Weekly Lifelines 7/12/2020

While Father Justin is on vacation we wardens, Kevin Graves and Jane Reiman, are presenting a brief update of activities and opportunities at St. Luke’s.
Lecture and coffee hour, Sunday, July 12, 9:00 AM: This coming Sunday, July 12, our virtual (Zoom) gathering starting at 9:00 AM will feature a presentation by Shanna Altrichter who teaches sociology at the University of Minnesota, Rochester.   She will discuss systemic racism and its effect on housing, employment and health. She emphasized that this can be only an introduction to this very complex and important topic.
See the information in the section below for joining the discussion with video or by telephone.
In person gatherings at St. Luke’s: We continue to follow the recommendations of the Bishop. Small outdoor gatherings are allowed now and we are planning to start with social gatherings. The first one will be a “weenie roast” (hot dog roast) outside by our fire pit at St. Luke’s, tentatively planned for the evening of Wednesday, July 29. We will likely schedule several of these events in order to keep the attendance somewhat small at each one. Doug Butler will be working out the details and we’ll get the information out to everyone. You can expect that we will be “social distancing” and wearing masks (when not eating). We will also need to bring our own hotdogs and beverages.
Kitchen remodeling:   The remodel of our kitchen at St. Luke’s is progressing nicely. The nice new kitchen island has arrived. The counters for the wall with the new dishwasher will be installed soon. The new back door (with screen door) is also ready to go in.
Vestry vacancy:   As Justin said last week, since Joanne Martin has moved to South Carolina we have an opening on the Vestry and would like to fill it. If you would like to serve St. Luke’s in this way or if you know someone who would, please tell one of us. The Vestry would like to make the appointment at the meeting on July 20.
Looking ahead: St. Luke’s will have another combination “Q&A/Coffee Hour” after the online (Zoom) worship service on Sunday, July 26.
As Justin noted in an email before his vacation, if you have a pastoral emergency or need something else prior to his return on July 19th, please contact Karen in the St. Luke’s office at gouldk@stlukesepiscopal.org or at 507-288-2469.   If it is out of office hours, feel free to contact one of us.
Blessings to you,
Kevin Graves, Senior Warden

(graveskj99@yahoo.com or 507-358-1287)
Jane Reiman, Junior Warden (bertnjane@me.com or 507-261-9258)
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7/5/2020 Rector’s Blog

I’ve got a whole slew of updates for you this week.
  • First is a follow up to the congregational meeting we had on Sunday. Thanks to everybody who participated! We had presented a bunch of useful information, answered lots of questions, and had a great conversation. One of the things we covered was the need to identify the values that continue to inform and motivate our faith community. We noted that two important works from our past might be helpful: The video that concluded last year’s weaving project and the Missional Assessment Process (MAP) we completed in 2017. I encourage you to check out both.
  • I want to clarify some of the numbers we talked about. When discussing church, we often talk about Sunday attendance and membership interchangeably which can lead to some confusion. Here’s the data from St. Luke’s most recent Parochial Report (2019): our Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) was 75 and we had 241 Active Baptized Members (ABM). The distinction is important—I don’t want you to think we only have 75 members!
  • The vestry and I received lots of positive feedback about the meeting and heard from many who’d like more, so that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’ll have a similar meeting after online worship on July 26. Please mark your calendar and plan to join by computer or phone.
  • Would you like to help lead St. Luke’s? Here’s your chance to serve! The vestry needs to fill a vacant seat. Joanne Martin, along with her husband Tim, moved to South Carolina last month. I’m happy that they’re pursuing their dream of living in warmer climes even as I’m sad to see them go. They were active in many aspects of St. Luke’s life, perhaps most famously as the musicians for the five p.m. service. Joanne also served on the vestry and her seat has been vacant since their departure. We need full vestry in these challenging times, so we’re putting out the call: If you’d like to serve on the vestry of if you know someone who’d be good, please get in touch with me or one of our wardens (Kevin Graves or Jane Reiman). The vestry would like to appoint someone to fill the vacancy at their meeting on July 20.
  • I’d been planning to take vacation earlier this month, but the pandemic threw a wrench into those plans. I’m still in need of a little R&R, so starting tomorrow I’m going to be on vacation for two weeks. No big trip or exciting travel, just some time away to rest, recharge, and tackle some long overdue house projects. I’ll be gone starting Friday, July 3, and returning for worship on Sunday, July 19. If something urgent comes up, please contact Karen in the church office or one of our wardens.
  • Since I’ll be away the next two Sundays, we’re tweaking out usual online worship pattern. This Sunday, July 5, we’re gathering at 9 a.m. for coffee hour only and inviting people to tune into to one of the other online worship services we recommend (links in the worship section below). The following Sunday, July 12, Shanna Altrichter is giving a special presentation on racism at nine a.m. followed by coffee hour. Again, in lieu of worship, we’re pointing folks to the Washington National Cathedral or St. Mark’s in Minneapolis.
  • Finally, please note that St. Luke’s office hours are changing. Starting tomorrow, the office will be open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. till 5 p.m., and closed on Fridays. As we are still in the midst of a pandemic (and as new infections are rising in Olmsted county), Karen is staffing the office, but it remains closed to the public.
That should do it! I hop you have a happy Independence Day and I look forward to catching up when I return from vacation.
Yours in Christ,
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Weekly Lifelines 6/28/2020 Rector’s Note

June 25, 2020 Leave a comment
This month marks the end of an era at St. Luke’s. In a few days, Betsy Bornholdt will conclude more than twenty years of faithful service to St. Luke’s in a variety of roles, most recently as Staff Resource for Communication and Outreach.
Betsy has done a truly incredible job. She led our community in developing new outreach programs. Her unique talent and connection helped to build our relationship with Sunset Terrace. She has been instrumental in ensuring that struggling people across our community get connected to the help they need. The catchy posters and brochures you see around St. Luke’s are Betsy’s marvelous handiwork. She has managed the Lifelines production and kept our website looking sharp. Behind the scenes, her advice has been invaluable to me in discerning how best to help people coming to us for assistance. And all the while, Betsy has been working incredibly hard to sustain and support St. Luke’s incredible diversity of outreach efforts. I’m deeply grateful for her work, for the gifts she’s shared with our community, and for her spirit.
I know that Betsy’s not one who likes to be the center of attention. At her request, we aren’t throwing a big send off party for her. So I hope she’ll forgive me for celebrating her here in the Lifelines.
Betsy, I speak for the vestry, and I think for all of St. Luke’s: We couldn’t have done all these amazing works of outreach without you. We are deeply grateful for you and for your work. We will miss your presence on St. Luke’s staff and we wish you all the best.
Thank you!
With gratitude,
P.S. We’re also expressing our appreciation to Betsy with a gift. We’re collecting funds which she’s indicated she’d like to invest with an outreach program of her choosing. You’re invited to participate by sending a check to St. Luke’s office, earmarked for Betsy’s gift, before June 30.
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Weekly Lifelines 6/14/20

June 17, 2020 Leave a comment
The other day, for the first time in way too long, I walked St. Luke’s labyrinth. Until winter intervened last year, I’d been walking it three or four times a week. But when spring came, so did coivd, and with no labyrinth at home, I fell out of the practice. But as soon as I stepped back in, I noticed how good it felt to be back on the path. I’d missed spending time walking with God along that circuitous way.
Almost as soon as I re-discovered my joy, I was accosted by a swarm of tiny black bugs trying to make a meal out of me. It was incredibly frustrating. I’d breathe deeply only to be interrupted by ‘e e e e e e eeeeeeeEEEEEEEE’ and a stinging pain on my temple. And yet, annoying as that swarm was, I was grateful for the reality check.
Those little bugs reminded me that spiritual path isn’t always smooth or pleasant or even productive. Sometimes the warm sun and gentle breeze speak of God’s presence with us and offer new direction. And just as often a swarm of bugs puts a limit any awareness beyond their tiny bites. I wanted to shout, “Forget about God—this hurts!” But I kept walking. I kept walking because distraction isn’t the enemy of practice, it’s what refines practice. The annoyance forces me to find my center, to persevere, and to attend to what I came here for: Peace. Solace. Direction. God. The flies don’t destroy what I seek; they invite me to get better at finding it.
I’m holding that image in mind as I’m figuring out how we’ll regather for worship. My desire is to build the perfect service that connects us fully and deeply, despite masks, distancing, a ban on singing, and all the other deprivations of pandemic life. Yet even as I strive for perfection, I’m aware that whatever we do will be weird and clunky and challenging in places, just like worship always is. The value of our worship isn’t in achieving perfection, but in the regular practice of seeking God in all circumstances, familiar and unfamiliar, transcendent and otherwise.
Whenever we gather again, I’m pretty sure that first worship service will be strange. But I’m certain it will be good. It will, despite all the distractions and uncertainties, speak to us of God’s presence and movement in our midst. I’m looking forward to that day, distractions and all.



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Weekly Lifelines 5/31/20

Dear Parishioner,

As our civic life creeps back toward some new kind of normal and with recent, albeit limited, permission given for Minnesota churches to reopen, I want you to be aware of St. Luke’s plans for re-gathering.
As is often the case in church, we’re paying close attention to our civic and political leaders even as we march to a slightly different beat. St. Luke’s rector and vestry are following the guidelines for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) developed by our bishop and bishop-elect in conversation with government officials, subject experts, and other religious leaders.
While it would be more convenient to identify particular dates for reopening, conditions are rapidly-changing and unpredictable. As the plan states:
Instead, ECMN will be creating guidelines [for reopening] based on measurable benchmarks tracked by the state. There will be several phases of opening when specific metrics have been met or are present, and there will be some nuance in how these numbers affect faith community operations, based on the geography, membership, building size, and population of each specific faith community.
The guidelines outline a four-phase plan. Below is a summary of a much longer and more detailed plan, which continues to develop as new information becomes available. That plan and ECMN’s other resources for responding to this pandemic are available here.
Phase 1: Blizzard
Health Characteristics: The virus continues to spread at increasing rates in many communities. Minnesota is under a Stay-at-Home order
Faith Community Guidelines: No in-person gatherings; everything—worship, pastoral care, coffee hour, any meeting—is conducted remotely
Phase 1.5: Blizzard, after the plows have come through
Health Characteristics: The Stay-at-Home order has been lifted, but infections continue to climb.
Faith Community Guidelines: Groups of ten or less are permitted to gather only for the purpose of filming or live-streaming worship. Everything else continues to be held remotely
Phase 2: The Long Winter
Health Characteristics: Sustained reduction cases for fourteen days. Adequate hospital capacity and virus testing is available.
Faith Community Guidelines: Church offices may reopen. Limited in-person worship may resume, with strict provisions for physical distancing, eliminating opportunities to touch shared objects, and severe restrictions on singing. Worship probably doesn’t include Eucharist. Larger gatherings continue to be held remotely. Outbreaks might mean returning to Phase 1 protocols.
Phase 3: Spring
Health Characteristics: The spread of the virus is negative, vaccination or immunity is wide-spread. This is probably a long time away, possibly twelve to eighteen months.
Faith Community Guidelines: Offices are fully open. Eucharist is offered. Virtual options for gathering continue to be available.
Phase 4: Summer growth and transformation
Emerging into a new normal, communities reflect on what’s been learned from the crisis and how God is calling us forward into transformation.
Right now, we’re in the latter part of the Blizzard—the plows have come through, but things haven’t quite settled down—and we’ve got a long way to go before spring.
I must say: I am not excited about prospect of living with these restrictions for the foreseeable future. I dearly wish we could regather to sing together and pass the peace, to share communion and catch up over coffee. Facebook Live and virtual coffee hour are good, but they’re not enough. At the same time, it’s clear to me that this is the right course of action. COVID-19 is deadly, especially for people over age 65. We can not risk the life of anyone in our community by rushing to regather before it’s safe. In the midst of all the present uncertainty, one thing is clear: No worship service is worth the life of one of our members.
In the meantime, I’m working to develop a new virtual worship service for us, an online gathering that includes music, prayer, scripture, reflection, and fellowship. My hope is that it will be prayerful, interactive, and inclusive of the wonderful diversity of our community. It should even be possible to participate by telephone so that everyone can join in, with or without computer access. I’ll have more information and specifics for you next week.
The love the people of St. Luke’s have for one another is evident in uncountable ways, especially now in our deep desire to gather again as the body of Christ in one place. The same love that pulls us in also demands that we remain apart for a while longer, so that everyone can stay healthy and safe.
If you have questions or concerns about any of this, or if you just want to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
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Weekly Lifeline 3/22/20

March 19, 2020 Leave a comment

Dear Parishioner,

What a long, strange week it’s been.
When I wrote to you just one week ago, I thought we’d be doing worship as (mostly) usual on Sunday. But by Friday morning, all that had changed. It became clear that we needed to cancel everything in order to do our part for public health. In the ensuing days, the vestry worked overtime to figure out what to do and how best to spread the word. I’m incredibly grateful for their wisdom and hard work.
At present, St. Luke’s is closed to the public until April 1. That includes everything: Sunday service, Bible study, bridge group, book group, and all the rest. The staff are still in the office and working (while staying six feet away from each other), but we’re asking people not to come in until we reopen. I suspect the pandemic will require us to stay closed longer than we first announced, but we’ll know more about that next week.
I’m very grateful for your understanding. We’re in uncharted water and piecing it together as we go. Here is what we’ve figured out so far:
I learned this week just how much work goes into producing live-streamed worship that’s worth watching. Rather than invest huge amounts of time and energy to do that well at St. Luke’s, the vestry and I decided to take a different tack. In order to continue coming together on Sunday morning, we’re inviting everyone to tune into St. Luke’s Facebook page for a sermon/reflection from me and little bit of prayer. You do not need a Facebook account to view it.
For a service of Holy Eucharist, we’re inviting people to tune into the National Cathedral’s live-stream at 10:15 a.m. We’re also inviting people to check out the service of Morning Prayer, live-streamed from the Cathedral of St. James, where our beloved former rector and current Bishop of Northern Indiana, Doug Sparks, will preach. That service also begins at 10:15 a.m. Both services are on YouTube, where you can view them at any time (in case you want to catch both).
In addition, I’ve been live-streaming short reflections on St. Luke’s Facebook page every afternoon. It’s an opportunity to seek God in the middle of the day, and to enrich your connection to our wonderful faith community. The videos are archived there and you don’t need a Facebook account to view them.
In order to build and strengthen our connections with one another during this time of social distancing, we’re creating a St. Luke’s Care Team. Each member of the team will contact a small group of other members once or twice a week to offer connection and support as needed. If you’re interested in being on the Care Team, please let me know! Email me at revjustinc@gmail.com or call or text my cell (612-618-3826). We’re looking to get the team up and running in the next day or two.
Pastoral Care
Due to the need for social distancing, pastoral visits are on hold for the time being, and pastoral phone calls or video chats are happening instead. Please let me know about any pastoral crisis or emergency. Also, if you just want to check in or hear a friendly voice, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear what’s going on with you and how I can offer support. You can call or text my cell (612-618-3826) or email me at revjustinc@gmail.com.
Due to increased demand and fewer volunteers, charities are struggling. If you’re interested in helping out, I suggest donating to Channel One Regional Food Bank and Food Shelf, which provides food to people in need, or Family Service Rochester, which provides a variety of services to people of all ages who are in need.
If you are able, please consider continuing your regular giving and pledges to St. Luke’s by mail or electronically (more on that below). Though our operations are suspended until the end of March, our expenses continue. Your financial support makes all things possible, including our shared ministry and worship.
Finally, know that you are in my prayers every day. This is a strange and challenging time. We’re making our way through it together. And we’re even finding new ways to connect with and support each other along the way. I continue to be amazed by our community of faith and grateful for all you for each other, for our community, and for the world.
With blessings for clean hands and strong hearts,
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Resources for our Lenten Wilderness Journey

February 15, 2016 Leave a comment

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Grace and peace be with you these Lenten days…

I was encouraged by several people to share some of the resources in my Lenten Wilderness Backpack that I referred to in my homily on this First Sunday in Lent.

The first resource is the Bible.  I encourage you to read the Gospel of Luke or pick up a Forward Day By Day which has scripture references for each day as part of your daily prayer and reflection.

The second resource is The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.  I read part of the Bidding Prayer from the Service of Ash Wednesday which begins on page 265.  I also suggested that it might be helpful to pray through the Litany of Penitence which begins on page 267 and focus on one or more of the petitions.

There are several resources that I have used over the last few years.  One that fun and educational is Lenten Madness 2016.  It is an opportunity to learn about the Holy Women and Holy Men who have gone before us then vote for your favorite along with many other folks across the country and planet.  The bracket gets narrowed down to Elate Eight, then to the Faithful Four.  You can find out more about Lenten Madness 2016 at this URL address http://www.lentmadness.org/category/lent-madness-2016/ and I hope enjoy it.

Another resource that I begin my day with during Lent is a spiritual exercise prepared by the Society of St. John the Evangelist called Growing a Rule of Life which includes a daily video and reflection question and a workbook that you can download.  You can sign up for this program at this URL address http://www.ssje.org/ and join many others engaged in this spiritual practice.

Another initiative sponsored by the Forward Movement is a program designed by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops entitled Repairing the Breach:  Discipleship & Mission in a Global Economy.  There are daily meditations by various authors which you can subscribe to at http://repairingthebreach.forwardmovement.org/ and I encourage you to share your reflections with all of us.

Lastly, it has become our custom at St. Luke’s to identify a Lenten Project, locally, nationally or globally that we encourage those who wish to participate in as part of the giving of alms.  This year’s theme is Creation Care and our Lenten Project is in collaboration with Quarry Hill Nature Center.  If it is part of your Lenten Practice to set aside a financial contribution, you can support Scholarships for Summer Camp or help fund books for their Children’s Library or make a gift to support Youth Programming at Quarry Hill.  Brochures are available on the table in the Church Entryway and on our website at this address https://stlukesepiscopal.org/outreach/nationalglobal-outreach-opportunities/lenten-outreach-project/ under Outreach.

Every blessing,


Serving as Rector / Pastor

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Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All…an Advent Conspiracy

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment


Advent marks the beginning of the Church year.  It is a season within which we contemplate the Commonwealth of Christ as we await his return at the end of time.  It is also a season in which we remember God “taking on human flesh” and dwelling among us which Christians call the Nativity or Birth of Jesus.  There are four Sundays, which mark the Advent Season.  Each Sunday, the scriptures call us to focus on important themes and people.  The church also calls us to wait, in joyful hope!  In contrast to the hurriedness and commercialism of the “X-mas” Season, which begins in November and culminates on Christmas Day, as Christians, we are called to hallow time in a different rhythm.  For Episcopal Christians, Advent ends on Christmas.  Christmas is a season of 12 days which ends on the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Three Magi.

Advent is a preparatory season.  It is an opportunity for us to contemplate and remember.  It is a time to ready ourselves as we celebrate the Birth of Jesus, the Christ, which we call the Feast and Season of Christmas.  For some years, the church gave a rather penitential focus to Advent.  However, with the revision of the Liturgy, Advent has become more a season of hope and expectation rather than just penitence.

The color for the season is deep blue, for hope, expectation and repentance.  The Advent Wreath has become an important symbol used throughout the Season.



The Advent Wreath

The origins of the Advent wreath are to be found in the customs of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe gathered wreaths of evergreen and lit fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light.

Early Christians continued these customs, and by the 16th century Catholics and Protestants alike used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. The custom gradually spread to other parts of the Christian world.

The liturgical color of deep blue symbolizes hope, expectation and repentance, and so the candles of the Advent wreath are blue.  The Third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete Sunday, or “Rejoicing Sunday” is the Advent equivalent of the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Laetare Sunday, when the introit is based on Isaiah 66:10, “Rejoice with Jerusalem”.

The white candle in the center of the wreath is the Christ candle, and is lit on Christmas.

The circle of greenery in the Advent wreath is also highly symbolic: the circle representing eternity (as in wedding rings), and the greenery symbolizing new life and our ever-growing and ever living faith.

We will begin the Service each Sunday with an Opening Acclamation taken from the Hebrew Scriptures focused on the “O” Antiphons which includes the lighting of the candle or candles on the Advent Wreath.  The service continues then with saying or singing the Trisagion, an ancient text which affirms the divinity of God.  As a way of focusing on the Scripture of the Day, the presider will offer a Scripture Sentence of the Day which is followed by the Collect of the Day.  We are then seated for the Readings from Scripture.  During Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, we will use an Affirmation of Faith based on the Athanasian Creed.

During the Liturgy of the Table, we will use Eucharistic Prayer B from the Book of Common Prayer 1979 and the Post Communion Prayer is found on Page 365 in the Book of Common Prayer…reminding us that we are living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ!

The Gospel texts for this year of the Revised Common Lectionary (Year C) are taken from the Gospel of Luke.  Advent 1 is from Luke 21:25-36 – encouraging us to STAY ALERT because you don’t know what day the Lord is coming; Advent 2 is from Luke 3:1-6– which describes the context of the Prophetic Ministry of John, proclaiming a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; Advent 3  is from Luke 3:7-18 – verses where Jesus affirms the ministry of John the Baptist in his ministry of preparing the way for the Messiah; Advent 4 is from Luke 1:39-55 – Mary visiting her cousin, Elizabeth who is with child and they both rejoice in God’s favor and grace!

The sources for the words used this season are many. Most come from the Book of Common Prayer 1979 and one of its supplements, Enriching Our Worship 1 (1997) and the Church of England’s book Common Worship  (2000).

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Christmas Letter 2014

December 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Christmas, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the grace and peace of God’s Word, made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, be with you!


I am always amazed at how the season of Christmas, more than any other liturgical season in the Church year, has produced such memorable hymnody and carols, from the ancient and medieval texts to modern and contemporary texts.  Each carol speaks of the mystery we celebrate.  God loves the world so much and desires to redeem us that he sent his own Son, Jesus, born of our sister, Mary and parented as well by our brother, Joseph.

Each year, at this time, I try to focus my prayer and reflection on one carol or hymn.  I’d like to share these words of the carol I’m centering on this Advent and Christmas.  It was written by Chris Rice in 1995, entitled Welcome to Our World.

             Tears are falling, hearts are breaking

            How we need to hear from God

            You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting

            Welcome Holy Child.


            Hope that you don’t mind our manger,

            How I wish we would have known,

            But long awaited Holy Stranger,

            Make yourself at home,


            Bring your peace into our violence,

            Bid our hungry souls be filled,

            Word now breaking Heaven’s silence,

            Welcome to our world.


            Fragile finger sent to heal us,

            Tender brow prepared for thorn,

            Tiny heart whose blood will save us,

            Unto us is born.


            So wrap our injured flesh around you,

            Breathe our air and walk our sod,

            Rob our sin and make us holy,

            Perfect Son of God.


The text of this carol focuses our attention on mystery of God becoming one of us, coming into the midst of our fears and hopes, into our violence and darkness with the promise and power of peace and forgiveness, the Holy Stranger, wrapped in our injured flesh…Welcome to our world!  I encourage you to choose a hymn to focus on during these last days of Advent as we prepare for Christmas.  Begin and end your day by singing or praying it.  I have found that it helps me to center in on some key images and ideas in preparing for Christmas.

Our Christmas Season Service schedule is:

Christmas Eve       5 p.m.                                   Children’s Pageant with Holy Eucharist

                               10 p.m.                                 Service of Carols

                               10:30 p.m.                            Christmas Choral Eucharist

 Christmas Day      9 a.m.                                   Christmas Eucharist


You will find envelopes for Memorial Flowers or Music on the table in the Church entryway.  If you would like to give an offering in memory or thanksgiving, please fill out the envelope and place in the Offering Basin or mail it back to the Parish Office no later than Sunday, 21 December.

Be assured of my continuing prayer and gratitude for the privilege of ministering among you.  May Christ, whose coming we await, find a place of welcome in you this Christmas!



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Waiting…waiting for the world to change…

December 6, 2014 1 comment

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”  Amos 5:24 CEB

Advent 2 (1)This text from the prophet Amos was one of three scripture readings that we reflected on in November. God told the covenant people that God was tired of sacrifices and burnt offerings, of the noise of song and the melody of harps.  Instead, what God wants is for the covenant people to live justly and righteously.  Some scripture scholars suggest that Amos’ words are similar to the prophet Micah’s words…”He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires of you:  to do justice, embrace faithful love and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Our nation has been reminded recently of how much all of us long for and desire justice.  We are keenly aware of the events in Ferguson, in Staten Island and in Cleveland.  Arguably, we live in a nation which is the beacon of hope and justice for others around the globe yet it seems that doing justice is a difficult enterprise.  We live in a world and in a nation plagued with violence, violence visited upon those with weapons and on those without weapons, on those who would seek to harm us and upon those who, in some instances, have been singled out because of their race or ethnicity.  The opening verses of John Mayer’s song “Waiting on the World to Change” express both hope and frustration…

Me and all my friends

We’re all misunderstood

They say we stand for nothing

And there’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong

With the world and those who lead it

We just feel like we don’t have the means

To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting (Waiting), waiting on the world to change

We keep on waiting (Waiting), waiting on the world to change

It’s hard to beat the system

When we’re standing at a distance

So we keep waiting (Waiting), waiting on the world to change

Justice is done…it occurs when people act…the scripture texts suggest that it is achieved when people seek to live at peace with one another.  A phrase in the Baptismal Covenant reminds us that justice and peace require our best efforts…”will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  I WILL, WITH GOD’S HELP…is our response!

Advent is a time when we are reminded that God has a vision for the way we, God’s covenant people, are called to live.  God’s commonwealth of justice and peace is possible if we are open to the healing and saving grace of the Holy Spirit.  I invite you to consider what actions you might take to do justice in your daily places.  I invite us as a Faith community to consider what actions we might take to do justice in our neighborhood.  To this end, would you incorporate this prayer into your daily prayer:  Keep your Church, alert, Holy Spirit, ready to hear when you are calling, and when you challenge us.  Keep us hopeful, Holy Spirit, knowing that Christ will come again…

In Advent’s hopeful blessing…waiting…waiting for the world to change!


Serving as Rector / Pastor

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