Christmas Services

Sunday December 22 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Worship and Eucharist, 10:00am, The Rev. Ken Toven presiding

Sunday School Pageant during service

Bake sale, quilt raffle & soup after service



Christmas Eve, December 24

Hymns and Carols at 8:00pm

 Worship and Eucharist, 8:30pm, The Rev. Randy Welsand presiding



Welcome to Advent and the turning of the year. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent on December 1, we join with the worldwide community in revisiting the ancient texts as they interweave with our lives and instruct us in how to make the journey of faith through the year to come.

Advent begins with the end times and moves backward in time through promises and prophecies to the Incarnation at Christmas when God disrupts and births all things anew. The end of the story may not be an easy place to start when it involves our own responsibility as agents in the outcome. We will hear from prophets that declare realities we might sometimes wish to gloss over or go past by a different route. They confront us with the truth that the way through demands our strength, persistence and courage and that there is no other route.

We are welcomed into this Advent — into a different story than the one our culture and world have shaped and to which we have grown accustomed. Creative change and restoration are taking place all around us, excluding nothing. We are urged to take our discipleship in this direction. We will need flexible strength that can tolerate great ambiguity, shaped within the wisdom of and a firm foundation in our tradition to face such challenges and be willing participants in helping to make the renewed creation come. Whether we choose to awaken this Advent or remain sedated by the clamor of this world, all creation groans in showing forth the hour that is at hand. Let us recognize and greet “the days [that] are surely coming”.

Join us for Our Advent/Christmas Book Group

                    Adult Formation is back, with a new Advent/Christmas book and study group, and I hope you will join us! We will be meeting in the Parish Hall on Sundays at 9 a.m. beginning December 1 and ending January 5. Our book is A Way to the Manger, published by Forward Movement and written by a diverse group of Episcopal authors.  Visitors are always welcome to join us.

A Way to the Manger explores Luke’s account of Christ’s birth, through the unique lens of the Way of Love: the seven practices of turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest, as recently proclaimed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. With daily devotions of personal stories, modern examples, art, and invitations to prayer and journaling, the authors will challenge us to discover and combine these practices into our own lives.

A good supply of books, provided by SJEC, is already on its way to us and the signup sheet is posted in the Parish Hall (or let me know by email). You’ll want to be signed up so you can get the book and read the first chapter before our first Sunday gathering.

This Advent and Christmas, let’s walk together with the shepherds and the angels, Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and Anna and Simeon. All their paths—as well as ours—lead to the same destination: the humble manger where Love was born.

Deacon George

Welcome to Fall, “Ordinary Time”

      On the secular calendar, my favorite season is fall.  I love the clear, crisp days and cool starry nights, the harvest festivals, backyard campfires, outdoor football, and the lakes when all the summer folks have put away their docks and the loons have taken back their turf.

     On the church’s calendar, we are winding down that long season between Eastertide and Advent, those little-understood “Sundays after Pentecost” referred to as “Ordinary Time.”

      Sister Joan Chittister, in her book The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life, tells us that Ordinary Time exists for us to consider all that happened between Jesus’ birth and death, “time to contemplate the intersection between the life of Jesus and our own.”

      This is a place where the intersection of the church and secular calendars occurs, as Chittister explains, “Once we understand the impact of Jesus on our own lives we recognize the efforts demanded of us…then we are ready to begin the spiritual disciplines designed to strengthen us for the passions, deaths and resurrections in our own lives.”

       So, as Ordinary Time wanes and takes us all to a renewal our own spiritual commitments, fall is suddenly upon us.  This year it brings new opportunities to walk with Jesus in Bible Study, discover his Church in the Inquirers’ Course, contemplate the Triune God at work through our contemporary film series, share stories and fellowship at Dinners for Eight, and perhaps most significant for us all, to learn about and commit to our own ministry in the many roles here at St. John’s church when we all attend Ministry Sunday, after our service on  September 22.

      Your vestry, wardens and ministry leaders are planning a “fall festival” for you on Ministry Sunday, and I hope you will respond with an enthusiastic commitment to become engaged in at least one or more ministries in support of our faith community at St. John’s. If you have an interest, pursue it by asking a vestry member or ministry leader about it. If your ministry team can use some help or new ideas, pursue that by telling a newcomer or someone you may not know, about it. Don’t wait; start now. ‘Tis the season.

Deacon George

Eighth Annual Bizarre Bazaar September 14!

The 2nd Saturday after Labor Day is our 8th annual “Bizarre Bazaar”.  This consists of a HUGE rummage sale. 

The Parish Hall is filled with bargains, new to vintage.  There is also a bake sale, which consists of freshly baked items and home canned jams, jellies, etc.  Outside in the huge tent you will find garage and garden items for sale.  Also there is a plant and produce sale.  The plant sale has house plants and perennial plants for outside.  The produce comes fresh from our gardens.  

     Proceeds from previous Bizarre Bazaars have gone to new carpet and paint in the Parish Hall, updates in the kitchen (new freezer, for example), repairs to the parking lot, and other needed projects.  
     Stop by and have a free cup of coffee (and, you can keep the mug) and do some shopping.  
     We are so blessed to have such a supportive community in St. Cloud.  Thank you.