Tuesday: The Rope Will Hold

Today’s Reading: Matthew 27:17-46

The Passover with the Disciples

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Peter’s Denial Foretold

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’ (NRSV)

Reflections

The story that unfolds in these readings is complex, beautiful and tragic. In the same night, at the same meal Jesus identifies his betrayer and institutes the Lord’s Supper. Those words, spoken on this tragic and beautiful night, are at the heart of our relationship with God. “Take, eat; this is my body.” “Drink from [this cup], all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

I recently heard a sermon by Bishop Eugene Sutton. He came out holding a short length of rope in his hands. “Sometimes,” Bishop Sutton said, “all we have is a rope. We hold onto our faith like a rope, hoping that the rope will hold.” He went on to tell the story of a woman who lost an adult child. On hearing the tragic news she secluded herself in her room to pray and to grieve. After some time she emerged, ready to lead her family in the work of grieving and surviving, and as she came out she said, “The rope held.”

Do you ever find yourself wondering how someone can have that kind of faith? The way of Jesus is not easy, but the reward is worth the cost. Jesus offers a quality of life that is full of hope and joy, even in the midst of suffering, grief and loss.

We come together every week to share in the Lord’s Supper because that is the rope that gives us hope. God’s love is the rope that will hold, no matter what happens to the economy or our families or our work or our friendships. Grief, loss, misfortune, financial ruin, foreclosure, divorce, the worst that life can throw at us will not separate us from God’s love. The rope will hold.

Questions: What difference does the Lord’s Supper make in our lives? Does the meal we share on Sunday nourish our lives in the world? If so, how? If not, how might it? When have you last seen someone who needed a tangible expression of God’s love? How can you help that person realize how precious they are to God?

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the gift of your own body and blood. Let that gift strengthen us in the knowledge that you love us more than anything. Amen.

Monday: Confronting Betrayal with Love

Today’s reading: Matthew 26:1-16

The Plot to Kill Jesus

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’

The Anointing at Bethany

Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, ‘Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.  (NRSV)

Reflection

Clearly the religious authorities are already upset with Jesus before he enters Jerusalem. We have already seen the conflict most clearly in the controversy over healing on the Sabbath. But we also see here deep love for Jesus. When the unnamed woman anoints Jesus with “costly ointment” this is a powerful sign. She has demonstrated that Jesus is the Christ: literally the anointed one.

Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, thus acting out Isaiah’s prophesy. He is announcing that he is the Christ (the Messiah). An attentive observer, watching Jesus and his disciples ride into Jerusalem might have asked, where’s his army? The anointed one was expected to lead Israel to freedom. Here, with the anointing, the Christ identity is even more clearly given, but again, something is different. Instead of saying, “She has anointed me, and that is appropriate because I am the king,” Jesus points again to his coming betrayal and death: “She has prepared me for burial.” Jesus is not acting like a king taking his throne. He is profoundly aware of the conflict he has created and the price he will pay.

The contrasts in these passages are powerful. The animosity of the chief priests is shown in contrast to the adoring crowds. The betrayal of Judas is shown alongside the great love of the unnamed woman. After his symbolic entry into Jerusalem Jesus is again sharing a meal with his friends. My heart aches when I think of this. He is with the people he loves most and he knows that this is one of his last meals with them. Can you imagine such a meal? While the chief priests plot, Jesus breaks bread and shares wine. Jesus is confronting betrayal with love.

Jesus is confronting, and will defeat, not the Roman overlords or the religious authorities but death itself. Jesus is confronting the very things that steal life from us. Following Jesus leads to new life but the path is difficult. The path to resurrection leads us to confront the choices we have made that rob us of life.

Questions: Where do we see hostility and betrayal in our world? Is there anything that would be worth it to you to betray a friend? What small betrayals have we been ensnared by, and how can we make amends for them?

Prayer: Lord God, prevent us from allowing our bitterness or disappointment to lead us to harm others whether in thought or deed. Amen.

Palm Sunday

Blogging Holy Week

Follow along with the story of Jesus’ last week. Each day of Holy Week I will post a short reading from the Gospel along with a reflection on that reading, some questions for you to consider, and a prayer. We start with the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’ (NRSV)

Reflection

Years ago I worked in San Francisco and I would ride the BART train to work. Those were the glory days of the San Francisco 49ers football team. On the Monday after Joe Montana lead them to a Superbowl victory, I came up out of the BART station and found myself in the middle of a victory parade for the team. Right there in front of me was a double decker bus with an open top and I could see Joe Montana and Roger Craig waving to the crowds. It was exhilarating! I got into the mood of the crowd and cheered for our home team.

Now, imagine that instead of one football team, San Francisco had two teams. Imagine further that the teams had just played each other in the Superbowl. How would the people on the street react? How would those who rooted for the losing team behave? I think that gets us closer to the situation in Jerusalem when Jesus rode in on that donkey.

Many people believed, or wanted to believe, that Jesus would be the one to free them from Roman domination. Others were worried that he was going to cause political and religious turmoil. The optimists won out and the crowds sang Hosanna.

Questions: Jump from Jerusalem to here in 2011: What do we celebrate as having the potential to save? Celebrities, political figures, athletes, technology? What do we do when we are disappointed in our hopes?

Prayer: Lord God, keep our attention on those things that nurture life and lead us to greater fellowship with you and with each other. Amen.

 

Spring Cleaning

Lent is the Christian season of preparation for Easter. This is a time to reexamine our lives and a time to recommit to our faith. This Lenten work deepens the experience of Easter. If Lent has slipped you by this year, you still have an opportunity to prepare for Easter. Holy Week offers a compressed observance of the dramatic events at the end of Jesus’ ministry.

This year I will be writing a short daily column at my blog each day of Holy Week. I invite you to take five minutes each day to read that day’s portion of the story along with a short reflection. I will also give you a question or two to consider throughout your day. All of this will prepare us as we draw closer to the resurrection event. You can find my blog at http://revmarshall.com. Just click on the “Blog” link. You can also subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS button at the bottom of the page and receive updates to your favorite Internet home page, such as iGoogle.com, Yahoo.com or AOL.

Another way we prepare for Easter is the annual ritual of Spring Cleaning. This year’s Spring Cleaning day is coming up on Saturday. We’ll get started at 9:00am with a fun list of projects around the building and grounds of St. Dunstan’s Church. Our energetic Jr. Warden, Lyn, has a list of projects for us to do both inside and out. The women of the St. Agnes Guild are providing coffee, donuts and bagels to help us keep our energy up. Yum! I’ll see you Saturday!

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall

Can These Bones Live?

One priest said, “I have a parishioner who has lost his job and his home. He is living in his car while he looks for work. What can we do?” Another priest said, “I am seeing this same kind of struggle in my congregation. More and more people come to us looking for help, but we just don’t have any money. What are we going to do?” A third priest bravely shared, “I myself am just a paycheck away from losing my home to foreclosure. The economy may be improving, but we are still struggling.”

This was a fireside chat with our bishop at the annual clergy conference held this week. There were lots of ideas about how the Church should respond, but none seemed sufficient. Then, we began to worship together. We prayed the service of Compline. The prayers washed over us, easing fears and erasing anxiety. The reading was a dramatic telling of Ezekiel’s Dry Bones story. As the storyteller spoke to the dry bones, we all knew that those bones are real. Those bones are the broken dreams, the homes lost, the careers interrupted and the hearts broken as families and individuals struggle in this lingering recession.

Our storyteller went on with the story:

Then God said to Ezekiel, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the world of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath/spirit in you, and you shall LIVE; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

The storyteller did a beautiful job. In his voice and gestures, we all saw the dry bones come together. We saw the sinews and flesh and skin of new life become real. We were reminded that even dried, sun bleached, lost, abandoned, forsaken bones can live again.

God gives life. Jesus is the life and the resurrection. Faith in Jesus, living in Jesus gives life whatever the circumstances. We have Jesus. Together, living in Christ, we can survive anything. Anything: Job loss, foreclosure, cancer, divorce, all the worst the world can throw at us, we can survive by following Jesus. When we are walking with Jesus, we are living in God’s love and forgiveness. When we are walking with Jesus, we are walking in eternal life.

This is not a belief to accept. Walking with Jesus is a way of life. Walking with Jesus involves the practices of Christian living. That is what we clergy were reminded of in that Compline service that night and that’s what we come together for at St. Dunstan’s Church.

So come. Walk with Christ along with us. Worship, pray, serve generously, love and be loved, and discover the true, life giving joy that comes from walking in Christ’s love and forgiveness.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall

 

Holding Vigil

I invite you to come and hold vigil at St. Dunstan’s Church on Saturday, April 23rd at 7:00 PM. Come and hold vigil with your brothers and sisters in Christ as we await the new life that comes from knowing and loving God. On this night we will gather with Christians all over the world to remember the resurrection that changed the world forever.

In modern life, we don’t talk about holding vigil very often, but I think we really do hold vigils. When someone is undergoing surgery, we pray for the person before hand. We wait with them until the nurses take them to the operating room. We sit and pace and pray in the waiting room as we wait to hear the outcome. That’s a vigil.

When a loved one is dying, we hold vigil. Family gathers to be with that loved one and to support one another. When possible, memories are shared and blessings given. Then we sit, we pray, and we wait. When the end finally comes, we cry, we pray, we hold one another, and again, we sit. Holding vigil together, we experience the change in relationship that death creates. We experience intensified relationships with our friends and family. There is clarity available to us in these moments. We become more keenly aware of the connections of our lives.

At births we also hold a kind of vigil. The father may be in the delivery room with the mother, but the rest of us are waiting, either in a waiting room at the hospital, or waiting by our phones at home to hear the news. We want to know that the mother and child are well, the gender of the child, how big he or she is and what his or her name will be! While we wait, we tell the stories of other births and other vigils.

A couple of weeks ago we held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We each lit a candle and then placed it at the altar. We chanted our despair, our love for God, and our hope. We prayed, speaking our intercessions and then responding to each with the words,

Grant us the strength and hope we need,
and in your power renew us.

In each of these vigils we are approaching the holy, the sacred and the divine. We are waiting for something that we know will come, or that we hope will come. We know, or we hope, that God is present and we direct particular prayers to ask for a gracious outcome. We tell stories that help us get through the waiting and that help us prepare for what will come. Most importantly, we are together. We are with family, loved ones, or friends, so that when the change comes, the birth, the completed surgery, or the death, we have people around us to share our experience, whether one of joy, relief, or grief.

As Christians we have rituals for holding different types of vigils. We say particular prayers and read particular passages of scripture. We remind one another that God is present and we are not alone. Our prayer book has special prayers and special services for each of these vigils. Often, at these times of intentional waiting, prayer and communion, we have our most intense and beautiful experiences of God’s presence and love. So it is fitting that the two key worship services of Christian year are vigil services. On Christmas Eve we hold that special service of waiting and rejoicing for the birth of the Christ. On the Eve of Easter we hold the Great Vigil of Easter.

The Great Vigil, or Easter Vigil, returns us to the time immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion as the disciples held vigil for the one they loved so much. The light of the world has been extinguished so this service starts in darkness (we’ll actually have some light this year since Easter is so late) and we kindle the new flame. This is the one service of the year where we actually light a fire! We will kindle the new flame at our outdoor columbarium altar. The Pascal Candle, which represents the presence of Christ, will be lit from the new flame and then we will each light our own candles from that flame and process, singing, to the narthex of the church. There, in the narthex and guild room, by the light of our candles, we will hear the beautiful Exsultet as we call on the light of Christ. After this dramatic beginning we hear the stories of God’s salvation. We hear the creation, Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones.

After dramatic retellings of these great stories we renew our Baptismal Vows, reminding us that we share in both the new life of Christ. The new life of Baptism leads us to the new life of Easter and we free the Alleluias that have been locked away since the beginning of Lent. With alleluias ringing out we will gather at the Lord’s table to share in that most spiritual of meals.

Come and hold vigil at St. Dunstan’s Church on Saturday, April 23rd at 7:00 PM. Come and hold vigil with your brothers and sisters in Christ as we await the new life that comes from knowing and loving God. On this night we will gather with Christians all over the world to remember the resurrection that changed the world forever.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall

 

Forgive Me For I Am Badly Wired

Forgive Me for I am Badly Wired

Here we are in Lent, a season of penitence and preparation. Traditionally people have engaged in repentance and restoration during Lent. We look into our souls and ask, how have I fallen short of God’s purpose for my life? How have I hurt others by my action or inaction? Who do I need to forgive?

I think it is fair to ask why? Why should we look for our shortcomings? Why should we look for the ways we have built up barriers to love and relationship? I would venture to say that most people do not think of themselves as sinners in need of repentance and forgiveness.

In a curious, even amusing way, our attempt to install new ovens in the church’s kitchen offers a great illustration of the need for and the benefit of the work of repentance and forgiveness. The St. Agnes Guild generously replaced our 50-year-old ovens last month. When we finally got the monstrously heavy old ovens (they were also full of asbestos) out of the church and the new ovens in we discovered a wiring nightmare. There were bare, hot wires exposed inside a breaker box. There was a junction box by the floor with two electrical circuits and the box was not waterproof or even sealed against mop water.

We have each walked through that kitchen countless times without knowing of the potential dangers. As soon as the problems were identified they were fixed, of course. If we hadn’t looked at the wiring to install the new ovens we would still be ignorant of the situation.

Sometimes we have to take a critical look at our lives. When we hold onto resentments, grudges, anger, or even envy it is as if we had a bare wire just waiting to cause problems. Have you ever found yourself getting unexpectedly angry with someone? When we hold onto anger and resentment those feelings tend to be expressed at un-chosen and less than ideal times.

The Lenten practices of self-reflection, repentance, and forgiveness allow us to deal with those bare wires so we don’t get or give an unexpected or unintended shock. Forgiving someone saves you and him or her from the shock of encountering anger at a later time.

We do this work during Lent so that we will be ready for RESURRECTION!!! Easter is coming! Forgiving your brother or your neighbor or your coworker now frees you to be more fully and joyfully present to the wonder and joy of Christ’s resurrection. We are getting ready for new life! We are preparing ourselves to participate, share in, and enjoy resurrection life.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall

Hope After Despair

The first few days after the Earth shook and the Tsunami struck in northern Japan, there was very little news. I watched this with a growing sense of dread. The usual swarm of news crews and video feeds just didn’t happen. I expect that this was because the destruction was so complete.

Since then, the news has been sad and terrifying. In one newscast we saw an elderly man who had watched his entire family, children and grandchildren, be swept away by the rushing water. In an amateur video we saw water pouring down a street pushing debris, then the water rose and started pushing cars and trucks down the street, and then a massive black wall of water pushed the buildings away. This video went on for minutes as the wave passed, and then the camera focused on a dozen people standing on the rubble of a building in the middle of the roiling water.

How are we to absorb these images? How do we adjust to a world in which the earth rises up and destroys our homes? This is the time when we need hope. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Suffering, even suffering on the scale we see in Japan today, can either produce despair and anger or that same suffering can produce endurance. The difference comes from the Holy Spirit. God’s love and presence is what makes the difference. When we know God’s love and we have the assurance of God’s presence, suffering can produce endurance rather than despair – or maybe more accurately, endurance after despair. In loving relationship with God, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. That hope is grounded in God’s love.

I think this might be one of the most important lessons we can take from Jesus. Jesus endured the most profound suffering imaginable. On the cross, Jesus felt the complete despair that comes when we feel abandoned by God. In his last moment before dying on the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34).

Candlelight Vigil at St. Dunstan's
Candlelight Vigil for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami at St. Dunstan's

In the face of profound suffering like what we see in Japan, or the suffering known by someone facing cancer, we, like Jesus, will go through that moment of despair. We will feel forsaken. The gift of faith is that there is life after the despair. Just as Jesus rose again after the cross, we hope for life in God’s love.

And, as Paul says, “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Have you felt the joy of the God’s love being poured into your heart? Do you hunger for that assurance and hope? If so, we are with you.

Our purpose as the church is to bring hope to people in despair. Last night we held a candlelight vigil for the people of Japan. Coming together like this we experience the love of God directly. The warmth and light of the candles in a dark sanctuary reminds us of God’s love which overcomes despair. The songs we sing direct our hearts to God. The prayers we speak open our hearts to God. The laments we raise call on God’s love. The money we donate extends the reach of our hands to those in need. Last’s night’s vigil was a true experience of walking in Christ’s love and forgiveness.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall

 

We Walk in Christ’s Love and Forgiveness

Last week I received the sad news that my grandmother passed away. The phone rang at 10:15 in the evening and I knew that we were about to receive sad news. I loved my grandmother very much as a child. We called her Grandma Ginny and loved our visits to her house. She would make special treats for us to eat and she had a wonderful dog. (Several over the years, and always miniature poodles.) When I visited Grandma Ginny, the best part was that I felt so truly loved.

Over the past week I have received numerous cards, emails and calls of condolence from the people of St. Dunstan’s Church. I know now from personal experience just how compassionate a community we have. We want to care for each other. We want to support each other in times of love. I received cards from people I have consoled and prayed with at the times of their own losses.

Early this week we all learned that the son of a member of our community was being rushed from Alaska to Bellingham after suffering a serious heart attack. Dixie sent out information about this crisis with a request for prayer. Dixie told me she got so many calls asking her to pass on their prayers that she was almost late for services on Wednesday.

Prayer Shawls ready for Blessing.
Beautiful Prayer Shawls ready to be blessed.

On Sunday we blessed more prayer shawls. I was moved to see all of you touching the prayer shawls as you came forward for communion. We have already delivered most of the shawls we blessed. This is such a wonderful way to express God’s love for those in need.

We want to care for one another. We want to walk in Christ’s love together. We want to share in the generous, forgiving Spirit of God. Earlier today I met with Dennis Beals about our new Care Teams program. Dennis will be the leader of this program with support from Karen Tynes and Rica O’Connor and we were planning the next steps.

Starting the second Sunday in Lent there will be a table with signup sheets to join the Care Teams program. As a member of a Care team you will receive a weekly email detailing the prayer and caring needs of our congregation and friends. When your team is on duty you are invited to respond with prayers, cards, visits, meals, or maybe a ride. These are the things we are already doing for one another, as we have seen in this past week. The Care Teams program will support our desire to care for those in need.

I encourage you to sign up to be on a Care Team. You can do this whether you have a computer or not. There is only one meeting a year, and then you will get weekly updates on the needs of our parish and our friends. We will have a short orientation and training on April 30th, and that’s it. This is another wonderful way we can come together in community to walk in Christ’s love and forgiveness.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall

Best Coffee Hour Ever

Imagine a homemade strawberry and kiwi torte, delicious apple crisp, and fresh baked banana bread. There was coffee too, but I didn’t have time to sample that. I’m having more and more trouble getting to the 9:30 service on time because of the fabulous coffee hour the chapel congregation is hosting!

I love how this small congregation has begun to care for one another. Each week one, two or three people bake some sort of tasty treat to contribute to the fellowship time after the service. Sometimes Christian hospitality is not abstract or theological. Sometimes Christian hospitality is just a home baked torte and a pot of coffee offered on a card table to friends and visitors.

At St. Dunstan’s Church we seek to offer a welcoming environment where individuals can come together… Individuals seem to come together best around good food and drink. The new coffee hour at the chapel arose from our heart as an expression of the love God has given us. It’s not a program or a committee and there was no plan or budget, just a group of people responding generously to the love flowing in our worship.

In my sermon on Sunday I talked about the small, concrete steps we can take to shift our allegiance and our trust from money to God. Jesus tells us, “No one can serve two masters.” But trusting in God takes a real commitment and concrete actions. The examples I gave were service activities such as volunteering at the food bank and acts of compassion, like our new Care Teams. The delightful coffee hour at our Chapel service is another step, a real and meaningful step, towards living in God’s love. You could even say that this coffee hour is one of the ways we “walk in Christ’s love and forgiveness”.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. David Marshall