Be Perfect, Jesus says. Or, in Greek, that would be Teleioi. Translation is an interesting challenge. Words in one language do not correlate directly to words in another language. In any language, words have more than one meaning. Some words are more expressive than others. Some words have a very narrow and specific range of meaning while other words have wide range of possible meanings. (more…)
The mission of St. Dunstan’s Church is strongly expressed in our care for others. We walk in Christ’s love and forgiveness through service to the community. Community includes our friends, families, our church community, our neighbors, and people in need all over the world. We have received so much love and blessing ourselves that we feel compelled to care and to help.
Too often in this world people suffer alone. We want to know when someone needs help. We want you, if you need help, to have a way to make your needs known. We don’t want you or anyone to suffer alone. That is one of the greatest values of being a church community. We can care for one another. We can even care for people beyond our walls.
In the past, St. Dunstan’s Church had the classic phone tree to let members know of specific pastoral needs. If someone was in the hospital, or someone had a baby, or someone died, a single call to the head of the phone tree would get the news to everyone on the phone tree and people would respond as the Spirit moved them. Modern technology allows us to take the phone tree to a whole new level. We are implementing the phone tree for the Internet age and we call it Care Teams.
Here’s how Care Teams work. Rica O’Connor, Karen Tynes and I are putting this program together. Karen has volunteered to be be the Care Team Coordinator and she will maintain a list called the Care Team List. The Care Team List includes people who are dealing with cancer, people who have had new babies, people recovering from surgery, people who have lost a loved one, people looking for work, and truly any situation that calls for prayer and care. Anyone can get onto the Care Team List by simply calling the office or the Care Team Coordinator directly. We will also have a way on Sunday mornings to put yourself or anyone else on the list. The list may include people from our congregation, and people outside our congregation that we care about.
Every week the clergy and staff will review the list and add any new needs. On Wednesday each week the entire list will be emailed to everyone who has signed up to be on a Care Team. There will be somewhere between three and six teams, depending on our participation. Each team has a color: green, white, red, purple, blue and gold. The gold team is special, so I’ll explain how it works in a moment.
Each Care Team will be “on” for one week at a time, from Wednesday morning until Tuesday night. When the Care Team List comes out, the team that is on will read through the list and, if they feel moved, respond to a need. It’s as simple as that. You might send a card, arrange to visit, deliver a meal, give a ride, send an encouraging email, or just make a phone call. You don’t have to tell anyone what you did or do any formal reporting at all. If you feel moved to help, you do so.
The idea of the Care Teams is that we hear about needs, we have the ability to express needs, and we have the opportunity to care for one another. If your team is on for the week but you can’t help, then you don’t. Someone else will. Since all the teams get the Care Team List every week, you have the opportunity to respond even when your team is not on, and even if you don’t respond, you will know what’s going on.
The Gold team is a special case. If you sign up to be on a Care Team and you do not have email, you will be assigned to the Gold Team. This team will care for members who are home bound or in long term care situations. Once a month the Gold team will receive the Care Team List in the mail. The Gold List won’t tend to change as much. The Gold Team will care for these people, helping them to feel a part of our congregation, known, and loved.
It is easy to join a Care Team. There will be one training session of about an hour on a Saturday morning and then there are no meetings to attend! Care Teams will be forming in Lent. We will have signups to join the program before and after services at both the chapel and the church. This is a wonderful expression of our mission to walk in Christ’s love and forgiveness through service to the community.
God is calling the congregation of St. Dunstan’s Church to be Christ’s heart and hands in the world. Our response must be to discover how the gifts and talents we have been given can best be used to respond to God’s call. For the past six months a small group of St. Dunstan’s Church members has been engaged in prayer, Bible study, and conversation to discern a mission statement for our congregation. Discerning God’s call is central to the life of faith. We have been blessed with purpose, character, gifts and talents. As a member of this discernment group, I humbly present to you a mission statement for St. Dunstan’s Church:
We seek to offer a welcoming environment
where individuals can come together
to walk in Christ’s love and forgiveness
through worship, prayer, and service to the community.
We ask that you prayerfully read and consider this statement of purpose. We feel that this statement reflects our history, who we are now, and who God is calling us to be. The process of discerning our mission is ongoing and we present this statement to broaden the conversation to include all the members of our congregation.
Over the next several months the mission discernment team will offer several ways to actively work with this statement. We are asking you to live with this statement for a year while we deepen and refine our understanding of our mission. At the end of this year, or early next year, we will engage in a new process to discover how our mission has grown or changed and to create a new statement that reflects our growth.
Today the Sun is shining. After days of grey, wet weather, a sunny day is a blessing from God. In the depths of winter, with day after day of cold and dreary weather, a sunny day is a reminder that spring is coming. As we gathered for our weekly staff meeting today, we looked out the window and saw that a few of the trees around our columbarium are beginning to bud! One tree even has little blossoms on a few high branches.
There is new growth, new hope and new life at St. Dunstan’s Church, and it’s not just the trees. Our chapel congregation is blooming too! When I arrived two years ago, this service was consistently small and the ministers did everything. We did the readings, brought the gifts forward at the offertory, and said the prayers. Some time last year I began to ask the participants to bring forward the offering plates, bread and wine. Later, one of the members offered to pray for us. Then another volunteered to help read lessons. In the fall I asked if anyone would like to help with the Altar Guild. Three people volunteered on the spot and before I knew it (literally!) they were meeting to set up their team.
The most wonderful new development started four weeks ago. I came through the doors of the chapel before the service and saw that a table had been set up in the entry way with coffee and treats! Yes, the 8:00am Chapel Service now has a coffee hour! We have even run out of bulletins twice in the past month.
God is at work at St. Dunstan’s Church. Like the early buds on our trees, signs of new life are appearing. At the Chapel, in our Choir, in our Sunday School, and in our worship blossoms are appearing. New growth, new hope and new life are all around us. We are growing in God’s abundance.
(The 8:00 AM service uses Rite 1, with the King James language. The traditional language is perfect for the traditional charm and beauty of the Henry Memorial Chapel. We have music in the first half of the service (up to the Gospel). This service is warm and friendly and we consistently finish in 50 minutes. See the Finding Us page of our web site for driving directions.)
Jesus says, you are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world! He said this to the disciples sitting around him and he said it to the people gathered to hear the Sermon on the Mount. He looked around at all the people and saw that they were tired, poor, hungry, and meek. He saw that they hungered to know God and he saw that they were peacemakers. So, he blessed them, and then he encouraged them to be a blessing. We are the people who follow Jesus. We have a purpose. Jesus is speaking to us. You are the salt of the earth. You and I are the light of the world.
Maybe you have a reason why you don’t think Jesus could be saying that YOU are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You may read this and think, “David is our minister. He is supposed to say things like that.” We seem to have trouble accepting that Jesus is speaking about each and every one of us in these verses.
I’ll be preaching about this reading on Sunday, but I need your help. I’d like us to try an exercise together that may help us hear Jesus’ words as personal blessing and sending. This will be sort of like the Lazarus $1.00 Project last summer in which I invited you to take $1 and find a way to make a difference in someone else’s life. This week, I invite you to share a story about a time when God worked through you to help someone else. The stories we heard from the Lazarus project are a great example of what I am looking for here. People took the $1 as a challenge to see the needs of others and then do something to help. We heard of a meal purchased for a homeless man. We heard of people who took the $1 and added money of their own because they saw a real need that they could do something about.
You have helped a friend. You have comforted someone you love that is suffering. You have helped strangers. Maybe you saw someone trying to push his car out of an intersection and you went to help. Maybe you were a reading tutor or a mentor to a young person. Maybe you did something big, like volunteering your time or contributing to a cause you believe in. Or perhaps you did something more modest, like buying a Fair Change newspaper from the lady outside the grocery store or visiting someone who is lonely.
The challenge is to come up with one story where you did something to help someone else. Then, tell me how God worked through you in that story. If you just can’t bring yourself to tell a story about God working through you, try starting with a story about God working through someone you know. You can share your stories with me by posting a comment at my blog (see link below) or you can send me an email, or you could send me a note in the mail.
Your brother in Christ,
The Rev. David Marshall
 I am once again indebted to David Lose for his inspiring reflections on this week’s Gospel. http://www.workingpreacher.org/dear_wp.aspx?article_id=451