» Faith Formation

Posted on: January 14, 2019

In 2019, St. John’s will offer a variety of faith formation programs intended to build community and to learn from one another while growing in knowledge and love of God.

Sunday Faith Formation

Our Sunday formation hour for youth and adults, meets every Sunday at 9am in the Fireside Room.

Lenten Faith Formation

Our Lenten journey begins on Ash Wednesday with the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” During this Holy Season of “remembering” and “returning” join us on Sunday mornings at 9am in the Fireside Room for our Lenten Faith Forum series which focuses on how our Christian faith grounds us spiritually to fully embrace our mortality. Presenters will offer resources to help us with end-of-life advance healthcare directives; resources for making compassionate transitions when death approaches; finding unexpected joy in planning the liturgy for your celebration of life; and exploring the themes of lament and mortality in Holy Scripture. By fully embracing our mortality together during Lent, we will come to know the ineffable joy of eternal life in new ways this Eastertide.

March 10 – CANCELED. “Directing Your Own End-of-Life Care: Making a Healthcare Declaration,” presented by Mary E. Johnson is rescheduled for Saturday, March 16 at the “When Coming to the End of Life” workshop from 9am-4:30pm.  Do you have a living will? Or perhaps you have identified a healthcare agent. Have you spoken to your loved ones about your goals and values at the end of life should you be unable to speak for yourself? Let’s talk.

March 17 – Clear Intentions: Financial and Life Documents Everyone Should Have,” presented by Alice Lightner Johnson. Facing our mortality opens the door to preparing for what will happen after we die. Having your financial affairs in order is a key part of the legacy you will leave behind. Alice Lightner Johnson, owner of LifeShift Services, will walk us through the key documents everyone should have and present strategies to insure assets are distributed smoothly and according to your wishes.

March 24 – “Planning the Liturgy for a Celebration of Life,” presented by the Rev. Craig Lemming. What were their favorite hymns? Which passages of Scripture should we choose? Who will do readings and prayers? Who will offer a eulogy? Holy Eucharist? Incense? We can offer a pastoral gift to our loved ones by planning ahead and memorializing all of our liturgical wishes for our Celebration of Life. Planning our own funeral can be fun! It’s one of the most joyful spiritual exercises we can engage in, so join us for this conversation and workshop.

March 31 – “Praying for Death: Death Wishes in the Hebrew Bible,” presented by Hanne Loeland Levinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota. “I was sitting on a rock . . . It was sunny, in winter. I just prayed to die, but it didn’t work.” So Robert Rijxman, a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, recalls: “Praying for death didn’t work.”  In several narratives in the Hebrew Bible a character prays to die, or asks to be killed, or wishes their life would come to an end, revealing some of the darkest hours in humans’ lives. Moses, Elijah, Rachel, Job, to mention a few, all utter a wish to die. What triggers their death wishes? Do they all truly long for death, or are they trying to achieve something else with their death wishes? What might it mean for us today to have these narratives in the Bible?

April 7 – “Why, God? Voices of Protest in Biblical Lament,” presented by Elaine James, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Theology at St. Catherine University. More than any other type of poem, lament prevails in the Bible. The ancient writers were not afraid of voicing their fear, sickness, anguish, and suffering in both communal and individual lament. In the midst of this rich lament tradition, we find voices of protest, who seem to speak against the very possibility of faith. How can we understand these voices in the theological practices of worship and church community? What is the role of lament, and of protest, in our lives of faith today? How can the Psalms of lament model a mode of relating to one another, and to God, in the midst of hardship? This talk will offer an introduction to Psalms of lament and will consider the dignity of protest in light of trauma.

April 14 – “The Paradoxes of Palm Sunday,” presented by the Rev. Dr. Neil Elliott. The Holy Week begins with our liturgical reenactment of the crowds hailing Jesus as Messiah as they march into Jerusalem; then, speaking again as the crowds a few days later, we call for his death. What are we doing? How have the Gospels—and our liturgy—shaped our imaginations of the significance of Jesus’ death? And given the terrible history of Christian anti-Judaism, how do we enter into this liturgy more aware of its paradoxes and pitfalls?   

April 21 – Easter Sunday, no Faith Forum.

Unpacking the Sermon: Community Supper and Conversation

Oftentimes members of our faith community have no opportunity to respond to or discuss a Sermon they heard on Sunday. Gather in the Fireside room on the Wednesdays listed below at 6pm. This is an opportunity to “Unpack” the previous Sunday’s sermon with the Preacher in a casual conversation that engages the voices and perspectives of all ages. While we enjoy a simple supper, we will share our questions; What inspired you? What challenged you? What did you agree or not agree with, and why? What would the preacher have liked to say if they had more time?

February 6 – The Rev. Jered Weber-Johnson

February 27 – The Rev. Barbara Mraz

April 24 – Unpack the Liturgy. The Rev. Neil Elliott offers a variation on our “Unpack the Sermon” theme by leading an “Unpack the Liturgy” conversation for all ages. Holy Week offers us a marvelous array of liturgies – Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Holy Saturday; The Great Easter Vigil; and Easter Sunday. Come and enjoy a simple supper and then “unpack” these liturgies together. What inspired you? What challenged you? What felt uncomfortable or affirming, and why? All are welcome!

May 29 – The Rev. Craig Lemming

Please RSVP for dinner, including any dietary restrictions, to Craig Lemming at craig.lemming@stjohnsstpaul.org.

Spiritual Life Groups

St. John’s Spiritual Life Groups provide parishioners the opportunity to be spiritually nurtured in intentional communities. As you meet over time, you will deepen your faith and build connections with each other. St. John’s spiritual life groups currently include:

Prayer Shawl – Knitters and crocheters of all experience levels are welcome to meet the first and third Wednesday at 9:30am in the Gathering Space.

Book Group – new comers are always welcome to join the first and third Thursday of the month at 10am in the Fireside Room.

Women’s Group – for all women, this group meets the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm at St. John’s.

Men’s Group – for all men, this group meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:30pm in the Fireside Room.

OWLs – for anyone who identifies as Older, Wiser, Laity. This group meets three to four times per year for a special program and luncheon provided by clergy and staff.  

Young Adults – for anyone who identifies as a young adult. This group gathers for brunch the third Sunday of each month after the 10am worship as well as one time per month for an activity.

LGBTQ+ Spiritual Life Group – anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ is radically welcomed into our shared faith life at St. John’s. Our program offerings, which usually occur every other month, provide social, liturgical, and educational opportunities for us to broaden, enrich, and deepen our faith commitment to following the way of Jesus as beloved disciples together.

Small Groups

If you are interested in a more intimate setting, our small groups are a place to connect with other Saint John’s parishioners and with God. The groups are gatherings of 8-12 members who meet regularly for friendship and spiritual support; some rotate their meetings among members’ homes, others meet at Saint John’s or in a coffee shop. Some groups meet to study scripture or have a common interest, but all focus on our shared life of faith. Please contact Craig Lemming if you would like to learn more at 651-228-1172 x18 or craig.lemming@stjohnsstpaul.org.