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,

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

BCP pages 280, 291, 515, 528 and 540

The great collect of renewal, one of the most beautiful and powerful Anglican prayers, appears more often in the Book of Common Prayer than any other.  We hear it on Good Friday, at the Easter Vigil, and at the ordinations of bishops, priests and deacons.  It proclaims the mighty power of God to transform weakness, brokenness and age into perfection—holy perfection.

Its frequent repetition supports the concept that this transformation and renewal is not something locked at a certain point in time but is continuous and ongoing.  Indeed, each day God calls us to transformation and renewal.  It is said that the great scholar and reformer, Martin Luther, ran from his bed to wash in the baptismal font of his church each morning as a sacramental act of continuous transformation and renewal in each of God’s children.

The Church uses many sacramental signs to remind us of our continuing call to renewal and transformation.  The water in the baptismal font at the door of the church, the sprinkling (or aspurging) of all the people with the holy waters of baptism, and the sacramental cycles of the Church Year all remind us that we are ever beginning again; never complete in this world.

Another sacramental symbol of renewal and transformation is the butterfly.  From the earliest days of Christianity, the butterfly was associated with the celebration of Easter.  The symbolism is clear enough really.  Jesus was born and lived among us (the caterpillar stage), he died and was buried (the chrysalis stage), and he rose in a new and transformed state at Easter (the butterfly stage).

The butterfly is not only symbolic of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but also of our own.  We too are born, will die, and are assured of resurrection to eternal life.  The butterfly is a symbol of hope in Jesus’ everlasting promise of salvation.  It is also a reminder that we are called to renew and transform ourselves; always seeking to more fully live into God’s call to us as sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ.

At this time of year, there are many symbols of renewal and transformation all around us.  Trees that appeared dead spring forth with leaves and newness of life.  Flower bulbs long buried under the snow and frozen ground astonish us with their sudden profusion of brilliant flowers.  And before long, the butterflies will be adorning the trees, bushes and flowers as well.

In these Great Fifty Days of Easter, open yourselves to experience the power of God’s renewing and transforming Spirit.  Seek out ways to continue to mature and flower as a beloved child of God.  Let the healing power of the Risen Christ empower you to stretch and grow in newness of life.

As Paul writes to the Church in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

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.

First Nations Kitchen Ministry Opportunity

A Faith-in-Action Commitment for St. Mary’s

First Nations Kitchen is a ministry of All Saints’ Episcopal Indian Mission in Minneapolis and has been serving healthy, organic, traditional indigenous food in a welcoming, family environment every Sunday evening since 2008.

In the First Nations Kitchen model, volunteers prepare different entrées each week.  Guests choose which entrée they would like.  Those volunteers who prepare and serve the meal are welcome to eat with the guests.  In this way, participation becomes interaction and relationships can begin to develop. 

Dinner prep starts at 1:30 pm and clean-up usually ends before 7:30 pm.  We will share the various duties with St. Luke’s – Minneapolis congregation, splitting either prep time (1:30 – 3:30 pm) or serving time (5 – 7:30 pm) with members from St. Luke’s.

St. Mary’s is signed up for either a food-prep shift or a serving shift at First Nations Kitchen on the following dates in 2020:

  • February 23 — Prep: starts at 1:30 pm
  • April 19, — Serve: starts at 4 pm
  • August 23 — Prep: starts at 1:30
  • October 25 — Serve: starts at 4 pm

Let Deacon Maureen know if you are interested in participating in this ministry.  Add the dates to your calendar now.  She’ll send out reminders as well.  

Second Saturday Study Group Oct. 12, Nov. 9 & Dec. 14 at 9:30 am

How are we, as people of faith, called to care for the “least of these” in our community?

Join us for our Second Saturday Study Group to learn how we are called to serve the “least of these” who suffer from hunger, homelessness and addiction. This series of discussions will be held on the second Saturdays of October, November and December. We will learn how hunger, homelessness and addiction impact our community and society at large, and we will begin to discern how we are called to respond. “Just as you did it to one of the least of these…you did it to me.”

Building Preservation Appeal

We are blessed to have a beautiful worship space at St. Mary’s, and preserving and maintaining our historic church building is an ongoing priority for your parish leaders. Recently we have had two unexpected expenses. Our furnace fan motor failed (during Holy Week) and we have two broken or failing windows to replace in the Narthex (entry area). These two projects resulted in $2,500 of unbudgeted costs to the parish. We hope you will join our parish leaders in contributing financially to offset these unexpected expenditures. Every gift—large or small—will help us preserve our beautiful church building for another 150 years. Please mark your gift as “Building Fund” so we can properly credit your donation. Thank you for your continuing support of St. Mary’s!