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Christmas 2011

It is time. We have been staying awake, we have been preparing for the faithful one. Love bursts into our world and our lives. Love interrupts us. Love wins. Sing a new song, let the heavens and earth be glad! For the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. It is time to join our yes with Mary's yes. We can hardly contain our joy for this good news.


Incarnation. Inconceivable, incarnation. Unreasonable, inconceivable, incarnation. God with us, born in a barn, in the muck and the mess of the stable, to a young girl, not yet married to her betrothed, Joseph. The romance of the birth of this long awaited baby Jesus soon turns into the flight of his parents into Egypt, to escape the tyranny of the emperor. The stars in the heavens signaled his birth, showing the magi the way to find him, but they had to return to their home by another way, to protect the little one.


This birth means no more business as usual, signified by the events of that night and the circumstances of…

4 Advent Yr B

How do we begin to approach and try to understand this incredible, inconceivable story of incarnation? So far this advent we have heard, keep awake, pay attention, prepare for this one who is faithful. Today we hear yes to God’s offer of Love, Mary says yes, you and I say yes. But what if an angel came to you and said, “Fear not here comes God.” I don’t know about you, but I would be afraid. An angel comes and tells me not to be afraid, I’m gonna be terrified.

When I close my eyes and try to imagine this scene, I see Mary. In my imagination, Mary is a very young girl, and yet very excited to be a woman, and ready to be married to Joseph. Mary is a Jewish girl; she knows well the stories of God’s activity in the life of her people. She has lived her whole life in this community of faith. Mary has lived her whole life in the community of people who believe there is a special relationship between God and them. They believe that their story, the story of this community, day in and day out…

3 Advent Yr B

Keep awake, repent and forgive, prepare, bear God's light and joy. This third Sunday of Advent we are so close, but not there yet. The path takes us through the waters of baptism with John and by the oaks of righteousness with Isaiah, to the place where our anticipation of the incarnation soars. In the Christmas season, where shopping and party’s have traditionally been the activities, we are reminded in Thessalonians that the one who calls you is faithful. Keep awake, pay attention, prepare for this one who is faithful.

The way we prepare is to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances. I don’t know about you, but that sure isn’t the way I hear the Christmas message coming from my TV, or the newspaper, or from what's trending on yahoo. The Christmas message that I’m getting is that the key to Christmas is to buy and buy and buy.

We are in a place and a time where this message; rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…

2 Advent Yr B

Last week, the first week of Advent we heard stay awake! Stay awake, something amazing is about to happen, stay awake, you don’t want to miss it, you don’t want to be so busy doing paying attention to something else that it passes you by. Stay awake!

Our collection of readings this second week of advent shows us how to tell time. One of my favorite stories to tell in Sunday school is the story about how the church tells time. The church tells time differently than the way our culture tells time. I’m reminded of a very old song by Chicago, the lyrics are, “As I was walking down the street one day, A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, And I said, Does anybody really know what time it is, Does anybody really care, If so I can’t imagine why, We’ve all got time enough to cry.” And then, “I was walking down the street one day, Being pushed and shoved by people trying to beat the clock, And I said, People runnin everywhere, Don’t know where to go, Don’t kn…

Feast of St. Andrew

In the Jewish tradition, the name you give your child has everything to do with your hopes and dreams for who that child will grow up to be. Many people name their children for beloved aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. Names have meaning. This community of faith is named for St. Andrew. I’m thankful we are St. Andrew, and not St. Barnabus, after the red barn that our forebears met in during the early years, and that burned down.

Andrew was a fisherman, a very obvious occupation for a boy who grew up on the Sea of Galilee, and who probably sat by his father in his father’s boat, and had it not been for Jesus, Andrew would have raised his boys to be fishermen too. But Andrew encountered Jesus, and Jesus said to Andrew and some others, Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.

This encounter changed Andrew’s life forever. Andrew left a sure occupation, a certain paycheck, to follow Jesus, who he really only knew by reputation, the teacher, the rabbi. Not only did Andr…

Christ the King Year A

Recall your math classes in school. I for one, was not much for the math option. I did get through Algebra 1 and Geometry successfully, but the rest, Calculus, Trigonometry, Statistics, not my cup of tea. I was a good student, I listened in class, did my homework, and relied heavily on the answers in the back of the book. I am ever thankful for those answers in the back of the book.

The book we read together, our bibles, the story of God's activity in the life of God's people, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on our need for answers, has no answers in the back. And that is especially frustrating in the midst of this book of Matthew, it would be so much easier if we could just turn to the back and have it all worked out for us. We find ourselves in this place where it just keeps getting harder. Story after story shows the demands for discipleship, and Jesus' impending death, and there are no answers.

What these stories show us is that Jesus did not come to make bad p…

22 Pentecost Yr A

I see the television show, Fear Factor is back on, all new, and even more fear. Fear sells, we see that with the proliferation of vampire and zombie stories on television and in the movies. Fear sells, we see that as simply as teasers for the news, "see how the air in your house is killing you, tonight at 10." You show up to watch and they'll sell you the next wonder product. Fear sells, we hear ads for various and sundry medications, "afraid of loosing your hair, take this red pill." But what the gospel tells us is that the highest good is God's kingdom, not our security or our longevity, or immortality. In a culture of fear, it is hard to believe that God is enough.

Some would say we live in dark and fearful times. Granted, there is much uncertainty about leadership, about economics, some may even say national security. A culture of fear promotes the idea that the accumulation of wealth is a reasonable response to uncertain times. But I say our actions in …

All Saints Day Yr A

Twenty-three years ago on this day, our son Tom was baptized, and twenty-one years ago on this day our son Willie was baptized. All Saints Day is my most favorite church day, next to the Easter Vigil. I love it because in word and sacrament on this day, we are so clearly part of something beyond ourselves, we are part of a communion and a community that shows forth God's amazing and abundant love. We tell a story in which we are active participants and that connects us to all those who came before us, and to all those who will come after us.


It is important to be active participants in this story, it is important to tell the story, and it is important to shape the story as it moves into this young 21st century. That's what we, as saints, as part of the communion of saints, do. In the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community, and in the collect we read for All Saints Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense. Our…

20 Pentecost Yr A

Many years ago, my husband Rick managed the Episcopal Ad Project, which produced some amazing ads for the Episcopal Church. It was at that time that we became Mac people. Rick worked on one of the very first Macintosh computers, it was a box that sat on his desk and it was a wonder to behold. He got to do all of his work on, and I even got to use it too. We’ve only bought Apples since then, although sometimes we have to use the other ones. In those days who would have thought that each of us would have a computer on our desk, and each of us would carry one in our pockets and in our purses. Who would have thought that I'd be standing here today with what I want to say on my ipad? Who would have thought? Steve Jobs thought, and all those who worked closely with him. As I have spent some time reflecting on Steve Jobs life and death, I think his example of innovative thinking, I would call it imaginative thinking, serves us well. What, besides Steve Jobs death, would cause me to begin…

19 Pentecost Yr A

Which commandment in the law is the greatest? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, this is the greatest and first commandment, and the second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees, who were the experts of their day, is straight out of the Hebrew scripture. Jesus knows those scriptures well; he didn’t have them written in front of him, like we do, he had them on his heart, and in his soul. Those scriptures are part of the very fiber of his being. Those scriptures were what each Hebrew boy and girl heard every day of their lives. They new the story of creation, they knew the story of Noah, of Moses, of Exodus and Exile, of David, the Prophets, they knew the story about the angel passing over their homes when they put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts; they knew the stories of their ancestors. We need to know our story, knowing our story, knowing where we came from, knowing to wh…

18 Pentecost Yr A

The Pharisees ask Jesus two questions of great importance, or so they think. One of those questions we will hear next week in Matthew's gospel, which is the greatest commandment, and Jesus’ answer to that question is: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. The other question of great importance is really a group of questions all around the acquisition and use of wealth. The rich young man asks Jesus who can be saved, Jesus answers, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. There is the story of the widow who gives all that she has, the story of the talents, and on it goes. And of course the question the Pharisees ask of Jesus in Matthew's gospel today. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?   But what we have is actually one of the oldest tricks in the book. Entrapment. That’s what the Pharisees are about i…

17 Pentecost Yr A

The Rev. Kathy Monson Lutes​17 Pentecost Proper 23 Yr A Oct 9 2011 Exodus 32:1-14​Psalm 106 Philippians 4:1-9​Matthew 22:1-14 ​Page of 1 We are at a time in the live of our family where there are many weddings to attend. It started three years ago with my nephew’s wedding. That wedding was north of Duluth MN, north of Two Harbors for those of you who may be familiar with Lake Superior’s north shore, just before you get to Gooseberry Falls. Two more nephews have been married since then, and two nieces. The weddings have varied, three of them were outside on the shore of lakes and two of them were very traditional church weddings. And, we've witnessed amazingly varied wedding wear on the diverse people that have been gathered for these weddings. The most interesting wedding wear was at the wedding of my nephew the actor who lives in New York, there were many New Yorkers there, young like him, 30ish, very well tattooed and pierced. The wedding attire ran the gamut from amazingly dres…

14 Pentecost Yr A

So your teenager walks into the house after school, or after football practice, or band rehearsal, or just takes a break from homework, or even about an hour after dinner, and looks through the cupboards, opens the refrigerator door, and says, "Mom! There's nothin to eat." Just like the Israelites in this part of the Exodus. Whining, whining, whining, "God, we have nothing to eat, and what’s more, we don't like what you’ve given us to eat." But I do think that if I were wandering in the wilderness with Moses and Aaron for 40 years, I might be a little whinny too. “God, we’re tired, we’re hungry, we may as well have stayed in Egypt for all this gets us.” And they are reminded that in Egypt they were slaves, at least in the desert they are free. This is a great story. In the verses that follow these we just heard God instructs them to gather up what they need for themselves and their families. Each family got just what they needed, no more, no less. Then Mo…

13 Pentecost Yr A

In a small apartment building in North Minneapolis - a 59-year-old teacher's aid sings praise to God for no seemingly apparent reason. Indeed, if anyone was to have issues with the Lord, it would be Mary Johnson. In February 1993, Mary's son, Laramiun Byrd, was shot to death during an argument at a party. He was 20, and Mary's only child. "My son was gone," she says. The killer was a 16-year-old kid named Oshea Israel. Mary wanted justice. "He was an animal. He deserved to be caged." And he was. Tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 and a half years -- Oshea served 17 before being recently released. He now lives back in the old neighborhood - next door to Mary. How a convicted murderer ended-up living a door jamb away from his victim's mother is a story, not of horrible misfortune, as you might expect - but of remarkable mercy. A few years ago Mary asked if she could meet Oshea at Minnesota's Stillwater state prison. She felt compelled to see…

12 Pentecost Yr A

Some of you have heard this story before. That's the way of very important stories. Just about every other year since I was in junior high, the Monson family has gathered together to renew our bonds and tell our stories. I heard over and over the story of my ancestors coming to America. I know the story well. My family lived in a valley on the inland point of the Nordfjord, in a place called Stryn. Once upon a time in the Nesdahl valley there was a great avalanche that collapsed the sod hut in which the family lived. Marta died in that avalanche, and later, Jacob, my great great grandfather, decided to come to America. He came and settled in Adams, North Dakota. He married Anna, and they had 11 children, Nelbert, my grandfather was the oldest. Nelbert married Inga, and eventually they settled near Glenwood, Minnesota. Nelbert and Inga had five children, including my father, Juel. One of those children died in an accident as a teenager, and Inga died when my father was a small ch…

10 Pentecost Yr A

Who do you say I am, Jesus asked Simon Peter. And Simon Peter announces, you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Who do you say I am, Jesus asks each one of us. Who do you say Jesus is? We come here, every Sunday morning, and who do we say Jesus is? Who do we say Jesus is when we arrive at work on Monday morning? Who do we say Jesus is when we arrive at school each day? Who do we say Jesus is when we are sitting in traffic, or deciding how to spend our hard earned money, or wondering about what government services should be cut?

Who do you say I am? Like Peter, I announce Jesus is the son of the living God. But I also think those are just words, unless they are backed up by what I do with my time, my talent, and my treasure, how I make my decisions and how I treat people. You and I aren't the kind of people who have a ready answer to the question, who do you say I am? The words don't come easily, but I guarantee the words don't really matter if our lives don't…

9 Pentecost Yr A

It's been a hard year. We've seen people we know and love fall through the cracks of these difficult economic times. St. Andrew's and the people of St. Andrew's have helped more of own than ever before. It's been a hard month. It seems that people are behaving badly all over the place, We've been stretched to breaking with the demands on our patience and on compassion. It's been a hard couple of weeks. Our community has experienced the tragic death of three of it's members, two police officers and a young man we know very little about. Three people who all have families and friends who love them and care about them. There have been young people of our community die accidentally and tragically. We have experienced so very closely the broken world in which we live. There is goodness all around us, in so many places and in so many people, but it is a broken world, and we have seen much of the brokenness in these days.

And we have before us a hard lesson …

8 Pentecost Yr A

I get to tell one of my favorite jokes when we read this story. A priest, a rabbi and a minister were all in a boat out in the middle of a lake. The Minister says, "I’m thirsty. I’m going to shore and get something to drink." So she gets out of the boat walks across the water to shore, gets a drink, walks back across the water, and gets back in the boat. The minister says, "I’m thirsty also. I’m going to shore and get something to drink." So he gets out of the boat, walks across the water to shore, gets a drink, walks back across the water, and gets back in the boat. The rabbi thinks to himself "pretty cool. I’m trying it." So he says, "I’m thirsty also. I’m going to shore to get something to drink." He gets out of the boat and falls in the water and sputters around. Then the priest said to the minister, "Do you think we should have told him where the rocks were?"

The walking on water story goes like this in Eugene Peterson’s translatio…