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'The wind blows where it chooses.’ John 3:8

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One of my favorite things about being at summer camp was listening to the wind blowing through the pines. Sometimes it was gentle and soothing; while at other times it would howl as a storm would come through the camp. Strangely, the wind itself wasn’t making the noise. This past week I was on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina near an area called Pea Island. There it seems that the wind never stops, and the effects on the landscape are quite breathtaking. Some other images that you see every day in the OBX are kites and the sails of the wind surfers.

This week we move from the celebration of Pentecost to Trinity Sunday. From an event that was difficult to describe and understand; to a doctrine of the church that is usually described in ways that are simplistic and heretical, and never really capture what it is. It is probably the most difficult doctrine to describe and understand. My favorite of these inaccurate descriptions of the Trinity is through the concept of the element of water - solid (ice), liquid (water), gas (steam) - different yet the same… And yes, that will be as far as I go in trying to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. 

Today our gospel lesson is the story of Nicodemus going to Jesus at night and asking him questions - questions about things he didn’t understand. It is pretty clear from this story that Nicodemus didn’t want others to know that he was speaking to Jesus; and I’ll guess that as a leader he didn’t want others to know that he also didn’t understand Jesus’ teachings.

I too have many questions - some I’m sure I’d prefer to ask under the cover of darkness. We never know what Nicodemus understands, if he has more questions, and even if he believes what Jesus is telling him. Maybe this is the most important thing - that there is always mystery, that there is another question, and that we keep seeking to understand.

‘You hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going.’ John 3:9


 

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Pentecost

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Pentecost is the third great feast of the Christian year – right up there with Easter and Christmas. It is a feast of the Holy Spirit of God being poured out upon “all flesh” – all humanity who will receive the Spirit. 

Sue Carroll will be our guest preacher – it’s always a treat to hear her thoughtful and humorous message! She has selected the story of the valley of dry bones from Ezekiel as the Hebrew scripture – a much-loved tale of dead bones being animated and brought to life again by God’s Spirit, or breath, and reconnected into living bodies. 

In the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit is at work again, this time carrying the redemptive work of Jesus far beyond the bounds of Jesus’ earthly life. After Jesus ascends, the Spirit comes to spread the Good News of God’s love to the ends of the earth. How? Through the birth of the Church as Christ’s new spiritual body on earth. 

Of the three persons of the Trinitarian God, the Holy Spirit is probably the least celebrated and least understood in our Anglican tradition. All of us have an image of God the Creator, and Anglicans celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ in great depth.  But the Holy Spirit is more ephemeral: harder to describe and name. One useful approach is to think of the Holy Spirit as God’s indwelling of human hearts and minds – the inner compass that inspires us and guides us towards God’s will.  How do you think of the Holy Spirit at work in your life? In the church community? In the world? JBM

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" Come and have breakfast"

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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





 

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Trail Notes 5.10.15

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Our world is full of boundaries. Zip codes denote one area from another. A sidewalk signifies where the school district ends. Cones direct your driving. The path on a board game shows the direction you are to take. Signs tell you where you can, and where you can’t, venture to. Then we encounter streams, mountains, lines of trees that direct our movement. These boundaries help us to reinforce our identities.

Earlier in Acts, we witness as Cornelius has a vision. In this vision he sees an angel who instructs him to send for Peter (10:4-5). Cornelius was not a full convert to Judaism; he was a God fearing man and definitely a Gentile. This made him different from Peter; Peter was a Jewish Christian.

When Peter was sent for, he too saw a vision. This message in the vision told him to go and to follow them without hesitation (10:20). Peter would have had some hesitation due to the distinction between these two groups of people. What astounds Peter is that when he speaks to the Gentiles and the Jews, the Holy Spirit is poured out over all the people.

We witness in the reading for this week that Peter sets aside his preconceived notions of how these people were divided. In this, Peter is a witness and understands now “that God show no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God” (10:34-35). This opens Peter’s eye to observe as the Holy Spirit is moves over all who listen to him. 

And like Peter, we must be willing to look past things which we thought were barriers, in order to more fully serve God.

It is very easy for us, as a church community, to get caught up in how we are doing. We create categories for who is a member and who is not; who comes to the 9:00am service and who comes to the 10:45am service; who is new and who is old. What would St. Dunstan's look like if we chose to break down these barriers? How will we, like Peter, reject traditional boundaries and borders so that we might welcome all to God's family?

Our new Neighborhood Engagement group at St. Dunstan's seeks to help break down these barriers. The purpose of this group is to build relationships with those organizations and groups that surround us and are already part of the community we serve. This enables us, as a community at St. Dunstan's, to be more effective in our ministry and serving of our community.

One group that we have connected with already is Little Falls Village. Little Falls Village seeks to help neighbors in our community of the 20816 zip code to “Age-in-Place”. These sorts of relationships are mutually beneficial and life-giving. As we encounter members of our community who might need help aging in place, we can look towards this relationship we are building with Little Falls Village. Additionally, for them, the community of folks that they serve have the benefit of learning about and possibly taking part in our events, like the Parish Picnic on May 31st.

This Neighborhood Engagement group will seek to build relationships with those around us. In doing this, we will build up our community and our network so that we can more effectively do the good work that God is calling us to do.



 

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