This year you will notice something new in our annual stewardship campaign. As we ask for your support for St. Dunstan’s Church we will also be inviting you to participate in community outreach activities. We believe that God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. This is the ancient pattern of calling. In Isaiah 49:6, we read
[The Lord] says,
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’
We at St. Dunstan’s have been blessed in many ways over the past 61 years. All this year we have been talking about discovering what God is calling us to be as a congregation. That process is bearing much fruit, and one theme has appeared repeatedly. We are called to be a blessing to others: to the people in the neighborhoods in which we live, to the people we work with, to our friends and families, and to people in need across the globe. The blessings we have received have a PURPOSE! We are on a mission from God!
Our Stewardship team has found these local opportunities to contribute:
Ronald Bog Park Clean Up & Restoration-Saturday mornings Nov. 6 and Nov. 20, 9 AM – Noon
Greenwood Food Bank Volunteer Night-Friday evening, Nov. 12, 6-8 PM
Please sign up for one or more of these events. We would like to go to these activities as a group, perhaps even with t-shirts identifying us as members of St. Dunstan’s Church. We are on a mission from God – and this is how we will realize that mission!
Maybe you know of a hands-on volunteer opportunity that we can send a group of St. Dunstan’s people to support. We are on a mission from God, and God may be using you to let us know about the next volunteer opportunity!
This Sunday we will launch our Stewardship campaign. This will be a joyful celebration of our history, our friendships and our mission. The theme for this year’s campaign is the “Stone Soup Economy.” I will illustrate this theme in my sermon and then we’ll hear more from the Stewardship committee. Come, be a part of our mission.
On Friday evening at 6:30 pm St. Dunstan’s Church presents the annual Oktoberfest Dinner, hosted by the St. Agnes guild. The preparations for this feast started long ago. Earlier this week the entire church was filled with the smells of cooking as the food preparation began. On the night of the party we will have fabulous food, music and fellowship.
Most of you already know about this. I’m not writing to encourage you to come (though I hope you will). I’m writing about Oktoberfest because of what it reveals about our congregation. Whether it is a Shrove Tuesday feast, a Medieval Murder Mystery Dinner or Oktoberfest, St. Dunstan’s knows how to throw a dinner party!
For the past year or so we have been asking ourselves what God is calling this congregation to become. There is a group of people that has been meeting for several months, studying Ephesians together, and discerning a mission statement for our congregation. One of the major steps of that process is to ask, what gifts has God given us? What do we do well? What makes our hearts sing? Consistently, at the top of that list, we find three things: beautiful worship, music and our dinner parties. There’s more to the list, of course, but the parties like Oktoberfest are right there at the top.
Jesus was often found at a dinner celebration. The Pharisees criticized him for enjoying wine and meals too much and for not being more critical about who he would eat with. When we gather around tables to a feast with friends and neighbors we are following in Jesus’ footsteps.
Obviously, just throwing a party does not make us Christians. The context, setting, intention and the prayers are what make this event special.
The context of Oktoberfest is our church congregation. We are inviting friends to join us in joy and fellowship as lovers of and followers of Jesus.
The setting is our church hall – the Narthex and Guild room. We are inviting people into the space we reserve for worship, study and fellowship to participate joyfully in our shared life as Christians.
The intention of this evening is both fellowship and fund-raising for outreach ministries. The St. Agnes Guild is the primary outreach organization of our church. Their fund raising goes to doing God’s work in the world in practical, meaningful ways.
Finally, the prayers of this night will be for the love and presence of God.
Every Sunday, Deacon Jerry, Tim and I drive into the Highlands to the beautiful Henry Memorial Chapel for a simple, beautiful service. I have really come to treasure this service and the people who attend. I’d love to share that treasure with you.
Many people love the language of the 1928 Prayer Book and the more penitential worship of those older rituals. Well, that language still exists in our prayer book, and in our worship at St. Dunstan’s Church. The 8:00am service at the Henry Memorial Chapel is Holy Eucharist, Rite I from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This service has an opening hymn and a Gospel procession hymn led by Tim Drewes on the beautiful Bond Organ. I generally do the same sermon at this service as I do at the 9:30 service.
The King James language of the older liturgies is quite beautiful and fits wonderfully with the chapel and its 19th century architecture. The beautiful marble altar table is against the wall, so the priest celebrates the Eucharist facing away from the people. This is meant to convey the transcendence of God, as we all raise our eyes towards the altar and the cross and the heavens. The Henry Memorial Chapel is a beautiful jewel of a worship space with a world-class organ, exquisite woodwork, stenciled paint on the walls, and stained glass windows. If you are looking for a service that is quiet, traditional, and finished in under an hour, consider going to the 8:00am chapel service. We would love to have you join us for this beautiful worship.
Access and parking are quite simple. If you need wheelchair access or have limited mobility, please park in the space next to the chapel. Otherwise, there is parking on the road, next to the golf course, and in the traffic circle for the school across the street. To find the chapel, simply continue past St. Dunstan’s Church on 145th, through the light at Greenwood, and then turn right at 3rd (next to the golf course). You will pass through the gate to the Highlands (to the left of the gatehouse). Just tell the gatekeeper you are going to the chapel. Then keep right through the next two intersections. At the third intersection, turn left and you will see the chapel on the hill to your left. There are small white signs at every intersection pointing the way to the Chapel and parking.
In both the Henry Memorial Chapel and at St. Dunstan’s Church, the community of St. Dunstan’s prays, sings, and worships, united by our love of God and one another. Whether using the King James language or the more contemporary poetry of more recent prayers, we are joined as the Body of Christ when we gather at the Lord’s Table, and we are sent forth to be Christ’s heart and hands for the world.
Can hospitality really be radical? The thing is, I’ve heard people talking about “radical hospitality” for years and I’ve rarely seen anything that looks different, let alone radical in terms of church hospitality. If radical hospitality is just doing hospitality a lot more energetically, I think it might be more irritating than welcoming. And yet, the phrase keeps rattling around in my head and it keeps popping up in my prayers.
So, I asked myself and I asked God, “What would make hospitality radical?” How can our hospitality become radical? What would that mean? Here are a couple possible answers to these questions.
First, what makes hospitality radical is not what we do, but what God does.
Our hospitality becomes radical when we allow God to work in and through us so that our welcome to the stranger is God’s welcome. God has blessed us abundantly as individuals and as a congregation. When we bless the visitors, guests, and strangers that come into our church we are passing on that blessing. The blessing flows from God, through us, to those we welcome, serve, greet and love.
When our hospitality gives people the experience of God’s welcome, that is radical. When someone experiences the presence of the sacred while worshiping, praying, or participating with us in our life as a congregation, that is radical. To be radically hospitable is to trust that God is present, that God is blessing us, and to become instruments of God’s blessing for others.
A second answer comes from Jesus’ radical teachings. Jesus is constantly showing us how God turns things upside down. The last shall be first. The meek shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God. Well, radical hospitality illustrates another one of those holy reversals.
When we welcome the stranger into our midst, we are changed. The very act of welcoming someone into our congregation, our friendship, our worship, our ministries, into all that makes us St. Dunstan’s Church, changes us. That’s radical.
Let me explain. When we honor someone and celebrate the gifts they bring to our work and our ministry, we are enriched by their presence. The point of hospitality is not to welcome someone to join us and become exactly like us. Rather, the point of Christian Hospitality is to invite others to join us as we seek to experience and live in the sacred. That’s radical.
The gifts, struggles, doubts, ideas and prayers of those we welcomel join with our own to create something new. We are renewed and enriched by each soul we welcome. We pray to be a blessing to them, and they become another expression of God’s blessing among us. That’s radical.