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Trail Notes 05/29/2016

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“How long will you go limping with two different opinions?”

That’s the question the prophet Elijah asks of the Israelites, who had been very shaky in their devotion to their God Yahweh. Again and again, they strayed and followed other gods, particularly Baal, a Canaanite storm god. Elijah is as fed up with the vacillating faith of the Israelites as he is with the pride of the prophets of Baal. He forces a confrontation. Who will win: Baal or Yahweh? 

That’s the story in our scripture from the first Book of Kings this Sunday – one of the most exciting in the Bible. (It is also immortalized in Mendelssohn’s stirring oratorio Elijah.) We know whose power wins in the end! 

But Elijah’s question is really about us humans: how long will we go limping – vacillating – in our devotion to God? How long will we be tempted to follow other gods – money, power, prestige? How long will we make our families, or our jobs, or our self-comfort into our real god?

The image of “limping” suggests how our divided loyalties can hamper our progress in life…our walk with our true God. We cannot find true integrity and congruence in our lives until we work this out. Most of us do a lot of limping – a lot of hedging our bets, maintaining our comforts, and hoarding our wealth – even as we claim to walk with Jesus. I know I do. We need continual repentance, healing, and renewal. 

But the sun of righteousness does shine through us. We can rise to the occasion: do great acts of courage and deeds of mercy; make sacrificial, generous gifts; stand up for our weak and exploited neighbors. 

When we do these things, we know how it feels to stand tall and walk, even run…our limp disappears! We know what it means to follow Jesus. It’s a great feeling!  JBM 

 


 

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Trail Notes: 5/22/2016

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Everybody Loves a Picnic

Think of it as a re-enactment of the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Picture a grassy hillside, rolling down to the edge of a large lake.  Jesus has just finished a spell-binding teaching; the crowd is electric! And really hungry.  There is no McDonald’s or Chipoltle to stop and get a bite, nor did most of them have money to buy food. What to do?  The disciples didn’t know.  But Jesus asked them all to spread their blankets on the green grass.  He asked for people to share whatever they had.  He blessed what they offered.  And it was enough…with lots of leftovers! We can do that today, and every Sunday, as we ask God to bless our gifts, and share our own stories. 

It’s also Trinity Sunday – a feast of the church that points to the awesome majesty of God: three ways we know God.  But actually, we know God in many, many ways  - when we open our eyes, when we taste and see what the Lord offers us.  What hungers do you bring to church with you this Sunday?  Are there ways God is filling and nourishing you today?  JBM


 

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Trail Notes: 05/15/2016

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Celebrations and markers in life
 
This Sunday we celebrate the last major feast of the church year, the Feast of Pentecost. This is the day of the coming of the Holy Spirit and what is commonly referred to as the birthday of the Church. That’s church with a big “C,” the church universal. For St. Dunstan’s, this coming week also marks the celebration of our patron saint, whose feast day is May 19.
 
Times of celebration usually have some common threads in our lives. Maybe we throw a party complete with balloons, cake and games. Maybe we get to choose the kind of cake or our favorite meal or go to our favorite restaurant. When we are young usually everyone makes a big deal out of our birthday celebrations; but as we get older we tend to forget the day or at least tone down the festivities. If we are together with family and friends, there even might be some story telling about the person or event being celebrated. Probably those stories will focus on past events, but some may also look to the future. 
 
If we were to hold a celebration for St. Dunstan’s this week, what stories would you tell of our past? If someone were to ask you to share your favorite memory of your life in this place, what would that be? 
What about today – would you have stories to tell of what is happening now? What is your favorite time of year or celebration or event that happened here? Have you considered sharing that with a friend or neighbor? 
And if we were to look forward and wonder about what the future will bring to this community of faith. What might that be? What would be your greatest desire for this community as it moves toward its 6th decade? How might you use your gifts and skills to bring that about? 
 
Our Growth Committee is presenting their work during our formation time this Sunday, May 15. If you have questions, or ideas, or hopes and dreams for what this faith community might be, please consider coming to the adult class to hear about ideas and plans to move us forward.
 
Sue von Rautenkranz
 


 

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Trail Notes: 5/8/2016

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BASEBALL AND THE ASCENSION

It’s baseball season again!  Many of us will gather in Washington’s newest cathedral down near the waterfront in Southeast D.C., for the great American liturgy…the cosmic contest between the forces of good (Nat-urally!) and evil. 

My dad always wanted me to play baseball growing up, as he and my brother John did.  But I am a klutz; I have no knack for the game. (I’m a bit better with theology.)  I’ve since realized that baseball is an image for Jesus’ human journey, and by extension, the human journey that each of us is walking with Jesus.  How can this be?

The journey of baseball is a path of four bases.  The object of the game is to make the journey and return home.  We set out, hoping for a single or even a double to get started.  Now and then, we hit a homer, which takes us all the way…home.  But more often we get on base, and then we depend on others to keep us moving along.  The object of the game is to make the journey, and the return home again.

After Jesus made his earthly journey and finished his work, he returned home to God his Father.  We mark this return with the Feast of the Ascension, which we celebrate today, Jesus has been born into the human family; he has taught, preached and healed many.  He has suffered and died in solidarity with all humanity.  He has risen to life again, in contradiction to the powers of evil and death. 

And now, he comes full circle: he ascends to go home, to dwell fully with God.  Jesus came forth from God, went on his journey, and returns to unity with God.  This is heaven, however you choose to imagine it. 

And this experience is not just for Jesus.  By extension, it is for us, too.  We Christians have (rightly) dwelt on Jesus being with us in our suffering.  But we have often neglected to turn the page, and remember that we are with Jesus also in his Resurrection and his Ascension to his Father and ours.  All that had been rent asunder is restored to unity; all that was conflicted is restored to harmony; all that had died returns to life in its fullness. 

We spend much of our lives, it seems, out in left field, or in the dugout waiting to come to bat.  But the game is about the journey…around those three bases, always heading for home.  That journey demands our whole focus, our complete commitment.  Where are you on the baseball field?  Where do you long to be?  JBM


 

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