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150th Anniversary Celebration Sunday, June 8

150yearsandourstoty_whiteback2St. Mary’s is celebrating 150 years of ministry!

You are cordially invited to attend the 150th anniversary celebration of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Basswood Grove on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

Holy Eucharist in the Memorial Garden at 10:00 a.m.

Potluck brunch and group photograph following the service.

RSVP: 8435 St. Croix Trails, Hastings, MN 55033
651-459-5668 or 715-262-3941

Everyone is invited!

The Royal Banners Forward Go!

Cross BannerPentecost Sunday, May 19, marks the culmination of work by our children born out of faith formation activities led by Sharon Lewandowski and  Linda Wallace.  Supporting help came from Jim Wallace, Susan Horn, Tom Hitchcock, Nancy Rotramel, Dar Cran, Carolyn Campfield and others.  At the 9 am service the children will process in with banners they made over the past eight weeks and show you their artwork inspired by St. Mary’s beautiful windows.

We are grateful to all who have stepped forward to engage with our children this year in a variety of ways.  The results are inspiring.

Children’s Banner Project

Cross BannerThe banners are coming! The children of St. Mary’s have been learning about the meaning of the liturgical colors and symbols. They are transforming what they have learned into beautiful, colorful banners that the children will carry in procession on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.

Between now and then, teaching/banner-making sessions will take place alongside adult formation the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. This is a fun, engaging project; a great opportunity for our kids to learn and to create something meaningful and tangible they will take home and enjoy. It builds nicely on the church window project led by Sharon and Karon and Godly Play lessons led by Nancy and Dar.

Making All Things New

spring blossomsO gracious Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world; let thy Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show thy loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and save us from selfish use of what thou givest, that men and women everywhere may give thee thanks; through Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 828)

Stewardship of creation is an ongoing ministry in the church. The creation which God declared good is entrusted to the care of humankind. Exercising that care is one dimension of daily Christian discipleship. Rogation Days are a way for the church to honor God for the gift of creation and to pray for the land, the gift of labor, and the needs of all people.

Rogation Days are traditionally celebrated during the Great Fifty Days of Easter on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day (May 6, 7 and 8 this year). The word, Rogation, has its roots in the Latin word (rogare) which means to ask or petition and it comes from the ancient introit for the Sunday preceding the Ascension. In some places, particularly England, the celebrations of Rogation Days were quite elaborate and included processions from the church to and around fields while asking for God’s blessing. These processions were known as “beating the bounds” as they often followed the parish boundaries.

The Episcopal Church maintains the practice of celebrating Rogation Days on the three days before the Ascension. However, provision is also made for Rogation Days to be celebrated at times and places which meet local needs. With an increased awareness of the need for the stewardship of creation both within the church and within contemporary culture, the themes of thanksgiving for the land and petitions for a fruitful earth may be adapted around broader cultural celebrations of Earth Day.

Although Rogation Days are agricultural celebrations, they are not solely for rural congregations. These days underscore the dependence of all people, urban and rural, on the fruitfulness of the earth and human labor. The themes of Rogation Days may be highlighted in a special worship service or in prayers of intercession on the Sunday preceding Ascension Day.

The Book of Common Prayer has a set of propers to commemorate these feast days. These propers include three prayers traditionally used for Rogation Days: a prayer for fruitful seasons, a prayer for the stewardship of creation, and a prayer for commerce and industry. A set of scripture readings appropriate for a Rogation service is also provided. The Great Litany or the Litany of the Saints is traditionally said or sung during a Rogation procession.

While we will not formally observe the Rogation Days at St. Mary’s this year, please be mindful of your role as a steward of God’s creation. Take time to observe the beautiful shades of green we see only in the early spring. Notice the early blooming flowers and the rich, loamy smell of the earth. Whether or not you are a farmer or gardener, remember those who till and plant, and give thanks for their labors on your behalf. Thank God for all the gifts that are provided by God’s gracious providence. Celebrate the beauty and bounty of all creation that reflects and magnifies the glory of God.

Waiting with Hope

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  Romans 8:18-25

Above all else, Advent is a season of hope.  Hope, as we commonly understand it, may be described as “the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it.”  The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, includes hope with faith and love as one of the three cardinal Christian virtues.  Yet hope seems always somehow more ethereal and less tangible than either faith or love.  The reason for this may be none other than Jesus himself.

Jesus speaks often of faith and love in the Gospel.  These two great virtues are the very essence his earthly ministry and teaching.  Jesus exhorts us to greater faith and love, and upbraids us for our lack of the same, but he does not speak of hope.  Indeed, we have no evidence that Jesus ever uttered the word hope anywhere in scripture.  If hope is that important, how do we explain Jesus’ paying no heed to this virtue?

In the passage from Romans quoted above, Paul offers an explanation—a very apt and credible explanation at that: “Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what is seen?”  What we long for, what we desire and expect to obtain, is Jesus himself.  Jesus did not speak of hope because Jesus is our hope.  On earth in human flesh, Jesus was literally hope personified.  He came as the fulfillment of centuries of hope as Emmanuel—God with us.

Our longing, our desire, our hope, our expectation—planted in our souls by God—is to be united with Jesus.  We look with hope for the coming again of the Messiah, the King of Glory, to rule and set to rights our wounded, fractured world.  Our own efforts fail time and again, but in the sure and certain hope of Jesus’ promise, we anxiously and expectantly hope for his coming.  Advent is a time to remember and re-echo the ancient Prophets’ longing for the Messiah.

When Jesus comes again it will be a very different coming than his last.  Far from a cold, lowly stable birth, Jesus will come on clouds descending in his full manifestation of glory as the Son of the living God.  If we are true to our hope, we will be ready to be received by him.

Jesus knows that we of our own merits and efforts can never be ready for this coming in glory.  He has sent us an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to inspire us and lead us toward the knowledge and love of God so that we might ready ourselves for the glorious reign of the Son of God.  The Spirit continues to reveal to us the true nature of God and God’s love.  In faith and in community, the Spirit speaks to us and enlightens us if we but listen and heed well those lessons.

When we heed and learn the lessons of the Spirit, our souls will turn to God in faith, hope and love.  That turning, that repentance, is Jesus’ hope for us.  John the Baptist’s cry echoing the Prophet Isaiah to “Prepare the way of the Lord!” rings as clear today is it did centuries before.  We cannot make our earthly home into the Kingdom of God on our own, but we can prepare our hearts and souls to be ready for the One who can and will.

Amen.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

St. Mary’s Memorial Garden

Thanks to some hard work by Ivan and Carol Bahe and Steve and Becky Herman, St. Mary’s Memorial Garden is looking lovlier than ever!  If you would like to make a donation to help complete the Memorial Garden, please speak with Rod Joyer or Donna Hanson.

memorial-garden-08-2012-sm

All Is Well

Death is nothing at all, 
I have only slipped into the next room 
I am I and you are you 
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. 
Call me by my old familiar name, 
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used 
Put no difference in your tone, 
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow 
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. 
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. 
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was, 
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it. 
Life means all that it ever meant. 
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity. 
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, 
Just around the corner. 
All is well. 

Henry Scott Holland
1847-1918
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