveling from our original order, through a state of disorder, and finally into a third state: reorder.  My brother-in-law Andre has certainly traveled this difficult path.  He had no choice.  It’s been hard.  Rohr says: 

We dare not get rid of our pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Most of religion gives answers too quickly, dismisses pain too easily, and seeks to be distracted—to maintain some ideal order. So we must resist the instant fix and acknowledge ourselves as beginners to be open to true transformation. In the great spiritual traditions, the wounds to our ego are our teachers to be welcomed. They should be paid attention to, not litigated or even perfectly resolved. How can a Christian look at the Crucified One and not get this essential point?  The Resurrected Christ is the icon of the third [state], or reorder.

Once we can learn to live in this third spacious place, neither fighting nor fleeing reality but holding the creative tension itself, we are in the spacious place of grace out of which all newness comes.

There is no direct flight from order to reorder, you must go through disorder, which is surely why Jesus dramatically and shockingly endured it on the cross.  He knew we would all want to deny disorder unless he made it clear. But we denied it anyway.

Richard Rohr’s words are wise.  In other words, we’ve been blind, often on purpose.  Blind because we don’t want to see – see our failings, our sins, our disordered lives, our deep emptiness. 

I think the darkness of Advent is a symbol of this kind of blindness.  The church is wise to keep insisting that we pause in the dark place before we experience the brightness of Christmas.  There’s no shortcut.  We need time to journey through the wilderness, the darkness, the disorder, before God can bring something new into being in us, a new and marvelous order. 

I just got a new set of tires on my car.  That’s pretty easy to do on a car, but not in our spiritual lives.  As I get older, I realize that Advent is a season that makes more sense to those of us who have a lot of miles on us.  We get battered a good bit by life, even when life is good.  We may wish we could just get a new set of treads, but we can’t – not that easily.  We have to wait for God to do that…to allow us to wake up one day after a long time of clouds and thick darkness, and realize that we are being renewed.  There is a new light shining in the world, and in our hearts. 

That’s what Advent represents: that journey through hardship toward  peace, through darkness into a new light.  We can’t rush it; it has to happen in God’s time.  I don’t think children can get this, but we older folks do.  I’ve come to love Advent and its darkness…maybe even more than Christmas.  The light and joy of Christmas are lovely, but the darkness and quiet of Advent have much to teach us.  Let’s dwell here expectantly these next two weeks.  AMEN.  

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes: 12/25/2016

Posted by
Why do we come to church on Christmas?
Some of us are regular church-goers, but many are here only occasionally. Or this may be your first church experience. So why do we come, to do what so many human beings have done for so many centuries - to worship God? Why do so many of our paths and trails lead us to this place of prayer and celebration? 
 
Looking for Spirituality
Of course, we have many reasons. Some of us may be here to please our parents, spouses, or others.  All of us, I think, are seeking something - a connection with God.  This is at the root of the tremendous resurgence of interest in spirituality. We are looking for spiritual roots, a spiritual home where we can experience a deeper dimension of life, a deeper sense of meaning - whether we call that "God" or not. 
 
The Christmas event is so compelling because Jesus' birth marks God's entrance into human life - bridging the divide between human and divine. God comes very close to us - as close as a baby's cheek to his mother's.  In Jesus, God enters into human life, so that we might enter into God's life.
 
Looking for Community
We also come to church looking for community - a family.  We may (or may not) have a satisfying family life at home.  But in any case, we need a family of friends, of souls with shared values and purpose in life.  We want to walk the trail with others, to stretch and grow into full humanity, to live a life of meaning. 
 
Looking for Tradition and Ritual, Hope and Peace
We also come to church - as humans have done from time immemorial - looking for ways to speak and enact the deepest truths of life.  The beautiful atmosphere, beloved music, and ancient rituals of Christmas take us beyond what mere words can say.  Through the sacramental elements of water, bread, and wine, we express our need for cleansing, nourishing, and spiritual renewal.  When we light our candles, we profess our belief that a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it. 
 
Whatever reasons have brought you to St. Dunstan's this Christmas, you are welcome here.  Christ welcomes all who come to his table to partake of the bread and wine of Holy Communion. God bless you on your spiritual journey.  We hope that St. Dunstan's will continue to be a part of your journey in 2017. 
 
Many thanks to all who have made our Christmas celebrations so joyous -
the Flower Guild, Altar Guild, and all who helped decorate the church; our many dedicated musicians & their director, Dr. Michael Austin, Sue Von, Christian Formation Coordinator; Kimberly Matthews, Parish Administrator; and Solutions Services, our janitorial service.
 
We thank the many who contributed to the success of the new Children's Christmas Musical. 
 
We are grateful also for the ministry of lectors and chalice bearers, acolytes, trail guides, greeters, and hospitality coordinators. Your tithes and offerings at year's-end are much appreciated, and we thank you for your pledge of support to St. Dunstan's for the year 2017.
 
JBM


 

link

New Christmas Musical

Posted 3:33 PM by
 
New Christmas Musical!
 Saturday, December 17
5:00 p.m. followed by Chili Supper 
 
 
New music written by Jeff and Michael will add a new flare and fun to our Christmas pageant this year. Our junior choir already began learning these new songs and will be our music leaders for the evening. And the camel is a must see!
 
Join the Children's Choir for the Musical!
If you are not currently in the choir - you are welcome to join us for the remainder of our practices which are held on the following Thursdays. November 17 and December 1, 8, and 15 from 5:45-6:30 p.m. A simple supper follows for all each evening. This might be a great way to bring a little something special to your families Advent observances. 
 
For those unable to join the choir - there will still be a time to learn the choruses of these songs during Children's Formation on Sunday, December 4. Of course we will be needed various characters for the musical and the many angels, shepherds, and animals. 
Details about the dress rehearsal for all participants will be available next week. 



 

link

Consecration Sunday Sermon 11/13/2016

Posted 4:31 PM by
Sermon: Consecration Sunday, Veterans Day                               Jeffrey B. MacKnight
13 November 2016                                                                        St. Dunstan’s

 

 

Two hunters from Minnesota get a pilot to fly them to Canada to hunt moose. They bag six. As they start loading the plane for the return trip, the pilot tells them the plane can take only four of the moose. The two lads object strongly. "Last year we shot six, and the pilot let us put them all on board; he had the same plane as yours." Reluctantly, the pilot gives in and lets them load all six. However, even with full power, the little plane can't handle the load and goes down a few moments after takeoff. Climbing out of the wreckage, one Minnesotan asks the other, "Any idea where we are?" The second replies, "Yah, I tink we's pretty close to where we crashed last year." J

Sometimes life feels like that! 

Today our heads are crowded with competing thoughts, concerns, hopes, and worries.  It’s been quite a week: a big upset in the presidential election – some of us are happy and some are not.  Most of us are surprised, I’d say, and wondering what the Trump presidency will look like for the next four years.  The Church is not here to render judgment on politicians, favoring some over others.  In fact, followers of Jesus do not put their trust in the goodness of any political leader.  But the Church is very much here to critique all politicians, all national decisions and legislation, in the light of the values of Jesus our Lord.  Here at St. Dunstan’s, we’ll continue to look at our national life through the lens of Jesus’ life and teachings, as we always have.  We have a different, and higher, set of standards by which to judge our society, our world. 

The odd Gospel you heard today is from Palm Sunday, when Jesus finally rode into Jerusalem to face the Temple officials, the Romans, and finally the cross itself.  He rode in, not on the tall white horse of a conquering warrior, but on a little donkey-colt.  He was making a political statement – or, I should say, a critique of all human politics.  He was setting himself in contrast to the “powers that be” in his world: the Roman occupation of Palestine.  Just as the Roman legions rode into Jerusalem from the west, with chariots and armaments and great horses, to “keep peace” during Passover, Jesus rode in from the east on his little donkey.  He knew that every political leader would need to be countered by a people devoted to God, God’s radical and equal love for every human being.  The powers of this world will always need this check, this critique, this counter-force.  And we need it now. 

I want to focus on one little sentence in this Gospel: not the Hosannas of the crowds, but the 6 words used to secure that little donkey-colt from a sympathetic owner.  Those 6 words are:  “The Lord has need of it.”

How Jesus arranged for the little colt, we don’t know, but the words he used are clear enough: “Please give this, because the Lord needs it.”  What other need could supersede that?  All our plans, our personal desires, our hesitations fall away when we really hear the call of God saying, “The Lord needs it: the Lord needs you, your time, your money, your devotion and prayer.  Never mind your own plan, right now, the Lord needs you.”  Have you ever heard that voice in your life?  Had that overwhelming sense of call, of conviction, of action?  I hope you have.  That call changes us. 

“The Lord has need of it.”

This week we also observe Veterans’ Day, a time to stop and give thanks for the sacrifices of all who have served this country in the armed forces.  I think of my dad, who joined millions of Americans in the forties to fight in World War II.  In that war, the enemy was clear, vicious, and well-defined.  But I still stand in awe of those people who dropped everything and risked – or gave – their lives.  I believe most of them understood that call to be from God and country: “The Lord has need of me.” 

The wonderful Christian priest and writer Barbara Crafton wrote yesterday, reflecting on the American Civil War (after just finishing Shelby Foote’s huge history of that horrific conflict).  She notes the unfathomable cost in human life – well over 600,000 lives lost as both sides slaughtered our own brothers and sisters who saw this country differently.  We face such a split in the U.S. today, and it is a dangerous time for us.  Crafton writes:

 This must never happen again.

War never brings peace. It always sows the seeds of the next war. Violence on a smaller scale is the same: it may triumph in the moment, but it never persuades. The most violence can win is compliance based on fear, and a grim resolve to even the score next time, a resolve that can last for years.

We cannot designate our fellow Americans as enemies. We can be opponents, but we must not be enemies. We can be passionate, but we must not hate.

We can contend for what we think best. In order to do that, we must stay in contention. If we foreclose on relationship, we are no longer in the civic conversation.

“The Lord has need of it.”

Finally, we come together today at St. Dunstan’s to offer our financial pledges for the year ahead – another kind of sacrificial giving for God’s work right here in our own neighborhood.  Our church stands as a testimony to our values here: God’s love for every person, hospitality and acceptance of all, a safe and happy place for children every day, service and advocacy for people in need.  People see our banners on Mass. Avenue and know that this is a safe and welcoming place.  We don’t judge by race or social status or wealth or other characteristics; because Jesus doesn’t judge by those things. We look for Christ in every person. 

So today – in the midst of all that swirls around us – I ask you to vote for these values, with your pledge of support.  The Lord has need of it.  And I ask you to make it a bit more generous than you are comfortable doing, so that our church can thrive.  If you’ve already submitted a pledge, consider increasing it a bit.  Our budget challenges are great this year, because some revenues we used last year are not recurring.  Your leaders will work with what you, collectively, give, and we’ll devise the best possible budget to use those funds.  We shall live together by the decisions you make today. 

I conclude with the words of our own bishop, Mariann Edgar Budde.  Reflecting on the shock of the election, she calls for us to know our neighbors, especially the ones we disagree with, whose lives are painful and difficult in ways we do not know: 

Speaking on behalf of the Diocese of Washington, I pledge that I will take an active part in the healing of America. In faithfulness to God, we will seek the welfare of the cities, towns and communities in which we live. As Americans, we give thanks for the peaceful transfer of political power and we respect it.

“The Lord has need of it.”  The Lord has need of us – each and every one of us – today, in this country, in this city.  The Lord is asking for our hearts, our hands, our voices, and our dollars, to make peace with justice.  Will you answer?   


 

link
| comments (0)

Adult Formation 11/13/2016

Posted 9:05 PM by
 
The Bishop's Visitation
Sunday, November 20, 2016
 
Our last official visit of the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde to the parish was in Advent of 2013, but she was also present with us at our last two Pageants. Celebrating Jeff's anniversaries (15 years of being rector here and 30 years of being a priest) in December of 2014 and last year to bless our new Children's Altar.
 
This coming visit marks another official visit of the Diocesan Bishop to our parish community, something a diocesan bishop must do for every congregation at least once every three years. 

Bishop Mariann will be with us for both the 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. liturgies as our celebrant and preacher. She will also be our speaker for the adult formation time between services from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. We hope that all members of the parish will be present for this very important time with our Bishop.
___________________________________________________________________
 
HOW SHALL WE RESPOND?
A continuing conversation about Refugee Resettlement
 Sunday, December 4 
9:50 - 10:35 a.m.
 
In November we heard from representatives from St. Columba's about their year-long process of preparing for a refugee family to arrive. They expect this family within the next month. We are still determining how we at St. Dunstan's might join in their ministry initiative to welcome and assist this family, possibly help to bring a second family to the area using their organizational structure that is already in place, and maybe even working on a policy level. Come on the first Sunday of December to learn more and hear how you might engage this ministry.
Ray Donnelly
___________________________________________________________________
 
Exploring Islam: Myths and Realities
 
As a follow-up to our forum on October 23, our speaker, Salih Sayilgan, will be the featured presenter for a program on November 19, 2016 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Smithsonian. Detailed information and how to register for this event may be found here. This all-day event will be at the S. Dillon Ripley Center.


 

link

Adult Formation 11/6/2016

Posted 1:36 PM by
 
HOW SHALL WE RESPOND?
 
 Sunday, November 6 
9:50 - 10:35 a.m.
We are all aware of the outflow of refugees from violence and turmoil in the Middle East. 
 
Refugees' needs do not end when they receive a visa. Eventually, some will leave the camps and arrive in Europe, Canada  and the United States as refugees. They will need help in finding housing and work, in adapting to our culture and finding a place in the community while they assimilate.
 
A number of St Dunstan's members are asking what we can do to help. One of the opportunities is to work as partners with St Columba's parish which will begin "settling" refugees in the very near future. They are ready and well organized.
 
This Sunday Jim Losey and the Rev. Jean Ann Wright, co-chairs of St. Columba's Refugee response, will speak at our Adult Formation session. 
 
Please come to hear these interesting speakers and consider how you might become part of St Dunstan's team of volunteers. This opportunity is open to everyone; several neighbors who are not members of St Dunstan's are also ready to volunteer. So, if your friends and neighbors might be interested, bring them with you to this adult formation session.
 
Ray Donnelly
_____________________________________________________________
 

 
Salam Neighbor
Invitation to a film and discussion
Friday, November 4, 2016
 
A significant number of St Dunstan's members and friends have asked how they can help refugees who are being settled in the Washington Area.
 
Members of St. Dunstan's are exploring ways we & our neighbors can support and assist efforts of St Columba's Church, which is prepared to receive its first refugee family imminently. They expect that more refugee families will be sent to them, who also will need practical assistance in the months to come. St. Columba's welcomes our support and participation.
 
For those who are interested in helping with the resettlement of a refugee family, or who are just interested in learning more about the mission to welcome strangers into our midst, St Columba's Church will be showing a film, Salaam Neighbor. The showing will be this Friday, November 4 at 7pm at St. Columba's (4201 Albemarle St., NW). The film will be followed by a conversation with Simon Henshaw, Deputy in the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. 
 
If you have any questions about this endeavor, please contact Ray Donnelly or Sue von. Further information about our partnership with St Columba's will follow in the weekly newsletters.
 
__________________________________________________________________
 
The Bishop's Visitation
Sunday, November 20
 
Our last official visit of the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde to the parish was in Advent of 2013, but she was also present with us at our last two Pageants. Celebrating Jeff's anniversaries (15 years of being rector here and 30 years of being a priest) in December of 2014 and last year to bless our new Children's Altar.
 
This coming visit marks another official visit of the Diocesan Bishop to our parish community, something a diocesan bishop must do for every congregation at least once every three years. 

Bishop Mariann will be with us for both the 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. liturgies as our celebrant and preacher. She will also be our speaker for the adult formation time between services from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. We hope that all members of the parish will be present for this very important time with our Bishop.
___________________________________________________________________
 
Exploring Islam: Myths and Realities
 
As a follow-up to our forum on October 23, our speaker, Salih Sayilgan, will be the featured presenter for a program on November 19, 2016 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Smithsonian. Detailed information and how to register for this event may be found here. This all-day event will be at the S. Dillon Ripley Center.


 

link

Sermon: 11/06/2016

Posted 4:19 PM by
Sermon, Proper 26C                                                                    Jeffrey B. MacKnight
30 October 2016                                                                       St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

Today’s story is about repentance: Zacchaeus, the tax collector who repents of his evil ways. 

I have a confession to make: I strayed into temptation and sin on Friday. I was out to take in the brisk fall air and changing leaves, when I was caught up in a long procession of cars leading inexorably into perdition. 

When I arrived, the people were like lemmings, drawn like moths to a flame. My chest tightened; the crowds made me nervous. I knew I had no business being there, but I joined them in their blind obedience. I succumbed, as Zacchaeus succumbed 2000 years ago, to the power of temptation, avarice, like a sheep led to the slaughter. But I was fortunate; I managed to escape before the worst had happened, and I am able to stand before you today. 

Of course, by now you know where I was – at the grand opening of the new outlet mall in Clarksburg! It is a colossus beyond my wildest imaginings, like a small island city marooned in ocean of asphalt. A temple where only money, greed, acquisition, and the latest fashions are worshipped. 

The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Not money itself, but the love of it. That’s where Zacchaeus comes in. As a tax collector for the Romans, he loved money: he built his own wealth on the backs of others, by collecting as much as he could extract from lowly Judaeans. He no doubt used fear and threats…

But something changed in Zacchaeus. He must have heard Jesus preach and teach, maybe at first by accident. But he was smitten, captivated. He began to believe that a new life was possible, one not built on greed and intimidation. 

One day, he heard that Jesus would be coming by. He climbed a tree, we’re told, so he could see, because he was of small stature, that is, short. But in truth his stature was small in every way: he was not much of a human being. Anyway, he climbed that sycamore tree. 

I think maybe he climbed into that tree for another reason too – that he did not want to be seen. He was still unsure; he was not ready to look Jesus in the eye.  What would that involve? What would be required of him? 

[Our son Colin: when he had been naughty, we would give him time out. At the beach house where we went for many years, there was a low, scrubby tree outside the kitchen door. Colin would climb up into that tree when he was given time out.  At times, he’d just go up there on his own. He had some distance, but he could keep an eye on what was happening too. Maybe that sycamore tree was Zacchaeus’s time out tree….]

Back to the story: Jesus spotted Zacchaeus and called to him to come down out of his hiding place. Jesus acted as if Zacchaeus had already decided to change his life, to repent. Jesus invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’s house (we don’t know how Mrs. Zacchaeus felt about that!). And then it happened:  Zacchaeus did change, he did repent, right there in front of God and everybody.  “Look!  I’m going to give half my wealth to help poor people.  And if I’ve defrauded people, I’ll pay it back fourfold!” Zacchaeus, wealthy chief tax collector 10 minutes ago, is now Zacchaeus, generous man of God. Talk about repentance. 

Now I have long suspected that this is not the first time we have met Zacchaeus.  Last week, we heard the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple praying. The Pharisee was a self-righteous prig, but the tax collector was feeling the weight of his sinful life, the ways he had hurt people and exploited his position.  He simply asked for mercy. I believe that was Zacchaeus. That was the moment he was convicted of his sinfulness. Later, when he comes down out of that sycamore tree, into the arms of Jesus – this is the moment of his repentance, his transformation into a new man, a new human being, redeemed and made new by God!

Because that’s what repentance does for us – we are transformed into new human beings, freed from the terrible weight of our past lives, the weight of competition, self-doubt, regret, climbing the ladder, keeping up with the Joneses, and wondering if we can ever be good enough. When we repent, we turn our lives over to God, and God does an amazing thing – God embraces us just as we are, and loves us. 

This is the end of my sermon series on practicing love. It’s also our last Sunday of Creation Season. I hope you’ve enjoyed the music, readings, and visual displays of Creation in the church. I thank the parish artists who lent their beautiful works to line our walls! And I ask your prayers and your efforts to protect and care for God’s good earth, our atmosphere, and our waters, so that future generations can enjoy what we have enjoyed. 

It’s meet and right to end on repentance. We all have tracts in our lives where we don’t want God to go, because we’re not proud of what we are or what we’ve done.  But repentance can set us free – free to be the men, women, and children God made us to be – free to be lavish in love, magnificent in generosity; free to give freely, because we are so grateful for all that we have received. The most joyful people I know are the most giving, the most loving, the most generous.  They have found God’s secret to a great life. I want to be like them! 

In case you are still wondering, my day got better after my misadventure at the outlet mall. I escaped that web of seduction with my life and my wallet intact. I ended up at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain – a place of inordinate natural beauty and peace. God was merciful to me, a sinner. 

 


 

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes: All Saints November 6, 2016

Posted by

All Saints

Saints are, simply put, holy people. St. Paul referred to all the Christians in the churches as saints. Why? Were they all perfectly righteous, moral exemplars, tireless workers for good? No…they were probably a mixed bunch, much like ourselves. But they were saints, they were holy, because they were connected to God. Their identities, their holiness, came from being children of God, loved by God. 

You may not feel particularly holy, but your relationship with God makes you holy, makes you a saint.  Brother Curtis Almquist, a monk at the Episcopal monastery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, relates holiness to compassion:

“Compassion, not purity, is the essence of holiness,” he says. 

Can you imagine yourself as a saint, not because you are pure, but because you show compassion? Your care for people in need or trouble, your monetary gifts, your prayers, your compassion for suffering souls…these are the markers of holiness. These are actions we can take on a day-to-day basis – the caring phone call or email to a friend, filling a Thanksgiving basket for a family in need, stuffing turkey-and-cheese sandwiches into baggies for people on the streets – these are the small acts of compassion and kindness that lead us to God. 

Our Annual Giving Campaign ends with Consecration Sunday, November 13.  Every dollar you pledge to St. Dunstan’s is an act of compassion. Your gifts are used carefully, frugally, to do God’s work of compassion in this corner of God’s Kingdom. Please make your pledge, and be as generous as you can, so that this work can continue. St. Dunstan’s is a small church, but we are mighty in good works! Please join your fellow parishioners in giving Simple Gifts – for the Church and for the World.   JBM

 


 

link

Practicing Love Sermon 7: Practicing Love Series 10/23/2016

Posted 2:11 PM by
Sermon, Proper 25C                                                                     Jeffrey B. MacKnight
Practicing Love in Humility                                                        23 October 2016

This is a story about two young men meeting at Georgetown University:

            Both men of color
            Both immigrants
            Both dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs

But there was a difference, that trumped everything: One was a student, and the other was a janitor, cleaning the study rooms each night.  He was invisible – like the house elves in Harry Potter stories – always cleaning up after everybody, but never acknowledged. For over 10 years, the custodian, Oneil Batchelor of Jamaica, reported that not a word was every spoken to him by any student. Then one student finally broke that ice last year.

A nod one night. A hello the next.

All that changed when one student decided to look, to see, to acknowledge a fellow human being. 

“Once you see, you can’t unsee it,” said  Febin Bellamy, the 22 year old student. Mr. Batchelor and Mr. Bellamy would develop a friendship, and out of that came a university movement to cross boundaries and learn of the dreams and concerns of all members of the Georgetown community. Mr. Batchelor, a talented chef, received startup funding for a new catering business, Oneil’s Famous Jerk Chicken. 

Today’s sermon is about practicing love in humility, and that’s what Febin Bellamy and Oneil Batchelor were finally able to do  – really seeing another person as a human being, a precious child of God, worthy of dignity, opportunity, compassion. Worthy of a hello. Worthy of listening to. Worth knowing. 

Our parable today, from the Gospel of Luke, demonstrates pride and humility in high relief.  The Pharisee is bragging about his wonderful deeds, and is contemptuous of the other man in the temple. That man, a despised tax collector, acknowledges his sin, and asks only for God’s mercy.  We easily condemn the Pharisee as a pompous blowhard.  He was doing the right things, but with the wrong attitude! We nod in assent when Jesus affirms the tax collector.  In our hearts, we don’t want to see ourselves in either man – not the pompous prig, and not the shady tax man either. But truly to learn from Jesus’ story, we must see ourselves in both men. Only humility will allow us to do that. 

Here, our Christian faith is at is most countercultural. The world teaches us to get ahead, show our stuff, and climb the ladder of success. Humility teaches us that other human beings deserve the same respect as we do.  We are all equal in the eyes of God. All are sinners, yet all are beloved.  It’s really hard to live that way in this world, not to mention this city!

But humility is really quite freeing. Humility about our own lives, our place in the world, frees us from the need to keep up with the Joneses, show off what we have or what we know (or whom we know). It’s humbleness that allows us to say, “I’m not the center of the universe. I don’t need to garner all the attention…I don’t have to be admired for how attractive I am, or how successful I am, or how rich I am, or even how good a person I am.”

When it comes to our money, humility allows us to see that others’ needs may be more important than our own desires, in God’s eyes. That other children need our support, not just our own children. Humility can allow us to say to our own children, “You have enough.  I need to give some of what God has given us to children who need basics, like groceries and school shoes.”

Our children have never lacked for anything they needed. I’m hugely grateful for that.  But we have had to say no to many of their desires along the way, to give consistently to the church and to other charitable projects. That, to me, is part of practicing love in humility, and it’s also a good witness for our children to see. If you have children in your home, try talking to them about what you give to and why, and what it costs you. Perhaps try bringing your children into the decisions on your charitable giving. You might be surprised at what they must say. 

Back to Jesus’ parable – in the end, both those men praying in the temple have a lot of growing to do, and both have real potential to become more Christlike. The Pharisee is doing good things; he just needs to work on his attitude of superiority, which he uses to distance himself from the rest of humanity. He needs to examine why he does this distancing, which denigrates other children of God. He needs to repent, and get to know some non-Pharisees! 

The tax collector has probably done some really bad things, and he knows it. Tax men were notorious for extortion in those days (nothing like our modern IRS agents!). He had a lot to answer for.  He would need to apologize to his victims, and make restitution where possible. His cry for mercy in the temple is not the end of his path, not a “get out of jail free” pass, but the beginning of a long road of rehabilitation.

Jesus’ parables always spur my imagination. What happens later?  In this story, I imagine a day when the Pharisee and the tax collector, after repenting and working on their own sins and foibles, meet again, and actually get to know each other as people, as fellow humans, as children of one God.  Maybe they would have a similar experience to that of Oneil Batchelor and Febin Bellamy – the Georgetown janitor and student. Maybe they have something to share with each other, to teach each other. Maybe each of them needs to feel loved. Maybe, we all do.  

 

link
| comments (0)

Practicing Love Sermon 6: Practicing Love Series 10/09/2016

Posted 5:18 PM by
Sermon: Practicing Love through Thanksgiving                         Jeffrey B. MacKnight
9 October 2016                                                                          St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like to ask for help. I remember the first time my back went out several years ago. I bent over slightly, and felt that sickening pop, and I couldn’t stand up straight again. Later, after several scans, I was told I have a herniated disk in my lower back – a common condition, and there’s not much they can do about it without cutting you open….

So I asked for help (I had to). I tried the chiropractor, but that didn’t do much. I did physical therapy. And finally, I had a course of steroids, and it was like a miracle. I could stand and straighten my back again! What a blessing. I was so thankful to be healed.

Today Jesus tells the story of ten lepers. Those lepers, they kept their distance from Jesus. In fact, lepers were required to keep their distance from society, and shout a warning when they approached, lest anybody “catch” their disease. What an isolating, lonely way to live. 

But they found the courage to cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” After all the humiliation they had endured, they had the guts, and the hope, to cry to Jesus whom they had heard was a healer. They asked for help.

Jesus responded: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” The priests were the ones who authenticated healings, and would allow the lepers back into society. They would be set free!  Off they went, gazing down at the fresh pink skin on their hands and arms, rejoicing in their new, healthy bodies.

We are the lepers – if not physically in need of healing, then certainly emotionally, spiritually in need. We’ve all hurt people, and been hurt. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve been selfish. We have our weaknesses, our foibles our herniated disks. We carry the scars of life on our own skins – visibly or invisibly, they are there. 

And then…one of them – just one out of ten – turned back, praising God, and fell down at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him….and he was a Samaritan, a foreigner. Why not the others? Did they forget so quickly the awful state they’d been in? Did they think at all about this man Jesus who set them free? What would I do? Or you? Jesus seems very human in his sadness at this.

Then there is Naaman – a proud man, a military officer, used to deference. But he too was a leper.  A slave girl in his house told him about the God of Israel, who could heal him. Naaman came, with all his horses and chariots, to see the prophet Elisha. Elisha told him how to be healed, but Naaman thought it was ridiculous. He was proud. O my goodness, doesn’t that sound like us?  Would we stoop to wash ourselves in the sorry little Jordan River?  Or would we say, “Naw, this is silly.  I don’t believe in this stuff.  I’m an important man – too important to be doing this!” 

We are prideful, it seems, by nature. Look at the world – the posturing and preening of our leaders, celebrities, movie stars. We all want to be important, more so than the next guy. We don’t want to appear weak, or needy.  

Christian life is really all about coming back to give thanks. It’s about swallowing our pride, asking for help when we need it, and rejoicing when God grants us some healing, some new hope, clear new pink skin, a back that can stand up straight. Christian life is living in an “attitude of gratitude,” as they say. Knowing we need to depend on God, and responding with thanks for every gift. 

Giving thanks – that’s how we finally are free of our pride, our need to be self-sufficient, our desire to be stronger or better or richer than others. With gratitude, all of that falls away. What a freeing thing!

And what’s more, thankfulness heightens our pleasure and delight in the simplest of things – good hot coffee, a great meal, a walk in this gorgeous fall weather, the first red leaf spotted in a tree, the laughter of a toddler at the grocery store (and that’s just from my day yesterday). Oh and of course, the nuzzle of one’s favorite dog!

These are simple gifts – the best kind. We launch our Annual Giving Campaign today with this theme: Simple Gifts – for the Church and for the World.  I hope you’ll think about the simple gifts in your life, and take special joy in thanking God for each and every one of them. Just try it – starting with gratitude. It will bring you joy. 

One way to give thanks is to pass on the blessings to others around you. Your pledge to this church is one good way to do that. We all know that without your consistent, committed giving, St. Dunstan’s can’t survive. And yet, faithful people have helped this community survive and thrive for 58 years now. So much ministry has flowed through these walls, and out into the world around us for all these years; so many people have been touched and helped; so many baptisms and marriages have been celebrated here; so many saints have been commended to God here, after their deaths. So many children have learned about Jesus; so many youths have learned the joy of serving people in need. So many people visited in hospital or nursing home; so much joy in Easter and Christmas services, so much music offered to God and enjoyed by all of us. 

And overarching it all is one thing: Giving Thanks to God. That is the essence of the Eucharist.  It is the Christian life. Thankfulness frees us from our fears, our selfishness, our need to get ahead and outshine others.  Fear, self-centeredness, pride – those are the diseases of our day, the leprosy of this age. And the cure is ready at hand: gratitude; thankfulness to God. Jesus offers us the cure, the key to a new life. It is a simple gift, but a profound one. Let us take it! And let us be the one who, in his joy, returns to give thanks for the mighty work of God in our lives.  AMEN.   


 

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes: 10/9/2016

Posted by

We all were taught as children to say “thank you” whenever somebody did something for us.  That’s certainly a good and courteous habit.  But real thankfulness is a deeper thing – a manner of living, rather than a conversational habit. 

Thankfulness, or gratitude, is in fact the bedrock of Christian living – from which all other joys and virtues spring forth.  Our weekly worship is itself an act of thanksgiving: the word Eucharist is from the Greek for “thanksgiving.”

When we gather to give thanks to God, we put ourselves in the right relationship with God: we are creatures, God is creator; we are receivers, God is the great giver; we are fallible and weak, God is righteous and strong.  An “attitude of gratitude” helps us accept our humility and live joyfully and generously.  We realize we don’t have to try to control everything.  We do what we can, and then let God be God.  

Of course life brings difficulties as well as joys.  We don’t pretend to be thankful for disease or misfortune or loss, nor do we try to ascribe them to some incomprehensible plan God has laid out for us.  No, we endure them, and give thanks as we are able for the people who help us through them, for God’s unfailing presence and love when all else seems to fail us. 

This week, we begin St. Dunstan’s Annual Giving Campaign – for your financial pledge to support our church in 2017.  We build this campaign around thanksgiving.  We do not try to guilt anybody into giving; rather we remind ourselves of all that God has given us, and of the joy we receive when we give generously, for our church, and for the world.  I hope you will approach the campaign from a place of gratitude in your heart. It really is joyful and satisfying to give money to help others and build a better world.  In fact, there is no greater joy to be had from our material wealth than to give.  JBM  


 

link

Practicing Love Sermon 5: Practicing Love Series 10/02/2016

Posted 5:19 PM by
Sermon, Practicing Love through Faith                                      Jeffrey B. MacKnight
2 October 2016  Creation Season                                               St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

 

The Faith of a Mustard Seed

One day, a snail was mugged by a couple of tortoises. When the police arrived on the scene they asked, "Can you tell us what you remember about the suspects?" The snail replied, "Oh, I don't know, it all happened so fast!" 

I’ve never been accused of being a patient man.  When I am in action mode, I like to get things done, preferably now.  “There’s no time like the present,” is one of my inner proverbs.  But not everything moves quickly in life.  That’s where faith becomes absolutely necessary.  I struggle with that.  When I don’t see change and movement, I get discouraged.  I need faith more than I need anything. 

To persevere in hope, we must be able to envision a future, work, pray, and stay the course until it can come about.  “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen,” says the Bible.  All of my complaining to God over the years about the slowness of life has not changed anything.  But God has been changing me – ever so slowly.  Like it or not, I realize I am now the tortoise…if not the snail! 

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17:5

When have you longed for something to come to pass, and persevered until your vision was rewarded?  Was it getting a college degree, buying a house, changing a neighborhood, recovering from an illness, fighting an injustice?  It takes faith to do these things.  Even the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains, over time. 

Last week I sponsored an event in Alexandria for Five Talents – the Anglican organization I’m involved in that works in eight of the poorest countries to help people, mainly, women, learn to save, start a business, and support themselves and their children.  As an international development NGO, we are small, but mighty.  We struggle to raise our small budget of under a million dollars.  But still, we have changed the lives of over 360,000 people with our programs since 1999.  Families earn money, eat more than one meal a day, and can pay the fees to send children to school.  Lives change, with the faith of a mustard seed.  It’s exciting to see.  The other night at our event, we heard from Peter and Harun who work in South Sudan – a new country, very unstable.  As you’ve heard and read, there is violence in certain parts of South Sudan.  But Peter and Harun are joyful, energetic, hopeful people – excited about their work, and grateful for the support of us Americans who contribute.  South Sudan has been at war a long time – a generation has gone uneducated.    So we start with literacy training, and numeracy training (numbers) – the 3 R’s – and then move to business training, savings groups, and small loans for starting businesses.  The local churches are among the few intact, respected institutions.  We work through them. Over 21,000 persons are participants in Five Talents programs there right now, transforming lives. The faith of a mustard seed.

_____________________

St. Dunstan’s grants to Five Talents the last few years have supported the program in Indonesia.  It’s tricky to work there, because it is a Muslim country, and not very open to other religions. But the church is there, so Five Talents has a base. A front page story on Five Talents website features Nuriah:

Nuriah is a mom who cares for her two biological children and four adopted orphans. Her catering business serves low-wage factory workers in an industrial area of Jakarta. 

Previously, her business relied on funding from loan sharks who charged exorbitant interest for quick cash. Her profits disappeared each month in repayment and she struggled to provide food and clothing for her children. Now, with access to secure savings and loans through Five Talents and GERHATI, Nuriah has been able to expand her business without incurring debt.

Nuriah-catering3

"Economically, we are getting better and I make better relationships with the people around me. I can buy the children the clothes they like and now I can give them pocket money. . . It is not difficult anymore for me to care for my family. It is easier now. I have savings for the days to come."

_______________________________

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17:5

Our own Bp. Budde wrote this week about faith:

I was among the millions who watched the first presidential debate on Monday evening…. As bishop, I don’t take public positions in support of any political party or candidate. But I share the view that this is a pivotal election, and that as Christians living in a democratic society, we have a responsibility to participate in civic life for the good of all.

How Christians are called by God to exercise our citizenship is not always clear and we are not of one mind.  How can we use our faith to help us navigate and grow during these stormy and chaotic times?

[Here is Bp. Budde’s answer]:  

Faith is for times like these, precisely to help us navigate through storms and trials. This is our time to live by whatever faith we have, those bits of goodness, grace and love given to us, knowing all the while that not everything is up to us.  We may never feel as if we have enough, or that we can do enough. It doesn’t matter. We’re here now and we all have an offering to make. Jesus himself assured us that we don’t need very much to move mountains, that a little bit of faith, a little bit of love, a little bit of righteous anger goes a long way.  

The decisions we make, as a nation, on November 8, are very important. And on the morning of November 9, some of us will wake up tremendously relieved and others deeply disappointed. But no matter the outcome, we will rise that day, as every day, as followers of Jesus and citizens of this land. We are here for a time such as this.

As I said, I like things to move, to make progress, to get on with it.  But the Kingdom of God works on different time than we do – it may seem like a tortoise…it often does, to me!  The pace of my own progress in life may seem on the order of a snail.  Still, God is at work in us, in creation, in the rings of a treetrunk, in the growth of a child, in the rising of the sun, in the slow, excruciatingly slow arc of history, as it bends…bends toward justice. 

All it takes is the faith of a mustard seed. 

 


 

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes: 09/18/2016

Posted by

How could Jesus commend a dishonest manager?

Today’s parable from Jesus is a tough one, and not easy to make sense of. The story of the dishonest manager (or steward in older translations) seems contradictory. Surely Jesus wants us to be honest in our dealings with money – in our business and our personal lives. Yet Jesus seems to commend this shady character. Why? Not for his dishonesty, but for his shrewdness. The key, I believe, is here: “For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” As Christians we are the children of light. But how shrewd (and effective) are we in the world we live in? We live in a world of “the children of this age,” but we are meant to shine a light of change. I think Jesus wanted to make this point in a startling way. 

The set of aphorisms attached to the end of this parable really don’t match it very well; perhaps the writer of Luke added them because they speak to the general topics of money, honesty, of faithfulness. Without a doubt, our relationship with money is complicated, and can easily slip into idolatry if we’re not careful. The dishonest steward certainly had a problem with money! Jesus’ final declaration is worth pondering by all of us: 

“No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one or love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

In Sunday’s sermon at 10:45 a.m., we’ll look at the issues of money raised by this strange parable, and also explore the different levels of interpretation this story requires of us. Taking it literally will not do!  Practicing love with our money is both simple, and difficult. Together we can grow in this essential Christian practice. JBM

 


 

link

Practicing Love Sermon 2- Practicing Love Sermon Series 9/11/2016

Posted 2:49 PM by

Sermon, Proper 19C                                                                     Jeffrey B. MacKnight

11 September 2016

Homecoming Sunday St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

Practicing love, by Seeking the Lost

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi were very competitive. Lost in the woods, they decide that each will find a bear, and attempt to convert it. Later they get together to compare the results. The priest begins, "When I found the bear, I read to him from the Catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his First Communion." "I found a bear by the stream," says the minister, "and preached God's holy word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him." They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast. "Looking back," he says, "Maybe I shouldn't have started with the circumcision."

As we start a new church year, I’ll try not to start with circumcision! I’d rather go with preaching God’s holy word. The Gospel of Jesus is the strongest medicine we’ve got for this old world, so we’ll start with that. So welcome back, on this Homecoming Sunday. Welcome home.

Now please think back to a time you were lost….

Perhaps as a child, in a huge store, or in the woods – you may remember feelings of fear, anxiety, even terror or panic. 

Another kind of lost – as a teenager who doesn’t fit in, as a young adult who hasn’t found her niche - her path in life, as an older person who has lost a significant other through death or separation and feels bereft - lost without the anchor of another human being. Feelings of sadness, even despair can well up in us at these times. Last week, the New York Times ran a big article on how feeling lost and lonely can actually damage our physical health. 

Think of the lostness of the survivors of 9/11 deaths…one 9/11 widow we know bought Leslie’s parents’ big old family home in Summit, NJ… maybe to try to recover some sense of love and connectedness in a place that had teemed with children and life and love. Our nation still aches from that horrible act of wickedness 15 years ago. 

In today’s Jesus story, tax collectors and sinners gather to listen to Jesus. Why? Jesus didn’t condone their bad behavior, but he made them feel included, welcome, despite their past lives.  Less lonely, perhaps. Less lost. 

The self-righteous Pharisees appear, and grumble as usual, about Jesus befriending sinners.  They seem to resent the fact that Jesus welcomes them. But the Pharisees still come and listen to Jesus. I always wonder why they come….

Jesus responds with a parable: a shepherd and his flock of sheep – 100 sheep, a nice round number. One of them gets lost in the wilderness. What does the shepherd do? Does he give up on the lost one, and protect the ninety-nine? No. He leaves the many, and seeks out the one who is lost. He brings her home, and gathers friends to celebrate. This is a recurring theme in scripture. 

Jesus talks a lot about the lost – parables of the lost sheep, the lost coins, and most of all, the lost son…the parable we know as “The Prodigal Son.” That son, a rash young man, chooses to leave home and family, ask for his inheritance, and go live a wild life. What did he hope to find?  We don’t know, but we do know that he was soon a very lost young man….

The choices that father made have always fascinated me. In this case, his son was an adult.  The father granted him the freedom to travel, and even gave him his legacy in advance.  The father did not chase him down. But the father did lament his son’s absence, and watched every day for his boy to return. How long, we don’t know. But eventually, he came home: weary, destitute, and regretful.  His father was overjoyed!  He gathered his friends to celebrate, just as the shepherd did for his lost sheep.  “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.” 

Our cat Chandler was feral when Maggie rescued him in a snowstorm.  Once he got out the door and ran for it.  We looked everywhere. 

I gave up on finding him, but Leslie put food out every night.

She sat on the stoop some nights, waiting with treats…. After 30 days, hesitantly, fearfully, Chandler came home.  He was caked in dirt, thin as a rail: a sad bedraggled kitty. But he was home.  And we celebrated!

So how do we get found? 

The solution to the lostness and loneliness we all feel at times is community, and ministry – actual service to another.  I learned long ago that for me the best antidote to a general sense of ennui, listlessness, or discontent is to get up and go do something for somebody – make a visit, make a phone call, feed somebody, write a note (remember when we did that?), volunteer for a good cause, shovel the neighbor’s sidewalk, you name it.  Guaranteed, I’ll feel better. 

If one lonely person reaches out to another, the result is two people who are now connected, less lonely than before. When we visit someone who is sick or lonely, we don’t just benefit him or her, we find community, and purpose, and love ourselves. The world becomes a little warmer, a more loving place. Everybody wins!

For us, people of faith, the deepest way to be “found” is to be found by God – to realize that God has loved us since our birth, rejoiced with us in good times, and suffered with us in bad times. Even when we wander far away from God, like the prodigal’s father God is waiting, watching for us to come back.  It’s hokey, (and this certainly dates me!), but I think of Glenn Campbell’s old song: “It’s knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk…that keeps you ever gentle on my mind.”  God’s door is always open; God’s path is free to walk. That’s great news. 

Our door at St. Dunstan’s is open, in the name of the God of Love, to all who come. And we need to go out into the “highways and byways” to invite people in.  In the modern world, that’s our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces, the gym, the club – everywhere we meet people.  Many of those people are lonely, feeling lost. We have a lot to offer to them.  Of course we are Episcopalians; we are allergic to being pushy! We don’t start with circumcision! We start with invitation, with listening, with sharing ourselves, and welcoming the lost sheep home.  That’s what “Homecoming” is all about. Let’s renew our commitment to practice love in this world.  AMEN.  


 

link
| comments (0)

Musical Thursday's at St. Dunstan's

Posted 6:19 PM by
 
 
       Thursday Night is Music Night
       Starting September 15, 2016
 
The beginning of the program year is just around the corner! And we've saved a seat for YOU!
 
Children's Choir - Thursdays at 5:45-6:30pm - Kids ages 4-4th Grade
We'll sing songs, play instruments, play games, make things, and have a great time! We'll also being work on another musical production for this Fall. 
 
Kid-Friendly, All-Church Supper - 6:30-7:00pm - Everyone Welcome
We'll offer a free, kid-friendly supper on Thursday nights between Children's Choir and Pajama prayers to make Thursday nights as easy as possible for parents and kids. Everyone is welcome to join us for a time of food and fellowship. 
 
Pajama Prayers - 7:00-7:15pm - Everyone Welcome
After dinner, we'll end our evening activities for children with a brief time of prayer and song.
 
Adult Choir - Thursdays at 7:30-9:00pm - Youth and Adults
The choir is open to anyone who loves to sing, reading music is not necessary, and there is no audition to join. We would love to have you join us this year - try choir out for a few weeks this Fall! 
 
Taizé Worship - Last Thursday of Most Months - 8:30-9:00pm - Everyone Welcome
On the last Thursday of most months (during the regular program year, except December), we'll have a compline service in the style of Taizé. Please let Michael, Jeff, or Sue if you're interested in helping to set up for this service, to play an instrument, or lead in any way. 
 
 
Dr. Michael L. Austin
Music Director
 
 


 

link

Formation 9/11/2016

Posted 6:15 PM by
Get Involved in Forming Faith - Teachers NEEDED!
 
Would you like to be a part of a planning team for adult, youth or children's formation? Do you like to tell stories, or make crafts, or play games? Maybe you'd like to lead some of our children's programs. Are you someone who likes to discover or work together to find the answers to questions? Sounds like walking with our youth in their faith journey might just be the right place for your ministry. Have you have been on a study tour, or taken a class on prayer, or been involved with a great ministry program? Consider being a presenter for one of our adult forums. Email or talk with Sue!
 
 
Children's Formation Programs
 
This week, September 11, is Homecoming Sunday and we ask that all children bring their backpacks for a blessing on Sunday. If you have also shopped for a backpack to give away - this is the day to bring them to the church. If you still need a list for shopping just click here
We begin classroom programs for children on September 18 with a focus on what we believe, how we pray, and learning the stories of Jesus. We hope your children will join us for learning, fun, games, activities and growing in faith. Register your children here.
 
Youth Programs for 2016-2017
 
There are two new ways for youth to engage in fun and formation during this program year and we are excited about what will happen! Register youth here for this year's programs and be sure to fill out the year-long permission form.
 
 
Thursday Night Dunstan's Youth Group

Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Program from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
1st and 3rd Thursdays - beginning on September 15
 
This is open to all youth in grades 5 through 12 and will be lead by both Sue and Jeff. It will include games, community building, and being formed in faith. Some of the formation program will be specifically directed toward preparing youth for Confirmation. The sacrament of Confirmation would be an option in the spring for those who have completed 8th grade or above. 
 
Collaboration Youth Events
Join with youth from St. David's, St. Patrick's, Church of the Redeemer, and St. Dunstan's for fun, service and learning. 
Our first event will take place on Sunday, September 18 at the GW Summit Outdoor Challenge Course at GWU's Foxhall Rd. Campus from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost for this event is $15 per person. Participants will be required to sign a waiver form. Sign-up in Founders' Hall or here, no later than Monday, September 12. Waiver forms and year-long permission forms have been sent to all parents, are available on the youth page of the web site, and are available in Founder's Hall. 
 
Please put the following dates on your calendar for these joint youth events:
September 18 - October 16 - November 20 - December 18 - January 18
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator


 

link

Practicing Love Sermon 1- Practicing Love Series 9/4/2016

Posted 4:00 PM by
Sermon, Proper 18C                                                   Jeffrey B. MacKnight
4 September 2016                                                       St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda

 

Practicing Love…in your family

An Amish boy and his father went to a shopping mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again. The boy asked, "What is this, Father?" The father responded, "Son, I don’t know; I have never seen anything like this in my life!” While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a grumpy-looking lady moved up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened, and she walked into a small room. The walls closed, and the boy and his father watched the small numbers above the walls light up, rising one to eight.  Then the numbers came back to one.  Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous 24-year-old blonde stepped out. The father, not taking his eyes off the young woman, said quietly to his son ... "Go get your mother." J

Families are easy to poke fun at…there’s so much material!  We live in close quarters…we’ve got history together…we know how to push each other’s buttons….

How is it that families, where love seems such a natural thing, can be so difficult, so unloving, so destructive sometimes? 

Jesus had hard words to say about family.  His own family situation is a bit vague, but the Bible tells us about his mother Mary, his father Joseph (at least his earthly father), and some brothers and sisters.  But Jesus was often at odds with his family.  They tried to shut him up when he started preaching, and he rebuffed them.  He said the words we heard in the Gospel today: “Whoever …does not hate father and mother, wife and children…cannot be my disciple.”  What did he mean by that? 

Jesus was speaking in hyperbole, of course.  We aren’t meant to “hate” anybody – not even our enemies.  But clearly Jesus was saying that his Gospel values outweigh even our devotion to our families.  If our families prevent us from following Jesus, we must choose Jesus.  Following Jesus was (and is) countercultural, and in his day, the choice to be his disciple was a radical one.  Families would not approve! 

Families can bring us such joy and laughter and just good fun!  But sometimes our families ask too much…. They can try to control us, shame us, and place unfair burdens on us.  Boundaries are so important in families…  For instance:

  • One relative of mine was so disruptive that I finally had to limit visits to a couple of hours, and not allow overnight stays at our house.
  • My cousins have rampant substance in their family, and they had to watch as their brother destroyed his body with substance abuse and finally died at an early age – not because they didn’t try to help, but because their brother would not, or could not, accept it.  We’ve all heard of “tough love,” knowing when to step back and detach.  It’s the hardest kind of love to practice, in my experience. 

But not everybody has a family, and that can feel like a big void.  My mom and dad were good at welcoming individuals into our family circle, when they had none of their own.  Leslie and I try to practice love that way too….  And of course our church congregation is a natural place to create family – not by blood but by adoption into Jesus Christ.  People who have no family, or who have been ostracized by their families, or who are far away from family…all can find a home here at St. Dunstan’s.  That’s who we are – a core value here.  All are welcome.  No exceptions. 

Last week someone here asked about practicing love with our adult children.  I tell you, I’m learning about that as I speak!  We want the best for our children…and we hate to see them make choices that seem unhelpful, or even destructive.  And yet, the emphasis has to shift from “children” to “adult.”  Adults have freedom to choose, to find their own path.

Jesus didn’t have any adult children (I don’t think), but he did show us his responses to adult persons who were making life choices.  I think of the story of the rich young man – a young man who, I believe, Jesus already knew.  This young man had a lot going for him; he had many choices and opportunities.  He asked Jesus what was the most important choice for him to make: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

He had the right question.  Jesus looked at him answered him.  “Follow all the commandments.”  “Done.” And then Jesus looked at him in love and said, “Go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.” 

Jesus set a clear choice before the man, but he didn’t want to make it.  Jesus knew what that young man needed to do to have a full, beautiful life, and Jesus practiced love by telling him. 

Unfortunately, the man loved his possessions too much, so he went away sad.  (I’ve always imagined that that young man came back to Jesus later, when he was a little older and wiser, and found his true calling as a disciple.  But we’ll never know.)

In this story, Jesus is fathering the young man; he treats him as a beloved son.  But Jesus does not force his will on him.  Jesus does not force his will on anybody, really.  He leads, he offers, he suggests, he persuades, sometimes he entreats us.  But he does not force us.  That’s how he practices love.  (The father of the prodigal son acts in a similar way.  He lets his son go and seek his fortune; when the young man comes home, destitute and weary, his father welcomes him home.)

So families provide us with some of our greatest blessings, and also some of our greatest challenges in practicing love.  It’s complicated.  One of my best teachers on human nature and human relationships was a rabbi named Edwin Friedman.  He studied family systems and made some remarkable discoveries about how families work.  If you are interested, we could talk more about all of this. 

But for now, this family of St. Dunstan needs to gather with our founder Jesus, around his supper table, and renew our familial bonds with each other, and with others in our lives.  Next week, we’ll focus again on practicing love…with those who are lost, like the lost sheep that Jesus went after.  It’s Homecoming Sunday, and a time to pause and remember the anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy, too.  Brunch at 10 a.m. Please come.  AMEN.  


 

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes: 09/11/2016

Posted by

Seeking the Lost

When have you felt most lost in your life?

…As a child, in a strange new school?

…As a teen, feeling left out of the cliques in school?  Angry at parents who didn’t seem to understand?

…As a young adult, trying to find your way as friends seem to move with confidence into careers and relationships? 

…As an older person, who has lost a great love in your life, and feeling like a ship without a rudder? Or lost a job that defined who you are? 

When we feel lost, we look around with awe at all the others who seem to have it all together, who move forward without doubt, who seem to be so “found.” 

In our series on “Practicing Love,” we reflect together this week on being lost, and on finding new love, new purpose, new belonging in life. Jesus put it in terms his hearers would understand well:  a shepherd has a large flock of sheep, and one gets lost. What will the shepherd do? Mind the 99 in the herd, or seek out the lost? 

You know Jesus’ answer. He seeks out the lost and brings her home. That is the loving thing to do. And then he celebrates that the lost one is found! He didn’t try to analyze the causes of the lostness, or berate the little sheep who wandered off.  He went and found her, brought her back, and celebrated.

This is good news for us. The “sinners” whom the Pharisees despise are the chief target of Jesus’ love. When a sinner comes home, that is the greatest joy in heaven!  That means none of us is so lost that we are beyond the reach of God, beyond the arms of Jesus to reach us. 

Of course, there is a second part of this cycle of love: we need to reach out in love to other people who are lost, just as Jesus reaches out to us. That’s how we practice love for the lost. What does it look like…at St. Dunstan’s?  One parishioner volunteered at a crisis hotline. Another uses therapy animals to reach children with special needs. Another makes phone calls to people who live alone, and visits with flowers now and then.  Another counsels teens in traumatic situations.  Another teaches students with difficult home lives, using art to help them express themselves. 

How do you practice love, with people who are lost? How have others loved you when you have felt lost? We’ll explore this further in the sermon at the late service.  These will be posted on our website as well, if you are interested.  JBM


 

link

Musical Thursdays! Adult Choir Kicks Off Tonight.

Posted 6:14 PM by

Adult Choir kicks off tonight with rehearsals starting at 7:30 p.m.

The beginning of the program year is here, and we are starting up Musical Thursdays! All ages are welcome! Any skill level, no auditions. We have a choir for you.

Thursday Schedule

  • 5:45 p.m. Children’s and Bell Choir
  • 6:30 p.m. Dinner
  • 7:00 a.m. DYG ( alternating weeks)
  • 7:30 p.m. Adult Choir
  • Taize (Last Thursday of the Month)

We would love to have you join us this season!

 


 

link

Trail Notes: 09/04/2016

Posted by

Practicing Love…in tough situations

Sun Tzu famously wrote a book called The Art of War in the fifth century B.C.E. – during the time the empire of Persia dominated the biblical world. Su Tzu’s writings have influenced the strategies of warfare ever since. 

Jesus came along 500 years later and lived a life of profound and generous love.  The Gospels and traditions of Jesus could be called The Art of Love. The Jesus tradition has taught the practice of love ever since. Some have learned well; most of us still have a lot of learning to do. 

That’s why we at St. Dunstan’s are exploring the practice of love this Fall. In sermons, writings, and study groups, we are getting very specific about challenges and strategies of practicing love in very common human situations. Last Sunday, congregants suggested many such situations where practicing love is difficult:

  • With my adult children
  • When listening, without jumping to problem-solving mode
  • With people who engage in bad behavior
  • With people I don’t know – on the street, in a shop, in traffic
  • With people begging by the roadside.
  • In my prayer life, with God
  • With difficult colleagues at work
  • With people at church who think differently
  • When I’ve been hurt by somebody
  • In online situations (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • With my money, my checkbook

I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll try to address these situations in sermons, using Jesus’ teaching as a guide. This Sunday, September 4, I’ll start the list, and talk about practicing love with our family members – some of whom may not be very lovable. We’ll talk about dealing with children (all ages!), elderly parents, interfering in-laws, and manipulative kin. I hope you’ll join in worship at 10:45 a.m.  Please email me if you have specific comments/questions to explore.  JBM  


 

link

Upcoming Youth Events

Posted 5:43 PM by
Fall Formation Programs for All Ages
 
This fall there will be a variety of formation programs offered on Sunday mornings between the services from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. One Sunday each month we will build relationships within our community through Second Sunday Socials. We will be formed through hands-on-ministry as we make sandwiches for Martha's Table on the last Sunday of each month. Seasonally we will have special events that are Intergenerational with special speakers or activities, like the Painting Table last year. On most other Sundays the focus for all ages will be the basics of the Christian Faith and how we as Episcopalians live out that faith in our world today.
 
Get Involved in Forming Faith - Teachers NEEDED!
 
Would you like to be a part of a planning team for adult, youth or children's formation? Do you like to tell stories, or make crafts, or play games? Maybe you'd like to lead some of our children's programs. Are you someone who likes to discover or work together to find the answers to questions? Sounds like walking with our youth in their faith journey might just be the right place for your ministry. Have you have been on a study tour, or taken a class on prayer, or been involved with a great ministry program? Consider being a presenter for one of our adult forums. Email or talk with Sue!
 
 
 
Children's Formation Programs
 
We begin formation programs for children in September with a focus on what we believe, how we pray, and learning the stories of Jesus. We hope your children will join us for learning, fun, games, activities and growing in faith. Register your children here.
 
Youth Programs for 2016-2017
 
 
Last Chance to Splash!
 
Come to the last splash of summer on Sunday, August 28 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Kenwood Country Club pool. All entering 5th through 12th graders are invited - along with your friends - to enjoy a couple hours of play in the water. Please sign-up in Founders' Hall or here no later than 8/24. There is no cost for this event. Bring your swimsuit and towel. 
 
There are two new ways for youth to engage in fun and formation during this program year and we are excited about what will happen! Register youth here for this year's programs and be sure to fill out the year-long permission form.
 
 
Thursday Night Dunstan's Youth Group

Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Program from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
1st and 3rd Thursdays - beginning on September 15
 
This is open to all youth in grades 5 through 12 and will be lead by both Sue and Jeff. It will include games, community building, and being formed in faith. Some of the formation program will be specifically directed toward preparing youth for Confirmation. The sacrament of Confirmation would be an option in the spring for those who have completed 8th grade or above. 
 
Collaboration Youth Events
Beginning with an event on September 18, we are joining with St. David's, St. Patrick's and Church of the Redeemer to bring together our youth for fun, service and learning. These events will happen once a month and take place on Sunday afternoons. The specifics of each event will be announced via the Trailblazer and through emails to parents and youth. 
 
Our first event will take place on Sunday, September 18 at the GW Summit Outdoor Challenge Course at GWU's Foxhall Rd. Campus from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost for this event is $15 per person. Participants will be required to sign a waiver form. Sign-up in Founders' Hall or here, no later than Thursday, September 15. Waiver forms and year-long permission forms have been sent to all parents, are available on the youth page of the web site, and are available in Founder's Hall. 
 
Please put the following dates on your calendar for these joint youth events:
September 18 - October 16 - November 20 - December 18 - January 18
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Summer Movie Night in 2 Weeks!

Posted 5:36 PM by
 
 
Summer Movie Night
 
Friday, August 26Family Fun for all ages!
 
Invite Friends and neighbors!
 great way to introduce them to 
the St. Dunstan's community.
 
6:00 p.m. Simple Supper   6:30 p.m. Movie   followed by Pajama Prayers
 
Join us for a fun evening that includes a simple supper followed by the selection and showing of a movie that will be suitable for young children. If we have teens attend, a second movie will be offered in the youth room for the more sophisticated crowd. Following the film we will come together for Pajama Prayers. Please sign-up in Founders' Hall by August 21 so we know how many are coming. 


 

link

Trail Notes: 07/24/2016

Posted by

Got Joy?

What brings you joy…really tickles your fancy and makes you feel good about yourself and the world?

Joy is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Today, I think of the joy that I find in children, youth, and music – sweet young voices joining together to bring us laughter and inspiration and hope and…yes…joy. 

That’s what we have in store for us as our young people – ages 7 to 19 – perform the first musical play we’ve had in worship for a number of years. The sermon doesn’t have to be a deadly serious exhortation of all that ails us. In its place, we can hear the Good News of the Gospel in the beauty, winsomeness, and talents of our youth. 

The story starts with God’s good creation, leads us through the pain of human rebellion against God, and finally back into a loving relationship with God through the coming of Jesus into the world. It is the Bible story in miniature. I hope you enjoy it.

 

JBM


 

link

Formation 7/10/2016

Posted 6:52 PM by
Summer Movie Nights
 
 
Friday, July 29 and August 26
Family Fun for all ages!
Invite Friends!
 
6:00 p.m. Simple Supper   6:30 p.m. Movie   
Concluding with Pajama Prayers
 
We had a great time last year and we are trying this again. We hope that you will join us. The evening will begin with a simple supper followed by the selection and showing of a movie that will be suitable for young children. If we have teens attend, a second movie will be offered in the youth room for the more sophisticated crowd. Following the film we will come together for Night Prayers. 
 
[This would be a great time to invite neighbors to St. Dunstan's!]
 
 
Camp EDOW
 
There's still room - register now!
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders.
July 31- August 5, 2016.
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 7/10/2016

Posted by

Listening and Learning from Neighbors

A man I’ve known for years, who struggles mightily to support his wife and children, last Tuesday asked me if St. Dunstan’s could help him purchase the insulin he needs for diabetes. He had been out for a few days, and his feet were going numb. He works hard, full time, but had lost three weeks of work – unpaid – because he was bitten by a dog. His bare-bones budget was ruined. It was my privilege, on behalf of St. Dunstan’s, to give him the $50 he needed for insulin. You became his good neighbor on Tuesday. 

Who is my neighbor?  Do we know our neighbors?  This parable is not actually about having good neighbors, it’s about being a good neighbor…. acting in a Christ-like way when we encounter somebody in need.  In Jesus’ story, he blows all assumptions out of the water when he tells of how the religious leaders avoided the injured man by the roadside, but the despised foreigner, the Samaritan, reached out to help. (This makes me, as a priest, squirm every time I read it!)

In our parish, we are making every effort to be good neighbors – to each other, and to the world around us. We have organized all parishioners into 5 neighborhood clusters with captains, to encourage getting together, and the sharing of stories, needs, and celebrations. 

Because being a neighbor begins with listening, I also held 7 different “listening sessions” in June, with every person in St. Dunstan’s congregation invited to attend one. All received evites, and if we got no response people were phoned to encourage participation. I enjoyed every session, and heard many helpful suggestions, hopes, dreams, and good constructive criticisms.  Thank you to the 41 parishioners who took time to attend, and to the seven who hosted the sessions. Those 41 persons represent households composing around half the active membership of our parish - not a bad cross-section. 

What have I learned?  10 highlights, with more to come:

  1. Our parishioners love St. Dunstan’s, value it, and want it to thrive.
  2. Both worship services are appreciated and treasured. We find God here.
  3. We love children, and we want children to be active and visible in our congregation, and grow in faith. We need to keep working on that. 
  4. Small groups are highly valued by those in them. How can we involve more people? 
  5. Adult formation is much appreciated by those who participate. 
  6. Outreach is important, and hands-on projects are popular (e.g. sandwiches). 
  7. Our youth/teens program needs a boost: we need critical mass, perhaps by teaming up with nearby churches. 
  8. Parents are key; they need to model commitment and behaviors for kids.
  9. We should experiment – with joint Sunday services, models for Christian formation, ways to communicate with our neighborhoods. 
  10. St. Dunstan’s is a safe, friendly, welcoming place to be, where we experience the love of God and keep learning how to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

JBM


 

link

Life Long Christian Formation

Posted 4:12 PM by
Summer Movie Nights
 
Friday, July 29 and August 26
Family Fun for all ages!
Invite Friends!
 
6:00 p.m. Simple Supper   6:30 p.m. Movie   
Concluding with Pajama Prayers
 
We had a great time last year and we are trying this again. We hope that you will join us. The evening will begin with a simple supper followed by the selection and showing of a movie that will be suitable for young children. If we have teens attend, a second movie will be offered in the youth room for the more sophisticated crowd. Following the film we will come together for Night Prayers. 
 
[This would be a great time to invite neighbors to St. Dunstan's!]
 
 
Camp EDOW
 
There's still room - register now!
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders.
July 31- August 5, 2016.
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 06/26/2016

Posted by

How is your Foundation?

I spent this past week in South Carolina, the longest visit since the storms and flooding that occurred in October of last year. While I have been there for two brief overnights, I was not able to visit the house I still own or tour the areas that had been severely damaged last fall. My house is just fine, but many familiar areas of the city are still in recovery and there are signs of the damage all around. Vacant homes, lost businesses, roads that are still closed, and creek beds and banks being reinforced. One bridge, which had been closed since the storm, opened just this week – shortening a commute time which had been lengthened to an hour for some. That sounds easy for us here in the DMV, but huge for folks used to 10-15 minutes.

The storm that dropped over 40” of rain in just a couple days was way beyond the capacities of the drainage systems. However, the matters were made worse because there had also been deferred maintenance and bad decisions around zoning and wetlands. We face some of those same concerns regarding roads and bridges in our area, and lets not even talk about the metro.

Our faith really isn’t that different from the infrastructure of our society. It all really depends on the foundation we build and whether or not we maintain that foundation.

The week prior to my time in SC, I attended a conference call CREDO. This 8-day event is focused on the spiritual, physical and emotional, financial, and vocation health of the clergy who attend. We are asked hard questions about all of these areas and are encouraged to make at least one degree of change for the better in each of these areas. In some of these, I’m doing okay; in others, not so well.

Who and what are the foundations for your faith? Are you building a good foundation for yourself? for your children? Is there an area where one degree of change might give you a better place to stand or balance all that life gives?

Let’s work on helping one another to build stronger and deeper foundations.

Sue von Rautenkranz


 

link

Father's Day 06/19/2016

Posted 3:52 PM by

Two women met walking down the street. One had a brown paper bag under her arm. The other asked, "What do you have in the bag?" "A bottle of scotch. I got it for my husband."  "Good trade!"

It’s Fathers’ Day, so I hope all you folks will treat your fathers and husbands with extra care and love.  Fathering these days is not an easy role to play.

We don’t know if the men in our scriptures are dads – they could be.  (Some might say that the fact that both of them are at their wits’ end would be a good sign….)  In Luke, Jesus pulls his boat up on shore and encounters a very disturbed man.  He came from the city, but now he is completely alienated from society – the story tells us that all the usual signs of living in community are absent from this poor man’s life: he doesn’t wear clothes, he lives in a graveyard, he thrashes about and scares people, he breaks loose from any attempts to shackle him.  He is a wild man, and he is possessed by evil spirits – demons, and lots of them. 

Some of us men today may feel a secret kinship with this fellow – we are trying to live up to expectations in a highly ordered, demanding world, and we’re not sure we are up to it.  Our sense of alienation – of not fitting in – may be on the inside rather than the outside….  We may feel shackled in less obvious ways than this guy, but shackled nonetheless – by jobs and mortgages and lawns and commutes and inlaws and tuition and quotas to meet and soccer to coach….

So how does Jesus relate to this man?  First, Jesus has to deal with the evil spirits.  In fact, they recognize Jesus as a danger and they address him.  Jesus demands to know their name (an assertion of his authority over them).  They confess their name is “Legion,” for they are many.  The demons know they are beaten; they ask to be released into a nearby herd of pigs, and Jesus permits this.  The pigs indicate this is not Jewish territory.  Jesus is freeing people from outside his own religious tradition – and the demons are responding!

Somehow, knowing the presence of God in Jesus sets this man aright. After his liberation, the man is restored to his humanity, his dignity – he is clothed, sitting quietly, in his right mind.  Jesus has given him a second chance, a new life, a fresh start.  What a gift!  How will he use this gift?  What will his new life look like?  Jesus asks only, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” 

Aha!  So he has a home to return to – maybe a spouse, and maybe some children who need their dad, who missed him in his craziness.  Jesus only asks that God be praised for this transformation…because the source of all our transformations from death to life is from God. 

Elijah is the other troubled man in our lessons today.  We know him as a tough, gruff prophet of Yahweh, who battles the drift in his society, in Israel, away from Yahweh toward worshipping other Gods – Baal in particular.  Elijah has just had a big success defeating all the prophets of Baal – there was lots of drama, fire, and then victory.   And yet, he has sunk into despair.  Queen Jezebel promises to kill Elijah within 24 hours.  Elijah runs scared.  Then, stepping out of time, Elijah has a “Moses moment” with God.  All the Moses signs are there: forty days in the wilderness, a journey up a mountain, and finally, meeting God. 

And how does he meet God?  Not in a dramatic, showy moment…emphatically not.  We’re told there was a great wind, but no God.  There was an earthquake, but no God.  There was a fire, but no God.  Finally, there was “a sound of sheer silence,” or in a better-known translation, “a still, small voice.”  And when Elijah heard that, when he settled down and listened, there was God. God was present.  Elijah’s fears were swallowed up in God’s greatness.  His despair was overshadowed by God’s faithfulness.  His anger was overcome by God’s love and peace.  God gave Elijah a second chance, a new life, a fresh start.  What a gift! 

Elijah continued his life faithful to God, but more grounded in God’s love and peace.  He would, in the end, have the special honor of being swept up into heaven on a chariot of fire!  Not a bad way to go! 

What can we take away from these stories

Being a man has never been easy, and it isn’t easy today.  No matter what our situation may be, in terms of family, work, lifestyle, we face many demons that can pull us off course – especially if we are trying to follow the path of Jesus.  Elijah was attracted to the way of violence; in the end that path proved to be a dead end.  Only the whisper of God could restore him.  The man with demons may have sought his salvation by running away from home and community; he found nothing but frustration and alienation.  He was freed by the healing touch, the loving embrace of Jesus.  Knowing that God was with them; that made all the difference.

So let us pray for all our dads and father-figures, trying to do their best in a changing world, sometimes overwhelmed and crazed by its demands.  May they still hold fast to that which is good: our God-given values of reverence for God, and love of neighbor, of peace.  I’ve come to accept and honor my own dad more and more, not because he was perfect or was a hero in some way, but because he kept trying, kept loving, kept engaging – even when at times he suffered from some pretty destructive demons.

For myself, I try to be a dad who’s loving and dependable, who celebrates what my children are and what they seek to do in life, and who holds up values of love, mercy, and compassion.  I try not to endorse the world’s values – money, prestige, winning at all costs – with Maggie and Colin.  At times I fail miserably in this. 

Friday at lunch, Leslie and I had a waiter whom Leslie has gotten to know.  Kenny proudly announced that he and his girlfriend had their baby two weeks ago.  Many photos were shared of the tiny blonde, Laura Mae.  Kenny said he thought it was time to get married, and I inwardly rejoiced that a stable new family would be formed for that little blonde girl.  Here’s a new dad, working as a waiter, suffering from lack of sleep, and yet overjoyed to have the opportunity to share in God’s creative work as a dad.

May God bless Kenny in his new vocation as a dad, and all of us who are fathers, and all our dads, who have loved and struggled with their demons as we do with ours.  May we know the presence of God in our lives, and find our rest in Jesus, in that still, small voice of calm.  AMEN.  


 

link
| comments (0)

Trail Notes 06/19/2016

Posted by

A Note of Sadness and Hope:

We gathered on June 12 to celebrate the inclusive love of God for all of us, marking Pride Sunday in the LGBTQ community. Our observance became poignant with the tragic news that morning of 50 people being killed in a shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando – news I received at the Peace during our service. Many more were injured. Our hearts go out to all who suffer violence and hatred, simply based on who they are and whom they love. We find hope in our faith in a God who loves us all, made us in all our human diversity, and calls us good. May the power of love conquer such hatred as this.  JBM

Trail Notes for Sunday, June 19, 2016:

Today’s scriptures present us with two troubled men who encounter God.

Elijah is the first.  He was a great and powerful prophet of God, and consequently deeply hated by the Baal-worshipping king and queen of Israel, Ahab and Jezebel.  Elijah becomes tortured by his despair of ever bringing his people back to faithfulness to Yahweh.    

The second man is unnamed: he is the wild, disturbed man in Gerasa, on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (called the “Syrian sea” in our communion hymn).  The man “had demons,” - he was tortured by unknown evil forces which alienated him from other people, and even caused him to harm himself.   

In Sunday’s sermon, we’ll look at these two figures who encounter God in very different forms (one hears God’s “still, small voice;” the other meets Jesus.)  Both men are transformed by the encounter.  Their lives are forever changed.  They are freed of their bonds and able to live anew, boldly, trusting God.

Sunday is Fathers’ Day, and I believe fathers face some similar challenges, stumbling blocks, “demons” in our own lives. We must find a way to confront them if we are to live in greater freedom and joy. 

I don’t know if Elijah was a father, or if the “Gerasene demoniac” (as he is unfortunately known) had children either. But their confrontation with evil and despair is a model for modern fathers, I believe. We, as fathers, face both great responsibility, and ultimate powerlessness to control our lives. We can’t always protect our families from heartache. At some point, we’ll be broken by this.  I was touched by a reflection on our brokenness – one that seems particularly apt for fathers today. See what you think: 

Remember

Your insight, care, or sensitivity, or compassion, or generosity, or humility, which may be so evident to other people, has come out of your broken past. If they only knew what you know. God knows. Jesus has promised to seek and save the lost, which may apply to some part of your own past, where you were lost and are now found.

-Br. Curtis Almquist, the Society of St. John the Evangelist (Episcopal Monastery) 


 

link

Formation 6/5/2016

Posted 4:50 PM by
Children's Formation - Parents' Meeting - this Sunday
On Sunday, June 5 Jeff and Sue will be meeting with the parents of our children to discuss our formation programs. This will take place in the  parish hall from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. Please join us as we share our hopes and dreams for raising young Christians in our world today. 
 
Graduate Sunday - June 5 at both Services
 
St. Dunstan's has may graduates this year from High School through graduate school. While all of them will not be present this coming Sunday, we hope that when you see them you will wish them well on their next adventure.
 
Our High School graduates include:
 
Alex Berger 

Alex graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on June 1 after attending there for four years. Next year she will attend Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. At Wesleyan, Alex will swim for the cardinals and she plans on doing premed.
 

Elizabeth Douglas

Elizabeth graduated from the Cate School, a boarding school near Santa Barbara, California on May 29 and will be headed back to the DC area. She will attend Georgetown University in the school of foreign service in the fall.
 
 
Tucker Hemphill

Tucker has been attending The Field School and will graduate from there on June 10. After visiting and assessing musical programs and communication programs at various schools, Tucker will be taking a gap year here in DC. He plans to work, develop his music, and do some traveling.
 
Those graduating with their bachelor degrees include:
 
Beau Gomez

Beau is the son of Tony Gomez and he graduated from the United States Naval Academy on May 27 with a Bachelor of Science. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Beau will report to Quantico, Virginia in September to continue his officer training at The Basic School. 
 

Nathan Hull

Nathan spent four years at Towson University studying applied physics. He is currently applying to the officer program for the Marine Corps and hopes to be accepted into that program this summer.
 

 

 
Those receiving masters degrees include:
 
Jessica Ault

Jessica graduated with a Master's Degree in Library Science with a specialization in Archives and Digital Curation from the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies on May 20. She'll be taking some time off for travel and relaxation before starting a job at Better Markets, a DC-based nonprofit organization dedicated to financial reform, to work as a records and information manager. In this job, she'll get to organize, develop strategies for knowledge management, answer reference and research questions, and develop policies for the organization.

 
Colin MacKnight

Colin just received his Masters of Music degree in organ performance from The Juilliard School in May. He will begin his Doctorate of Musical Arts as a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at Juilliard this fall. (And yes, he, not his father, selected this picture.)
 

 

L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Music Ministry 5/29/2016

Posted 6:35 PM by
This year in the Music Ministry at St. Dunstan's has been a great blessing, thanks in part to our choirs, who wrapped up their program year this past Sunday! Our Children's Choir had a great time each week learning new music, playing and singing, and learning more about their faith through song. We also had a lovely time of fellowship, prayer and reflection during our Thursday evening suppers and "Pajama Prayers." The Adult Choir did an excellent job in leading us in worship this year, singing for regular and special worship services with dedication and servant hearts. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, this choir was supplemented by choral scholars from Whitman High School and our new section leader, John Blakeslee. 
 
If you've noticed the impact these additional singers have made in the quality of worship at St. Dunstan's, please talk to Jeff about ways you could financially support the choir and help us to continue the choral scholar program next year. 
 
Thursday night choir rehearsals are suspended for the summer, but watch your Trailblazer for announcements about when we will resume again in September. We love for you to join us in the Fall!
Michael Austin
Director of Music
 


 

link

Formation 05/29/2016

Posted 6:32 PM by
 
Children's Formation - Parents' Meeting
On Sunday, June 5 Jeff and Sue will be meeting with the parents of our children to discuss our formation programs. This will take place in the  parish hall from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. Please join us as we share our hopes and dreams for raising young Christians in our world today. 
 
Graduate Sunday  
 
Is anyone in your family graduating this year? That could be from high school, college, or graduate school. Please let Sue know. We plan to honor all graduates on Sunday, June 5 at both services. 
 
Summer is just around the corner!
Looking for a Camp or Mission Opportunity?
Camp EDOW is now open for registration!
 
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders. 
July 31- August 5, 2016.
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Ascension Day 2016 05/07/2016

Posted 1:47 PM by

Home.  I want to think with you about what home means. I’m thinking that’s what Jesus’ Ascension into heaven is all about:  Going home. 

I grew up in Nebraska, for the most part, and I came to love the spare emptiness of the landscape, and the unaffected warmth of people there. I was always fascinated by the pioneer folk who left relative comfort and stability in the East to venture west and start a new life – homesteading, they called it – the making of a new home. 

Nebraska was my home, but in some sense I didn’t feel at home.  Something else called me, though I wasn’t clear what that was.  Eventually I came east to seminary, and then after a few more years back in Lincoln, I decided to leave again.  A voice inside me was saying, “Go east, young man!” Of course I was full of doubts.  I am at times painfully risk-averse.  I seek security where I can get it.  Why would I strike out to make a new home in a place I’d never been?

Somehow, this connects to today, the feast of our Lord’ Jesus’ final ascension into heaven.

What if home is not where we came from, but where we are going…where we are headed, our destiny with God?  What if we really, truly believed in a God who loves us and won’t let us go?  And we lived that way?

That’s one of the reasons I’m fascinated by Jesus: his laser focus on God, his trust in God.  His ability to be honest in relationships, to love deeply without trying to own or control other people.  His fearlessness when he risked loss. 

Today we are contemplating Jesus’ ascension – his final departure from his earthly life among us, and his return to his home with God.  Somehow, he always seemed to know this was his destiny.  He was able to sit lightly with the seductions of this world, because his roots were already planted in God’s world, the kingdom.  How did he do it?

I don’t know how he managed it.  (That’s one of many reasons I am not Jesus!)  He had a lot more trust in God than I do.  My ability to rest in that trust is terribly uneven.  It wasn’t as if Jesus had a charmed life, either.  He had a hard life: he was always poor, and often without a home, a fixed address, without visible means of support.  But somehow he seemed to be able to create a home wherever he was at the time.  He did not need to build a protective shield around himself.  He was not defensive, even though he often disagreed with people.  He was not always worried about his future, the way I am…the way we Americans are taught to be, with our constant striving for self-improvement, our career plans and our 401k’s, our real estate and investment portfolios, and anxieties that eat us up.  In all of this, I think we are trying to create a safe, secure home…and yet we still live in fear of losing it. 

Jesus had some freedoms that many of us do not have, in that he did not have an immediate family of people he was responsible for. That’s a serious concern for most of us.  On the other hand, at some level he knew he was living for the whole human family...he was God’s messiah – he came to save us all! 

But what amazes me is Jesus’ apparent sense of personal freedom, his freedom from fear.  And the only place I can figure that Jesus could get that freedom is from knowing his destiny, knowing that no matter what happened, he would go home with God in the end.  That’s what the ascension means.  Back home with God in the end. 

(It’s easy to get caught up in questions about what “actually happened” – the vision of a literal ascension into the clouds his pretty hard to believe!  But the real meaning of this event is the reunion of Jesus with his Father God.) 

So what would it mean for us if we could really believe that we can trust in God’s love, that our destiny is with God in the end?  How does that free us up to live more boldly, more exuberantly, more generously?  Can we lessen our fears of the unknown, if we really believe we’re going home in the end?

We are still living in the world as we know it, with all its joys and all its struggles.  Jobs are tenuous these days.  Children have troubles growing up.  Health problems rear their ugly heads. We see the anxieties in our political debates and campaigns. It can get to be a bit much; it can get us down.  But the pattern for our lives is set out in Jesus’ life.  The journey does not stop at the foot of the cross; it moves right through that, on to a place of fulfillment, joy, celebration. We came forth from God, and we are going home to God.  That’s our true destiny. We’re going home. 

T.S. Eliot said,

We shall not cease from exploration.  And the end of all our exploring will be tso arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.  


 

link
| comments (0)

Easter Sermon 2016 "Stones" 03/27/2016

Posted 1:16 PM by

“Jesus is not in there!  Oh, wait…he’s just changed his Facebook status to ‘risen.’”

So how about you?  What’s your status today?  Buried? Trapped?  Sleepy? Happy?  Fearful?  Worried? Distracted?  Stoned?  Weighed down by some heavy stone that keeps us from the light?  How many of us today claim the status, risen[JM1]  to new life?

This Easter my thoughts have turned to stones: the stone that sealed Jesus tomb, the stone wall I sometimes feel that I have hit in life, the stone that can harden my heart against vulnerability and hurt….  (Sometimes I feel like the characters in fairy tales who have been turned to stone by the wicked witch….)   Stones can be stumbling blocks.  Stones can be barriers that trap us and divide us…from each other, and from God. 

What’s the stone that blocks your way right now?  That you need to ask God to roll back, to move aside? 

·       The smooth, hard stone of not enough, not enough: not being good enough, smart enough, successful enough, beautiful enough, thin enough, dazzling enough

·       The heavy stone of guilt over past words and deeds, that sits in the pit of the stomach

·       The corrosive stone of bitterness, of being unable to forgive, of holding a grudge

·       The deadly, sharp-pointed stone of irritability and anger

·       And then there is the dark stone of sorrow, of sadness over losses we cannot control and cannot reverse.  That sadness can become an abyss….

I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried for years – decades – to cure myself of these afflictions, to fix myself into the person I think I ought to be (or others think I ought to be).  The other day, I was thinking I really had a handle on this thing called living; then, I said the wrong thing to someone I love, and realized I had caused hurt and damage.  Ugh.   It’s sort of like lugging heavy rocks up a hillside, only to have the rain come and bring them back down in a rockslide…and I’m back where I started.  I just can’t fix this on my own. 

So what’s the solution to this human condition of being trapped under the stone of “not enough”?  It’s a human problem, but there is no human solution.  We cannot heal ourselves.  But Easter tells us there is a divine solution; that God has declared that we are enough, we are sufficient, we are acceptable in God’s eyes,  even in our fickle affections, our gross imperfection, our sin.  How can God do this?  Through forgiveness, through love.  God’s love makes us enough, acceptable…delightful, even!  We are a joy to God, and maybe even a joy to ourselves.  That stone that God moved from Jesus’ tomb frees not just Jesus from his bondage, but frees us all from our bondage – whatever that may be in this moment.  Let yourself enter into the story

After Jesus took his final breath, around three on that Friday afternoon, the scene begins to change…there is transformation, from the horror of torture and death, the worst that we humans could do, to a quiet, gentle wind of love and caring.  A kind Jewish man named Joseph of Arimathea went and asked if he could care for Jesus’ body.  He gently wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, a cave carved out of the soft rock outside Jerusalem.  He rolled a large, disk-like stone across the entrance to seal it. 

The women who traveled with Jesus and supported him – Joanna, Mary Magdalene, and another Mary the mother of James – saw his hasty burial before the Sabbath began, and they went to gather the spices and ointments required to prepare Jesus’ body for a proper burial on Sunday morning, the first day. 

Then, interestingly, the action stops.  There is a long pause.  A “grand pause,” it is called in music.  “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”  It’s as if all creation needed a moment to rest, to absorb what just happened, to regroup. 

Then, on the first day of the week – of course it is the first day: a new beginning of a new creation! – these brave women went to the tomb, carrying the heavy spices for burial.  And you know what they found.  The stone was rolled back, and the tomb was empty.  There was no body to anoint and prepare for burial.  This morning marks a new creation, where death no longer rules; where fear no longer holds us hostage.  God has acted. 

The Good News is that God has transformed us in Christ, forgiven us, and declared that we are beloved – it’s done, complete!  We don’t have to try to fix ourselves.  We have only to live into our God-given identity as children of the one loving God who made us.  It’s as if God is saying to us:

“You are a new creation in Christ.  You are mystery.  Let the mystery unfold.  Let the secret be told.  Be bold, be daring!  Be reconciled.  Be glad. Be thankful.  Be compassionate.  Be forgiving.  Be who you are.  Be that new creation in Christ!”

Without being transformed by God, I have no chance of rising above our lower, baser natures – our selfishness, irritability, narrow-mindedness, rigidity.  I’m stuck in an endless loop-tape of screwing up, of not-enough.

It is because God has first loved us, and called us, and transformed us…raised us to the new life of Christ…that it is even possible to live a new way.    We are able to love – truly, deeply love and forgive – because God first loved us.  The huge stone that stands in our way has been rolled back.  We were not meant to live in dark caves.  We are meant for the light, the air.  Jesus created the path; he blazed the trail from the dark land of sin and selfishness, to the sunny warm land where love, joy, mercy, and forgiveness prevail.  We have only to take a step into the light, to walk in love as Christ loves us. 

So what is your status today? Peaceful?  Energized?  Or weary and regretful?  If it’s not what you’d like, are you willing to let God reset it for you?  Can you accept the free gift of Jesus’ love, and let God reset your status as “forgiven, loved, and free”?

Step aside and let God work in your life.  Stop clinging to the stone that traps you, and let God roll it away.  Let the light of God’s love – unconditional love – shine into the darkness, shine upon you on this Easter morning.  In the words of a song by our own Bob Tupper:

(Give Eb chord)

   Eb                  Ab              Eb             Bb

Roll back the stone in my heart, dear Lord Jesus.

Eb                  Ab                      Eb                   Bb

Roll back the stone that keeps love trapped inside.

Eb                  Ab                  Eb                 Bb

Roll back the stone. Let me walk as your servant

          Cm                     Fm                  Bb7sus4     Eb

In the world, knowing always you’re here by my side.

 

(Refrain of song by Bob Tupper, 2003)

 


 


 

link
| comments (0)

Formation 5/22/2016

Posted 6:25 PM by
 
 
Children's Formation 
This Sunday we will thank the people who have been faithfully serving as teachers and guides for the children of St. Dunstan's. They have given of their time and gifts to help our children explore and create and learn about people of The Story - those from the Hebrew Scriptures and of course Jesus and those who followed him. Please be sure to extend your thanks for their willingness to serve in this way. We thank: Don Baker, Meghan Jarvis, Mariana McCormick, Pete & Rose Sather, Christine Tatelbaum and Anne Taylor.
 
Parents' Meeting
On Sunday, June 5 Jeff and Sue will be meeting with the parents of our children to discuss our formation programs. This will take place in the  parish hall from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. Please join us as we share our hopes and dreams for raising young Christians in our world today. 
 
 
Graduate Sunday  
 
Is anyone in your family graduating this year? That could be from high school, college, or graduate school. Please let Sue know. We plan to honor all graduates on Sunday, June 5 at both services. 
 
Summer is just around the corner!
Looking for a Camp or Mission Opportunity?
Camp EDOW is now open for registration!
 
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders. 
July 31- August 5, 2016.
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

This Sunday- Parish Picnic!

Posted 6:15 PM by

 

 
Sunday, May 22
10:00 a.m. All-Parish Eucharist - ONE Service this week!
Followed by a picnic lunch and fellowship for all.
 
Rain or Shine the picnic will happen! Don't miss this great event in the life of the parish. All those who sign-up to help have been contacted. If you'd still like to bring something or help out with set-up or clean-up, please be in contact with Sue today. Much will be celebrated - our patron St. Dunstan; those who were confirmed at the cathedral last Saturday; and our children's formation leaders. Even the blow-up obstacle course will be here rain or shine! Don't just hear about it after the fact - come and enjoy!
 
Invite friends and neighbors
a great day to introduce them to our community!

 

link

Formation 5/15/2016

Posted 6:40 PM by
 

The Feast of Pentecost
 
One of the simple traditions of this feast has become the wearing of red by all who attend worship on this day. So dig in your closets and find something red. A great way to participate in the coming of the Holy Spirit and being on fire for Jesus!
 
Adult Formation
Sunday, May 15St. Dunstan's Growth Group
This will be a great opportunity to hear from members of the Growth Group about initiatives for St. Dunstan's. On the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, there were over 3000 new Christians added to the community in Jerusalem. While we are not expecting that kind of number, we do hope to grow our parish by 10 families each year. Come and hear how you can be a part of this exciting time for our parish. We need everyone's participation and enthusiasm to reach our goals for growth. 
 
Children's Formation 
 
This Sunday, May 15 marks the end of our formal formation classes for the year. Children will learn about the Day of Pentecost and celebrate the birthday of the church. Children will gather in the youth room to watch a video about this feast day and participate in some fun projects together. Please come and join us!. 
 
We celebrate on May 22, with an all Parish Eucharist at 10:00 a.m. (using the style of our family service) followed by the Parish Picnic. It will be a great day with good food and fellowship - including a blow-up obstacle course! If you'd like to help with the festivities - please email Sue.
 
Youth Formation
 
This Sunday, May 15, youth will help lead the fun projects of Pentecost with the children in the youth room.
 
Graduate Sunday  
 
Is anyone in your family graduating this year? That could be from high school, college, or graduate school. Please let Sue know. We plan to honor all graduates on Sunday, June 5 at both services. 
 
Summer is just around the corner!
Looking for a Camp or Mission Opportunity?
Camp EDOW is now open for registration!
 
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders. 
July 31- August 5, 2016.
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Beautification Day is This Saturday!

Posted 7:00 PM by

\

 
An Easy and Fun Ministry Opportunity...
for the whole family!
 
Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 9:30-12:00 p.m.  Come enjoy the morning outdoors, help with churchyard planting and painting, and share a picnic lunch (provided) around noon.  Children can play in the playground too!
 
We will be transplanting liriope, and moving nandina and hydrangea bushes. The exciting news is that we will be breaking ground on a new garden, in the grassy patch directly facing the church entrance. This garden is in memory of Lee Surut, who gave much to tend our church grounds over the years. Our garden designer, Suzanna Membrino, has made a beautiful plan that you may see posted on a Founder's Hall bulletin board. We will also be stabilizing the mailboxes, oiling the benches, and digging a swale for the new garden.
 
Please come with your gardening gloves, hat, etc and tools, etc. Newcomers are especially invited to come, help out, and meet people in the parish.  We need you!  
 
Note: In the event of rain this Saturday, Beautification Day and the picnic lunch will be postponed to a date TBA.


 

link

Formation 5/8/2016

Posted 6:57 PM by
 
 
Adult Formation
Conversations on Religious Diversity
Last Sunday's adult formation forum on world religions and learning about the fundamentals of Islam was a lively time that included video clips and a presentation of Islam from the Rev. Eva Cavaleri. Next week the forum will continue with our guest, Salih Sayilgan, a Muslim theologian who focuses on Muslim-Christian conversations. 
 
Looking for more information?
Here are various links to different videos, materials and websites used during last week's session or mentioned as places to go for further learning and understanding:
Movies about Islam:
  • Inside Mecca a documentary about Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
  • Koran by Heart a documentary about a competition for youth who memorize the Koran.
Websites for more information about world religions:
 
May 15: Growth Group
On this day we hear from members of the Growth Group about initiatives for St. Dunstan's. On the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, there were over 3000 new Christians added to the community in Jerusalem. While we are not expecting that kind of number, we do hope to grow our parish by 10 families each year. Come and hear how you can be a part of this exciting time for our parish.
 
Children's Formation 
We only have two more weeks of Sunday morning formation before we take a summer break. This week, May 8, the children will have their last music session with Michael. During formation time they will meet in the choir room.
 
On May 15, the children will learn about the Day of Pentecost and celebrate the birthday of the church. Children will gather in the classrooms on the lower level. 
 
We then celebrate on May 22, with an all Parish Eucharist at 10:00 a.m. (using the style of our family service) followed by the Parish Picnic. It will be a great day with good food and fellowship - including a blow-up obstacle course! If you'd like to help with the festivities - please email Sue.
 
Youth Formation
 
This Sunday, May 8, youth will join the adults for a session on Islam with a special guest speaker, Salih Sayilgan. This is the second session on Religious Diversity.
 
Graduate Sunday  
 
Is anyone in your family graduating this year? That could be from high school, college, or graduate school. Please let Sue know. We plan to honor all graduates on Sunday, June 5 at both services. 
 
Summer is just around the corner!
Looking for a Camp or Mission Opportunity?
Camp EDOW is now open for registration!
 
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders. 
July 31- August 5, 2016.
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator


 

link

Trail Notes: 4/17/2016

Posted by

Good Shepherd Sunday

The image of Jesus as our Good Shepherd is one of our favorites: a shepherd is earthy, humble, and focused on the welfare of the sheep. He goes after the one who is lost. He guards against dangers. If necessary, he lays down his life for the sheep. 

In our Monday staff meeting scripture reflection, we asked ourselves:

·       Who has been a Good Shepherd to me during my life?
·       How have I served as a Good Shepherd to others along the way?

We cited favorite teachers, influential pastors, and respected elders who have shepherded us in our lives, our relationships, our work, and our faith. We hoped we had been Good Shepherds to our children, youth, and to others whom we have guided and supported. 

When you think of the Good Shepherds in your life, you may think of people who believed in you and invested in you along the way. In my own life, there were teachers who spent extra time with me, relatives who helped fund music camp for me, and employers who took a chance on me when I needed to gain experience and expertise. I’ve been blessed by so many mentors along my way! 

When folks don’t have those Good Shepherds, life is really hard. In very poor countries, even a small investment can make a huge difference. The Anglican Church organization FIVE TALENTS makes that difference for tens of thousands of our neighbors in the East African countries of Kenya, Burundi, and South Sudan. Through business training and small loans (often under $100), FIVE TALENTS helps women become self-sufficient, and able to support their children in school. The impact of these modest investments is remarkable! 

You can be a Good Shepherd to a mother and her children in East Africa, through FIVE TALENTS. This Sunday, hear the stories of transformed lives at St. Dunstan’s at each service, and between services at 9:50 a.m. 

Consider whether God is asking you to be a Good Shepherd for some of God’s flock in Kenya, Burundi, or South Sudan. FIVE TALENTS is launching a new program of support called 1000 Friends, to expand this ministry tremendously. Your monthly commitment for three years could do wonders. Pray about what you can do, as a fortunate American family, for a struggling African family in need of a Good Shepherd.  JBM  

 

link

St. Dunstan's Cabaret: April 23, 2016

Posted 5:52 PM by
 
Our spring Cabaret is upon us, Saturday, April 23, 6-9 p.m. Please send in your response cards now, or call the office for details. The parish hall will be transformed into the famous king's palace for the evening. You'll enjoy live music from "The King and I" by our children and talented adults, Thai food (plus other options), with beer and wine included. The auction is our biggest fundraiser of the year, so please come and plan to bid and buy!   
 
This is a great event to bring friends to St. Dunstan's and introduce them to our parish life. Thank you for your support of St. Dunstan's.  JBM


 

link

Formation 4/7/2016

Posted 5:50 PM by
 
 
Children's Formation
This week, Sunday, April 10, the children will be playing outside (weather permitting) or watching a video in the youth room, having their own Spring Social, the youth will be supervising.
 
On Sunday, April 17 all will learn about the Lost Sheep. The fourth Sunday of Easter is commonly called sheep Sunday because the collect (prayer for the day) uses the phrase, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd and we usually hear one of the stories from scripture that focuses on that image of Jesus. 
 
Youth Formation
This Sunday, April 10 the youth will be supervising the children during the formation time - weather permitting out in the playground or watching videos in the youth room. Either way there will be treats and fun involved.
 
On Sunday, April 17 the youth will gather in the youth room to discuss some of the images used to describe Jesus - this week we will focus on Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
 
 
Summer is just around the corner!
Looking for a Camp or Mission Opportunity?
 
 
Camp EDOW is now open for registration!
Junior Camp - rising 4th through rising 6th graders. 
July 24-July 29, 2016.
 
Middle Camp - rising 7th through rising 9th graders. 
July 31- August 5, 2016.
 
For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here.
 
Youth Mission Experience
June 19-25, 2016  + + + Youth aged 14-19 
EDOW will send 70 adults and youth to rural Appalachia to work with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) to help make homes warmer, safer and drier. For more information talk with Sue or visit the diocesan website here
 
Adult Formation
 
April 10: Spring Social
Please mark your calendar for the upcoming Spring Social on Sunday, April 10, between the services. There will be coffee and juice, bagels and lox as well as pastries and other goodies.  It's a great chance to connect with old friends and make some new ones.  Hosted by your Vestry!
 
April 17: Five Talents
Hear about the work of this amazing outreach ministry which reaches to the farthest parts of our world with micro credit programs for women entrepreneurs. Learn how St. Dunstans supports this and how you can as well.
Formation through Service
Last Sunday of each Month - Sandwich Making for Martha's Table
All ages come together once a month to help feed the hungry in the DC metro area by making sandwiches for Martha's Table, one of our local outreach ministries.
 
Graduate Sunday  
Is anyone in your family graduating this year? That could be from high school, college,, or graduate school. Please let Sue know. We plan to honor all graduates on Sunday, June 5 at both services. 
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Seeing and Touching

Posted by

Seeing and Touching

As a young child I can remember well the instructions of my mother anytime we walked into a store that had items that were fragile or could be easily damaged or broken. It was simple – “look but don’t touch.” And as an adult I have watched children being given this same instruction and I must admit that I too have repeated it as well. I also remember that as I got older the phrase, “you break it, you buy it,” was also added.

Our senses are one of our primary ways of learning and believing – what we experience through our senses helps us to grow and learn about the world around us. The child learns that the stove is hot but touching, even though we might say, don’t touch, before they experience the hotness of the stove. And where I grew up one was always warned not to put your tongue on a cold metal pole in the wintertime. Yet, some crazy kid would test this assumption or be dared by older children to try it out.

Thomas had heard that Jesus had risen – from the women, from all of the other apostles who were gathered in the upper room, and from the two who have returned from their experience on the road to Emmaus. Yet, he wanted to see and touch. I think in many ways we are no different. It is hard to believe when we only hear about faith, sometimes we have to see, touch, smell and taste to believe. When and how has your faith been enhanced through your senses?

 

Sue von Rautenkranz


 

link

Formation 3/13/16

Posted 7:17 PM by
 
Praying for Others: Intercessory Prayer
Sunday, March 13
Adult Formation Offering at 9:50 a.m.
 
Have you every wondered what to pray about or how to even begin a prayer? Maybe someone has asked you to pray for them because of an illness or family situation and you thought - "Will it make a difference?" And what about God hearing our prayers? If you have ever thought about any of these questions then this week's formation offering is for you. 
Sister Barbara Jean will return to St. Dunstan's to share her thoughts, wisdom and experience of praying for others. For over forty years she has lived in community and actively engaged in daily prayer practices.  She will also preach at the 10:45 liturgy. 
 

Adult Commitments of Faith
 
Is your faith in God developing?  Would you like to make a firm commitment to Christianity and our Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement?  
 
Please speak to Jeff or Sue soon.  We have a few adults who want to prepare for Confirmation by the Bishop on May 14 at the Cathedral.  We welcome more.  You may also reaffirm your faith if you've already been confirmed.  We'll meet several times to deepen our faith and understanding together. 
 
Children's Formation
 
Children will gather this Sunday, March 13 in the choir room for Music with Michael and others. This is a great time of singing, coloring, playing instruments and learning about the faith. Come and join in!
 
 
Youth Formation ... 4th - 12th grades
 
This Sunday, March 13 the youth will gather in the youth room to begin preparing for the Easter Day Egg Hunt. This year we are planning to open the hunt to the neighborhood, so we need to be ready with a much larger supply of eggs. Come and fill eggs for the church of St. Dunstan's and the larger community. 
 
Future Planning of Youth Programs at St. Dunstan's
Jeff and Sue will gather with parents of youth on Monday, March 14 to discuss and shape the plans for the youth program at St. Dunstan's. We will begin with a simple supper at 7:00 p.m. and conclude by 8:30 p.m. All parents of this year's 4th-12th graders are encouraged to attend. Youth group, events, confirmation, Sunday ministries and mission and outreach will be included in the conversation. Please speak with Jeff or Sue if you have questions.
 
 
Formation through Service
 
Next Sunday, March 20 we will be making sandwiches for Martha's Table. This is a week earlier than usual because Easter Day is the last Sunday of the month. Please join us for a few minutes or the whole time. We need as many hands as possible to complete our 300+ sandwiches. Help us feed the hungry in DC!
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 03/13/2016

Posted by

The Extravagance of God

What is the most extravagant gift you have ever been given? 

When I ask myself this question, I am stunned by the generosity and profligate largesse I have received in my life! When I was ten, my mother depleted her savings account to buy me a full-sized accordion to play. Relatives helped send me to music camp. My college education was largely funded through scholarships.  I’ve been given so much!

More recently, in 2006 our family took the journey of a lifetime together in Europe, made possible by a generous sabbatical grant from the Lily Foundation.  And I have watched as our children have received gifts and help from many people as they pursue their vocations and dreams. 

Equally extravagant are the gifts of love and time and money people make to the Church: so many quiet offerings – some small and some lavish – which make our congregational life together rich and nurturing…flowers, snacks, gardening help.  One such recent gift of $4,000 this spring has funded choristers at 10:45 a.m. – something St. Dunstan’s used to have. We’ve added three Whitman High School choral scholars and a baritone soloist…and what a difference it makes! Gorgeous choral music is back at St. Dunstan’s, and it lifts all our hearts and spirits in amazing ways. Is this extravagant? Yes, in a way, I suppose. But what a boost to our worship…what a beautiful channel for God’s love and inspiration music is.  (We’ll need future gifts to keep the choristers’ program going next fall and beyond.)

Jesus’ good friend Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, shows extravagant love for Jesus in today’s story. She literally pours out her gift of precious ointment of nard, to anoint her friend Jesus, knowing that he would die soon. In some sense, Mary’s lavish gift is an anticipatory response to Jesus’ even more lavish gift of his whole life on the cross. 

The God we know in Jesus is one who gives his all: to preach, teach, and heal; to bring God’s Kingdom into our earthly lives; to stand for love instead of fear and hatred, even to the death. It doesn’t get more extravagant than that. Let us all find joy in giving – even extravagant giving! – which makes the world a more beautiful, a more loving place.  JBM  


 

link

Formation 3/3/2016

Posted 7:57 PM by
 
 
The Painting Table with Roger Hutchison
This Sunday - March 6 
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
 
The Painting Table is an innovative group activity that blends the creation of art with mindful spiritual practice. At The Painting Table, participants gather and share a table and paper and art supplies. Participants are free to paint anything they want and use their hands as brushes. In Roger's own words, "The end result of The Painting Table is not the painting that is created. It is the conversation, sharing, and listening that takes place around the table. Come and share your story through art and ready yourself for the conversation that might take place between your heart and God."
 
We still have a few spots open at each session, so please check to see if we have room.
 
If you are unable to make our Sunday experience of The Painting Table, there is another offering on Saturday, March 5 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Dunstan's. This is being offered to other Episcopal congregations in the Diocese. Please email Sue if you would like to attend this event.
 
Praying for Others: Intercessory Prayer
Sunday, March 13
Adult Formation Offering at 9:50 a.m.
 
The act of prayer is the primary way that we communicate with God and grow in relationship with God and others. This Lent we have emphasized developing a rule of life. Reading and meditating on scripture, attending and actively participating in worship, and participating in acts of service and mission are all important to growing as disciples of Jesus. Prayer is what weaves and molds those acts, yet it is one of the most difficult practices to maintain in our Christian lives. 
Sister Barbara Jean will return to St. Dunstan's to share her thoughts, wisdom and experience of praying for others. For over forty years she has lived in community and actively engaged in daily prayer practices.  She will also preach at the 10:45 liturgy. 

Adult Commitments of Faith
 
Is your faith in God developing?  Would you like to make a firm commitment to Christianity and our Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement?  
 
Please speak to Jeff or Sue soon.  We have a few adults who want to prepare for Confirmation by the Bishop on May 14 at the Cathedral.  We welcome more.  You may also reaffirm your faith if you've already been confirmed.  We'll meet several times to deepen our faith and understanding together. 
 
Children's Formation
 
Children will gather on Sunday, March 13 in the choir room for Music with Michael and others. This is a great time of singing, coloring, playing instruments and learning about the faith. Come and join in!
 
 
Youth Formation ... 4th - 12th grades
 
On Sunday, March 13 the youth will gather in the youth room to begin preparing for the Easter Day Egg Hunt. This year we are planning to open the hunt to the neighborhood, so we need to be ready with a much larger supply of eggs. Come and fill eggs for the church of St. Dunstan's and the larger community. 
 
Future Planning of Youth Programs at St. Dunstan's
Jeff and Sue will gather with parents of youth on Monday, March 14 to discuss and shape the plans for the youth program at St. Dunstan's. We will begin with a simple supper at 7:00 p.m. and conclude by 8:30 p.m. All parents of this year's 4th-12th graders are encouraged to attend. Youth group, events, confirmation, Sunday ministries and mission and outreach will be included in the conversation. Please speak with Jeff or Sue if you have questions.
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Sandwiches for Martha's Table

Posted 4:17 PM by
Would your family like to take our "makings" to Martha's Table on Sunday morning? A great way to teach the extension of our mission in the world to your children. Just connect with Sue to offer this service or if you have questions.


 

link

Annual Meeting Address 02.21.2016

Posted 4:43 PM by

Today we are talking about growth – growing our parish in ministry, in people, and in resources.  The life and health and future of St. Dunstan’s Parish depends on how we can grow as God’s people here.

We heard how Jesus called his disciples together, not to hang around the clubhouse of the Jesus Movement, but to go out into the world on a mission.  He preps them: he gives them his own power and authority to proclaim the kingdom and to heal.  But he tells them to carry no extra earthly provisions.  He makes a clear point about this mission: go and offer my message, my healing.  If people receive it, great!  If people refuse it, then move on to the next village. 

This is how the church grows – not by staying in our building, but by circulating in the world….  As fishermen know, the ones who bite, bite.  The ones who don’t, don’t. 

Speaking of fishing….

The Packers and the Vikings had an ice fishing tournament. The first day the Packers caught 100 fish and the Vikings didn't catch any. The second day the Packers caught 200 fish and the Vikings didn't catch any. The third day the Vikings were getting worried so they dressed their quarterback up like a Packer and sent him over to see why the Packers were catching so many fish. When he returned to the Vikings, they asked, "What's the deal, are they cheating?" The quarterback said "You bet they are. They are drilling holes in the ice!" 

When Jesus called his disciples, he said, “I will make you fishers of people!”  Our beloved church is at a real pivotal juncture right now.  We can no longer chill out like the Vikings, waiting for the fish to jump magically into our bucket.  We’re going to have to go out, drill through some ice, and go after the fish ourselves.  We’ll have to experiment with different kinds of bait, to see what people are hungry for here in Bethesda. 

We heard good news at our Annual Meeting, where Fred Bentley and Praveen Jeyarajah presented our plans to strengthen our membership and work for growth.  We’re blessed to have great leaders.  But leaders can’t do it alone….

We’ve stood up two new teams – one for membership and one for growth.  If you are on membership, please stand.  And growth… 

Will you actively support these good people in our mission?  Will you say yes when they ask for your help? 

We have much to celebrate here at St. Dunstan’s; much to be proud of:

Huge service in our community…SOME and MoW for decades

$140,000 in outreach from our capital campaign - $50K to Bishop Walker School, $25K to Samaritan Ministry for their building

Our building is more and more a community center here – many children every day, school events, concerts, neighborhood meetings, kids using our playground and our Trail entrance

Why do we do this?  Why is this so important?  Because these are ways to spread the love of Christ…build up God’s people…welcome the stranger…teach compassion.  St. Francis said, Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary use words.  That’s what we’re doing…

We’ve built a fellowship where all people are welcome and respected.  We accept people as children of God.  We honor Christ in all people  That’s not nothing in a world where presidential candidates freely demonize Muslims, Mexicans, and gay people.  What we have here is precious – so precious we need to share it. 

One of our guest teachers asks us to think about how we recommend a great new restaurant we have found.  Can we do the same with our church?  Can we say, “You should try our church…why don’t you come with me this Sunday, or to the cabaret, or to the picnic, or a concert….”?

Years ago, my mother invited many people to church with us.  One woman was a coworker of my mom’s at the county welfare department.  They were both caseworkers. Her name was Linda.  She came and stayed at our church…and ended up marrying the priest!  (Don’t expect that to happen here….) 

One last thought.  I’ve always liked the joke: How many California psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?  Only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change. 

Nobody can change us if we don’t want to.  I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do.  Our growth teams can’t change this parish on their own.  We as a congregation have to want to change.  We have to be brave enough to change, to speak up, to reach out to people we know.  We have so much to offer – such a great message that God loves every person and wants us to live lives of love and service.  People need to hear this!  People are hurting out there.  People are lonely out there.  People are hungry for a message that endures, that affirms, that calls us to be our best selves. 

But if we don’t want to change, it won’t happen.  I’ve been with you 16 years and I hope to journey with you to St. Dunstan’s next peak, our next heyday.  Please walk with me to proclaim the kingdom of God and bring healing in this broken world.  AMEN. JBM


 


 

link
| comments (0)

Special Lenten Offerings

Posted 7:28 PM by
It's Lent!                                                   Whose Trail are you on?
 
The Painting Table with Roger Hutchison
Sunday, March 6 
10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
 
Roger will offer two workshops for all ages on how to express one's thoughts and relationship with God through the art of painting with one's hands. A simple soup lunch will be offered. Signup in Founders' Hall or this online form for the session you will attend
 
Roger's gift of prayer, painting, and presence were utilized in a workshop he designed for the grieving families of Newtown, Connecticut in the spring of 2013. Children and parents sat together, shared their stories, poured them out as paint on the canvas. In their grieving, healing began to take root.
Roger will share with us his story about painting and prayer and how this gift helped him to begin the healing for many people around the country. Roger will read from his books and will do a book signing during the event. 
 
Roger Hutchison is an artist, author, and the Director of Christian Formation and Parish Life at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. His first book, The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy, has been used by people of all ages in schools, churches, and community groups across the United States. His artwork has been exhibited throughout the world. 
 
Praying for Others: Intercessory Prayer
Sunday, March 13
Adult Formation Offering
 
Sister Barbara Jean will return to St. Dunstan's to share her thoughts, wisdom and experience of praying for others. She will be our speaker for the adult formation class on this Sunday and will preach at the 10:45 liturgy. 
 
Sr. BJ helped to found the Anamchara Fellowship, an inclusive religious community with a Celtic spirit which focuses on retreats and quiet days, pastoral care, intercessory prayer and spiritual direction. 
 
Book Signing
Both of our Lenten speakers have recently authored books. Samples copies are on the table in Founders' Hall and there are signup sheets to order copies or fill out this form. Both Roger and Sr. BJ will be happy to sign your copies on the day they are here. 
 
Take-home Resources
Three different take-home resources are offered this year. 
 
Growing a Rule of Life
The word rule comes from the Latin word, regula, from which we get the words regular and regulate. This isn't about creating rules, but rather creating intention and purpose. Creating a rule is about making small steps, individually, to move one into a more meaningful and deeper relationship with God. We will outline the program on Sunday, February 14 at our adult formation time from 9:50-10:35 a.m. Workbooks are available to take home and use daily. The SSJE community provides daily emails and other resources for this program. Signup to receive these daily emails here
 
 Living Well through Lent
 
A daily reading and reflection booklet created by Living Compass.  This non-profit organization develops resources and programs for personal, family and congregational wellness focusing on the words of the Great Commandment - heart, strength, mind and soul. This booklet includes a weekly reflection for Sundays and short reflection on a scripture text for the others days of each week.
Copies are on the table in Founders' Hall. 
 
The Forty Days of Lent
 
Pick up a Lenten poster with the art work of Roger Hutchison and a daily scripture text to reflect on throughout the day. A simple way for youth or adults to take a moment each day for reflection. 
 
Online Resources
Visit these various websites to access online Lenten resources. 
 
Lent Madness
 
Who will win the Golden Halo this year? Visit their website to read about the daily pairing of saints and vote for your favorite. This fun and creative competition between the saints is provided for your enjoyment, but also to help us learn about those who have preceded us in faith. This program was modeled after the tournaments of various college sports in March. A large bracket poster, which will be updated daily, is posted in the Parish Hall. 
 
Smaller blank bracket posters have been printed for your convenience. Take one home. 
 
 
Episcopal Relief and Development offers a Lenten meditation booklet.  Leaders from across the Anglican Communion were asked to reflect on scripture and other sources of spiritual wisdom as they consider their own work to strengthen communities and provide economic opportunities. If you want a focus on justice and global concerns this may be the Lenten meditation guide for you.  It can be read online here.
 
Videos for your Soul is the creation of Randall Curtis, the youth minister for the Diocese of Arkansas.  These are particularly helpful for youth and young adults, but can be used by people of all ages.  You may visit the site daily or just once, and subscribe to receive a daily email with the video of the day.   
 
Journey to the Cross is another resource specifically created for youth and young adults. d365 is produced by Passport, Inc. and is sponsored by the youth offices of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and The Episcopal Church. This devotion site is available throughout the entire year and alters their focus for the seasons of Lent and Advent.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator


 

link

Formation 02/14/2016

Posted 7:24 PM by
Adult & Youth Formation
 
What are you doing for Lent this year?
 
Our Prayer book shares: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting.

On Sunday, February 14 our adult formation gathering will look at various ways to observe and keep the season of Lent. This will include the first phase of the program, Growing a Rule of Life. Sue and Jeff will lead this forum for adults and youth. How will you walk the trail this Lent? Will you choose a way that will help you in more closely following Jesus?


Children's Formation
This Sunday, February 14, the children will gather in the Choir Room with Michael and other adults to learn and sing and play instruments! This is a great formational time of learning about faith through song and providing a way for children to be leaders in our worship experiences. 
 
During the formation time on February 21, the children will gather in the Youth Room for a special movie time, while parents are participating in the Annual Meeting. We will even break out the popcorn machine this week!

 

L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Trail Notes 01/24/2016

Posted by

Mission statements have been popular in recent decades, to help organizations clarify their reasons for existence and their goals. Organizations can spend a lot of time defining and wordsmithing their mission statements! 

Today, Jesus gives us his own mission statement. It’s not original to him; he gets it from the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah. 

It’s not a safe mission. It’s often hard to quantify. But it’s clear enough, if we want to hear it:

To bring good news to the poor. (What is good news to the poor? Probably a job that pays a living wage.) 

To proclaim release to the captives. (I think of many American students who graduate with a mountain of debt before they ever get a first paycheck)

Sight to the blind. (Do we help people see all God’s people with dignity, and not demean groups… whether Muslims, refugees, gay people, black people, or brown people?)

To let the oppressed, go free. (think of families with little children, risking their lives to escape persecution in Syria) 

To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Jubilee year – erasing all debts, restoring economic equality to all the people)

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” proclaims Jesus.

When we think of our mission at St. Dunstan’s, how well to we match up with the mission of Jesus, the one we serve? Are we truly finding ways to bring good news to the poor? Are we helping to release captives and people who are oppressed by the system? Are we bringing new sight, and insight, to ourselves and our neighbors? 

Well yes, we do make efforts to do some of these things. We make sandwiches, tuna casseroles to feed people. That’s good. We explore scriptures and the events of the world around us, seeking insight and wisdom.  Some of us have studied economic inequality and proposed actions the church can take to lessen the huge gap between rich and poor. 

But we tend to play it safe. We are risk-averse. That may have worked for the church in the past, but it doesn’t work in today’s environment. Jesus’ mission is a bold, audacious one…turning the established order on its ear. If we want to be faithful to Jesus, we as his church can be no less bold.  JBM

 

link

Choir Night Tonight!

Posted 8:10 PM by
 
 
Choir Rehearsals will resume tonight!
5:15 p.m. Handbell Choir Rehearsal
5:45 p.m. Children's Choir Rehearsal
6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m. Adult Choir Rehearsal
 
 

 

Michael Austin
Director of Music
 


 

link

Life-Long Christian Formation

Posted 8:06 PM by
Children's Formation
 
Over the next two weeks our children will be learning two of the great stories in the Gospel of Luke. This Sunday, January 17 will be the story of the Good Samaritan and on Sunday, January 24 will be the Prodigal Son. Both of these stories are only found in Luke's Gospel and yet are some of the most well known parables of Jesus. We use Luke's texts throughout this year in our lectionary. His emphasis is usually on those who are in need and how we are to respond, and especially when that takes is out of our comfort zone or asks us to move beyond what is expected. This would be a good time for parents to talk about the ways your family responds and reaches out to those in need.
 
Children are always welcome to join the formation offerings on any day, even if they have not been present in the past. The new year is a great time to make this a regular practice for your family to participate in these formation offerings.
 
Youth Formation
 
The Coffee House will be open for the next two Sundays of January.  This Sunday, January 17, we will talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his passion for justice and social change. On January 24, we will look at a few of the stories that are only found in the gospel of Luke - The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son. We will view a few different video clips for each story and talk about what they say to us today.
 
Our next youth event will be Ice Skating at the Rockville City Center rink on Sunday, January 24 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. We will leave from and return to St. Dunstan's. We will join other Episcopal youth and their friends from other congregations present this evening - so bring your friends along! Cost is $7 per person which includes skate rentals and snacks and hot cocoa. A signup form is available here as well as one posted on the signup board at the church. Parents, please let Sue know if you might be able to provide rides this evening or if you are willing to chaperon at this event. Skating is not required to participate as an adult chaperon. Deadline for signing up is January 17!


 

link

Choir Night will return next week!

Posted 2:53 PM by
 
 
Choir Rehearsals will resume 
on Thursday, January 14th!
5:15 p.m. Handbell Choir Rehearsal
5:45 p.m. Children's Choir Rehearsal
6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 p.m. Pajama Prayers
7:30 p.m. Adult Choir Rehearsal
 
 
Michael Austin
Director of Music
 


 

link

Formation: 01/10/2016

Posted 2:51 PM by
Children's Formation
This week our children will gather with Michael to learn music during our formation time. Next Thursday, our children's choir begins again. If you haven't joined in before now, this is a perfect time to start. All children K-3rd Grade are welcome to sing. This choir time begins at 5:45 p.m. and is followed by a wonderful community dinner at 6:30.
Children are always welcome to join the formation offerings on any day, even if they have not been present in the past. The new year is a great time to make this a regular practice for your family to participate in these formation offerings.
 
Youth Formation
The Coffee House will be open for the first three Sundays of January and  we will be exploring the stories of the flight to Egypt, Jesus' baptism by John, and the first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana. 
Our next youth event will be Ice Skating at the Rockville City Center rink on Sunday, January 24
 
from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. We will leave and return to St. Dunstan's. Friends are welcome. Cost is $7. Please let Sue know if you'll be participating no later than 1-17 so plans can be made for transportation and adult leaders. 
 
Adult Formation
During the formation offerings in the first three Sundays of January we will be learning and discussing the topics of race, justice and reconciliation. Many of the news items over the last year have centered on our country's inability to face the underlying realities of the systems of oppression that exist for most people of color. 
 
This Sunday, January 10, we welcome The Rev. Canon Paula Clark as our formation leader, preacher and celebrant at 10:45 a.m. She will be present and assist at the Family Eucharist at 9:00 a.m.Paula serves as the Canon for Clergy Development and Multicultural Ministries on the diocesan staff. Her ministry includes working with multi-cultural congregations, training in cultural awareness and race relations.   
 
Martha's Table Sandwich Making
The Outreach Committee has made the decision to continue the monthly practice of making sandwiches for the hungry in DC and is increasing the number to 300 each time. Please plan to be with us on Sunday, January 31 for Formation through Service. Be there to help make sandwiches and be in fellowship with one another.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Christmas Pageant: Save the Date!

Posted 6:41 PM by
 
Pageant, Blessing of the Children's Altar 
& Chili Supper
Saturday, December 19 at 5:00 p.m.
 
The children and youth of St. Dunstan's will present the Christmas story and all will join them in singing familiar carols. All children are welcome to participate and there will be a short run through on that day beginning at 3:30 p.m. No other rehearsals will be needed. We do a simple pageant of movement that requires no lines to be learned or extra time. And we welcome grandchildren who may be visiting.
 
Our Bishop, Mariann Budde, will be with us to bless our new altar and Michael Austin has written a special song for this occasion. All of this will be followed by a chili supper, including a competition for various categories of chili. 
 
Please sign up at the church to bring items for the dinner. Parents please fill out this form so we can be prepared for your children to participate. 

 

link

Formation: 12/13/2015

Posted 6:31 PM by
 
Children ...
This Sunday, December 13, the children will be singing with Michael at 9:50 a.m. and preparing for the Christmas Pageant. So come on down to the Choir during formation time! Have you signed up for the pageant? If not, please go to this link.
 
Only two more weeks of Advent Pajama Prayers! Tonight 12/10 and next Thursday. We begin at 7:00 p.m. A great time to be quiet and listen for God, say our prayers and sing.
 
The next two weeks of children's formation are focused on service learning & fellowship. 

On December 20 we will be finishing the blankets for the Syrian refugees and making some Christmas items - ornaments and cookie decorating will be in order.

Then on December 27 we will again make sandwiches for Martha's Table. We need a family to deliver our sandwiches, Please connect with Sue if you are willing.
 
Youth ... 4th - 12th grade
This Sunday, December 13, the Coffee House will be open for youth and we will be making preparations for the Christmas Pageant. Youth usually take a lead role in the pageant and help lead the young children. We will join the service learning opportunities on the last two Sundays of December - preparing items for Syrian refugees and feeding the hungry in DC. This is a great opportunity to make a difference for someone else!
 
Adults ...
The Good News of St. Luke
Join Jacqueline Bray, our seminarian, for a journey into the Gospel of Luke this Sunday, December 13. We've begun the new church year and with that comes a change in our Gospel lessons. In Year C we primarily use the texts from Luke. This second week we will look at some of the traditional Advent stories juxtaposed to those of the end times. These are the two themes of Advent - the first and second comings of Christ. 
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

World AIDS Day

Posted 6:54 PM by
December 1st is World AIDS Day
 
We will be offering special prayers for the continuing need to find a cure, for medications to be readily available, for support for those living with this disease, and an opportunity for us to name those that we know who have died or are still fighting this disease.  
 
 
 
Prayer of Hope
 
God of Hope
All of us are affected by HIV/AIDS.
At this time of Advent Hope,
As we prepare for the coming of your son into this world
We give thanks for signs of hope.
For growing understanding
For medical advances
For changing attitudes and behavior
For greater awareness and concern in your church.
God of Unity
Bind us together with strong ties of love
That this church community may be a place where
All can find acceptance,
May it be a place of welcome for all affected by HIV/AIDS.
May it be a place where care is given and received, especially
for affected children and youth,
Where stories are told and heard,
Where fear is overcome by love,
Where you are to be found. Amen.
 
Adapted from The Diakonia Council of Churches in South Africa
 
For more information about the state of AIDS in our world go to this UN link. For an Advent calendar focused on the concerns see this website
link

Christmas Pageant

Posted 6:50 PM by
 
Pageant, Blessing of the Children's Altar 
& Chili Supper
Saturday, December 19 at 5:00 p.m.
 
The children and youth of St. Dunstan's will present the Christmas story and all will join them in singing familiar carols. All children are welcome to participate and there will be a short run through on that day beginning at 3:30 p.m. No other rehearsals will be needed.

Our Bishop, Mariann Budde, will be with us to bless our new altar and Michael has written a new song for this occasion. All of this will be followed by a chili supper, including a competition for various categories of chili. 

Please sign up at the church for the dinner and to bring items for the dinner. Parents please fill out this form so we can be prepared for your children to participate. 


 

link

Faith Forming Opportunities

Posted 6:48 PM by
 
Children ...
This Sunday, December 6, the children will be in classrooms and learning about John the Baptist. They will hear about his message to repent and follow God as well as his rather unique lifestyle - living in the desert and eating insects. Parents could follow up on this conversation about the most unique foods ever eaten as well as keeping our focus on God, especially during Advent.

Next week the children will be doing music with Michael and practicing songs for the pageant and Christmas Eve. Have you signed up for the pageant? If not, please go to this link

Come to Advent Pajama Prayers on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m! December 3, 10 & 17. A great time to be quiet and listen for God, say our prayers and sing.
 
 
Youth ... 4th - 12th grade
The next two Sundays, December 6 and 13, the Coffee House will be open for youth and we will be discussing the season of Advent and a few of the characters we meet in scripture and in legend. These will include John the Baptist, St. Nicholas, and Ebeneezer Scrooge. So come and join the conversation!
 

In the afternoon, members of the youth group will be heading to Alexandria for the production of A Christmas Carol at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. We still need a driver and have a couple of available tickets, first come basis. Please let me know if you can now attend. We will meet at St. Dunstan's at 2:00 p.m. and plan to return by 6:00 p.m.
 
 
 
Adults ...
The Good News of St. Luke

Join Jacqueline Bray, our seminarian, for a journey into the Gospel of Luke on the Sundays of December 6 and 13. With Advent, we make the start of a "new year" in the church's calendar and that also means a change in our lectionary for Sundays. Year C uses the Gospel of Luke on most weeks. This week we will look at an 
overview of this gospel and see the adventure that is Luke's vision of the Good News.
 
Our focus for the following week will include a look at some of the traditional advent stories that we have grown to love, that are only found in Luke's narrative and his version of the end times to come. We will have great conversation comparing these birth and end time stories and what they mean in our contemporary lives.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Advent is Coming

Posted 8:08 PM by
Advent is Coming ... Whom are you waiting for?
 
Whom are you waiting for?
 
The four weeks of Advent begin on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. How appropriate to start our journey of waiting and anticipation in the context of a time focused on giving thanks. 
 
The question we are asking this year is - Whom are you waiting for? The answer that each one of us gives may make a huge impact on how we choose to live during this season. Here are some options for marking the days until Christmas. Most of these resources take only a few minutes each day. Will you take a few moments to seek the one who brings hope, peace, joy and love? 
 
Slow Down, Quiet, It's Advent! is poster that can be used by everyone in the home.  Pick one up at church this Sunday.  Enjoy the season through the whimsical art and ideas of Jay Sidebotham. 
 
Living Well through Advent: Practicing Patience with all your Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind. This daily meditation guide is a great way to enter into some quiet time each day through the words for various church leaders and scripture. Guest writers this year include: Steven Charleston, Nurya Love Parish, Tom Purdy, and Porter Taylor. If you prefer an app to a printed booklet, follow this link.
Both of these resources are available in Founders' Hall.
 
Daily Devo. St. Dunstan's still offers this daily email to all parishioners. This is primarily focused on families with young children, but I use this daily and have found it beneficial. If you unsubscribed or are not receiving this service it is easy to re-submit your email, just contact me
 
The Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), a monastic community of The Episcopal Church, has an interactive advent practice this year using Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.  Each day the community provides a word - and then those participating, share a picture which describes that word.  You will receive access to view all submissions from around the world. Sign up to participate in this year experience by going to this link
 
Following the Star is a daily devotional specifically designed for youth and young adults.  The daily devotional site, d365, is produced by Passport, Inc. and is sponsored by the youth offices of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and The Episcopal Church.  Access this online resource here.
 
Busted Halo, an online magazine for spiritual seekers and a ministry of The Paulist Fathers, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, offers an online Advent calendar at this link.                                      
   
Do you use other resources for your Advent experience? Let me know and I will share those in the next weeks.
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Formation 11/22/2015

Posted 6:19 PM by
Adult Formation: November 22
November 22: Taking your faith around the world
 
Come and meet Kayla Massey. Kayla is a missionary with the Young Adult Service Corp of The Episcopal Church. She spent her first year of service living and working with The Episcopal Church in the Philippines and now she's serving her second year with the global missions department of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (our church's corporate name) and living in New York City. She is excited to join us this Sunday and talk about her passion for global missions and the faith journey that has brought her to this point in her life. 
 
Children's Formation ...
 
This Sunday, November 22, the children will be in the classrooms on the lower level. This week they will be celebrating the feast of Christ the King. On this last Sunday before Advent the church focuses on the kingship of Christ. Crowns will definitely be in order.
 
Youth Formation ... 4th-12th Grade
 
The Coffee House will be open on Sunday, November 22 and this week we will be discussing the kingship of Christ as we come to the end of the liturgical year and look toward the new year and Advent.
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Formation 11/15/2015

Posted 7:25 PM by
 
Formation = Fellowship
Consecration Sunday - November 15
All Parish Brunch in the Parish Hall at 10:00 a.m.
This is a day for the whole community to come together to support each other 
through our financial pledge to God and the ministry of this community.
 
Adult Formation: November 22
November 22: Taking your faith around the world
 
Come and meet Kayla Massey. Kayla is a missionary with the Young Adult Service Corp of The Episcopal Church. She spent her first year of service living and working with The Episcopal Church in the Philippines and now she's serving her second year with the global missions department of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (our church's corporate name) and living in New York City. She is excited to join us this Sunday and talk about her passion for global missions and the faith journey that has brought her to this point in her life. 
 
Children's Formation ...
 
Next Sunday, November 22, the children will be in the classrooms on the lower level. This week they will be celebrating the feast of Christ the King. On this last Sunday before Advent the church focuses on the kingship of Christ. Crowns will definitely be in order.
 
Youth Formation ... 4th-12th Grade
 
The Coffee House will be open on Sunday, November 22 and this week we will be discussing the kingship of Christ as we come to the end of the liturgical year and look toward the new year and Advent.
 
 
Formation & Service Ministry
 
Sunday, November 29
The First Sunday of Advent
 
Sandwich Making for Martha's Table 
& Advent Wreath Making
 
We will make food for those who are hungry in our community and make wreaths to use at home and mark the days till Christmas. We will need greens from trees and bushes in your yard and a family to deliver the food to their facility. Please be in touch with Sue if you can help out with either of these needs.
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Formation 11/8/2015

Posted 4:36 PM by
 
 
Adult & Youth Sunday Formation: November 8
 
Stories from Ecuador
Tucker Hemphill and Sue spent 9 days in Quito, Ecuador this past summer. They worked on construction projects, taught Sunday School, led the youth group, painted, and led workshops on faith formation for youth leaders and parents of Education=Hope students. Above all they spent time with the parish community of Buen Pastor. Come and get a taste of what they experienced and learn about how you might participate in such a journey.
Youth will be joining the adults for this week's formation experience.
 
Children's Formation ...
 
This Sunday, November 8 the children will gather in the music room with Michael and other leaders to sing, play and learn music together. This month they will be starting to learn songs for the pageant. It is just over a month until that day!
 
Youth Event ... 4th-12th Grade
 
A Christmas Carol: Sunday, December 6
 
This week we will be purchasing tickets for this play at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. Contact Sue no later than Wednesday to reserve your tickets. All 4th-12th graders are welcome to attend this great story of hope and wonder. Tickets for the opening weekend matinee sell out early. Show time is 3:00 p.m. Details will be sent out in later November.
 
 
Formation = Fellowship
Consecration Sunday - November 15
All Parish Brunch in the Parish Hall at 10:00 a.m.
This is a day for the whole community to come together to support each other 
through our financial pledge to God and the ministry of this community. 
 
Upcoming Adult Formation
November 22: Taking your faith around the world - YASC
Each year a corps of young adults head to many places around the world, spending a year serving because of their faith. Their ministries are varied and the placements are diverse. Come on this day and hear the story of one of those Episcopal young adults who chose to head off to the Philippines for a year and now is serving a second year in our church's corporate office. Came and meet Kayla Massey. 
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 11/08/2015

Posted by

Widows take the lead in today’s scriptures.  One is Naomi, the bereft mother-in-law of Ruth, who is herself a new widow.  The widow Naomi may have lost her husband and both her sons, but she is far from powerless: she is clever – even shrewd – beyond belief!  She engineers a new life for her daughter-in-law, and for herself.  And in doing so, she gives Israel her greatest king and leader, David.

Another widow is seen by Jesus in the Temple, offering her gift – her “mite” – of two copper coins to God.  Jesus admires this poor woman for giving all she had.  Jesus drives home his point: “This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  (Matt 12) 

[Just for good measure, yet another story from I Kings about the Widow of Zarephath is also an appointed reading for this day.  Elijah comes to this poor widow who, with her son, is about to starve.  At Elijah’s request, she shares her last morsel with Elijah, and discovers that her jar of meal never emptied, and her jug of oil never ran dry! In giving, she received much in return.]

These widows have almost nothing.  How can they give?  How can they trust God to walk with them into their future?  My first impulse when I’m “running short” is to save, to hoard, to conserve what I have and try to make it last.  There is some wisdom in that.  But that is human wisdom, wisdom without God, without claiming the promises of God.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of earthbound thinking, where life is a zero-sum game, it’s everybody for himself or herself, and I’d better look out for number one.  I get that!  And I struggle with that every day.  But I do not want to live that way.  I want to live according to God’s economy of abundance and sharing. 

It comes down to trust in the end. Can we trust God that we can give today, and God will fill us full again tomorrow?  That is the question when we consider our pledge, our annual giving to our church here at St. Dunstan’s.  Can we trust God that we can give generously today, and God will walk with us tomorrow…and the days after that? 

I can only speak from my own experience.  Giving a tithe (10% of income)  to God has never brought our family material want, or caused financial distress to us.  Other financial decisions I’ve made have sometimes caused me grief, but not my pledge to the church.  I’ve made bad investments and lost money.  But our investment in the church has always returned many blessings to us, to our children, and, I believe, to the world.  Our jar of meal has never emptied, and our jug of oil has never run dry. 

I can only ask you to talk to God about your giving.  Ask God what a bold level of generosity would be for you…what step you can take this year in your trustful giving for the church and for the world.  You might be surprised at what becomes possible!  JBM

 

link

All Saints' Day- This Sunday

Posted 6:31 PM by
 
Remembrances for All Saints' Sunday, November 1.
Please submit you names by 8:00 a.m. 10/30/2015.

The feast of All Saints celebrates the communion of saints in all times and places - on earth and in heaven.  As you receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist, rest in the knowledge that you remain connected in love with all who have died.  I find much comfort in that. 

On this day we remember by name all those dear departed whose names you submit to the church office beforehand. Please use the paper slips or the online form to submit your loved ones for remembrance by 8:00 a.m., Friday, October 30.  
 
All Saints is also a day for baptisms into the Church, which is the visible community of saints on earth.  With great joy, we shall baptize children into this communion of saints at 9 a.m. on November 1, and at 10:45 a.m. on November 8
Jeff MacKnight
 


 

link

Formation 11/01/2015

Posted 5:45 PM by
 
Adult Sunday Formation: November 1

Dr. Elisabeth "Lisa" Kimball - Passing on the Faith   Lisa is the Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary. Her doctoral thesis on the role of Godparents will inform the conversation this Sunday. She will also be our preacher at the 10:45 a.m. liturgy and assist Sue with the sermon at 9:00 a.m.

 
Children's Formation ...
Sunday, November 1 is All Saints' Day! Children will be in the classrooms this week learning about Baptism and the story of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan River. Parents, this would be a great week to talk with your children about their baptism. Show them pictures and let them ask questions about this day.
 

 

Youth Formation ... 4th-7th Grade
The Coffee House will be open this Sunday and we will be discussing sainthood and baptism. Join us in the youth room from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m.
Serving Others: Sunday, November 8 - 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This will be a service learning opportunity through Samaritan Ministry, an organization which focuses on the empowerment of those who are homeless and working toward setting goals and moving forward. We will be working outside and doing some fall clean-up at their offices in NW DC. Please dress for being outside and bring gloves. Sign-up at the church or let contact Sue if you are able to go.
 
Upcoming Adult Formation
November 8: Serving and Learning in Ecuador
On this day Tucker Hemphill and Sue von will share their experiences of this past summer - serving and learning at the parish of Buen Pastor in Quito, Ecuador. 
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

November 1 is All Saint's Sunday!

Posted 3:42 PM by
  
Remembrances for All Saints' Sunday, November 1.

The feast of All Saints celebrates the communion of saints in all times and places - on earth and in heaven.  As you receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist, rest in the knowledge that you remain connected in love with all who have died.  I find much comfort in that. 

On this day we remember by name all those dear departed whose names you submit to the church office beforehand. Please use the paper slips or the online form to submit your loved ones for remembrance.  
 
All Saints is also a day for baptisms into the Church, which is the visible community of saints on earth.  With great joy, we shall baptize children into this communion of saints at 9 a.m. on November 1, and at 10:45 a.m. on November 8. 
Jeff MacKnight
 


 

link

Formation 10/25/2015

Posted 3:39 PM by
 
Forming faith in non-traditional ways ...
Calling all Ages! It's Sandwich Making Day! October 25!
Intergenerational Formation through Service. 
We are ready for our second 
Sunday of intergenerational and experiential learning as we gather to make sandwiches for the hungry people of our community! The McNallys will take our offering to Martha's Table this month. Who would like to help in November? It will be Thanksgiving weekend but we know someone will step up. Please be in contact with Sue if you are interested in doing this next month.

 

 
The Installation of the 27th Presiding Bishop 
of The Episcopal Church
St. Dunstan's will offer an opportunity for all to view the live stream
of this service which is taking place at Washington National Cathedral. If you are interested, please contact Sue or put your name on the Signup board. This takes place on Sunday, November 1 and it begins at 12:00 noon. The viewing of the entire liturgy will take about 1-2 hours.

 

Children's Formation ...

Next Sunday, November 1 is All Saints' Day! Children will be in the classrooms this week learning about Baptism and the story of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan River. Parents this would be a great week to talk with your children about their baptism. Show them pictures and let them ask questions about this day,
 

 

Youth Formation ... 4th-7th Grade

The Coffee House will be open next Sunday and we will be discussing sainthood and baptism. Join us in the youth room from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m.
Our next youth event will be held on Sunday, November 8 beginning at 12:30 p.m. This will be a service learning opportunity through Samaritan Ministries, an organization which focuses on the empowerment of those who are homeless and working toward setting goals and moving forward. Details will be available early next week and set to parents via email.
 

 

Adult Sunday Formation: November 1
Dr. Elisabeth "Lisa" Kimball - Passing on the Faith
Lisa is the Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary. Her doctoral thesis on the role of Godparents will inform the conversation this Sunday. She will also be our preacher at the 10:45 a.m. liturgy and assist Sue with the sermon at 9:00 a.m. 
 
November 8: Serving and Learning in Ecuador
On this day Tucker Hemphill and Sue von will share their experiences of this past summer - serving and learning at the parish of Buen Pastor in Quito, Ecuador. 
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets

Posted 3:38 PM by
The National Center for Children and Families is a private, nonprofit child and family welfare agency with a commitment to serving poor, disadvantaged, abused, neglected and/or abandoned children, youth, and their families. To find out more about their programs and services please visit their website
For the last 3 years St. Dunstan's has participated in their drive to make Thanksgiving Dinner possible for many families who would otherwise do without. In our 1st year we did 20 baskets and last year 25. Lets see if we can raise that to 30 this year!


 

link

Formation 10/18/2015

Posted 6:31 PM by
Forming faith in non-traditional ways ...
 
Children's Formation ...
Our children will be in the classrooms on the lower level this week and exploring the story of creation. Children age 3 through kindergarten are in the last room on the right. Their teachers this year are Meghan Jarvis and Mariana McCormick. Those in grades 1-3 are in the middle room on the right with Pete & Rose Sather and Don Baker. Parents of our youngest children, please take your children down to formation each week and pick them up afterward. Our formation guides, Anne Taylor and Christine Tatelbaum will know if one of the classes has gone outside. And be sure to ask your children what they did today - ask them to tell you the story they learned.
We have a full team for children's formation! Please express your gratitude to these teachers and the others who make formation for the children of St. Dunstan's possible. 
 
Youth Formation ... 4th-7th Grade
 
This Saturday, October 17 is the Haunted House and we need you to make it work! Please go to this form to let Sue know when you will be here to help with setting up and running the event. Set-up begins at 1:00 p.m. until completed and the Haunted House is open from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Clean up should go quickly after we close it down. There will be pizza for those who show up at the beginning of set up and other snacks throughout the day. We need everyone's help to make it work!
The Coffee House is open this week - and while we might have a conversation about Creation, we will probably also be packing up Haunted House supplies for another year. Join us in the youth room from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m.
 
Adult Sunday Formation: October 18
God's Abundance and Our Faith
This week we have the pleasure of hearing from the Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington, Mr. Paul Cooney. In that role Paul serves as the "right hand" person to the Bishop and manages the day to day affairs of the Diocese. Before joining the Bishop's staff in 2002, he practiced law full time in a large DC firm and gave of his gifts to the diocese in a variety of capacities including Finance Chair, Chancellor and Chair of Search Committee for Eighth Bishop of Washington.
Paul will share some practical perspectives regarding the intersection of our faith, God's abundance and how we think about the treasure entrusted to our community and to us as individuals. He will also give some information about events and developments in the Diocese. He will be our preacher at the 10:45 liturgy.
 
October 25: Martha's Table - Intergenerational Formation through Service. We are ready for our second Sunday of intergenerational and experiential learning as we gather to make sandwiches for the hungry people of our community! We need a family to deliver our offering and we had a number of families who were interested. Please be in contact with Sue if you are interested in doing this next Sunday.
 
November 1: Dr. Elisabeth "Lisa" Kimball - Passing on the Faith
Lisa is the Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary. Her doctoral thesis on the role of Godparents will inform the conversation this Sunday. She will also be our preacher at the 10:45 a.m. liturgy and assist Sue with the sermon at 9:00 a.m.
 
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator


 

link

All Saints' Day

Posted 6:09 PM by
 
 
Remembrances for All Saints' Sunday, November 1.

The feast of All Saints celebrates the communion of saints in all times and places - on earth and in heaven.  As you receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist, rest in the knowledge that you remain connected in love with all who have died.  I find much comfort in that. 

On this day we remember by name all those dear departed whose names you submit to the church office beforehand. Please use the paper slips or the online form to submit your loved ones for remembrance.  
 
All Saints is also a day for baptisms into the Church, which is the visible community of saints on earth.  With great joy, we shall baptize children into this communion of saints at 9 a.m. on November 1, and at 10:45 a.m. on November 8
Jeff MacKnight
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 10/18/2015

Posted by
Look around. 
God has done God’s part. 
Now it’s up to us!

Crisp bright days and chilly nights, autumn leaves in a riot of color – we can’t miss the movement of God’s creation outside. This is one of Washington’s most beautiful times. I’m so glad I live in a place with four real seasons! 

Yes, God has outdone Godself once again in the splendor of creation around us.  We now need to look within – within ourselves, within our church – to see and mark what God is doing in us. This is not as easy to point to as a sugar maple glowing an impossible shade of orange, but our inner lives are just as much the site of God’s creative work!

What has God been doing in you – in your heart, your mind? Where has God moved you toward greater love, a growing passion for justice, a heart for people who are poor and struggling? Where has God given you greater joy and gladness?  Where is God calling you to greater generosity? What is the harvest God wants to gather in?

Our parish’s Annual Giving Campaign begins today. Every year, we take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. We open our eyes to see God’s gracious hand at work in our lives and in our world. And then we respond with our own offering of praise and thanksgiving…for the church and for the world. 

Our response – our pledge to St. Dunstan’s – is first and foremost a spiritual offering, a part of our spiritual journey with God. It is our small act of reciprocation to God’s huge gift of life and love and beauty. Most of us here have been given so much more than we need. At our house, our problem is too much stuff, not too little! 

But we have an opportunity, with our giving, to make a difference in the lives of others…to welcome and teach children in our faith, to help students in Ecuador, to feed the hungry in Washington, to care for a neighbor who is sick or is grieving a death. We gather to celebrate births and marriages and all the milestones of life.

Through our pledge to our parish church, we can touch people in real need. We also uphold this wonderful house of God and keep it strong, as our forebears have done since 1958. 

The Judeo-Christian tradition has always upheld the tithe – 10% of income – as our standard of giving. That may seem like a lot, but it is a goal that can be reached.  We can take small steps every year to increase our giving. Our parish needs more money each year, just to continue our current ministries. Can you take a step upward in your pledge commitment for 2016? 

Some folks who feel stretched by expenses work toward giving 5% to the church.  If your income is $100,000, that would be a $5,000 pledge. That’s easier on a tight budget, and yet still so helpful to the parish! Every single pledge makes a difference in this community, so please listen to the voices of our 4 week campaign, read the letters in the mail, and make this your most generous year ever.  JBM

Look around. 
God has done God’s part. 
Now it’s up to us!

 

link

Formation 10/11/2015

Posted 6:41 PM by
 
Children's Formation ...
Music will be the offering for children this Sunday, October 11 as they gather in the choir room with Michael to sing and play instruments. The choir room is accessed by walking through the youth room (bean bag room).Children are back in their classrooms on the lower level on Sunday, October 18
 
Youth Formation ... 4th-7th Grade
 
It's time for the Haunted House! This Sunday, October 11 during our Coffee House gathering we will be going through supplies and making plans. So try to be present this Sunday from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m.

Then next Saturday, October 17 it is all hands on deck for set-up, running the Haunted House, and taking it down. So please go to this form to let us know when you can be here to help with setting up and running the event. Set-up begins at 1:00 p.m. until completed and the Haunted House is open from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Clean up should go quickly after we close it down. There will be pizza for those who show up at the beginning of set up and other snacks throughout the day. We need everyone's help to make it work!
 
Upcoming Adult Sunday Formation: October 11
 
What's Wrong with Economic Inequality? 
Why you should care about growing disparities of income and wealth?

Come join the St. Dunstan's Economic Justice Working Group for a timely and lively conversation on a topic that is front and center in today's political debates - what to do about economic inequality? We will discuss what our Christian faith says about economic inequality; how we experience it in our own lives; how and why it has worsened and what will happen if current trends continue, including how it might affect our children and grandchildren. We've put together two resolutions for the January Diocesan convention on what we can do individually, as a parish, in the diocese, and as a country to address the problem. You can find the resolutions and a wealth of supporting material on this page of our website and scroll down to Sunday Formation.  Please come and share this important conversation.
 
October 18Mr. Paul Cooney, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington will be our featured speaker and preacher to kick off our annual giving campaign.
 
October 25: Martha's Table - Intergenerational Formation through Service. On the last Sunday of each month our formation will be intergenerational and experiential as we gather to make sandwiches for the hungry people in our community. Is there another family or individual who would like to learn the ropes from the Johnson's? Either be in contact with Sue or Paul Johnson.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 

 

link

All Saint's Remberances

Posted 6:38 PM by

 

 
 
Remembrances for All Saints' Sunday, November 1.

The feasts of All Saint's celebrates the communion of saints in all times and places - on earth and in heaven.  As you receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist, rest in the knowledge that you remain connected in love with all who have died.  I find much comfort in that. 

On this day we remember by name all those dear departed whose names you submit to the church office beforehand. Please use the paper slips or the online form to submit your loved ones for remembrance.  
 
All Saints is also a day for baptisms into the Church, which is the visible community of saints on earth.  With great joy, we shall baptize children into this communion of saints at 9 a.m. on November 1, and at 10:45 a.m. on November 8

 

Jeff MacKnight
 

 

link

Trail Notes: 10/11/2015

Posted by

This week in our Creation Season, we move from planting to nurturing…just as nature moves in the cycle of life. 

My wise mother-in-law Nancy says, “We come to love what we take care of.” She should know; she has taken care of others – children, elderly folks, animals – all her life. She is one of the most nurturing people I know. 

But when I first heard this bit of wisdom, I thought it was turned around – reversed. Surely, we love first, and then take care of what (whom) we love, I thought. But upon reflection and observation, I’ve come to see that Nancy had it right. 

We all live this reality. Parents don’t already love a baby who has just arrived; we take care of an infant and in the caring, our love takes root and grows. When we adopt a dog, we generally don’t know her personality well. But after caring for her, we come to love her, foibles and all. (Here I speak from experience.) 

This even holds true with plants that we have nursed along through a drought, or a house we have lived in, painted, and repaired over the years. Caring leads to loving. 

So in today’s Gospel, when Jesus (at the end of his earthly life) asks Peter three times to “tend and feed my sheep,” Jesus is showing Peter the path to loving his neighbors, by caring for and nurturing them. Peter hadn’t always shown his love and devotion very clearly or consistently. Jesus spoke from experience. 

What have you cared for in your life – perhaps even involuntarily – that, eventually, you came to love? How have you helped to tend Jesus’ sheep?  JBM


 

link

Formation: 10/4/2015

Posted 4:22 PM by
Forming faith in non-traditional ways ...
Caring for those who depend on us!
PET BLESSING - Sunday, October 4 during the 9:00 Service! On this feast of St. Francis we will bless animals and stuffed critters as well. Please be sure that they are properly leashed or caged for their comfort and safety. 
 
We will have a special presentation during our formation time in the parish hall, complete with special treats for our furry friends. Allan Cohen, Chair of the Board of Directors  for MCPAW will give a special presentation to our community. He is a founding member of the organization and has a great love for the well-being of animals in our county. MCPAW serves as a partner to the Mont. Co. Animal Services & Adoption Center. They work to identify and correct the causes that make shelters necessary and provide programs and advocate for change so that animals are cared for properly. 
 
If you have any old towels or blankets or wish to send treats to the dogs and cats, 
please bring these on Sunday morning!
 
Children's Formation ...
Music will be the offering for children on Sunday, October 11 as they gather in the choir room with Michael to sing and play instruments. The choir room is accessed by walking through the youth room (bean bag room).Children are back in their classrooms on the lower level on Sunday, October 18

 

Youth Formation ... 4th-7th Grade
We have a great group planning to climb the trees at Sandy Springs Adventure Park this Sunday, October 4! We hope that the weather cooperates! Youth will meet at the church for lunch beginning at 12:30 p.m. Don't forget your year-long permission form or guest form. Cost is $50 made payable to St. Dunstan's. We will be monitoring the storm and update all participants on Saturday afternoon. If we have to cancel for this week, we will find another time to go later in the year.

 

 
Upcoming Adult Sunday
Formation: October 11
What's Wrong with Economic Inequality? 
Why you should care about growing disparities of income and wealth?

Come join the St. Dunstan's Economic Justice Working Group for a timely and lively conversation on a topic that is front and center in today's political debates - what to do about economic inequality? We will discuss what our Christian faith says about economic inequality; how we experience it in our own lives; how and why it has worsened and what will happen if current trends continue, including how it might affect our children and grandchildren. We've put together two resolutions for the January Diocesan convention on what we can do individually, as a parish, in the diocese, and as a country to address the problem. You can find the resolutions and a wealth of supporting material on this page of our website and scroll down to Sunday Formation.  Please come and share this important conversation.
 
October 18Mr. Paul Cooney, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington will be our featured speaker and preacher to kick off our stewardship season.
October 25: Martha's Table - Intergenerational Formation through Service. On the last Sunday of each month our formation will be intergenerational and experiential as we gather to make sandwiches for the hungry people in our community.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Trail Notes: 10/04/2015

Posted by

Creation Season begins this Sunday for the 4 Sundays in October. Come for the pet blessing at the 9 a.m. service – in the tradition of St. Francis. 

This year, we are focusing on God’s abundant provision for us in the harvest. This first Sunday’s theme is planting. Jesus uses this image of planting, nurturing, and harvesting in many of his teachings. I can imagine him teaching a group in the countryside, pointing to a mustard tree on one side of the road, and beginning:  “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field…it is the smallest of seeds, but grows into the greatest of shrubs!” 
(Matthew 13:31, 32)

All of life, all of creation, is part of the natural cycle of new birth, growth, fruition, decay, and death…only to begin again with birth. We explore that cycle this fall, and seek to find God’s hand at work in each one of these parts of the cycle. 

Chief Seattle reminds us of our connection with this cycle of the earth, and our responsibility toward the earth and our children:

Teach your children what we have taught our children: that the earth is our true mother. Whatever happens to the earth, happens to the children of the earth.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus invites little children to gather around him and teaches the crowd: Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Our children are our primary “crop” as human beings! There is a childlike openness to the world that we must recapture if we are to preserve the earth and nurture what God plants. 

I’ve not got a green thumb, but I still know I have to work with God to plant and cultivate good things in this life. What part of your relationship with this earthly home seems strained or out-of-balance? What changes might God be calling you to make? How might God want you to “welcome the little child” into your life?  JBM


 

link

Formation 9/27/2015

Posted 6:54 PM by
 
Forming faith in non-traditional ways ...
 
This Sunday and next we will be formation faith in an intergenerational way and we hope that you will partake in these opportunities.
 
Being Christ's Hands and Feet!
Sunday, September 27 from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m.
This week we begin a new venture between formation and outreach as we gather to make sandwiches for those who are served by Martha's Table. This organization will serve over 700,000 meals in this year in 15 different locations across the D.C. metro area.

 

They are open every day of the year and have been serving for over 35 years. Come and help us to feed those who are hungry!
 
Caring for those who depend on us!
PET BLESSING - Sunday, October 4 during the 9:00 Service! On this feast of St. Francis we will bless animals and stuffed critters as well. Please be sure that they are properly leashed or caged for their comfort and safety. 
 
We will have a special presentation during our formation time in the parish hall, complete with special treats for our furry friends. Allan Cohen, Chair of the Board of Directors  for MCPAW will give a special presentation to our community. He is a founding member of the organization and has a great love and care for the well-being of animals in our county. MCPAW serves as a partner to the Mont. Co. Animal Services & Adoption Center. They work to identify and correct the causes that make shelters necessary and provide programs and advocate for change so that animals are cared for properly. 
 
If you have any old towels or blankets or wish to send treat to the dogs and cats, 
please bring these on Sunday morning!
 
Children's Formation ...
Music will be the offering for children on Sunday, October 11 as they gather in the choir room with Michael to sing and play instruments. The choir room is assessed by walking through the youth room.
Children are back in their classrooms on the lower level on Sunday, October 18
Teachers this year include Meghan Jarvis (younger children) and Peter & Rose Sather (older room). We still need two more to join them so that we have a teaching pair for each age group. Christine Tatelbaum and Anne Taylor will be serving as formation guides (helping teachers with supplies, aiding children in need, and guiding parents). Clint Chamberlin, Nastya McNally, Alex Berger and Jessica Ault will be assisting Michael on our music days.
 
Youth Formation ... 4th-7th Grade
 
We are reforming our youth formation program this year and changing the grade levels. We hope that this will build a stronger program in the years to come.
The Coffee House will again be open in the youth room on all Sundays - other than those where there is an intergenerational event. This program will be focused on developing community and building faith of those in 4th through 7th grade. Older youth (8th through 12th grade) are being invited to serve as mentors to this younger group, assist with the children's program, or join the adult formation program on Sunday morning. Lacy Douglas and Austin Fodrie will join Sue in leading and developing this group.
Once each month we will also offer a special event for young people to come together for fun, service, community building and of course food. We will kick off this year with an event at Sandy Springs Adventure Park on Sunday, October 4!
 
Upcoming Adult Sunday Formation:
October 11: Presentation from the Economic Justice small group will share information about resolutions on economic inequality . 
October 18Mr. Paul Cooney, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington is our featured speaker and preacher to kick off our stewardship season.
October 25Martha's Table - Intergenerational Formation through Service. On the last Sunday of each month our formation will be intergenerational and experiential as we gather to make sandwiches for the hungry in our community.
 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 


 

link

Formation: 9/20/2015

Posted 5:48 PM by

 

 
How does faith formation happen?
This Sunday, September 20, we will have the pleasure of hearing from  The Rev. Eva Cavaleri. For more than 20 years her ministry has been focused on faith formation of children, youth and adults working in Episcopal churches and schools in both lay and ordained capacities. She currently serves as the Senior Chaplain at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Come and hear her passion for being a disciple of Christ and making disciples of Christ. She will also be our guest preacher at both services.
 
She and her husband Jorma, along with their two young sons, JD and Eli, have moved to the DC area this summer from Minnesota. They have chosen St. Dunstan's to be their faith community and we are excited to have them worship and learn with us. 
 
Upcoming Adult Sunday Formation:
October 4: Allan Cohen from MCPAW (Montgomery Co. Partners for Animal Well-being).
October 11: Presentation from the Economic Justice small group. 
October 18: Mr. Paul Cooney, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington.
October 25: Martha's Table - Intergenerational Formation through Service. 
 
On the last Sunday of each month our formation will be intergenerational and experiential as we gathering to make sandwiches for those in need in our community.
 
Children's Formation ...
It all begins this Sunday, September 20! Children will gather in the classrooms on the lower level in two age groups. Three, Four and Five Year Olds will be in one room and 1st through 3rd Grade will be in our other classroom. The younger group will be exploring the Old Testament this fall through story, games and crafts. Our older group will be exploring those same stories through the creation of Lego bricks. Children will be in classrooms about two Sundays each month. On the second Sunday of each month children will be learning music with Michael and on the last Sunday all ages will come together in service learning.
Teachers this year include Meghan Jarvis (younger children) and Peter & Rose Sather (older room). We still need two more to join them so that we have a teaching pair for each age group. Christine Tatelbaum and Anne Taylor will be serving as formation guides (helping teachers with supplies, aiding children in need, and guiding parents). Clint Chamberlain, Nastya McNally, Alex Berger and Jessica Ault will be assisting Michael on our music days.
 
Youth Formation ...
 
We are reforming our youth formation program this year and changing the grade levels. We hope that this will build a stronger program in the years to come.
The Coffee House will again be open in the youth room on all Sundays - other than those where there is an intergenerational event. This program will be focused on developing community and building faith of those in 4th through 7th grade. Older youth (8th through 12th grade) are being invited to serve as mentors to this younger group, assist with the children's program, or join the adult formation program on Sunday morning. Lacy Douglas and Austin Fodrie will join Sue in leading and developing this group.
Once each month we will also offer a special event for young people to come together for fun, service, community building and of course food. We will kick off this year with an event on Sunday, October 4!
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 

 

link

Trail Mixer

Posted 5:25 PM by
 
Overdahls' House, 4-7 p.m.
 
Our occasional fellowship events especially for newcomers, families, and children, have a new name: "Trail Mixers." As we welcome new folks to journey with us at St. Dunstan's, it's good to have an informal, fun time to get better acquainted. This is another aspect of being a welcoming congregation. Newcomer or longtime member...you are invited!





 

link

Formation: Homecoming Sunday 9/13/2015

Posted 5:21 PM by

 

Just TWO more ...
All we need are two more individuals or couples and we will have a full group of teachers for our children. Teams are used for both groups of children, so the time commitment is only a few hours for each teacher - one Sunday per month and just a bit of prep time. All materials and equipment is provided. It is also a great way to grow in your faith and become a better disciple, because children are great teachers of faith to adults. Please connect with Sue.
 
Children & Youth Registration
Please be sure to fill out these forms so that we can adequately prepared to received your children in our formation programs which begins in September.
If you have children who are infants through grade 5, please use this Form
If you have young people in grades 6 through 12, please use this Form
 
Youth and their parents will also need to complete the Year-long Permission form to participate in any activities that will take us off the grounds of the church.  Because this form requires a signature, it is in paper format.  Copies are available in Founders' Hall and on the youth page of the website via this link
 
Sunday Adult Formation
We will open our Sunday morning Adult formation offerings with wisdom from The Rev. Eva Cavaleri. For more than 20 years her ministry has been focused on faith formation of children, youth and adults working in Episcopal churches and schools in both lay and ordained capacities. She currently serves as the Senior Chaplain at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Come and her passion for being a disciple of Christ and making disciples of Christ. 
She and her husband Jorma, along with their two young sons, JD and Eli, have moved to the DC area this summer from Minnesota. They has happy chosen to be apart of our faith community and we are excited to have them worship and learn with us. 
Come on Sunday, September 20 to hear her wisdom during our adult formation time and listen as she preaches at our services that morning. 
 
In October we will hear from our Economic Justice small group and their work on resolutions that will be presented to our diocesan convention. We will also welcome Mr. Paul Cooney, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington who will speak with us about the many gifts we receive from God's abundance.





 

link

Trail Notes: 9/13/2015

Posted by

Open mouth; insert foot. 

We all know what it’s like to say the wrong thing, and immediately regret it. 

Last week, it was Jesus who said, “ It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

This week, it’s Peter who wades in too deep when he rebukes Jesus for telling about the suffering and death that was coming… Peter started off so well…. You are the Messiah...,”but he went downhill from there.   

The strange Epistle of James doesn’t mince words about the dangers of our tongues, and the damage we can do with what we say (and what we fail to say): 

“The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire…. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.” 

The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is an outright lie. Words are powerful; they can hurt and they can heal.  Words can curse, and they can bless. One advantage of getting older is that I don’t put my foot in my mouth quite as often as I used to…and that’s a mercy. 

But what we can also do so much good with our words, when they are well chosen and well timed. We can comfort, reassure, encourage. We can lift others up, inspire positive actions, strengthen, and yes…bless. After all, God sent Jesus to be the Messiah:  the Word of God in human flesh. And that Word is love…unconditional love for us and all creation. So this week, think about how you can use your words to bless someone.  JBM





 

link

Making Disciples

Posted 5:04 PM by
It's time. Time to grow as disciples.
We have been preparing for you... and for a wonderful fall season at St. Dunstan's. The building is spic and span, the grounds are beautiful. Small groups that took a hiatus for the summer are coming together again. It's time to come back to church! We are disciples, walking the trail with Jesus...learning our story, learning to love, learning to forgive, learning to serve in the world.
 
Homecoming Sunday is September 13, with our regular services at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., and a brunch for all at 10 a.m. It's a great time to reconnect to old friends, and give your spiritual life some fresh energy and renewal. God didn't intend for us to go through life solo, but in a community of faithful people.
 
The 9 a.m. Family Service will move into the church, as soon as our video screens are installed there. All our families - and our children - will then enjoy our beautiful church and its fine acoustics for singing. The parish hall will be more available on Sunday mornings for Christian Formation activities, fellowship, and service.
 
Monthly Feeding Program
I am personally very gratified that we'll be building community service into our Sunday schedule every month, with sandwich making the last Sunday of each month between services. We'll all learn about the needs of hungry people not far from us, the ministry of Martha's Table in Washington, D.C. (our partner), and God's will and desire that all people share in the earth's abundance...all have enough food, shelter, care, and opportunities to thrive as human beings.
 
We're all on the welcoming committee.
This year we focus on God's call to invite people to hear the Good News of Christ's love and forgiveness, and to find meaning and joy and comfort in the fellowship of the church. The simplest way to do this is to invite friends and neighbors to St. Dunstan's for a service or event. Many get hooked, once they are here! We are beefing up our Sunday greeters to make new people feel welcome; we are enhancing our worship with video technology; we are contacting new households moving into our zip codes, and we are strengthening our follow-up with newcomers. At noon on the last Sunday of each month, we'll meet at coffee hour to go over newcomer lists, assemble gift bags, label mailings, and do what needs doing to meet our goals for welcome, hospitality, and retention of members. With all of us helping, God will give us the growth.
 
So, it's time. Time to rejoin your friends and fellow disciples and travelers at St. Dunstan's. Time to recommit to a closer relationship with God. Time to find new avenues to learn, to grow, to serve our needful neighbors. Let's make September 13th a Homecoming to rejoice in!   JBM




 

link

Formation 9/6/2015

Posted 5:00 PM by

 

Our Children need YOU - NOW!
We are now two weeks away from the beginning of classes for our children and we only have one couple who has come forward to serve as a Faith Former! That's right - we may not have traditional children's formation. The time commitment is less than a few hours a month - one Sunday morning teaching slot and a short amount of prep. It's time to step up and let Sue know you are willing. 
 
Children & Youth Registration
Please be sure to fill out these forms so that we can adequately prepared to received your children in our formation programs which begins in September.
If you have children who are infants through grade 5, please use this Form
If you have young people in grades 6 through 12, please use this Form
 
Youth and their parents will also need to complete the Year-long Permission form to participate in any activities that will take us off the grounds of the church.  Because this form requires a signature, it is in paper format.  Copies are available in Founders' Hall and on the youth page of the website via this link
 
LEGOS - YIPPIE - Thank you!
We have the Legos - now we just need the leaders for this new program. Thank you to all the people who have committed to bringing in these might bricks. We could probably use some extra figures/people. Please consider add one or two to your shopping cart when you are in a store over the next couple of weeks. Any character will do!
 
HIGH SCHOOL YOUTH EVENT
Registration is now open for the first Diocesan youth event of the year. This new event, ROOTED, for High School Students, grade 9-12, is being designed for youth who are in confirmation programs and those who are interested in growing in faith. Sue has been a part of the planning team and Tucker will be attending and assisting with the music for the event. Come and join us. September 18-20 at the Bishop Claggett Center. Information on registration has been sent to youth and parents.
 
Sunday Adult Formation
We will open our Sunday morning Adult formation offerings with wisdom from The Rev. Eva Cavaleri. For more than 20 years her ministry has been focused on faith formation of children, youth and adults working in Episcopal churches and schools in both lay and ordained capacities. She currently serves as the Senior Chaplain at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Come and her passion for being a disciple of Christ and making disciples of Christ. 
She and her husband Jorma, along with their two young sons, JD and Eli, have moved to the DC area this summer from Minnesota. They has happy chosen to be apart of our faith community and we are excited to have them worship and learn with us. 
Come on Sunday, September 20 to hear her wisdom during our adult formation time and listen as she preaches at our services that morning. 
 
In October we will hear from our Economic Justice small group and their work on resolutions that will be presented to our diocesan convention. We will also welcome Mr. Paul Cooney, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Washington who will speak with us about the many gifts we receive from God's abundance. 
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 





 

link

Lift Your Voice

Posted 4:58 PM by

 

Thursday Night is Choir Night at St. Dunstan's!
The full evening of activities will begin on Thursday, September 17!
 
5:45 p.m. - Children's Choir
Games, music, and fun for children ages PreK to 5th Grade.
If your family has already made a decision to be present 
please fill out this short form to let Michael know you are coming.
 
6:30 p.m. - Simple Supper
 
7:30 p.m. - Adult Choir 
Everyone is invited - no music reading skills required.
Rehearsals for Adult Choir begin September 3.

Beginning September 17, we will have music programs for children and adults, with a simple supper in between rehearsals. 
 
Save a place in your schedule on Thursday nights for choir! This fall is a PERFECT time to join us! If you have any questions, please e-mail Michael.
 
Michael Austin
Director of Music
 




 

link

Outreach News

Posted 4:52 PM by
 

Education = Hope
St. Dunstan's is now sponsoring 4 children through this wonderful program! This is great news and even better news for the children that will be able to attend school this year because of the generosity of the people of this congregation. One of these scholarships is made possible through our Outreach budget and three through individuals giving through St. Dunstan's, either for an entire year or grouped together to support one child. Another parishioner is sponsoring a child directly through this organization. All moneys donated through St. Dunstan's or directly to E=H are given to the ministry sites and used exclusively for the children. The sponsorship of one child creates changes for the entire family.
 
 
Sandwich Making for Martha's Table
A new ministry endeavor is about to begin at St. Dunstan's! Once each month during our formation time all members of the congregation will be able to come together to learn about needs within our local community and make sandwiches to feed the hungry in DC. 
The Outreach Committee has authorized the money to begin this project and we will be making 200 sandwiches for the next four months. We hope to have so many hands that we can increase that number in the next calendar year. 
So mark your calendar now for the last Sunday of each month! Our first day is September 27 beginning at 9:50 a.m. We will also get to learn from Ryan Palmer, Director of Community Outreach at Martha's Table. 
To learn more about this outreach ministry to the DC area click here

 

Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington
In preparation of expanding the program hours in the near future, Samaritan ministry is anticipating some changes to their volunteer needs. Extended hours will require additional Volunteer Caseworkers, Front Office Coordinator (FOC), Computer Mentor, and Resume Writers. All of these positions can be performed at a minimum of one day a week, between the hours of 9 a.m.-1 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering with Samaritan Ministry, please contact Quinn Miller at 202.722.2280 x 307 or at volunteers@samaritanministry.org.
 
We are also looking to recruit a parish representative to Samaritan Ministry. If you are interested in representing St. Dunstan's with this wonderful organization, please contact Jeff.





 

link

This Week in Formation

Posted 3:51 PM by

 

Faith Formers Needed - Our Children need YOU!
Are you called to spend just a couple hours each month with the children of St. Dunstan's? The requirements for
this ministry are a love for children and/or youth, a willingness to grow in faith with them, and the gift of your time and talents. And yes, there is an expectation of participation in a one-time class on Safeguarding God's Children. But the benefit of this ministry and how you will grow outweighs the concerns you may have. Please talk with Sue if you are interested in joining the formation leaders for this coming year.
We would especially like a few  of our men to join this group. Time commitment is only a few hours each month, as we do not have classroom activities every week.
 
Children & Youth Formation ...  
Please be sure to fill out these forms so that we can adequately prepared to received your children in our formation programs which begin in September.
If you have children who are infants through grade 5, please use this Form
If you have young people in grades 6 through 12, please use this Form
 
Youth and their parents will also need to complete the Year-long Permission form to participate in any activities that will take us off the grounds of the church.  Because this form requires a signature, it is in paper format.  Copies are available in Founders' Hall and on the youth page of the website via this link.
 
LEGOS
 
This year our older Children's Formation group will be using a new curriculum called - Building Faith Brick by Brick. This curriculum tells bible stories and encourages the children to create a portion of the story with Legos. Any and all types of Legos are desired - figures, blocks, and platforms to build on. A bin will be in Founders' Hall to accept your donations.y Legos filling up plastic bins around your house? Have your children grown out of these wonderful plastic blocks? We know just the place that needs them - St. Dunstan's!
 
 
YOUTH FORMATION
Registration is now open for the first Diocesan youth event of the year. This new event, ROOTED, for High School Students, grade 9-12, is being designed for youth who are in confirmation programs and those who are interested in growing in faith. Sue has been a part of the planning team and Tucker will be attending and assisting with the music for the event. Come and join us. September 18-20 at the Bishop Claggett Center. Information on registration is being sent to youth and parents this week.
Stayed tuned for other events and programs for all youth in the next few weeks. The Coffee House will reopen in September and plans are underway for parish and area-wide activities. These will be open to all in grades 6-12.
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator
 

 

link

Fall Music Ministry

Posted 3:47 PM by
 
Thursday Night is Choir Night at St. Dunstan's!
The full evening of activities will begin on Thursday, September 17!
 
5:45 p.m. - Children's Choir
Games, music, and fun for children ages PreK to 5th Grade.
If your family has already made a decision to be present 
please fill out this short form to let Michael know you are coming.
 
6:30 p.m. - Simple Supper
 
7:30 p.m. - Adult Choir 
Everyone is invited - no music reading skills required.
Rehearsals for Adult Choir begin September 3.

Beginning September 17, we will have music programs for children and adults, with a simple supper in between rehearsals. 
 
Save a place in your schedule on Thursday nights for choir! This fall is a PERFECT time to join us! If you have any questions, please e-mail Michael.
 
Michael Austin
Director of Music


 

link

Trail Notes 8/23/2015

Posted by
 
King Solomon built the first great Hebrew temple in Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE, importing lavish materials of gold and cedar. The ark of the covenant – the holiest object in Hebrew religion – was then placed in the inner sanctum of the new temple. Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the new temple is what we hear in today’s reading from I Kings. 

While the temple completed King David’s vision for Jerusalem to become a unifying capital city for the Hebrew tribes, it also introduced new dangers for Hebrew religion. Ironically, what is erected for God’s glory easily becomes an end in itself.  Solomon actually conscripted forced labor from 30,000 Hebrews in order to build the great building – the first time Hebrews had been enslaved since Egypt. The tax burden to support construction, as well as Solomon’s extravagant court, was very heavy. While Solomon proudly hoped that this would be an eternal monument to God, many would say that the seeds of the temple’s subsequent fall (4 centuries later) were planted at the beginning. 

That’s all very interesting, but most of us do not identify with Solomon’s grandiose building projects. Enter Jesus with his simple, pithy teaching about the house built on the rock versus the house built on sand.  Jesus emphasizes the foundation – the basis – upon which we build any edifice, whether it’s a building, an organization, or our own spiritual health. If the foundation is not firm, the rest will crumble. If the church’s one foundation is not Jesus Christ himself, then all that we try to build will be for naught. 

St. Dunstan’s Church is not so much a fancy impressive temple as it is a school of love, a place of hospitality, a haven for children every day. Jesus was concerned about people – that hungry people should be fed, sick people should be cared for, that our spiritual foundations be firmly built on the rock. This fall, we’ll be feeding hungry folks in our city, teaching faith to our children, and serving our neighborhood. We’ll be exploring our faith through scripture and worship and song. We dedicate this place, and ourselves, to Christ’s service in the world, praying, as Solomon did, that God’s “eyes may be open night and day toward this house.”  JBM


 

link

Formation 8/16/2015

Posted 5:17 PM by

 
Faith Formers Needed
Are you called to spend just a couple hours each month with the children of St. Dunstan's? The requirements for this ministry are a love for children and/or youth, a willingness to grow in faith with them, and the gift of your time and talents. And yes, there is an expectation of participation in a one-time class on Safeguarding God's Children. But the benefit of this ministry and how you will grow outweighs the concerns you may have. Please talk with Sue if you are interested in joining the formation leaders for this coming year. We would especially like a few of our men to join this group. 
Time commitment is only a few hours each month, as we do not have classroom activities each week.
 
Children & Youth Formation ... on-line registration  
Please be sure to fill out these forms so that we can adequately prepared to received your children in our formation programs which begin in September.
If you have children who are infants through grade 5, please use this Form
If you have young people in grades 6 through 12, please use this Form
 
Youth and their parents will also need to complete the Year-long Permission form to participate in any activities that will take us off the grounds of the church.  Because this form requires a signature, it is in paper format.  Copies are available in Founders' Hall and on the youth page of the website via this link.
 
LEGOS
Do you have any Legos filling up plastic bins around your house? Have your children grown out of these wonderful plastic blocks? We know just the place that needs them - St. Dunstan's!
This year our older Children's Formation group will be using a new curriculum called - Building Faith Brick by Brick. This curriculum tells bible stories and encourages the children to create a portion of the story with Legos. Any and all types of Legos are desired - figures, blocks, and platforms to build on. A bin will be in Founders' Hall to accept your donations.
 
YOUTH FORMATION
 
Registration is now open for the first Diocesan youth event of the year. This new event, ROOTED, for High School Students, grade 9-12, is being designed for youth who are in confirmation programs and those who are interested in growing in faith. Sue has been a part of the planning team and Tucker will be attending and assisting with the music for the event. Come and join us. September 18-20 at the Bishop Claggett Center. Information on registration is being sent to youth and parents this week.
Stayed tuned for other events and programs for all youth in the next few weeks. The Coffee House will reopen in September and plans are underway for parish and area-wide activities. These will be open to all in grades 6-12.
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator

 

link

Add Your Voice

Posted 5:15 PM by
Thursday Night is Choir Night at St. Dunstan's!
The full evening of activities will begin on Thursday, September 17!
 
5:45 p.m. - Children's Choir
Games, music, and fun for children ages PreK to 5th Grade.
If your family has already made a decision to be present 
please fill out this short form to let Michael know you are coming.
 
6:30 p.m. - Simple Supper
 
7:30 p.m. - Adult Choir 
Everyone is invited - no music reading skills required.
Rehearsals for Adult Choir begin September 3.

Beginning September 17, we will have music programs for children and adults, with a simple supper in between rehearsals. 
 
Save a place in your schedule on Thursday nights for choir! This fall is a PERFECT time to join us! If you have any questions, please e-mail Michael.
 
Michael Austin
Director of Music


 

link

Homecoming Sunday

Posted 6:39 PM by

HOMECOMING SUNDAY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

Mark your calendars now
Sunday, September 13!
 
                                  9:00 a.m. Family Eucharist
                                  10:00 a.m Brunch for all in the Parish Hall
                                  10:45 a.m. Traditional Choral Eucharist

Both liturgies will include the Blessing of Backpacks.

All members are encouraged to bring your backpacks, briefcases or school bags to receive a special blessing this day. We will also be collecting school supplies for The Bishop Walker School and these will also be presented and blessed on this day. So while your out shopping in the next few weeks, even if you don't need to fill a school supply list, pick up a few items for the boys. A list of items desired by the school will be available next week.

Children & Youth Formation ... on-line registration  

Please be sure to fill out these forms so that we can adequately prepared to received your children in our formation programs which begin in September.

If you have children who are infants through grade 5, please use this Form

If you have young people in grades 6 through 12, please use this Form

Youth and their parents will also need to complete the Year-long Permission form to participate in any activities that will take us off the grounds of the church.  Because this form requires a signature, it is in paper format.  Copies are available in Founders' Hall and on the youth page of the website via this link.

Faith Formers Needed

Are you called to spend just a couple hours each month with the children of St. Dunstan's? The requirements for this ministry are a love for children and/or youth, a willingness to grow in faith with them, and the gift of your time and talents. And yes, there is an expectation of participation in a one-time class on Safeguarding God's Children. But the benefit of this ministry and how you will grow outweighs the concerns you may have. Please talk with Sue if you are interested in joining the formation leaders for this coming year. We would especially like a few of our men to join this group. 
Time commitment is only a few hours each month, as we do not have classroom activities each week.
 
LEGOS
Do you have any Legos filling up plastic bins around your house? Have your children grown out of these wonderful plastic blocks? We know just the place that needs them - St. Dunstan's!
This year our older Children's Formation group will be using a new curriculum called - Building Faith Brick by Brick. This curriculum tells bible stories and encourages the children to create a portion of the story with Legos. Any and all types of Legos are desired - figures, blocks, and platforms to build on. A bin will be in Founders' Hall to accept your donations.  
L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Christian Formation Coordinator


 

link

Short- Term Mission

Posted 6:24 PM by
Our Team

What happens next?

For just over eight days Tucker Hemphill and I were a part of a short-term mission team in Quito, Ecuador. We went with a group of Episcopal youth and adults from the southeast U.S. We stayed at a wonderful hostel and were treated to amazing breakfasts and outstanding hospitality. We learned more about the ministries of our missionaries Cameron and Roberto Vivanco. We did a day of touring to learn about the culture and people of Ecuador and an afternoon of shopping in the market. Most of our time was spent with the people of Buen Pastor, one of the four Episcopal congregations in the city and the home church of the children we sponsor through Education=Hope.  

Each day we would wake up fairly early, have breakfast and get on the bus for the day's activities. On the bus we would do our daily devotion, led by one of the participants. The ride took about 45 minutes to travel to the southern end of the city. Quito sits in an long valley between the mountains and the parish of Buen Pastor is the southernmost congregation in the city. The journey each day took us through the heart of the city and we would see much along the way. Children and youth headed to summer school, beggars on the streets (selling everything from toilet paper to lottery tickets), and people going about their daily affairs. From our bus windows we saw both the beauty and splendor of Quito and the reality and sadness of it's poverty.  

We also had the pleasure to meet Juana, one of the students we sponsor and Maria, her mother. We will share more of their story in the upcoming weeks. 

Cameron teaches that the most important thing about participating in a short-term mission isn't the time spent in mission, but rather what you choose to do following that experience. The fruit that you produce from what you have learned, experienced, and taken to heart. Tucker and I will be sharing more from our journey over the next few weeks and we hope that you will take the time to be in conversation with us about our fruit.
 
Sue von Rautenkranz

      Christian Formation Director




 

link

Trail Notes: 7/26/2015

Posted by

‘The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,* and you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand,* and satisfy the needs of every living creature’ Psalm 145:16-17

These words have long been in my memory since the first days I attended summer camp in the Diocese of Fond du Lac. Every meal at camp began with the call and response of these two verses - between the person offering the thanksgiving for our meal and the campers and staff. This was a tradition I had to learn my first year at camp, and thankfully my priest shared this tradition with me before I attended my first session. Much like how we learn many things in our tradition - I learned it by listening and repeating - not by reading it first.

This passage also fills my head with images of the last couple of weeks in Ecuador. Helping a family de-kernel dried corn for grinding, watching women prepare mounds of food for our team in a kitchen no bigger than St. Dunstan’s parish hall closet, and seeing beggars on the streets selling anything to get money for food.

Even in the worst times of my life, I have never truly been hungry or lacked in putting food on the table. My mother, a child of the depression, never had an empty pantry. And as one of her children - I not only learned to cook simple meals from staples - but also never have an empty pantry. I’m sure many of us can relate to full cupboards. Most in the U.S. live in a place of abundance when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world; where many live on just $1 a day. Yet, we seem to have an insatiable need for more, better, bigger, and who can be first.

How do we change this? I think it is by trying to live into a place of gratitude - not of what we have done - but by understanding that everything that we have - our livelihood, our abilities and our abundance - is a gift from God. If we truly believe that all we possess is God’s then we can be more generous in what we give away.

As those of old their first fruits brought of vineyard, flock, and field
to God, the giver of all good,  the source of bounteous yield;
so we today our first fruits bring, the wealth of this good land,
of farm and market, shop and home, of mind, and heart, and hand.
 
A world in need now summons us to labor, love, and give;
to make our life an offering to God that all may live;
the Church of Christ is calling us to make the dream come true:
a world redeemed by Christ-like love; all life in Christ made new.
 
With gratitude and humble trust we bring our best to thee
to serve thy cause and share thy love with all humanity.
O thou who gavest us thyself in Jesus Christ thy Son,
help us to give ourselves each day until life’s work is done.

 

The Hymnal 1982 #705
Words: Frank von Christierson ©1961 The Hymn Society of America
All rights reserved, reprinted under OneLicense.net #A-712267

Sue von Rautenkranz

 





 

link

Outreach Opportunities

Posted 5:17 PM by


Buen Pastor Scholarship

St. Dunstan's Outreach Committee has again decided to continue our sponsorship of 2 children at Buen Pastor, Quito, Ecuador. One student will be sponsored from the Outreach Budgeted Fund, and the second student will be sponsored by12 Parishioners, contributing $32 each. If any Parishioner would like to contribute $32 towards the student, please write your check to St. Dunstan's with Buen Pastor scholarship in the memo line and place it in the offering plate, or deliver to the office. For more information, please contact Elin Botha.


 

link

Next Stop Quito!

Posted 5:25 PM by
 
Tucker Hemphill and I leave in just a few short days and my dining room table is covered with supplies to take on our journey. This Sunday, July 5, our congregation will commission Tucker and I for our short-term mission to Quito, Ecuador and the parish of Buen Pastor. On Tuesday we fly to Atlanta to meet the rest of our team and begin our work of preparing for entering a different culture and an opportunity to grow in faith. The next day we will head to Quito to meet our hosts and guides, two members of the short-term staff for the summer. Once there we will spend one day touring and learning about the culture and people of Ecuador. The following day we will begin our work at the parish of Buen Pastor. This congregation is one of the Episcopal churches in Quito and where our church currently sponsors two children to attend public school. Their priest, Juan Carlos Quiñonez is a friend that I have known for ten years and I can't wait to see him and work with him for the next week. We will spend our days continuing the work they are doing with their building projects, leading a VBS for children, teaching Sunday school, leading youth group programs and teaching youth leaders from the diocesan community. It will be a full ten days!
 
We ask for your prayers throughout our experience - July 7-17 - for safe travel, open hearts and minds, and growth in sharing our faith stories and listening to the faith stories of others. We will be sharing as much as possible through St. Dunstan's Facebook page and PYE Quito Province VI - our blog site. We will have much to share when we return.




 

link

Love Wins!

Posted 5:15 PM by

Last Friday, something remarkable happened at the Supreme Court of the United States. As you  know, in a 5-4 decision, bans against same-sex marriage (or as we now know it - marriage) were struck down. My husband Paul and I were married in a ceremony in Dallas, TX, surrounded by our friends and family on March 13, 2010. A few days later, we traveled to New York City for our honeymoon and took a train up to New Haven, CT to get legally married; at that time there were only 5 states that recognized same-sex marriages, and the Council of the District of Columbia had just made recognition legal the week before our wedding. So after our honeymoon, we went back home as roommates in the eyes of the State of Texas.  

Standing at the Supreme Court steps on Friday, I spent about two hours fighting off tears of joy.  Despite our relatively young age, Paul and I weren't really sure we would live long enough to see our marriage fully recognized in every state in the United States; I can't imagine how astounding it must be to be one of the couples who were finally married after being together for 20, 30, or 50 years together. Progress is rarely easy to make, and this victory comes after years of blood, sweat, and tears (literally).  

We're thankful for our allies, especially allies in the faith community, who stood up for lovein  the face of consternation, Bible thumping, and hate. And Progress is STILL being made as we speak! This week at General Conference, the House of Bishops approved two liturgies that will permit same-sex couples to be married in the Episcopal Church, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent 2015. But despite this giant step forward, there are still battles to be fought: LGBTQ people can still be fired from their job, denied housing, kicked out of stores and restaurants, denied healthcare and prevented from adopting children in many states. Please continue to pray that love continues to conquer hate and that the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice for the LGBTQ people in our community.

Michael Austin
Music Director


 

link

Summer Reading

Posted 6:41 PM by

Looking for a little summer reading?

Check out the lending shelf in the hallway to the parish office. We have purchased a number of books that were suggested in my last post in the Trailblazer on various LGBTQ subjects as well as help books for parents, youth and children to talk about gender, sexual identity, and sexual orientation. Also included in these books are some dealing with theological and biblical questions and understandings that have been discussed over the last decade or more. Please feel free to take these; but please return them when you are finished so other might also read.

Two of the suggested picture books for children have been placed on the children's book shelves in the parish hall - And Tango Makes Three and Jacob's New Dress. As with all books on the children's shelf, these can be read at church or taken home. Please just return them so other children may also read them.  





 

link

Follow-up: Pride Sunday

Posted 5:17 PM by

Did you know that The Episcopal Church had been trying for over 40 years to open the doors and give full sacramental access to the LGBTQ community? And while the church has come a long way since the early 70’s in these actions, there are still struggles for full inclusion. We are blessed to be in a diocese that honors full inclusion - both in welcome and in our sacramental life. Two of the four dioceses which I have served since my ordination have not. Those were difficult years for me and ones that required me to use my best formational skills and where simple actions opened conversations. I used to keep a picture of my best friend and his partner front and center on one of my bookshelves - it was amazing how that would give a young person enough courage to begin a conversation. Since our polity works through a democratic process, this can easily be bogged down in bureaucracy and political maneuvers by those on both sides. At the end of this mouth the General Convention of our church will again take up resolutions for regarding same-gender marriage. Please pray for our church as we again try to make full inclusion possible.

Last week I shared a bit of my history and formation regarding the inclusion of LGTBQ people. While much of the reasons for my early experiences are the result of personal relationships, I have also read many good books and in recent years have had access to web-based resources. If you’re looking for anything in particular, I would be happy to talk with you about your specific needs. Because each person’s situation, family, and background are unique, one book or website will not be good for all. Here are just a few of the resources I have found helpful over the years. Some are from a faith perspective and some are not. Please let me know if you have other resources that have been helpful to you.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul MN:  http://saintmarysepiscopal.org/curious/lgbt-friendly/ May good resources, links and personal stories are available here.

Official page from The Episcopal Church’s web site: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/lgbt-church Lots of information about the history and continuing work of inclusion of the LGBTQ community with The Episcopal Church. This site also contains many links to other resources and documents.

Integrity: http://www.integrityusa.org/ This grassroots organization developed over 3 decades ago to work for full inclusion of the LGBTQ community outside of the official channels of The Episcopal Church. There are many resources and links on this site, including links to the work of other faith communities.

Books for Children and pre-teens: It’s Not the Stork, It’s So Amazing, and It’s Perfectly Normal are great resources for parents and children about human reproduction, development and sexuality.

Adult Books: This Far by Grace by J. Neil Alexander and Homosexuality and Christian Faith by Walter Wink

For the Bible Tells Me So is an award winning documentary film about a number of families from different faith and cultural communities and their experiences with what it has meant to have a gay or lesbian child and the impact on their family.

The following recommendations come from Michael Austin:

List of books from PFLAG (an organization for parents of LGBTQ children) a good place to start: http://pflagdc.org/learn/recommended-reading-list/

Some direct book suggestions from him as well - all are available via Amazon or other booksellers:

General: God and the Gay Christian

For Kids: And Tango makes Three and Jacob’s New Dress

For Teens: Coming Out Young and Faithful and GLBTQ: The Survival Guide

For Parents: “Mom, I’m Gay”


 

link

Formation 5.24

Posted 1:08 PM by

Life-Long Christian Formation

We've had a great program year of formation at St. Dunstan's and many people have contributed through their time and talents.  Next week, Sunday, May 31we will recognize those who have been present for children and youth.  They include: Nina Horgan, Jessica Ault, Bethany Bentley, Karen Edwards, Christine Tatelbaum, Anne Taylor, Austin Fodrie, and Lacy Douglas. We hope you will be present to thank them for their contribution of time; and especially for their love of children and their willingness to share faith stories with the children and youth of the parish. But if not, be sure to thank them when you see them. 

 

The best way to help your young person grow in faith is through a camp community. Please talk with Sue if you have any questions, but set aside the week now.  The Diocese has put together a great program with wonderful leaders in a superb facility. The cost for the week is $575 per camper.  You can register online here.   

Junior Camp (Rising 4th -6th graders) - July 26-31, 2015.  
Middler Camp (Rising 7th- 9th graders) - August 2-7, 2015


 

link

Formation 5.17

Posted 4:48 PM by
Children's Formation ... Sharing our Faith
It's time to CELEBRATE! This week, Sunday, May 17, the children will gather at the play ground for games and treats to celebrate the end of this year's formation programs. Parents are invited to join in or take advantage of the adult formation offering on Economic Injustice. We ask that children wear clothes for being outside and being active. 
 
Youth Formation ... Growing our Faith
Youth will be in helping with the fun activities at the playground on Sunday, May 17. Come and have a great time outside with the children of St. Dunstan's!
 
The best way to help your young person grow in faith is through a camp community. Please talk with Sue if you have any questions, but set aside the week now.  The Diocese has put together a great program with wonderful leaders in a superb facility. The cost for the week is $575 per camper.  You can register online here.   

Junior Camp (Rising 4th -6th graders) - July 26-31, 2015.  
Middler Camp (Rising 7th- 9th graders) - August 2-7, 2015

 

Adult Formation ... Living our Faith
 What would Jesus do about economic inequality? Explore the economics of the Gospel with us.  The issue is much in the news - more and more people are too poor to live, even working full time. On Sunday May 17, we begin a discussion on issues of economic justice. Our session will be facilitated by members of the St. Dunstan's small group on economic justice. We'll have a short presentation of some of the work the group has been doing and each of us will also have an opportunity to discuss what economic justice means in our own lives.  We'll also begin a conversation about what the parish and the diocese might be able to do to help mitigate some of the worst effects of economic injustice. You don't want to miss this session!

 

link

" Come and have breakfast"

Posted by

When I was a kid (before eggs and bacon were condemned as horrible for human health), I remember my mother making breakfast for my dad and my brothers and me before school. The smell of sizzling bacon and toasting bread would waft through the house, and then my mother would call us: “Come and have breakfast.”

These four simple words convey so much:  welcome, graciousness, hospitality, care, love. These are warm memories! In today’s resurrection story, Jesus appears to his disciples, standing on a beach over a charcoal fire, toasting bread. He calls to the disciples in a fishing boat, “Come and have breakfast.”

One of our parish small groups focuses on Economic Justice, which may not seem related to the “bagels and lox” Jesus offered his disciples. But eating breakfast is intimately related to economic justice and wellbeing. 

Churches have always found ways to feed the hungry, and that’s a good thing. As a society, most of us agree that people should not go hungry in a nation as rich as ours. Collectively, we use government policy to promote our values that all human beings should have enough to eat and to live. (Breakfast at school is one such policy that prepares children to learn with full stomachs.” Much in the news these days is the issue of economic inequality: especially the decline in the incomes of Middle Americans, while the incomes of the richest skyrockets. Jesus did not condemn wealth per se, but he always spoke up for the poor to get enough. We who follow him can do no less. 

In Adult Formation at 9:50 a.m. this Sunday, the Economic Justice group will share its work so far on this huge, perplexing issue. I hope you’ll come and explore how we can do God’s will and care for the poor in our society.  JBM





 

link

Formation 5.10

Posted 3:02 PM by
Resurrection Stories
This our last week of our series on Resurrections Stories in our formation offerings. We hope that this has been a time for each of us to recall and recognize the resurrection stories in our own lives. As the disciples told their experiences, we also hope that each of us will learn to share our stories with others.  For it is through sharing story that we deepen out relationships and grow in our community - and through sharing stories of our own faith journey that we become better disciples and make more disciples.
Next Sunday, May 17 will end our formation program year until the fall. Throughout the summer there will be a formation opportunities offered for various age groups and in various times and places. 
 
Children's Formation ... Sharing our Faith
This week, Sunday, May 10, the children will gather with Michael for music in the parish hall. This has been a great time all year for learning about music, playing games and praising God. We gearing up for the Children's Choir in the fall.  Be sure to keep your Thursday evenings open, so your children can be in the choir next year.

Next week the children will have a celebration in the playground - weather permitting. 

Youth Formation ... Growing our Faith
Youth will be in the youth room on Sunday, May 10 sharing conversation and Stories of Resurrection.  Come and join us! 

 

Camp EDOW
The best way to help your young person grow in faith is through a camp community. Please talk with Sue if you have any questions, but set aside the week now.  The Diocese has put together a great program with wonderful leaders in a superb facility. The cost for the week is $575 per camper.  You can register online here.  

 

Junior Camp (Rising 4th -6th graders) - July 26-31, 2015.  
Middler Camp (Rising 7th- 9th graders) - August 2-7, 2015
 
Adult Formation ... Living our Faith
Stories of the Resurrection continue on Sunday, May 10 as we welcome The Rev. Susan Flanders will be our guest speaker.  She has recently authored the book - Going to Church: It's Not What You Think! She will share some stories from her book that speak to our topic of Resurrection Stories. Her book is considered to be a modern Pilgrim's Progress which interweaves family drama, theological insight, and a critique on conventional "churchiness." There will be opportunities to purchase her book and have it signed!

As she says in her book, Susan believes in Resurrection with her whole heart, even as she steers away from a literal understanding of that story and of much else in Scripture. She has found God's power to bring new life out of situations of death to be at the core of Christian belief and to be a very real part of her own life experience. She hopes her memoir will speak to others about how they might understand this central mystery and how going to church really can be more and different than what many disenchanted folks think.  

 

What would Jesus do about economic inequality? Explore the economics of the Gospel with us.  The issue is much in the news - more and more people are too poor to live, even working full time. On Sunday May 17, we begin a discussion and speaker series on issues of economic justice. Our session this week will be facilitated by members of the St. Dunstan's small group on economic justice. We'll have a short presentation of some of the work the group has been doing and each of us will also have an opportunity to discuss what economic justice means in our own lives.  We'll also begin a conversation about what the parish and the diocese might be able to do to help mitigate some of the worst effects of economic injustice. You don't want to miss this session!


 

link

Formation 5.3

Posted 5:26 PM by

 

Resurrection Stories
There are two more weeks of our focus on Resurrections Stories in sermons and formation offerings.  Through stories of the resurrection people came to know that things would be forever different.  Christ was alive! It took the disciples a long time to get it - some hid, some didn't believe without seeing and touching, others were afraid. Where are your experiences of the resurrection in your life? Have you or will you tell these to someone else? Have you heard stories of resurrection from others? One promise of our baptismal covenant is to "proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ!" A way to do this is to share our stories of resurrection with others. For if we do not - if we are fearful and do not tell - how will others come to believe?  
 

Children's Formation ... Sharing our Faith

The children will be in their classrooms this Sunday, May 3 and continue hearing the stories of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection.  The story this week will be the Breakfast on the Beach which is told in the Gospel of John.  Parents please take your children down to the classrooms before you head to adult formation. 

Please keep our Children's Choir in your plans for next fall! Beginning in September our Children's Choir will be meeting on Thursday evenings (probably between 5:30-6:30 p.m.). We hope that you will make a commitment to this program as it will help to form the faith of your children and be great fun! There is no better way to learn and integrate the stories of faith then through the music we sing as children. 

Youth Formation ... Growing our Faith

Youth will join the adults for formation again this Sunday, May 3 as we continue to explore resurrection stories. This week Trisha Lyons will be our guest speaker again and we will hear her understanding of Harry Potter as a Resurrection Story

Camp EDOW

The best way to help your young person grow in faith is through a camp community. Please talk with Sue if you have any questions, but set aside the week now.  The Diocese has put together a great program with wonderful leaders in a superb facility. The cost for the week is $575 per camper.  You can register online here.  

Junior Camp (Rising 4th -6th graders) - July 26-31, 2015.  
Middler Camp (Rising 7th- 9th graders) - August 2-7, 2015

Adult Formation ... Living our Faith

Stories of the Resurrection continue this Sunday, May 3 as we welcome back Dr. Patricia Lyons for more on Harry Potter as a Resurrection Story. Trisha will also preach at the 10:45 service. There will be clips from various scenes of the movie and lively discussion.  It promises to be an enlightening and energetic morning!

On Sunday, May 10 The Rev. Susan Flanders will be our guest speaker.  She has recently authored the book - Going to Church: It's Not What You Think! She will share some stories from her book that speak to our topic of Resurrection Stories. Her book is considered to be a modern Pilgrim's Progress which interweaves family drama, theological insight, and a critique on conventional "churchiness."
Sue von Rautenkranz
      Christian Formation Director
 





 

link

Formation 4.26

Posted 2:18 PM by
Resurrection Stories
This Eastertide the focus of our sermons and all Sunday formation offerings will be on hearing the Gospel stories of Jesus' resurrection and hearing and sharing our own stories of resurrection.  After all, it is through these stories that our life in Christ as Christian people is centered and finds meaning. For while we are told that the disciples and the women who were the first witnesses of the resurrection were fearful; and we are even told that they "didn't tell anyone" - clearly they did! After all we are present, so someone must have shared their faith of the resurrection with us.  Our task is to learn our own stories of resurrection and to learn how to share them with others. For if we do not - if we are fearful and do not tell - how will others come to believe?  

 

Children's Formation ... Sharing our Faith
The children will be in their classrooms again this Sunday, April 26 and continue hearing the stories of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection.  The story this week will be the Road to Emmaus which is told in the Gospel of Luke.  Parents please take your children down to the classrooms before you head to adult formation. Please keep our Children's Choir in your plans for next fall! Beginning in September our Children's Choir will begin meeting on Thursday evenings (probably between 5:30-6:30 p.m.). We hope that you will make a commitment to this program as it will help to form the faith of your children and be great fun! There is no better way to learn and integrate the stories of faith then through the music we sing as children. 

 

Youth Formation ... Growing our Faith
Youth will join the adults for formation again this Sunday, April 26 as we continue to explore resurrection stories. This week will hear and discover stories within ourselves. 
Next youth event is scheduled for Saturday, June 6 at Guppy Gulch in Delta, PA. So save the date and watch for more details.

 

Camp EDOW
The best way to help your young person grow in faith is through a camp community. Please talk with Sue if you have any questions, but set aside the week now.  The Diocese has put together a great program with wonderful leaders in a superb facility. The cost for the week is $575 per camper.  You can register online here.  

 

Junior Camp (Rising 4th -6th graders) - July 26-31, 2015.  
Middler Camp (Rising 7th- 9th graders) - August 2-7, 2015

 

Adult Formation ... Living our Faith
We continue our focus on Stories of Resurrection on Sunday, April 26. Our session this week will be led by Jeff and Sue which will open with questions and responses to our time last week with Trisha Lyons. Various members of the community will share stories that express resurrection from their own lives. Each of us will also have the opportunity to explore our own stories of resurrection through our responses to art and pictures. Those who feel called to do so will have a opportunity to share their story.
On Sunday, May 3 Trisha will join us again for our formation time to share more Stories of Resurrection through the lens of Harry Potter. You really do not want to miss these sessions!  
 
Sue von Rautenkranz
      Christian Formation Director
 

 

link

Formation: Resurrection Stories

Posted 5:44 PM by
 
Resurrection Stories
This Eastertide the focus of our sermons and adult formation will be on hearing the Gospel stories of Jesus’ resurrection and hearing and sharing our own stories of resurrection.  After all, it is through these stories that our life in Christ as Christian people is centered and finds meaning. For while we are told that the disciples and the women who were first witnesses to the resurrection were at first fearful; and we are even told that they “didn’t tell anyone” - clearly they did! And clearly, we must learn to tell our stories of resurrection so that others might come to believe. This Sunday, April 19 we welcome Dr. Patricia Lyons as our guest speaker and preacher at both liturgies.
 
Adult Formation
Patricia Lyons will be with us on Sunday, April 19 and May 3 for our formation time and as our preacher at both liturgies. Trisha has titled her time with us as Harry Potter as a Resurrection Story. She brings a compelling energy and passion to her love of life, the Gospel, and all things Potter! So hold on to your seat because we are all in for quite a ride. She also brings a profound depth to her understanding of the Christian faith and years of hands on experience in teaching faith to others.

Dr. Patricia Lyons is currently the JK-12 Director of Service Learning at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes Episcopal School in Alexandria, VA and is in her 15th year of teaching ethics and religion at the Upper School. She is also an adjunct at the Virginia Theological Seminary, where she teaches evening and summer courses to masters and doctoral students. Patricia has taught courses in Systematic Theology, C.S. Lewis, Sigmund Freud, Theology and Fiction, and most recently, Christian Themes in Harry Potter and the author of The Soul of Adolescence: In Their Own Words.

Patricia is an honors graduate from Harvard College in the Comparative Study of Religion. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Harvard Divinity School, with a focus on Biblical languages and systematic theology. She received her doctorate from the VTS. Her doctoral thesis was a study of the stages of moral and spiritual development of adolescents.

Children’s Formation
Music with Michael! Children will be singing with Michael on Sunday, April 19.  Parents should bring children to the church for formation time this week.
 
Youth Formation
Youth will join the adults for formation on Sunday, April 19 as we will have a special guest speaker, Patricia Lyons. She will be offering Harry Potter as a Resurrection Story and it will be a fun and enjoyable experience. This will take place in the parish hall.





 

link

Stories of Resurrection- The Third Week of Easter

Posted by

“We die daily.  Happy those who daily come to life as well.”

George MacDonald

 

Some monks in olden days slept at night in coffin-like cots, in recognition that sleep is deathlike experience, and waking every morning is a little resurrection!

During the 50 days of Easter Season, we are focusing on resurrection stories – human experiences large and small which bring new life and light and hope into our lives, after we have suffered pain, loss, or disillusionment.  If we have eyes to see, we’ll realize that God’s fingerprints are on these experiences of renewal.  We’ll begin to see our stories in the light of Jesus’ story. 

In adult formation last Sunday, we began to explore this theme in the beloved movie – The Sound of Music.  Think about Maria, the nuns, the children, Captain Von Trapp, even Liesl’s young Nazi boyfriend.  Nearly everybody in that story experiences loss and renewal and transformation.  Most of the characters emerge as more fully human – more alive and able to love than they started.  That’s why it’s such a great story! 

So what is your resurrection story?  Have you experienced the death of a relationship, and then discovered new life on the other side?  Have you lost someone you love, and found the strength to enjoy life again?  Have you been badly hurt by someone, and found the grace to forgive?  Or are you in a place where Easter hasn’t arrived, and all you can do is wait and hope? 

At the men’s group, we shared our experiences of Holy Week and Easter: the descent into the depths of loss and emptiness, and the miraculous rebirth of life and hope that follows, by the grace of God.  Don Baker, who leads the group, asked us to ponder where in our lives we are in need of resurrection, of rising from the dead. 

Finding the language we need to tell these stories is a challenge, but when we do share them, we are all enriched and inspired in our Christian journeys.  We’ll have two guests sharing resurrection stories with us on Sundays – Patricia Lyons of St. Stephen and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, and retired rector of St. John’s Norwood, Susan Flanders.  I hope you’ll come and find new life yourself.  JBM





 

link

Easter Sunday 4/5/2015

Posted 6:22 PM by

Happy Easter, everybody! 

First, a story….An older couple is driving down I-270 when the wife gets a call from their daughter who is frantic. "Mom, there's a car driving the wrong way on I-270 near your neighborhood!" The wife turns to her husband behind the wheel and tells him, "Did you hear that? A lunatic is driving down the wrong side of the road!

The husband says, "One lunatic? There are hundreds of them!”

                                 From Rich Roegner, Dallas Texas

Clearly, what we see is determined by our perspective, our point of view.  The same realities can be viewed by different people, who will see entirely different things.  It matters what we are looking for.

So this Easter let’s LOOK!  Let’s focus on what we see, and how we interpret what we see. 

There’s a line from the Nicene Creed, which we often recite during our Sunday Eucharist.  After we state many beliefs about God the Creator, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, we get to the end where we state: “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

“We look for the resurrection of the dead.”  Interesting.  It doesn’t say, “We believe in the resurrection of the dead,” or “We hope for the resurrection of the dead.”  It says, “We look for the resurrection of the dead….” 

In fact, Jesus’ resurrection story is all about looking and seeing.  The women – Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Jesus’ mother Mary -  went and looked at the tomb, and they saw the huge disk-like stone rolled aside.  They entered the small cave-like tomb and they saw a young man in a white robe.  He knew they were surprised, and said, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised!  …Look, that’s where he was lying.  But go with the disciples to Galilee, there you will see him….”

Listen to those verbs:  looked, saw, saw, looking, look, see….

Now, if we had been there and seen these things, we could have honest disagreement over what we had seen.  Was the grave robbed and the body taken?  Was this young man an angel or a deceiver?  Was Jesus raised to life again, or was this an elaborate hoax? 

It matters what we are looking for when we come to church on this Easter Day.  If we are looking for disappointment, deception, and demoralization, that’s probably what we’ll find.  There are plenty of cynics in this world. 

But if we come here looking for the resurrection of the dead, well then, we’ll find it: we’ll find the tomb empty, we’ll see that the body has dematerialized with the shroud and turban lying empty….  We’ll see the joy in people’s faces, even when they have suffered a lot.  We’ll meet people who have been through a death experience, and managed to rise up and build a new life, with God’s help.  Maybe you are one of those people!  I am. 

This story of death and resurrection is in fact the deep, deep story of all  creation; it is the archetype of our life journey with God.  Look outside, we are (finally) seeing rebirth in nature itself, after the long deadly winter.  If we go outside, feel the soft breeze, see the crocuses and forsythia blooming bravely, we can hardly help but be swept up in the joy of spring.  If we look for the resurrection of the dead, that’s what we’ll see….

Sometimes, life and death come and stand very close to us…

uncomfortably close…and we know we are in the presence of the great mystery.  I spent Monday morning with the O’Brien family at Children’s Hospital, while little 3 month old Keely O’Brien underwent surgery to patch up her tiny heart – the size of a walnut!  It is wondrous – miraculous! – what medicine can do these days, but there are never any guarantees.  Thanks be to God Keely came through with flying colors and is recovering well!

Then on Tuesday, I read an amazing story of death and resurrection in the Health and Science section of the Washington Post. “When two Maryland children got lifesaving liver transplants from deceased organ donors in January, the children’s diseased livers were not discarded, as such organs usually are.  Instead, they were donated to two Virginia adults in an unusual domino series of transplants at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.  Their gift opened a whole new avenue of treatment for adults who might have otherwise died waiting for a liver transplant.” 

This is amazing news!  The same liver that is diseased in a child’s body can sometimes be transplanted and function as a healthy organ in an adult’s body…saving a life.  Talk about resurrection. 

I asked Steve Evans, a member of St. Dunstan’s and a physician in leadership at MedStar, about this astounding development, and he said:

“The dominoes in transplant is a great example of really defining who your neighbor is. . . . all men and women. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and this particular gift becomes very special for both parties.  From a hospital leadership perspective, we are all very proud simply to be in healthcare and to touch so many lives, especially in such lifesaving moments as these.”

“As a parent, I hope those around us will love and support us when we are at our time of greatest need ([and] we will all have those moments), being so vulnerable.”

“I will say, [my wife ] Karen and I never take for granted how lucky we are to be trusted with others’ care.  Warmest wishes,  Steve.”

Wow.

Organ transplants are amazing enough.  But here, someone looked at this situation and thought, “How can we help not just one person, but multiple people, with a new liver?  How can we give life to more sick people?”  These folks may or may not be Christians, but it seems to me they “looked for the resurrection of the dead.”

We all know how different people can have very different perceptions of the same situation or event.  It’s been said that two persons can observe the same set of facts, and one can find despair there, and the other can find hope.  It’s a matter of what we look for, what we believe is possible.    

Now I’m not saying that everything always works out fine in this life…clearly it doesn’t.  Bad stuff does happen to us.  Death is very real.  Sometimes we make really bad decisions and choices.  People hurt each other.  All true. 

But what I am saying is this: we have a choice how we look at life: we can look at life “from the underside,” see all the grief and suffering around, and find reason to despair.  But God invites us to look differently – to look for resurrection, even when we see death.  What will resurrection look like?  How will we recognize it?  How can we live and work on the side of resurrection, and not on the side of death? 

That’s what Jesus did: he threw the weight of his whole being on the side of life.  He gave himself up to die at the hands of sinners, to show that his love was unconditional, unlimited.  And God brought new life – even out of that, even out of the cross, an ugly instrument of torture and death.  If God can redeem that, God can redeem anything.  God can certainly redeem us. ….

Sometimes, it may seem that we are swimming against the current, driving like a lunatic in the opposite direction from everybody around us.  But the Christian life is like that – we are countercultural, we are daringly compassionate, we are freely forgiving, we give without counting the cost, and we find joy there.    

So maybe today is the day – a day to look for the blessings in the mess that is life; a day to be a lunatic for Christ, a day to look for the resurrection of the dead.  Who knows what we’ll see.  

Happy Easter.




 

link
| comments (0)

Outreach- Food Bags

Posted 5:43 PM by

In Jeff's Easter message to the children at both services; he encouraged us to help feed those who would not have a grand dinner with family or friends on this holiday.  All of us are encouraged to help fill the shelves and ultimately the bodies of those who are in need at this time of year.  Food shelves tend to run low as the weather gets better, yet those who are hungry and in need of the basic food items do not disappear.  Consider picking up a bag from the Service Ministry table in Founders' Hall and be sure to bring it back to the church the next time you attend.




 

link

Resurrection Stories

Posted 5:26 PM by

This Eastertide the focus of our sermons and adult formation will be on hearing the Gospel stories of Jesus’ resurrection and hearing and sharing our own stories of resurrection.  After all, it is through these stories that our life in Christ as Christian people is centered and finds meaning. For while we are told that the disciples and the women who were first witnesses to the resurrection were at first fearful; and we are even told that they “didn’t tell anyone” - clearly they did! And clearly, we must learn to tell our stories of resurrection so that others might come to believe. Join us this Sunday, April 12, for our first stories of resurrection, as Jeff and Sue open the conversation to telling our stories and read more below about our guest speakers and preachers during the Great Fifty Days.  Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Patricia Lyons will be with us on Sunday, April 19 and May 3 for     our formation time and as our preacher at the late liturgy.  She brings a compelling energy and passion to her love of live and a profound depth to her understanding of the Christian faith. Dr. Patricia Lyons is currently the JK-12 Director of Service Learning at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes Episcopal School in Alexandria, VA and is in her 15th year of teaching ethics and religion at the Upper School. She is also an adjunct at the Virginia Theological Seminary, where she teaches evening and summer courses to masters and doctoral students. Patricia has taught courses in Systematic Theology, C.S. Lewis, Sigmund Freud, Theology and Fiction, and most recently, Christian Themes in Harry Potter and the author of The Soul of Adolescence: In Their Own Words.

Susan Flanders will join us on Sunday, May 10 to share from her experience various stories of resurrection in her life and in the life of the communities she has served. The Rev. Susan Flanders is a retired Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Washington and the author of Going to Church: It’s Not What You Think!  She will share some stories from her book that speak to our topic of Resurrection Stories on Sunday, May 10.  Her book is considered to be a modern Pilgrim’s Progress which interweaves family drama, theological insight, and a critique on conventional “churchiness.” 

Children’s Formation
The children will be back in the classrooms on the lower level on Sunday, April 12 to learn more about the Easter story.  Next week children will sing with Michael during formation time.

 

Youth Formation
The Coffee House will be open on, Sunday, April 12, and those present will talk about stories of resurrection from our gospel writers. Austin Fodrie will be leading the conversation this week.




 

link

Celebrate Easter With Us

Posted 2:11 PM by

 

The Great Vigil of Easter
Saturday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Fire+Water+Story+Bread & Wine

Readings of the story of God's creation and salvation of the world, followed by the first Eucharist of Easter. Experience one of the most ancient and moving liturgies for Christians.

 

Easter Day
Sunday, April 5
Rising+Joy+Song+Alleluia!

9:00 a.m. Family Eucharist
A simple, joy filled service for children and their families with
the Easter story, joyful songs, and communion.
 
9:45 a.m. Egg Hunt for children
An event of that bring joy and fun to all - and there are always eggs to go around!
 
10:45 a.m. Festival Eucharist
A traditional Episcopal service with choir, sermon and communion
in a church adorned in beautiful flowers and pageantry.


 

link

The Triduum and Easter Day

Posted 6:48 PM by

WORSHIP WITH US!
THE TRIDUUM AND  EASTER DAY

You are invited to experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ in these services at St. Dunstan's:

Maundy Thursday - Supper+Washing+Do This+Watch
6:30 p.m.  Supper for all - Parish Hall
7:30 p.m.  Eucharist - Last Supper and Foot Washing
9:00 p.m.  Night Watch - Prayer in the church until 8:00 a.m.  ​

Good Friday -  Cross+Candles+Prayer+Song
7:30 p.m.  Contemplative service around the cross, with beautiful chant music from Taize, France.  (Adults and older children)

Saturday - The Great Vigil of Easter- Fire+Water+Story+Bread & Wine
7:30 p.m.   Readings of the story of God's creation and salvation of the world, followed by the first Eucharist of Easter. 

Sunday - Easter Day- Rising+Joy+Song+Alleluia!
9:00 a.m.   Family Eucharist
9:45 a.m.  Egg Hunt for children
10:45 a.m.  Festival Eucharist

Glimpses of the Triduum, get a feel for these liturgies here. Learn more about the history of these liturgies here.

 

link

Music Opportunites 3/29

Posted 6:16 PM by

Attention Parents: Children Singing for BOTH Easter Services

The Children's Choir will be singing on Easter, and we would love to have them at both services. If your child will join us, please have them in the Fellowship Hall for a quick warm up at 8:45 a.m. on Easter Day. We will sing as part of the 9:00 a.m. service, have a GREAT time at the Easter Egg hunt (and stay to play on the playground) until the 10:45a.m. service where we will sing a song during the first 10 minutes of the service (after which children are free to leave). Children who have not attended children's choir rehearsals Thursday evenings but  who have been part of music times during Formation are very welcome to join us!

Good Friday Taizé Choir Rehearsal - This Sunday at Noon

If you are interested in singing as part of the Taizé choir on Good Friday, please join us for a short rehearsal from 12:00-12:30 p.m., immediately following the 10:45 a.m. service on March 29, 2015. We'll meet by the piano in the Fellowship Hall. The austere simplicity and beauty of this music helps to make our Good Friday service profound and worshipful, and we would love to add your voice to the choir for this special service. Anyone is welcome to join us (even if you're not a member of the regular choir)!

Easter Choir - It's not too late to join us!

If you're interested in singing with the choir for Easter Sunday,  we invite you to join us on Thursday night (TONIGHT) at 7:30 p.m. We will rehearse Easter music for the first 30 minutes of the rehearsal.The choir is open to anyone of High School age or older that is willing to sing (or willing to learn) - no music reading ability is required, and rehearsal recordings will be provided.  

Hand bell Choir Rehearsals!

The hand bell choir will rehearse at 12:15 p.m. every Sunday until Easter in the church. Please contact Jessie McCardell or Michael Austin if you are interested in joining the hand bell choir.

link

Holy Week 2015

Posted 5:11 PM by

WORSHIP WITH US!
PALM SUNDAY THROUGH EASTER

You are invited to experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ in these services at St. Dunstan's:

Palm Sunday -   Palms+Procession+Passion
9:00 a.m. Family Eucharist geared to children
10:45 a.m.  Choral Eucharist with dramatic Passion Reading

Maundy Thursday - Supper+Washing+Do This+Watch
6:30 p.m.  Supper for all - parish hall
7:30 p.m.  Eucharist - Last Supper and Foot Washing
9:00 p.m.  Night Watch - prayer in the church until 1:30 a.m.  ​

Good Friday -  Cross+Candles+Prayer+Song
7:30 p.m.  Contemplative service around the cross, with beautiful chant music from Taize, France.  (Adults and older children)

Saturday - The Great Vigil of Easter- Fire+Water+Story+Bread & Wine
7:30 p.m.   Readings of the story of God's creation and salvation of the world, followed by the first Eucharist of Easter. 

Sunday - Easter Day- Rising+Joy+Song+Alleluia!
9:00 a.m.   Family Eucharist
9:45 a.m.  Egg Hunt for children
10:45 a.m.  Festival Eucharist





 

link

Lenten Offerings 3/22

Posted 5:00 PM by

Lenten Offerings ... 

We have reached the final week of Lent and move toward the journey of Holy Week. If you have been keeping a Lenten discipline, stay with it for another two weeks. If you haven’t even begun  there is still time to choose something and work that plan for another two weeks or make a decision to engage the liturgies of Holy Week in their entirety. You will be changed in any choice you make to deepen your relationship with Christ and become a better disciple. Read more.

Thursday Evenings

 

Our last evening of children’s choir rehearsal, simple supper for all and Goodnight God Prayers is tonight, March 19. There is still time to be present as we always have room for more.

  • 5:45 p.m. Children’s Choir and Adult Conversation
  • 6:30 p.m. Dinner for all
  • 7:10 p.m. Good night God Prayers

 

The following programs continue for the next two Thursday evenings.

 

Adult Choir Rehearsals 

7:30 p.m. each Thursday evening in Lent. All are welcome to join the choir and those who wish to sing for Easter services are encouraged to come for the first 30 minutes of rehearsal time.

 

Evening Bible Study ... Living Well through Lent

Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m.  A facilitated conversation using a devotional booklet that focuses on the Sunday gospel reading and with daily reflections on practicing resilience with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.  Living Well booklets are on the table in Founders' Hall.

 

 Daily Lenten Morning Prayers

At 8 a.m. each weekday in Lent St. Dunstan's offers parishioner-led Morning Prayer, a brief quiet service with scriptures and psalms. Why not consider stopping by one morning a week on your way to work or after dropping off the kids for a few moments of candle-lit peace and prayer at the back of the church. Enjoy 20 minutes of peace before stepping out into the world.

 

Other Lenten reflections and growing opportunities ...

Lent Madness - were heading into the stretch run for the Golden Halo for this year.  Vote each day for your favorite saint. Find out all you need to know to make an informed selection.

Two great devotions sites for youth: d365 produced by Passport, Inc. and sponsored by the youth offices of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and The Episcopal Church. Videos for your Soul are particularly posted for youth and young adults, but can be used by people of all ages.  You may visit the site daily or just once, and subscribe to receive a daily email with the video of the day.

Lenten Daily Calendars are a great way to keep track of the 40 days and participate in various prayer practices and giving. These are available in Founders' Hall.





 

link

Formation 3-22

Posted 10:08 PM by

Children’s Formation

Today, March 22, the children will be in their classrooms and focusing on the stories of Holy Week and Easter.

Eggs needed for the Hunt!

There are empty eggs in Founders’ Hall - are you one who might fill them up and bring them back to the church before 9 a.m. on Easter Day?  We could also use a few more.  Or donate both eggs and candy and we will find eager hands - but these are needed by Palm Sunday.  Either way, we could use a few helpers from that elusive rabbit. If you can assist, please be in contact with Sue.

Youth Formation

The Coffee House will be openthis week, Sunday, March 22, and those present will discuss Holy Week and Easter with Jackie Bray.

 

The next youth event is the Overnight &Watch on Maundy Thursday, April 2. Youth will participate in the dinner and liturgy for Maundy Thursday and then spend the night at the church.  This begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. After the service we will gather in the youth room for movies and conversation before taking our time of prayer.  Please let Sue know if you are coming. There is no cost for this event,

Adult Formation

Jeff will lead another session of our Lenten study through Time: Redeeming the Gift, from the brothers of Society of St. John the Evangelist this Sunday, March 22. Come and join the conversation inthe parish hall!

 

link

Holy Week

Posted 3:05 PM by

6:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday, April 2
Supper + Washing + Do This + Watch

7:30 p.m. Good Friday, April 3
Cross + Candles + Prayer + Song

7:30 p.m. The Great Vigil of Easter, April 4
Fire + Water + Story + Bread & Wine

 

Since the earliest days the church, the Triduum (three days) has been celebrated to give all the experience of walking with Jesus from the Last Supper with his disciples to the Resurrection on Easter morning. These three liturgies are meant to be experienced as one - like a play with three acts - only our intermissions are a bit longer. 

You are invited to come and experience the story by participating in many different actions, word and song. Because of the experiential nature of these liturgies, they are one of the best ways to form our faith and especially the faith of children and youth. So, mark the times and days on your family's calendar and immerse yourself in the greatest story - the love of God for all of us.


 

link

Lenten Offerings 3/15

Posted 3:02 PM by

Lenten Offerings ... 

Lent offers us a time to reflect on our life and to make changes and learn new ways to experience God.  This year at St. Dunstan's we are highlighting two programs for adults which offer daily reflections and an opportunity to come together weekly for community reflection and conversation.  One of these is featured in our Sunday morning formation and the other is offered on Thursday evenings.  We are also offering an opportunity for families to partake in a simple meal, for children to sing and restart our children's choir program, and for all to experience a simple nighttime liturgy.  Read more about how to be a better disciple here.

Thursday Evenings

Children's Choir Rehearsals

March 12 & 19 and April 2 at 5:45 p.m. Children will gather with Michael and other adults to learn music for Holy Week and Easter. All children from age 4 through grade 5 are welcome to participate. Older youth are welcome to come and serve as leaders for this program. Please connect with Michael if your children will participate.

Sue and Jeff present "The Lord's Supper"

March 12 & 19 and April 2 - 6:30 p.m. A simple supper for all ages between the Children's Choir and Adult Choir rehearsals.  Parents (actually all adults) are welcome to gather in the kitchen for refreshments while the children rehearse.  This will be followed by Good Night God prayers at 7:10 p.m. every week except April 2, Maundy Thursday.  A sign-up is posted at the church and online here.

Adult Choir Rehearsals 

7:30 p.m. each Thursday evening in Lent. All are welcome to join the choir and those who wish to sing for Easter services are encouraged to come for the first 30 minutes of rehearsal time.

  Evening Bible Study ... Living Well through Lent

Thursday evening from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Sue will facilitate the conversation and each participant will be given a devotional booklet with daily reflections on the Sunday gospels focusing on practicing resilience with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.  Please