The Story of Jesus: Part 4 of God's 5 Act Play  
 By Ed Lotterman 


Musing on Jesus' presence in my life


Who is Jesus to me? Boy, that is a hard question, one to which I instinctively know I have the answer but that I cannot really express in words. And despite the way our creeds neatly describe a triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, how is Jesus in my daily life really distinguishable from the Holy Spirit in that same life? When my pickup spun out on some black ice south of St Peter in January and I said a little prayer as I slid backwards across the median into oncoming traffic, was it Jesus or the Holy Spirit who made sure that I came to a safe stop from which I could simply drive back across the median and on home.? Was it Jesus who kept me safe or the Holy Spirit or just the laws of gravity and motion instituted by a deistic God the Father as believed in by Ben Franklin and Adam Smith? Is the question or are the distinctions even important?


Some 45 years ago, I listened to Brazilian college-age friends argue about whether one should give money to beggars. One, a deeply fervent Marxist, said he never did because that only delayed the coming of "the revolution." Another, also Marxist in his politics but deeply Christian, quietly remarked that he always gave something because "how do I know that is not Christ sitting there on the curb?" That remark has always stuck with me. How does one know that some other person you meet during the day, whether in an office, on the street, in Room 202- Old Main at Augsburg College or at the machine shop in Chandler, is not Christ? And, if any person you meet could be Christ, or an angel, "how then shall we live?"


Sometimes Christ's presence is palpable. When I had 35 radiation treatments for "the blessing of cancer, (a phrase coined by a friend of Blair who re-gifted the insight to me), I often strongly felt the presence of Christ. Every morning my head was put into a form-fitting block and I was snapped down to a table with a mask made of a plastic mesh that was so tight you could not un-wrinkle a wrinkled brow until the session was over 18 minutes later. Yet I usually felt a strange peace as the head of the linear accelerator buzzed and whirred and clicked around me. Was a radiation-proof Jesus in the room with me or just some endorphin flowing? In an odd way, I sometimes miss that strong sense of the presence of Jesus, even though I don't want to repeat the experience.


The old adage that "God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform" can sound trite. Yet Jesus has popped up in my life in ways that really are mysterious, a few times so powerfully and so intimately I cannot even write about them. Making sense of it all is really not very important. The daily experience is.


read more about God's 5 Act Play 

A Farewell and a New Beginning....

By Phil Boelter


Last weekend while vacationing in the North country I heard the old song "Never Can Say Goodbye" sung by disco diva Gloria Gaynor. Well, it may be true. But, in our case goodbyes must be said.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time sojourning with the St. Matthews faith community.


We have grown together, groaned together, all in the process of doing and being part of God's mission in Jesus.  No one can predict the future, but I strongly suspect that we have not seen the last of each other. There will be further opportunities for mission cooperation and rejoicing, assuming we all keep our St. Paul - Minneapolis visas stamped and up to date.  In the meantime, I offer humble thanks to God for our time together.


(REMEMBER: A party to say "thank you" and "God bless" to Phil is planned for   Sunday, March 29 at 6:30 pm, in place of the Sunday night dinner. Phil is leaving to become Vicar at Gethsemane Episcopal Church in downtown Minneapolis. Rosa Uy will be making stir fried rice, and you are encouraged to bring appetizers and desserts to share).
Racial Reconciliation Faith Forum: Dr. McKinney Returns on March 29th to Continue the Conversation


Last Sunday a multi-generational group gathered together to learn more about racism and entered into a powerful and challenging conversation.  We participated in a footrace outside in the church alley highlighting the stark and difficult reality of the fundamentally unequal challenges we face in our lives. Before the race began, the group was asked a series of 30 questions about our childhood and adult backgrounds, with participants taking a step forward or backward depending on their individual experience.  At the end, those at the front and back -- based on racial and socio-economic differences -- were physically separated by a vast distance.  Afterward we shared our feelings: sadness, anger, frustration, guilt and grief.  Dr. McKinney also discussed "race muteness" in our culture - the inability to  talk about these differences which are crucial to acknowledge before we can even begin the task of working to address these racial and class inequalities. 


On Sunday, March 29 from 9:15 - 10:15 am in the Parish Hall, Dr. Karen McKinney, Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, will return for a second session to continue this important conversation.  Ages 6th grade to adult are welcome to participate.  Dr. McKinney will lead us through  several additional reflections so that we can engage in intergenerational and experiential learning. 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.  

Vestry Report


The St. Matthew's vestry impresses me every month with their thoughtfulness and ability to discuss challenging big picture concepts. The bylaw revisions adopted in January created a smaller body, and it is turning out to be a huge success. Our vestry members are very dedicated in their attendance and participation, and the smaller group allows everyone to feel engaged and able to contribute. Each member is so wise and I am incredibly grateful to them for their obvious care for and interest in the well-being of St. Matthew's.


At our March meeting we discussed how we want St. Matthew's to look, feel, and work. We have been meditating on Dwight Zscheile's latest book, The Agile Church, and how we operate in a very flexible, accommodating, and experimental fashion. The general agreement from the vestry is that we should continue to embrace this kind of environment. We would never want our community to become "stale" or resistant to hearing new calls for our mission from the Holy Spirit. At the same time, the growth at St. Matthew's challenges us to ask if we are going in too many directions at once, and what kind of behavior we want to normalize. The vestry will continue to have these conversations, and will explore the idea of creating a congregational covenant. This may build on the work of the Way of Jesus which was developed a couple of years ago.


With blessings,

Katie White

Senior Warden 
Update: Next Steps for the HCDT

On Sunday March 15, the high commitment discernment team (HCDT) met to take next steps in St. Matthews' effort to find deeper ways to engage God's mission in the greater Twin Cities. We want to do this in a way that is "generative"- that engages God's will for shalom for all people.  After reviewing our working covenant with one another, we clarified the following issues that we understand to be important to the people of St. Matthew's:

  • Education
  • Children
  • Cultivating mutual relationships that have depth / quality and trust
  • Addressing racism, addressing homelessness, and working toward systemic and long-lasting change.

 We decided that our "end game" was to identify at least one local organization working in these areas that we could "adopt"- to develop kinship across lines of difference, and to have lots of opportunities to engage in different levels (including having opportunities for St. Matthews children to engage). To accomplish this we plan to research the organizations suggested recently by St. Matthews parishioners, to visit a broad range of those organizations during the next six weeks, and to write up and circulate our reports about these experiences. In early May we will meet again to review what we have learned and assess whether we are ready to recommend an organization to St. Matthews for broader consideration, or to continue researching at that point.


We are excited and honored by the mandate St. Matthews has given us to discern where God's Spirit is leading us as a faith community. Please feel free to contact any of us with thoughts, concerns, insights and ideas, and look for a progress report by mid-May when we have completed our research.


Thank you and peace,
Lisa Wiens Heinsohn for the HCDT team (Arun & Cecelia Caspram, Birdie Carter, Blair Pogue, Christabella & Joe Shalita, ELaine Tarone, Judy Johnson, Laura Bathke, Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Terese Lewis, Tina Maynor, and Valerie Matthews).

Carol Bjorlie Poetry Reading

A special Poetry Reading will be offered by former St. Matthew's parishioner Carol Bjorlie on Sunday, April 19th at 4:00pm in the library.

Impossible Brightening, published by North Star Press in St. Cloud, Minnesota, is a lyrical collection of clouds, prairies, mountains, winter, and music.
Carol writes: "Words adjusted themselves into haiku, sestina, rhyme, meter and free verse."  
This collection of poetry is sure to delight the senses of all readers.

Carol and Leo Bjorlie attended St. Matthew's for many years before retiring and moving to North Carolina.  They generously shared their gifts with us: working with our children and youth, their musical talents and Carol's poetry and writing.

Lenten Prayer 


God of all humanity
You call us to bring about healing and wholeness for the whole world -
for women and men of all races and cultures and creeds.
Help us to respond to a world that is groaning under the weight
of injustice
and broken relationships.
Remind us that differences are a gift,
And interdependence a strength from the same creative God.
Strengthen us to resist the forces that encourage polarization and competition
rather than understanding and cooperation.
We know that your reign is not built on injustice and oppression,
but on the transformation of hearts -
new life, not just reordered life.
Teach us forgiveness, O God.
Bring us reconciliation.
Give us hope for the future.
We pray in Jesus' love.


 -- Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook


Do you have a favorite prayer, poem or link you would like to share?  Please send them to: 
Looking Ahead: Calendar Highlights
  • March 29: Racism & Racial Reconciliation Faith Forum with Dr. Barbara McKinney, 9:15am in the parish hall.
  • March 29: Dinner celebrating Phil Boelter, 6:30pm
  • April 2: Maundy Thursday Taize service, 7:00pm
  • April 3: Good Friday Stations of the Cross, 12:00pm and 7:00pm
  • April 5: Easter morning Festival Eucharist, 10:30am, Easter brunch, 9:00am
  • April 19: Poetry Reading by Carol Bjorlie, 4:00pm
  • April 19: Celebration of Community Art Show reception, 6:30pm
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