Imagine: A Christmas Message from Fr. Scott

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about the child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:16-19

 

Can you imagine?  Can you imagine what Mary must have been thinking as she pondered all that had happened and had been foretold?  Can you imagine?

Imagination is at the heart of our experience of Christmas.  We, with Mary, Joseph, the angels and shepherds, are part of something magnificently wonderful—something that words cannot begin to express.  We are part of the magnificence of God’s greatest gift, the gift of the Incarnation, something so spectacular that we are only able to imagine its implications.

God loved the world so much that God glorified the whole created order by becoming a part of the creation itself through the birth of Jesus—God’s only Son—to Mary.  This act of love transformed the world and continues to transform the world as we know it.

Pondering the transformation of the whole world is daunting, to say the least.  Perhaps we would do better to follow Mary’s example and ponder the implications of God’s gift of love in our own hearts—how does the Incarnation impact my life and my relationship with God?

To put it very simply (perhaps too simply), the Incarnate Christ is a constant reminder of God’s continuing, intimate presence with us; and we are a constant reminder of our continuing presence to God.  The ongoing power of the Incarnation keeps us in a relationship with God that is deeply personal; it is what gives us the audacity to claim our inheritance through Jesus Christ as daughters and sons of God.  As Paul writes, “And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’  So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.”  (Gal. 4:6, 7)

What greater gift can we receive than the gift of God’s unconditional love?  But we feel unworthy to accept that gift because we are broken, sinful human beings.  Yet it precisely because we are broken, sinful human beings that God has given us this gift, a gift that transforms us and enables us to love God and one another as God loves us.  Moreover it is a gift that is ours forever for, as Paul writes in Romans, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (8:38,39)

Through this perfect gift of God we are transformed and we are empowered to continue the transformation of the world in the ways in which we share this gift with others.  The love of God through Jesus Christ is inexhaustible.  The more we share it, the more we receive, grace upon grace.

This Christmas, and always, share the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.  As a child of God, accept your portion of the work we have been given to do to help embrace a sin-sick and weary world that all may come to know and accept God’s perfect gift of love to us through Christ Jesus.  Imagine the difference this gift will make in the world.  Imagine the power you can begin to unleash.  Imagine.

 

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Lauren Cran Funeral Nov. 12

Lauren Kenneth Cran, age 81, died peacefully at his home in Denmark Township on November 9, 2018. Lauren was the son of Rolland and Verna (Pasch) Cran, and was born on June 17, 1937 in Hastings, MN. Lauren was a lifelong resident of Denmark Township. A lifelong member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church - Basswood Grove, Lauren was a very active volunteer in Washington County. He retired from 3M after 40 years of service. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Gary Cran. Lauren is survived by his wife, Darlene; sons, Dean and Brian (Susan Onstad) Cran; grandson, Tyler Onstad-Cran; brother, Jim Cran; sister-in-law, Jeannette Cran; niece, Sara Liebl; nephew, Donald Cran; and many cousins and other relatives. A Service of Christian Burial will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, November 12, 2018 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 8435 St. Croix Trail South, Hastings, with The Rev. Scott Monson presiding. Interment will follow at the church cemetery. Visitation will take place one and half hours prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to St. Mary's Episcopal Church.

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Harvest Festival Dinner and Dance Nov. 3

Our Annual Harvest Festival Potluck Dinner and Dance is Saturday, November 3. Music by the Back Porch Band begins at 5:00 pm with dinner at 6. 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.

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Susan Horn Art Opening Oct. 11

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Benedictine Spirituality Study on Second Saturdays Sept. – Dec.

It may seem odd that some of the best guidelines for achieving balance in our world today, where "stress" has become the norm, come from a Sixth Century Italian monk who at one point chose to live by himself in a cave. Yet through the centuries, millions have found the teachings of St. Benedict of Nursia and his Rule for monastic life key to their own spiritual wholeness.

The spirituality of St. Benedict has offered those who follow its path a way to faith-filled living through work, prayer, learning and living in community. This is not a spirituality that requires a departure from everyday life, but rather a way of being that embraces and becomes fully engaged in the holiness that permeates our daily existence and the call to follow Christ in all that we do.

When we live an integrated life, we express the true identity that God created for each of us. Our every encounter and activity revolve around our longing to be connected to God. St. Benedict's wisdom can help us center ourselves in God even while we live day in and day out in a culture that may work against us. Moreover, it shows us how those who share our lives are part of the spiritual way.

Join us at 9:30 a.m. on the Second Saturdays of September through December 2018 as we explore how Benedict's wisdom speaks to us today.

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Corn Roast & Summer Festival August 11

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It’s ‘May Madness’ at St. Mary’s

Saturday, May 5: Spring Fling Dinner and Dance

Saturday, May 12: Second Saturday Study Group Resumes

Friday and Saturday, May 18 & 19: St. Mary's Annual Rummage Sale

Sunday, May 20: The Day of Pentecost

Learn more about the May Madness Events at St. Mary's!

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150th Anniversary January 28, 2018

On Sunday, January 28th, St. Mary’s will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Dedication of the Church by Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple. Our liturgy that day will have the look, feel and sound of an 1868 Sunday service, with prayers and hymns from that era.

Following the 9:30 a.m. service of Holy Communion, we will gather for our Annual Meeting and election of Vestry members. A light lunch will be served following the meeting. (There will be no potluck until Sunday, February 4th.)

Almighty God, to whose glory we celebrate the dedication of this house of prayer: We give you thanks for the fellowship of those who have worshiped in this place, and we pray that all who seek you here may find you, and be filled with your joy and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”

Like the apostles, we long to learn to pray as Jesus prayed: with faith, fire and fervency. Too often, however, we’re not sure how to begin, what to say, or even if our prayers will be heard and answered. This four-session discussion series will explore the four traditional forms of prayer: Praise, Petition, Intercession and Thanksgiving. We’ll learn that praying is a simple tool everyone has been given to enter into a conversation with God. We will discover the wealth of resources for prayer in the Book of Common Prayer and learn the basics for developing a rewarding prayer life with some down to earth tips from best-selling author and pastor Max Lucado.

Join us at 9:35 a.m. on the second Saturday of October, November, December and January to learn, share, explore and experience how a simple practice of prayer can enhance and enrich our conversation with God. There are no books to buy, no homework to do, and no attendance requirement; just a space to learn, grow and share.

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A Litany for Peace

By Linda Friern and Tony Bartlett, in The Fire of Peace © 1992, Pax Christi

Let us pray that we may be set free from the chains of violence and war.

 

Jesus the Christ, by your cross and resurrection…deliver us

by your nonviolence and love…deliver us

by your witness to truth…deliver us

by your passion and death…deliver us

by your victory over the grave…deliver us

 

from the desire for power…deliver us

from the conspiracy of silence…deliver us

from the negation of life…deliver us

from the worship of weapons…deliver us

from the celebration of killing…deliver us

from the slaughter of the innocent…deliver us

from the nightmare of hunger…deliver us

from the politics of terror…deliver us

from a false peace…deliver us

from relying on weapons…deliver us

from the spiral of armaments…deliver us

from plundering the earth’s resources…deliver us

from the despair of this age…deliver us

from global suicide…deliver us

 

By the light of the Gospel…give us your peace.

by the good news for the poor…give us your peace.

by your healing and wounds…give us your peace.

by faith in your word…give us your peace.

by a hunger and thirst for justice…give us your peace.

by the coming of your reign…give us your peace.

by the outpouring of the Spirit…give us your peace.

by reconciliation of enemies…give us your peace.

by gentleness and nonviolence…give us your peace.

by the truth that sets us free…give us your peace.

by prophecy and witness…give us your peace.

by persecution because of your name…give us your peace.

by the power of your love…give us your peace.

 

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world… have mercy on us.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world… have mercy on us.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world… grant us your peace.

 

Almighty God, kindle, we beseech you, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility your dominion may increase till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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