Zoom Coffee Hour Sundays at 11:30

  • Miss visiting with your friends after church?
  • Want to catch up on the news from your fellow parishioners?

Join us for our online Coffee Hour Sunday mornings at 11:30 using Zoom video conferencing.

Never used Zoom? No problem. Deacon Maureen can get you set up to join us. All you need is a computer, tablet, smart phone, or even an old fashioned telephone.

Click below to request an invitation to join us.

Email Link
Click to email Deacon Maureen

Gardens of the Heart

Psalm 1
Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond their greed
and have put an end to their hatred
and no longer nourish illusions.
But they delight in the way things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like trees planted near flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fall or wither.
Everything they do will succeed.
Translation by Stephen Mitchell

Gardens have been much on my heart and in my mind of late.  Perhaps this is because our Sunday worship is in a garden; perhaps because of the vibrancy of the colors of the late summer flowers; perhaps because of the lushness of the fruits and vegetables of the summer harvest.  Whatever the reason, I know that gardens are important to our understanding of God and our experience of Christian faith.  Human existence begins in a garden.  Jesus prayed in a garden the night before his crucifixion.  The empty tomb of the Resurrection was in a garden.

Like a garden, our souls need tending and nurturing.  Prayer, meditation, the Sacraments and the word of God in Scripture all nourish our souls.  We are created beings who are more closely linked with creation than we often realize.

We are fortunate at St. Mary’s to be in the midst of magnificent gardens and amazing natural beauty.  The historic Afton Town Square Park, Carpenter Nature Center, Afton State Park, St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park and even our own Memorial Garden offer beautiful trees, flowers and landscaping to reconnect us to God and creation.  And I know that many of you have attractive yards and gardens at your own homes.

Take some time this summer to “stop and smell the roses.”  Explore the gardens and landscapes of the St. Croix Valley, or the natural beauty of the state and regional park system.  Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows of your home or automobile to let in the sounds and smells of creation.  Tend your soul so it too may grow and flourish in the love of God and the glory of God’s creation.  Store up the energy of the sun for the fallow season of winter that is all too close at hand.

As you enjoy the created beauty of the world, take a moment to reflect on our relationships with the whole of creation.  Below are some reflections on those relationships by others.  Perhaps you will be able to add your own experience of nature to the list.  Enjoy, and God bless you.

“The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.”

— Thomas Moore

“There is a little plant called reverence in the corner of my soul’s garden, which I love to have watered once a week.”

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Grant me the ability to be alone,
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

“I thank You God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”

— e.e. cummings

Outdoor Worship Begins July 5

At a recent meeting with clergy in charge of parishes, Bishop Loya gave us discretion to begin limited outdoor worship as of July 1. It is my intention to hold “Lawn Chair Liturgies” in the Memorial Garden at St. Mary’s beginning at 9:30 on Sunday morning, July 5th, weather permitting.

Our order of worship will be quite abbreviated, and there will be no celebration of the Holy Eucharist at this time. Worshipers will be expected to comply with all current disease transmission prevention guidelines including:

  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Wear an appropriate face covering/face mask
  • Observe a minimum of six feet of physical distancing between household groups

We recommend you bring lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on — no chairs will be provided. Remember that the Memorial Garden lawn is a bit uneven and the grass may be quite wet from dew or overnight rain. Worship materials will be provided for one-time use each week.

For now, we will encourage everyone to depart immediately following the worship service. We may be able to stay for some form of a BYO coffee and fellowship time later in the summer if disease transmission levels continue to decrease.

The church building and Guild Hall remain closed pending authorization to reopen from Bishop Loya.

I have mixed feelings about gathering again, even outdoors. While I long to be together with all of you, I have an even greater longing to keep everyone safe and healthy. Most of us fall into the “at increased risk” category for Covid-19 infection. We are relying on you to follow our safety and health guidelines to protect yourself and others.

The danger of infection has not passed, and we must all be diligent in adhering to the disease transmission prevention guidelines. We may need to suspend outdoor worship if there is an increase in the Covid-19 infection rate in the future.

We know that some of you may choose to stay safe at home for a while longer, and we will continue to provide worship resources and pastoral support by email and telephone for the foreseeable future.

Stay safe, stay well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Blessings,

Harvest Festival Dinner Dance Nov. 2

Our Annual Harvest Festival Potluck Dinner and Dance is Saturday, November 2. Music by the Back Porch Band begins at 5:00 pm with dinner at 6:00. Bring your friends, neighbors, family and a favorite dish to share. Suggested donation is $10 per adult.

All proceeds benefit area food programs through Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank.