» Christmas Pageant

Posted on: December 10, 2017

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6


In the Mystery of Christmas Godly Play story, we talk about the time before Christmas, advent as a time of quiet, holy mystery. It is four weeks long because we need that much time to get ready to enter the mystery. Oftentimes, however, we race right through advent without taking the time to prepare for that mystery.

Christmas Pageants have been occurring in churches for years. They are a great way to teach the Christmas story to children as they take on the roles of Mary, Joseph, the angels and the shepherds each year. St. John’s has done pageants in a number of different ways. This year, in an effort to simplify life for all of our families, and so we can all focus on what is truly important, we are going to try a new no-rehearsal format for our annual Christmas Pageant. There are no auditions or competitions for our pageant. And, our pageant this year will capture the holy chaos, the miracle, the surprise, the mystery, and the joy of the Savior’s birth. The keys to this type of pageant are flexibility and fellowship; this is about the children being invited to step forward and bear witness to the mystery.

This year we ask families to please arrive by 9am on December 24 for instructions and costume dressing in the GYM. Children can come in costume, and we’ll also have costumes available. Any parents who are willing to help get kids in costume and to help them enter the story are welcome and appreciated.

It may be holy unpredictable chaos. And in the midst of the chaos come the words of the Prophet Isaiah 11:6, “A little child shall lead them.” God calls us to be in community with one another, to relish the passing on of a generation, to hear with new ears that God is with us. Our children will have the chance once again to proclaim the gospel, to tell our faith story in the context of our liturgy. It’s the story that’s important; allowing participants to create a memory so that the story becomes their own. Emmanuel – God is with us. And at a Pageant, God is within each and every one of us.

» Morning Prayer in Advent

Posted on: December 10, 2017

We will be celebrating Morning Prayer in the choir stalls at 9am every weekday in Advent (Dec 4-8, 11-15, and 18-22).

Theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer believed that knowing the story of scripture was even more important than knowing the story of our present lives. By hearing scripture over and again, in its whole, he said “[w]e are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth”. In this, he explains, we become the “reverent listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story…[a]nd only in so far as we are there, is God with us today also.”

Certainly the findings of several studies on spiritual growth and development prove out Bonhoeffer’s assumption – that knowing scripture is the surest marker of deepening faith in God in Christ.Where, outside of Sunday morning, can we simply encounter the scriptural narrative? One of the ways that Christian communities have done this across time is through some observance of hours of prayer that punctuate the day.

On weekday mornings in Advent, we will be celebrating Morning Prayer at 9am. The service will be simple, brief, and will allow us to hear large portions of holy scripture set aside through the Daily Office readings. We invite you to join us, when able, for this rite, and discover your story more deeply.

» Festival of Lessons and Carols

Posted on: December 10, 2017

Come Sunday, December 17 at 4pm for Scripture and seasonal music at the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols. Our children’s, youth, and adult, and handbell choirs will be joined by the Artaria String Quartet to participate in the annual singing and ringing of the carols and anthems.

At St. John the Evangelist, this traditional service has been offered for many years.  Have you ever wondered about the history of our annual Lessons and Carols service?  Why it has became so popular?

Did you know Minnesota Public Radio has played a large role in promoting Lessons and Carols in the United States? Beginning with Michael Barone’s annual live broadcasts from Cambridge, England, many years ago, tens of thousands of people tune in each year on Christmas Eve morning to listen in.  The service was first broadcast in the U.K. (over radio) in 1928 and has remained on the air each year. Cambridge time is 6-7 hours ahead of Minnesota in the winter — their service begins in the afternoon just before dust.

The original Lessons and Carols service actually started much earlier and was from a plan of E.W. Benson, later the Archbishop of Canterbury. It first took place in a wooden shed in Truro, which later became the cathedral seat in Truro. It occurred each year on Christmas Eve, beginning in 1880. Benson arranged the service from several ancient sources including nine carols and short lessons. They were read by various members of the Cathedral, beginning with a young chorister, and ending with the Bishop. The lessons and carols suggestion had come from G.H.S. Walpole, later the Bishop of Edinburgh, Scotland.  This tradition still exists in most places.

The King’s College (Cambridge, England) Festival was first held on Christmas Eve in 1918, almost 100 years ago! It was directed by Eric Milner-White, the Dean of King’s College. As an army chaplain he was convinced the Church of England needed more imaginative worship. The music was originally directed by Arthur Henry Mann, Organist at King’s College from 1876–1929. The choir at King’s College includes sixteen trebles, as instituted by King Henry 6th at King’s College. Until 1927 the men’s voices were provided by Choral Scholars (volunteer adults from the community) and by older Lay Clerks (paid adult singers). Currently fourteen undergraduate singers make up the alto, tenor and bass parts at King’s College with the original sixteen boy trebles. The lessons were rearranged in the early years and from that date the service has always begun with the well-known carol, “Once in royal David’s city.” Almost every year carols are changed and some new ones introduced by successive organists. Organists of King’s College have included Arthur Henry Mann; Boris Ord (1929–57), Harold Darke (Ord’s substitute during the second world war), David Willcocks (1957–1973), Philip Ledger (1974–1982) and from 1982 to present, Stephen Cleobury. The backbone of the service, the nine lessons and the prayers, remains virtually unchanged.

Many churches and colleges, around the world, have adapted the lessons and carols service for their own use. It is estimated that millions of listeners tune in worldwide each year. Since 1963 a shorter lessons and carols service has also been shown on television. Recordings of the carols are available commercially.

Whenever and wherever this lovely service is heard the basis of each service derives from the lessons, rather than the music. The main theme is the purposes of our Creator as seen through the lens and texts of scripture.


» Epiphany at St. John’s: Share Stories

Posted on: December 10, 2017

Stories of Our God

Baptism Sunday: January 7 at 10am
To learn more about baptism for yourself or a child, contact Jered Weber-Johnson at jered.weberjohnson@stjohnsstpaul.org.

Candlemas: Thursday, February 1 at 7pm
Come for this service with special music to celebrate the Presentation of Our Lord.


Stories of Faith Formation

“Our Story: The Nicene Creed”: Sundays at 9am, January 7-February 11
Every Sunday we stand together to tell our story of faith through the recitation of the Nicene Creed. To start the new year, we will dedicate six weeks to an engaging and illuminating conversation on the substance of our communal confession. Gather for a brief lecture or teaching, followed by discussion. Youth and adults welcome.


Stories of Our Community

Annual Meeting: Sunday, January 28 at 11:15am in the Gym
Hear the stories of all the wonderful work being done at St. John’s. The church will provide lunch; please bring a dessert to share. Childcare provided for kids birth through age 4..

Noonday Prayers and OWLs Luncheon: Tuesday, January 30
The staff and clergy of St. John’s invite all OWLs (anyone who identifies as Older, Wiser Laity) to a service of Noonday Prayers in the chapel at 12 noon, followed by a luncheon and program in the Fireside Room at 12:30pm. Please be sure to RSVP to the church office at 651-228-1172 x10 or church@stjohnsstpaul.org so that we can plan enough food for the lunch.

Stories of Our Neighbors In Need

Project Home: the month of February
Once again we will open our gym and provide homeless individuals and their family members with a place to sleep, some snacks, and hosts with compassion for their present situation. Signups for volunteer slots will be available soon.

» The Hanging of the Greens

Posted on: December 7, 2017

Each year during Advent, the church is magically adorned with greens filling the space not only with beauty but the lovely scent of fresh pine. With the church decorated, it seems that the waiting near its end and celebration of Christ’s birth will soon be upon us.

The transformation is directed by Gary Hagstrom. Gary started hanging the greens approximately 20 years ago when longtime parishioner and good friend, Ted Devitt, asked him to help. What started as willingness to assist a friend has now morphed into the lead for the event. Gary views this as a service he can do for the church. To that end, he has developed a large binder full of pictures and instructions for placing the wreaths and hangings in best place for maximum enjoyment by all. He orders the greens in advance and makes sure they are delivered in the morning on the day of the event — one year they were delivered in the afternoon and were still frozen when the volunteers went to hang them!

With a crew of volunteers from the Men’s group, the Youth group and the Under-40 group, the Hanging of the Greens is truly an activity for the entire parish. Everyone shares the work, the fun, and a few jokes as well. (One perennial favorite is the story of a man who fell off a 40-foot ladder. Fortunately, he was on the bottom rung!)

You are invited to assist with the hanging of the greens on Wednesday, December 13. The event starts at 6:00 with those who are willing to brave the cold to hang greens along the rails outside. The crew moves inside around 6:30 to decorate the nave and altar area.

Afterwards, adults are welcome to join Jered Weber-Johnson at the University Club for refreshments and a discussion on the famous essay, “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” — a lovely meditation on the meaning of faith.

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