Lent 2015


Lent is a church season which begins with the invitation to observe a "Holy Lent" and the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a period of forty days (not counting Sundays) in which Christians across the ages have looked into their hearts with a flashlight, and tried to tell the truth about their relationships with God, their neighbors, and the earth. Lent has also typically included an emphasis on confession and reconciliation, and an encouragement to spend more time engaging in prayer, spiritual practices, and serving others in Jesus' name.

Lent 2015 at St. Matthew's is informed by a number of assumptions:

  • It is important to tell the truth about the human condition including the ways we are separated from God, others, and the creation.
  • Our hope lies in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • To understand this hope we must know more about the Judaeo-Christian story of God and God's people, and be able to find ourselves in this story.
  • Reconciliation and Shalom are possible through the reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ and part of God's vision for human flourishing. Manifestations of reconciliation and Shalom in our lives are signs of Christian maturity.

Throughout Lent members of our faith community will participate in a conversation about the story of God and God's people through N.T. Wright's helpful organizing device "God's Five Act Play." Each week, from the first Sunday of Lent through the third Sunday after Easter, we will examine each of the following five "acts" including their significance and what they mean for the world and us: Creation, Fall, Israel, Jesus, and New Creation/New Community. For a fuller description of each of these themes and to follow the conversation that will take place about them this Lent and Easter, go to the St. Matthew's website: www.stmatthewsmn.org.

Reconciliation across barriers of race and class, and Shalom, meaning the well being of all people and the earth, is a major part of God's vision for human flourishing and a central theme of God's Five Act Play. We will be exploring all of these themes not only through the conversations mentioned above, but also in our Lenten offerings including Faith Forums. Please check Tidings and the St. Matthew's website for more information.

Wishing you a holy and transformative Lent,

The Story of Creation: Part 1 of "God's Five Act Play"  

By Erik Johnson


Thoughts on Creation:


Creation is an act of intention. A craftsman doesn't make something by accident. 

Creation implies purpose. It implies forethought. 

Creation implies a power differential. Creation is but a subset of the potential of the creator. 

Creation implies value. 


God creates everything in six days in Genesis 1. There are no half-sketches or re-dos. After each day, God looks at God's work and calls it good.  But when we are made in God's own image, God calls it "very good." 


Humanity is God's masterpiece.  Therefore we can know that we are intended to be. That we have purpose. That we have value. But God doesn't stop there. God entrusts us to be stewards of everything that God intends, purposes, and values. And this, more than anything, proves God's love for us. 

Project Home Discussion: February 22


This coming Sunday, February 22 at noon, all those who are interested in discussing the Social Justice Ministry recommendation to do Project Home differently by continuing to participate, but having another congregation host, are invited to come to the Library to share their thoughts and listen for the Holy Spirit's leading.  


After six months of discernment, the St. Matthew's Social Justice Ministry recommended that we "do Project Home differently" this summer -- having another congregation host, while continuing to participate. The rationale behind this was that St. Matthew's would then be freed up from hosting to put our time and energy into launching a ministry with a stronger focus on ending poverty and homelessness and building relationships with our neighbors. With this in mind, please respond to the following questions:


1. Should we continue to host Project Home at St. Matthew's, or have another congregation host, while continuing to participate? What are the positives and negatives for each option? 


2. In listening to each other, what gifts and passions does our faith community share concerning social justice? Do we see some new possibilities or a new focus emerging? 


3. The High Commitment Discernment Team will be exploring new areas for social justice opportunities over the next few months. What organizations and individuals should we contact for more information?

In the Faith Forum: Learning about Racial Reconciliation with Dr. McKinney

On Sunday March 8 and 15 from 9:15 - 10:15 am in the Parish Hall, Dr. Karen McKinney, Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, will help us learn more about institutional racism/discrimination and racial reconciliation. Dr. McKinney will lead us through a couple of simulations, followed by reflection, so that we can engage in intergenerational and experiential learning. 
The activities are designed for adults and students in 6th grade on up. These sessions will take place in lieu of regular Sunday School and Adult Formation offerings, and are part of the J2A program. We are hopeful that the maximum number of children, young adults, and adults can participate in these important learning exercises and reflections. One hoped-for outcome is a deeper understanding of how the reconciliation of people across lines of difference (including race, class, and gender) is a critical part of God's vision for human flourishing. An rsvp to Blair Pogue at rector@stmatthewsmn.org is not required but would be extremely helpful for planning purposes.

Learnings/Insights From The Faith Forum with Charlotte Miller 


Charlotte is a child protection social worker. She works with children and their families in Hennepin County.   

  • Despite what may have occurred in a home (physical abuse, chemical dependency, manifestations of mental illness), it is difficult for children to be separated from their parents.
  • Charlotte goes into homes and sees that there is no food, no furniture, and things are "not good." As she observed, "It is just overwhelming."
  • Charlotte's goal is "to work with families in the home doing ministry." She wants to do family therapy. As she stated, "I saw that there is a need in the home for families to come together and be on the same page because the services that were offered were not ground breaking or meaningful. " When the parents give her permission to read from scripture in their home, it helps the entire family to connect: "I feel the connection everyone has (when they read scripture and pray together) it is a spiritual presence." She went to Luther Seminary to learn more about how she can be present and bring God into her conversation with these families.
  • In most social services "the spiritual piece is missing."
  • A relationship with God, a spiritual life, and a connection with the community is critical to healing. Most of the families she works with are not connected to a church family.
  • Question for Charlotte: What do we as a church need to do to prepare to walk alongside one of these families? What do we need to do to be in more vulnerable relationships?  It's important to ask the families what they need. There is a lot of shame about their family situation and they are not always open to help. They are often unaware of helpful resources. It is important for them to know you are there to help and not to harm.
  • One of the most powerful ways our congregation can be in relationship with neighbors in poverty is to walk alongside them in a ministry of presence. Neighbors experiencing poverty are often invisible to those around them and need to know that others see them, and see them as people of worth and dignity.

A Reminder: Dr. Ruben Rivera on Racial Reconciliation & Shalom   


Make sure to save the date - Tuesday February 24th is the first session with Dr. Rivera beginning at 7:00pm in the parish hall. He will lead us in a seminar examining biblical reconcilation - shalom, factors that hinder it, hot-button divisive issues in need of reconciliation today and capacities to address these issues.  He will use a variety of multimedia images, film clips and discussion questions. 

Lenten Prayer  


Holy Spirit, enable us
to turn to you at every moment.
So often we forget that you dwell within us,
that you pray in us, that you love in us.
Your presence in us is trust
and constant forgiveness.


 - Brother Roger of Taizé


Do you have a favorite prayer or poem you would like to share?  Please send them to: Tidings@stmatthewsmn.org 
Looking Ahead: Calendar Highlights
  • February 22: Loaves and Fishes at the Dorothy Day Center, 2:00 - 6:00pm
  • February 22: Social Justice Ministry Recommendations: 12:00pm - library
  • February 24 & March 17: Racial Reconciliation and Shalom with Ruben Rivera, 7:00pm
  • February 28: Drop off Artwork for Community Art Show, 10:00am-1:00pm
  • March 5: Film Discussion of "Selma" with Barrett Fisher at 7:00pm
  • March 10: JRLC Day on the Hill, Advocacy for children's issues.
  • March 8 & 15: Faith Forum with Dr. Karen McKinney, 9:15am in the parish hall.  Open to Grades 6 through adult.
Please share your news and photos with us: tidings@stmatthewsmn.org

Visit our website for the prayer list, calendar and sermons