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Trail Notes: 11/1/2015

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Passing on the faith

Today in the church one of the greatest needs is assisting all of our people to with tools to pass on the faith. Why is this? Well, there are lots of reasons – fewer and fewer people know the story of God at work in the world; fewer actually are raised in the faith, and even among those who are, many do not know the biblical story; and an even smaller number are either willing or able to take the time to learn and grow in their own faith journey.

How did you come to know Jesus?

An interesting question on this All Saints’ weekend. All Saints’ Day is the day the Church remembers all those who have gone before us, those who we remember but who don’t have their “own” day of remembrance. You know – like the big SAINTS – Francis, James, John, Mary, Julian, etc. All of those big saints have a day on the Church’s calendar for remembrance. But for all of those who have passed on the faith but only have special days in our hearts, this is the day that they are remembered.

Who taught you the stories about Jesus?

This Sunday, The Episcopal Church will be installing our next Presiding Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry. This will happen at Washington National Cathedral at 12 noon. Bishop Curry wants all of us in this church to be part of the Jesus Movement. By that he means that he wants us to know and love Jesus Christ and to share that knowledge and love with others. You can watch that service here at St. Dunstan’s.

Are you willing to share Jesus with others?

At the 9:00 liturgy this week and the 10:45 liturgy next week, we will welcome three new folks into the Christian family through baptism. Aidan and Quinn McNally are being baptized this week and William Gormley the following Sunday. In those liturgies we will affirm their baptisms by saying that we will do all in our power to support these persons in their life in Christ.

At our adult formation offering this Sunday at 9:50 a.m., we welcome Dr. Elisabeth Kimball. Lisa has been my friend, colleague, mentor and companion on my journey of faith for over 30 years. She is on the faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary and works primarily in the areas for faith formation. Come and hear her thoughts and wisdom about Passing on the Faith.

Sue von Rautenkranz


 

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Trail Notes: 10/25/2015

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Creation - Celebration

My mother lost almost all her eyesight from macular generation in the last several years of her life. She had used her eyes well for 8 decades – she loved to read and instilled that love in me; she used to do fine needlework. She had an eye for the beauty of creation – for color and design. She always looked her best for visitors: as a southern woman she never left the house without her “face” on! 

Jesus encounters Bartimeus near Jericho: a man who had gone blind (we don’t know how) and was reduced to begging for his daily bread. He hears of Jesus, and cries out to him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus meets him, asks him about his hopes and longings, and restores his sight. Imagine his amazement, looking up and seeing, for the first time, the Master’s face!

The story of blind Bartimeus always reminds me what a blessing is the gift of sight: eyes to see the earth and sky, the grass and flowers, a cat, a mouse, a crackling fire…eyes to behold the wonderful variety of people I meet, and expecially those dearest to me. And, of course, eyes to read – everything from murder mysteries to Holy Scripture. Never take your sight for granted. 

Our Creation Season has taken us from planting to nurturing to harvesting, and this Sunday, to celebration. Let us see anew the wonder of creation and rejoice in all that we have been given! My mother died in darkness, but I believe she is with the Lord now and sees again all that is lovely in life and love. Her eyes have been opened. May God open your eyes and my eyes to see God’s hand in all God’s works.  JBM  

 

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Trail Notes: 10/18/2015

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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!

 

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Trail Notes: 10/11/2015

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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


 

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