There is really no authentic way of making sense of it all. The cognitive dissonance of Holy Week – the joy and the drama, the celebration and the humiliation, the glory and the darkness – it all makes for a week that should be anything but holy if we think holy means pure.

Holy Week is messy.

This week, which marks Jesus’ final human steps, is holy only inasmuch as it is rooted in the presence Christ – God incarnate – who comes into the middle of all of this dissonance and sets up a home here because holiness is not about purity. Holiness is about where God chooses to make God’s home.

God comes to set up a home here because this is where we are. We live in the middle of all of the mess, trying desperately to run to one side over the other, but always seeming to find ourselves somewhere in the middle. Wrestling, running, tired, weary, and worn-down. Holy Week reminds us that God is here in it all.

Holy Week is holy because through it we are given another glimpse into the Son of God

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8 (NRSV))

The Son of God enters enters the human experience and reflects back to us the best and worst of who we are – generous and selfish, loving and filled with hate, compassionate and cold, gracious and begrudging – in order that through his living,

all darkness would be penetrated by his light,
all troubles calmed by his peace,
all evil redeemed by his love,
all pain transformed in his suffering,
and all dying glorified in his risen life.(

Adapted from “Night Prayer” (in A New Zealand Prayer Book, 183.)

Henri Nouwen says that “for a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.” (Henri Nouwen. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society, 2nd ed. (Image Doubleday: New York, 2010), 45.)

As we enter the awesome and terrible mystery of Holy Week, I want to close with this poem from Walter Brueggemann that he wrote on the occasion of the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The poem is called “The poem conflict us:”

The intrusion of pain,
the eruption of anger,
the embrace of rage,
and then bewilderment and wonderment and awe.
Our lives in faith are situated among the poets:
The poets talk about,
swords to plowshares,
spears to pruning hooks,
and unlearning war.
But answered by a shadow poet who bids us,
plowshares to swords,
pruning hooks to spears,
be not a weakling!
The poems conflict us, as we are conflicted
sensing and knowing better,
Knowing better, but yielding.
Do not deliver us from the clashing poems
that are your word to us.
But give us courage and freedom and faith… O Prince of Peace.
Amen. (Walter Brueggemann, “The poem conflicts us” in Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 2003), 77.)

REOPENING of Saint Paul's Church 27 June at 10:00am - click for details

Dear Saint Paul’s faith community members and friends,

God’s peace be with you! Rejoice! Rejoice! Given the decrease in COVID-19 cases in Minnesota and the increase in the number of people who have been vaccinated, we are excited to announce the re- opening of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church building on Lake of the Isles on Sunday, 27 June at 10:00AM. We will have a beautiful and joyful worship with Eucharist, and coffee hour to follow. For those of you who are unable to come to the church building, a live Zoom stream will be available. Look for the Zoom link in the E-pistle.

Saint Paul’s COVID-19 Response Team Members (Mark Anderson, Steve Riendl, Angie Paulson, Jacob Manier, Rev. Janet MacNally, and Rev. Ramona Scarpace) have put together guidelines for worshiping together in-person. These guidelines are based on information from the Centers for Disease Control, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. The team asks that, in the spirit of loving God and neighbor, everyone follow the guidelines as listed below. If you have any questions or concerns about these guidelines, please contact Junior Warden and COVID Response Team Chair Steve Riendl at sriendl@stpaulsmpls.org.

IN-PERSON WORSHIP GUIDELINES: Attendance

  • No pre-registration for worship is required

Your Health

  • If you aren’t feeling well for any reason, please take care of yourself at home. You may join the service via Zoom.
  • If you have any personal health questions or concerns about attending in-person worship services, please speak with your medical provider.

Creating a Welcoming and Safer Environment

  • Greeters and ushers will be on-hand to assist you with seating, service bulletins, questions
  • The church and restrooms will be cleaned before and after each Sunday worship service
  • Hand sanitizer and masks will be available
  • All books will be removed from the pews. Worship bulletins will be available in paper and electronic format.

Masks and Social Distancing

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask or socially distance. You may wear a mask and socially distance for your own comfort level.
  • If you are not vaccinated, please wear a mask and socially distance.
  • If someone is wearing a mask, please keep socially distant from them.

Seating

  • Saint Paul’s Church seats approximately 250 people. Given our regular Sunday attendance numbers, there is plenty of room to spread out.
  • We recommend that family groups sit together.
  • Fully vaccinated people may sit with other fully vaccinated people.
  • If someone is wearing a mask, please socially distance from them when selecting a seat

Singing

  • Congregational singing is permitted.

The Peace

  • Please remain in your seats for the Peace. Use a wave, a nod, a smile, etc.

The Eucharist

  • Clergy and those assisting at the altar will sanitize their hands in view of the congregation.
  • Communion will be of bread only. We will use gluten-free wafers for all. Receive the bread in your hands.
  • The common cup of wine will not be used at this time.
  • You may receive at the altar rail kneeling or standing. If you are unable to or do not wish to come up to the altar rail, please notify an usher, and the bread will be brought to you.
  • Note: Rev. Ramona, and Rev. Janet are fully vaccinated.

Coffee Hour

  • To be held at the back of the church
  • Coffee and lemonade only, served in disposable cups
  • A limited number of people will set up refreshments and pour
  • No foods at this time

Nursery

  • The nursery will be available and staffed.
  • The nursery will be cleaned before and after each Sunday.
  • Parents must give contact information (name and phone number)

COVID-19 Tracing

  • If Saint Paul’s becomes aware of a situation where someone who attended the service receives information that they have contacted COVID, Saint Paul’s will notify people of the occurrence via the E-pistle.

We give thanks for the gift of coming together in-person to worship God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of life. We give thanks for all who worked so diligently to create and distribute vaccines. We give thanks for those who put themselves at risk to keep others safe. We remember those who have died and hold their families in our prayers.

We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday, 27 June!

Blessings,
Mark Anderson, Senior Warden
Steve Riendl, Junior Warden
Rev. Ramona Scarpace, Priest-in-Charge

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