The Foundations of Faith
During the 50 days of Easter we hear story after story of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to the disciples. He calls them by name, he shows up in their midst when they’re cowering behind locked doors, he gives them fishing tips and feeds them breakfast. It’s not quite the same as when he was with them in flesh and blood, but after a few weeks they get used to this new way of being with Jesus.
And then one day he’s gone again. This time for good. He leaves them with a promise of sending the Holy Spirit, but it’s all kind of vague and no one really knew what he meant. And so they are bereft again, learning to live in a world where Jesus is apparently gone.
Jesus, though, has prepared them for this moment. On the night before he died he gave his friends two ways to remember him, two ways that he would continue to be with them after his death.
The first is what we have come to know as the Eucharist. The second is by loving service to others.
Worship and service to others are the foundations of the Christian life. They are the foundation of our life together at St. Dunstan’s.
Worship is central to everything we do at St. Dunstan’s. Sunday morning services are the heartbeat of the parish. The seasons of the liturgical year mark the seasons of our lives, providing a rhythm and structure to all we do.
In the Episcopal Church, which has a very structured liturgy, our challenge is to provide variety within that familiar framework. We try to balance the comfort of the familiar with changes so that we don’t become stuck in a rut. That’s why we make changes from season to season – like using different translations of the Lord’s Prayer. The framework helps us to relax into the familiar. Changes help us see old things in new ways.
I’d also include education as part of worship. Some of that – reading scripture, listening to sermons – is included in the liturgy. But all Christians have a responsibility to be educated in the faith. And so Sunday School classes, our Tuesday morning study group, and Tuesday evening Bible studies are all a form of worship.
Remember Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our mind. Constantly learning about our faith and it’s extensive body of knowledge is an important way to worship God.
Jesus tells us that when we come together to worship he is there.
Jesus reminds his disciples that he is also present when we serve one another. In preparation for our annual parish meeting I looked at all the different ways we serve God’s people at St. Dunstan’s. It’s an impressive list.
First, we serve one another. We care for one another in times of crisis and celebrate with one another in times of joy. Showing that care and love is a way of making Jesus present now.
And we care for others in our community and world.
We serve those in our community through collecting school supplies each year for Path Academy, a middle school that serves an increasingly vulnerable population of immigrants and refugees.
We serve those in our midst who are without homes through Family Promise, opening our doors for weeks a year to provide shelter for up to four families.
We serve our fellow Episcopalians at Holy Comforter, a parish that has a special ministry to people with mental illness or disabilities. We offer support to Emmaus House, which serves people living in poverty around Turner Field.
And our care extends beyond our community. We began a new ministry of sponsoring a family of refugees from Syria, a ministry we hope will continue when more families are allowed into the country.
We continue to provide support for the Msalata Theological School in Tanzania, sending $5,000 a year to the St. Dunstan’s Medical Fund to help meet the medical needs of that community in a variety of ways.
In the past year we sent money to Haiti to help rebuild a school destroyed by a hurricane and to Trinity Episcopal Church in Gatlinburg, TN to help their parishioners and community after the devastating fires there.
Worship and service, the foundations of the Christian life, are strong in our community of faith.
Thanks be to God for each and every one of you.
Harmony for Humanity
Come join violinist Kerren Berz and her friends for a concert featuring works by Vaughan Williams, Bartok, Reger, Minsky, and Handel-Halvorsen. The concert is Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m. at St. Dunstan’s. Donations at the door benefit our refugee ministry.
Kerren has played at St. Dunstan’s many times. As a music educator, she teaches strings at The Galloway School, has worked with the Columbus Urban League, the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus, and with strings students throughout the Atlanta area. She is a former orchestra director for Spelman College and for the Chattanooga School for Performing Arts.
Currently Concertmaster of the Columbus (GA) Symphony Orchestra, Kerren has also performed, recorded, and toured with the Atlanta Symphony, the Harlem Festival Orchestra, and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to the classical music field, she is well respected in the popular music industry. She has shared the stage with musical legends, including Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Page/Plant, and Joni Mitchell, among others. Past performances include the star studded gala opening of Tyler Perry Studios, and a national concert tour with Amy Grant and Vince Gill.
As a music arranger and performer, she is featured on albums by Outkast, Pink, Cartel, Sinead O’Connor, and on the hit single “Survivor,” by Destiny’s Child. She is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and has participated on nominating committee.
Evening Bible Study
Come on Tuesday evenings at 7 for a Bible study focusing on the Book of Acts. Susan Hauser is leading the discussions.
Thank you to retiring vestry members Steve Hauser and Peg Maloney, who have served faithfully for the past three years. And thanks to newly-elected members Deb Dee, Susan Howard, and Harriett Smith.
Thanks to all who helped with Family Promise during our recent host week, including Mary Alice Armstrong, Misty Bentz, Harriett Smith, Nancy Knight Latimore, Shirley Morgan, Michele Smither, Elise McIntyre, Cathy Leake, Elizabeth Wong Mark, Susan Howard, Suzanne Van De Mark, Patricia Templeton, Pam Weed, Fair Sutherlin, Priscilla Davis, Susan and Steve Hauser, Gilda Morris, Joni House, Alan Toney, Charis Bowling, Maggie Harney, Jane, Ellen, and Spencer Goetz, Sue Martz, Mary Kathryn and Bob Wolfson, Sherri Crawford, and our fabulous coordinators Mimi Gold, Vivian Siggers, and Ellen Taratus.
Congratulations to Nate Palmer, who was baptized at the Easter Vigil on April 15.
Our condolences to Dick Harris on the death of his sister, Margaret Harris.
Congratulations to Liv Combest, daughter of Deb Dee and Eric Combest, who graduates from Westminster this month. Liv will be attending Smith College in the fall of 2018 after taking a gap year.
Congratulations to Maggie Schrock, daughter of Elizabeth Colt, who graduates from The Galloway School this month. Maggie plans to attend Wake Forest University this fall.
We change to our summer schedule on Sunday, May 27. Services are at 8:30 and 10 a.m. No Sunday School. This will be our schedule through Labor Day weekend.
An Easter Awareness
Liturgical artist Colleen Hintz, who has made many of our seasonal banners, shares this story behind the Easter banner she made for us.
I was working on an Easter banner to have it ready in time when my finger zigged as it should have zagged guiding the fabric through my machine and the needle pierced in through!!! It hurt a LOT and there was blood everywhere, but gratefully, not a drop on the white Easter Banner. Thanks be to God!
It was also at this time that I heard of the death of a very dear friend. He had struggled throughout his life, but particularly so in his last many years. I was asked to speak at his funeral and I will share some of those words now…
I’ve been thinking a lot about his this past week – of our visits and long phone conversations and of his life. I’ve also been working on an Easter Alleluia banner, and as I pierced my finger with my sewing machine needle and gave thanks I hadn’t bled all over it, it got me thinking that even in the blood and pain of life, there’s a reason to say alleluia.
That’s exactly what my friend taught me. His life was not always an easy one. He lost one of his beloved sons and still managed to find the light in that darkness, knowing he was at peace. Even in the midst of his own heart attack and surgery, he said alleluia that he was still alive. Even in the horror of his stroke and the tremendous difficulty returning, he managed to sing alleluia with each small triumph.
As his life twisted and turned and new challenges arose, he managed to find the alleluias as he connected in new ways with those he loved – by always responding to Facebook posts with joy, by calling and writing and visiting whenever he could. He so enjoyed his visits with friends and family by air and rail. The trips exhausted and exhilarated him as he reconnected with those he loved and shared the alleluia moments. He found alleluias in his cat and his beloved rescue dog. Some of his best alleluias were his beloved sons and their wives, and his grandchildren.
And so it is that as I look at this joyous Easter banner, I know that it came at a cost. Jesus gave his life that we might live. It’s at the same time so simple and so profound. May we all find our alleluias.
The Immigrant Creed
I believe in Almighty God, who guided the people in exile and in exodus, the God of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, the God of foreigners and immigrants.
I believe in Jesus Christ, a displaced Galilean, who was born away from his people and his home, who fled his country with his parents when his life was in danger.
When he returned to his own country he suffered under the oppression of Pontius Pilate, the servant of a foreign power. Jesus was persecuted, beaten, tortured, and unjustly condemned to death. But on the third day he rose from the dead, not as a scorned foreigner but to offer us citizenship in God’s kingdom.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal immigrant from God’s kingdom among us,
who speaks all languages, lives in all countries, and reunites all races.
I believe that the Church is the secure home for foreigners and for all believers.
I believe that the communion of saints begins when we embrace all God’s people in all their diversity. I believe in forgiveness, which makes us all equal before God,
and in reconciliation, which heals our brokenness.
I believe that in the Resurrection God will unite us as one people in which all are distinct and all are alike at the same time.
I believe in life eternal, in which no one will be foreigner but all will be citizens of the kingdom where God reigns forever and ever. Amen.