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Trail Notes 02/23/2016

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A rabbi named Harold Cushner once wrote a popular book called, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  He struck a nerve with people of many faiths. (It’s also interesting to speculate on why good things happen to bad people, but that’s another conversation….)

I think we all wonder at times why bad things happen, when we have a good and loving God at the heart of things.  Was it something I said?  Something I did wrong?  Jesus addresses this issue directly.  He mentions two recent horrors in his own world: Pilate had murdered Galileans and desecrated some Jewish blood sacrifices; and in Jerusalem, a tower called Siloam collapsed and killed eighteen people. 

Jesus asks the question we ask in our hearts: did these people somehow sin and deserve their horrible fates?  Jesus’ answer is no.  Bad things happen when we do not deserve them…that seems to be a risk that comes with human freedom, and a condition of the creation we live in.  With the beauties and joys of life comes vulnerability to misfortune, whether naturally occurring or by human agency. 

Our faith can and will be sorely tested when we witness, and experience, gratuitous evil in our lives – the cancer at a young age, the freak accident that leaves us paraplegic, the random shooting that kills a child on the street.  How do we keep our faith in a good and loving God? 

We also face a world with huge, intractable problems with poverty and disease, where violence kills thousands and leaves refugees homeless; where we continue to pollute the earth and sky and use up resources.  Sometimes this leaves me with little hope for the future.  But I fight that sense of hopelessness; it is the enemy of faith in God, and it is paralyzing.  Let us be real about the problems of the world, but also claim the power of God to move us forward to greater peace, greater generosity, greater wholeness.  Let us lift up every sign of God’s work: of healing, of resurrection from death, of reconciliation of enemies.  Let us, with all our might, hold fast to that which is good.  JBM  


 

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Trail Notes: 02/21/2016

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ANNUAL MEETING 9:50 a.m. Sunday - Say yes to St. Dunstan’s.   

Only once a year do we gather as a congregation to elect leaders and conduct the business of our parish, St. Dunstan’s.  This year’s meeting is different.  We’ll start with a fun slide show of parish activities of the last year.  And we’ll hear from Praveen Jeyarajah about the exciting plan to grow our parish this year.  And, for the first time ever, the Vestry presents a Three-year Plan for our budget and ministries.  All in 50 minutes, starting at 9:50 a.m. in the Parish Hall, with refreshments.  Will you come? 

I want to thank and celebrate those who have stepped up to be nominated as leaders of our congregation.  We have a bumper crop of talented and dedicated people this year.  Six people are nominated to join the Vestry. 

We’ve also formed two new committees:

Growth Committee: Praveen Jeyarajah, Chair; Meghan Jarvis, Rosi Sweeney, Ray Donnelly, Anne Taylor, Nastya McNally, Julie Anderson, Jeff MacKnight (staff)

Membership Committee: The Vestry...Nils Overdahl, Chair; Fred Bentley, Pete Sather, Jessica Ault, Ryan McCormick, Sue von (staff)

Please welcome all these leaders, thank them, and consider what you can do to support them. (Nominees this year in boldface, underlined.  Note that additional nominations may be made at the meeting on Sunday.) 

Your proposed new Vestry 2016: (New nominees in bold italics.)

Jeff MacKnight, Rector
Nils Overdahl, Sr. Warden
Julie Anderson, Jr. Warden
Shelly Brett-Major, Registrar (Secretary)
Cliff White, Treasurer

 

Vestry Class of 2017

 

Fred Bentley                                 

Vestry Class of 2018

 

Jessica Ault

Vestry Class of 2019

 

Nancy Douglas

Anne Taylor

Cathie Morton

Matt McNally

Carl Adams

Trudy Surut

Pete Sather

 

Diocesan Convention Delegate: Rosi Sweeney (’19); Alternate Delegate:  Mark MacCarthy (19)

New Endowment Committee members: Clare McCown (’19), John Wyss (’19)

Continuing on the Endowment Committee: Chris Hemus, Chair (’17), Chuck Cash (’18), Ron Poropatich (’17), Cliff White, Treasurer ex officio

Columbarium Committee (At least 5 members, appointed by the rector, including Chair, Vice Chair, Clerk, Treasurer, Member(s))

          New Apptmts: Chair: Carl Adams, Member:  Sue Newman
          Reappointments: Vice Chair, Brian Berger; Clerk, Nancy Fassett;
            Treasurer – Cliff White

Growth Committee - Praveen Jeyarajah, Chair; Meghan Jarvis, Rosi Sweeney, Ray Donnelly, Anne Taylor, Nastya McNally, Julie Anderson, Jeff MacKnight (staff)

Membership CommitteeNils Overdahl, Chair; Fred Bentley, Pete Sather, Jessica Ault, Shelly Brett-Major, Matt McNally, Nancy Douglas, Trudy Surut, Ryan McCormick, Sue von (staff)

I also want to thank our leaders who are leaving office at this point, having served from one year to many years. 

Thanks to those leaving the Vestry: Lynne Ryan, Boots Quimby, Rosi Sweeney (Registrar), Don Baker. Thanks to Elin Botha, faithful Diocesan Convention Delegate. Thanks to Bob Boyd, faithful Columbarium Committee Chair. Thanks to Mark Tatelbaum and Praveen Jeyarajah for service on the Endowment Committee.


 

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Trail Notes: 02/14/2016

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LENT, AND THE POWER OF HABIT

Lent is here early this year, ready or not! As always, on this first Sunday in Lent, we read the story of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness, right after his triumphant baptism. If we let this story sink in, we can see how much it reflects our own lived experience. We are constantly tempted to take the easy way out, use our privilege to get around problems, and worship things other than our One True God.

This Lent, our parish focus is on “Growing a Rule of Life” - that is, a pattern of practices and habits that reinforce our faith in God. 

We have always known that practices and habits help us live faithfully. We think of daily prayer, scripture reading, works of mercy and compassion, exercise, worship, and generosity. And yet most of us struggle to maintain even the simplest spiritual practices over time – I know I do. 

Jesus in the wilderness demonstrates the strength and power of habits: when the devil presents each temptation, Jesus draws on scripture and his relationship with God to refuse the temptation. These practices serve him well in the pinch!

Charles Duhigg in 2014 wrote a book about The Power of Habit. He explores habits in business, personal life, and religion. One of his findings he calls “The Habit Loop.” He explains that habitual behaviors occur when there is a “cue” to prompt the behavior, and some sort of “reward” following the behavior. For instance, I set an alarm on my phone to get on the treadmill in the evening. After I do my routine, I know I get to relax, read a fun book, or watch a murder mystery on TV.  Cue –> Routine –> Reward:  the Habit Loop.

I believe we can use this thinking to help us establish and maintain spiritual practices – a “rule of life.” It should be enticing and rewarding! Jesus seemed to be prepared when the devil came to visit; he had some spiritual practices ready. And I imagine that he felt a considerable reward afterwards, knowing he had stayed true to his Father-God. 

In our own small ways, we can do likewise.  JBM  


 

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Trail Notes:02/07/2016

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I decided to enter the priesthood when I was 24 years old. It was a somewhat tortured decision…as young people are apt to experience! The law was the other main contender for my path in life. Once I decided to go to seminary, I felt I had faced and overcome a great hurdle; I had accomplished a defining moment in my life. 

I didn’t even notice that most of my nearest male relatives were either clergy or lawyers. I was, in a sense, going into one of the family businesses!

I realize more clearly now that we are the products of our histories and families.  The truly individual decisions most of us make are few. And there’s nothing wrong about that. 

Jesus, too, was the product of his history and family. His Jewish faith was passed down to him; his working life as a carpenter came from his father Joseph; his people were the peasant Galileans in a rural backwater of a Roman-controlled province of the Middle East. 

Today’s strange story of Jesus on a mountaintop - with Moses and Elijah, no less – reflects Jesus’ roots in history, family, and religious tradition. This is not surprising. In many ways, Jesus followed in the prophets’ footsteps. 

What is new here is the transformation (called “The Transfiguration”) that Jesus undergoes on that mountain. His appearance and his clothing blaze dazzling white.  Moses and Elijah speak to Jesus of his “departure,” that is, his imminent confrontation in Jerusalem, his death, and his radical triumph over death itself.  Jesus is stepping out, beyond the path laid down by his Hebrew forebears. This is confirmed by the booming voice from the clouds: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” This echoes his baptism 3 years earlier, as God confirms Jesus unique status as the one human being who will lead us all through death into life. 

Most of us follow paths that have been laid down by our elders. Jesus blazes an entirely new trail for us beyond death, into life. Thank God he does.  JBM  


 

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