The Chancel Choir of Falcon Heights Church and a professional orchestra will present Schubert’s beautiful Mass in C at the Dec. 10 Sunday morning worship service at 10:30 a.m. This annual choral offering to our congregation and community is directed by Joel Johnson. Admission is free.
An all-ages cast will present Falcon Heights Church’s annual all-ages Christmas pageant during 10:30 a.m. worship Sunday, Dec. 17.
Hamil the Camel, our giant camel puppet, stars in “Just a Lowly Camel,” written and directed by Margot Olsen. The musical performance retells the Christmas story in song, dance and humor.
Kids and adults will play the parts in the pageant, sing and dance, build and paint sets and gather props and costumes. Rehearsals are Wednesday evenings, preceded by a soup supper. For more information, contact Margot Olsen at margot@olsenfamilycircus.
(Matthew 5:1-12) By Rev. Rick King–The last few years, the word “blessed (blest)” has come into wide use, not just among religious people, but among all types. A quarterback is said to be “blessed” with good receivers; someone says they’ve had a good year in their business or the stock market by saying, “We’ve been blessed;” and recently a female celebrity said she’d been “blessed” not to have experienced sexual harassment in the movie industry. Heck, there’s even a hashtag for #BLESSED.
But using “blessed” as a substitute for “lucky,” or “fortunate,” is rightly being questioned these days for being just a pious way of bragging about being privileged. (And my apologies to anybody who might be offended here this morning for using the word “blessed” indiscriminately—I was caught using it myself several months ago, in the South, of all places, and a member of the church brought me up short by calling it to my attention! Bless my heart.)
Blessing comes in all forms: When we feel gratitude for good things coming into our life, we may feel blessed, and BLESSed can describe an event such as Elliott’s baptism today, or in some parts of the Church, the Communion we will receive together shortly is referred to as “the Blessed Sacrament.”
But in the Beatitudes from Matthew’s gospel today, Jesus is using “BLESSed” to mean something different, something very appropriate to the Feast of All Saints, which we celebrate today. The Roman Catholic Church’s recent beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and of a priest in Oklahoma named Fr. Stanley Rother—in which they were given the honorific title, “BLESSed”—illustrates that “BLESSed” has a meaning not just associated with good fortune. It’s more along the lines of the original, root meaning of blessed—“To hurt or wound; to mark with blood; also, to consecrate.” Those two men, who are now beatified and on the path to sainthood, died as martyrs, killed for their faithful witness.
The Feast of All Saints in the Christian calendar is a celebration not just of famous, holy people whose legacy seems out of reach for normal, everyday, ordinary people like you and me, but of normal, everyday, ordinary people we know who bring a sense of the holy into ordinary life. Their lives embody love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, humility and self-control as the fruit of their life lived with God in community. Not that they’re perfect; self-acceptance is also one of their virtues.
You know people like this. In this church. Just take a moment to remember people who are no longer with us… And now, look around you. Ordinary saints. BLESSed saints. Salt of the earth saints. They look ordinary, and you would probably not find a big “S” on their chest underneath their shirt, if you asked them to show you.
You see, the Beatitudes are a description of what “BLESSed” looks like in real life, not as a prescription for how to claim notoriety or “blessings.” Because the Beatitudes describe a whole bunch of things that can go both ways, be seen as “lucky,” but also marked as something very different from lucky. Here we see the humble, earth-bound, brokenhearted, de-voiced, passionate and compassionate, nonviolent seekers of justice and reconciliation, who know deep-down from experience that only truth-telling and truth-hearing will set us free.
This is the Cloud of Witnesses, the Communion of Saints that we celebrate today. And because we have promised, as a congregation, to be Elliott’s “extended family,” we know that for him, as for us, growing up will mean facing situations where “blessed” looks very lucky indeed, and he will experience them as a “blessing,” as obvious good coming to him. But he will also face situations where blessing looks more like what Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes—the poverty of a spirit that knows it needs God; times of grief and mourning; discovering the way of nonviolence to match a hunger for justice; true-heartedness, mercy, and peace—a life that can look very unlucky, but which can hold in store the greatest blessings any of us can ever experience.
As a congregation of the “BLESSed” in Elliott’s life, we get to live a life that knows blessedness comes not from seeking everything from God, but from seeking God in everything. Amen.
Get to know your fellow FHCers better over dinner. We’re reviving Dinner for 8 (or 7), organizing groups of eight (or seven) people to dine together at someone’s home. Whether you’re a single or a double, and whether you can host or not, please sign up in the Gathering Room. Once each group is formed, we’ll pick a date. The host will be in charge of beverages. The others will bring salad, entree and dessert. It will be a fun evening of good food and conversation.
We’re hoping to do this several times a year. Contact Cindy Duddleston at email@example.com or 651-253-4995 if you have questions.
Bring your creativity and holiday spirit to the next Super Sunday during First Hour, 9:30 a.m., on Nov. 12! All ages are welcome to help make holiday gift tags for the Aliveness Project’s Holiday Gift Program.
The mission of the Aliveness Project is to link people living with HIV to resources for leading healthy, self-directed lives. It offers referral and counseling services, community meals, a food shelf, individual case management, integrative therapies, health and wellness workshops and more.
For the upcoming holidays, the Aliveness Project is hosting a Holiday Gift Expo and Party, a celebration featuring games, activities, entertainment, a winter wear giveaway and a holiday meal. At this party, each member of the Aliveness Project will be given a reusable bag that can be used in the project’s food shelf.
On Super Sunday, our church will help the Aliveness Project by decorating fun holiday gift tags to attach to these reusable bags. The Children’s Ministry Team will provide the tags and an array of decorating materials. We need you to provide the creative energy! Adults and children are welcome to volunteer. We’ve taken on the challenge of decorating 100 tags so we are hoping for a lot of creative hands!
For more information about the Aliveness Project, go to www.aliveness.org.
Volunteers of all ages are needed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, in the Gathering Room to help make 300 sandwiches and fill 50 bags with snacks for Simpson House. Please sign up on the sheet in the church lobby. This outreach ministry is funded by your first Sunday communion offering.
Sing along with the Chancel Choir and professional orchestra in the presentation of Schubert’s beautiful Mass in C at the Dec. 10 Sunday morning worship service. It’s a short-term commitment of eight brief rehearsals, starting Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. The music will be worked on during the first part of the rehearsal. If you’re interested, speak with any choir member or contact Joel or Karen Johnson, 651-426-4505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Sunday and next, Oct 15 and 22, let’s fill the altar table with the bounty we have to share with those in need. Take your gifts right up to the front of the sanctuary before worship begins. (You can also drop items off at the church during the week.)
What to bring:
- Low-sugar cereal, individual packs of instant oatmeal, granola bars
- Protein-rich foods such as stews, chilis and soups
- Cold-weather clothing in good condition (coats and boots)
The cereals will go to Falcon Heights School for students’ weekend backpacks and the other foods to the Department of Indian Work food shelf. Clothes will go to DIW or to new immigrants at Fairview Community Center.
We are launching an all-church book club with the very popular, eye-opening book about race in our community, “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota.” Stories by 16 excellent Minnesota writers tell us, from their differing perspectives, how racism has affected them and their families.
Join in the discussions after worship on Oct. 15, 22 and 29, and Nov. 12, or discuss it in another church group or with your friends–but don’t be left out of this opportunity to share this book with others in our church community.
Protein-rich food: We’re collecting soups, chili and stews for the Department of Indian Work food shelf in October. Please place your donations in the buckets in the church lobby. Other food is also always welcome.
Breakfast cereal for kids: We’re also collecting healthy low-sugar cereal and granola bars for the weekend food backpacks that are sent home with students at Falcon Heights Elementary School. We’ll start distributing the cereal the first week in October.
Warm clothes: We will collect winter clothing this month for the Department of Indian Work’s clothing closet. As you begin to change to your winter wardrobe, bring clothing and boots that are in good condition for the season ahead. Some of the smaller-sized clothing may be taken to Fairview Community Center for immigrants not prepared for our winter weather. Place the clothing near the shopping cart by the coat rack.