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The Ambassador

The Newsletter of 
St. Matthias' 
Episcopal Church 

Minocqua, Wisconsin

Whoever you are, wherever you find yourself on the journey
of faith, we welcome you.

Mark Your


Feb. 5 - 7:00 pm

Providence St. Mel Choir Concert


Feb. 10 - 12:00 pm

Ash Wednesday Holy Eucharist with Ashes


Feb. 10 - 6:00 pm

Ash Wednesday Holy Eucharist with Ashes


Feb. 18 - 6:00 pm

3rd Thursday Evensong & Potluck




Please remember to check the server list on the bulletin board at church (or click here to see the latest monthly schedule online).


Also, if you are going to switch dates with someone, please inform both Bill Kane and Michael Tautges at the church office.  Thank you!


Ambassador Archives


Want to read a recent issue of the Ambassador?  Just click on the links below.  (older archives can be found on our website)
October Ambassador
November Ambassador
December Ambassador

The Clarion


Curious to see what else is going on in the Diocese of Fond du Lac?  Click the logo below to view the most recent Diocesan newsletter.


From the Rector

Greetings St. Matthias' community! What a blessed Christmas and Epiphany season we've had together. I would like to start my Ambassador reflection by thanking each of you for the gracious welcome you've given me over the past four months, culminating in the beautiful Celebration of New Ministry service on January 22nd. I've been learning a lot about St. Matthias', and I know there is much more to discover about this blessed place. Thank you for being generous with your selves in sharing your stories, traditions, and talents with me. In the Episcopal Church we talk about the priesthood of all believers - this place lives into that ideal both inside and outside our walls. Each Episcopal church is a unique place, but we share common practices, many grounded in our Book of Common Prayer and our connection with Episcopalians (Anglicans) all over the world.
One of the things I always tell parents and adults preparing for baptism, or confirmation, is that no matter where they go in the world the patterns of liturgy and worship will seem familiar, as will the openness and welcoming of most Episcopal congregations. The prayer books in other countries may have slightly different wording, but the patterns will be the same... same opening, same focus on providing four scriptural readings, a homily, confession (our common responsibility to "own our own brokenness"), time to pass the peace, time to offer our gifts of gratitude, and the celebration of the Eucharist (which means Thanksgiving). This comfortable pattern with local differences is part of our identity and comes from the belief that people should find worship accessible and understandable in their own cultural context.
People who visit St. Matthias' from other Episcopal churches will feel comfortable and find slightly different practices. Those of us who visit other Episcopal churches will experience the same joy of discovery in finding what is at the heart of that new place. Each day I wake with joy, excited to join you in all you do, as we grow closer to God together in community, worship, prayer and mission in a way that is ancient and modern, Episcopal, and uniquely St. Matthias'!
So, how does all of that cultural sensitivity from the earliest incarnation of the Anglican tradition look in our traditions? As an example, I began writing this on February 2nd, which, for most people in the United States, meant Groundhog Day: would the groundhog see his/her shadow or not? Would we have 6 more weeks of hard winter or a more gentle slide into spring? When I was little, I remember the ritual of listening to the radio before school, waiting to hear the result of Punxsutawney Phil's morning excursion. Little do they know now, that February 2nd has been the day when peoples in the northern hemisphere have wondered about how much winter is left since ancient times. In the Celtic Isles there was even a weather prediction tradition about Candlemas day:
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright 
Winter will have another fight. 
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, 
Winter won't come again. 
For Christians, Candlemas is on February 2nd. The 2nd of February is significant because it stands halfway between Christmas and Easter. On Sunday February 7th, this year, we end the Epiphany season - and on Wednesday, we begin Lent. On February 2nd, the day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, we light candles to point to Christ as the light to enlighten the nations and... to our own opportunity to be Christ lights for one another. When the celebration of the Presentation began in 4th or 5th century Jerusalem, it was 40 days after Epiphany, so it was celebrated on February 14th. Over the centuries and across traditions the focus of the feast day has shifted between the infant Christ, and the purification of Mary. Originally it focused on the importance of the Holy family meeting Simeon and Anna in the Temple.
In the 4th century, a Gallic woman named Egeria who was traveling in the Holy Land, had this to say about the feast day:
...the Fortieth Day after Epiphany is observed with special significance. On this day they assemble in the Anastasis. Everyone gathers, and things are done with the same solemnity as at the feast of Easter. All the presbyters preach first, then the bishop, and they interpret the passage from the Gospel about Joseph and Mary taking the Lord to the Temple, and about Simeon and the prophetess Anna, daughter of Phanuel, seeing the Lord, and what they said to him, and about the sacrifice offered by his parents. When all the rest has been done in the proper way, they celebrate the sacrament and have their dismissal. (J. Wilkinson, Egeria's Travels in the Holy Land, p.128)
Why do many call the Feast of the Presentation, Candlemas instead? It is a tradition which, like many Christian seasonal traditions, adopted and incorporated a cultural practice of a region where Christianity was spreading. This practice of embedding local practices and understanding of God in the world, while helping spread the Way of Christ, is not something to consider "giving in" or watering down the Word. Many of our most ancient ancestors were less concerned with doctrine and more concerned with spreading Christ's Way and his Good News about God's nature (love, relationship, healing, the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity). For a time, this meant adjusting celebrations to a time of year that more closely matched local traditions and incorporating language that helped people understand God in their context. Doctrine, "right belief", and a need to lock in exact dates, came later. Thus we find Candlemas connected to the celebration of the Presentation in the northwestern European countries. In the Celtic Isles in pre-Christian times, February 2nd marked the festival of light. This ancient festival marked the mid-point of winter, half way between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox. The festival came to be called Candlemas because this was the day that all the church's candles for the year arrived and were blessed. Churches celebrated the Presentation and lit all of the candles, walking them in procession to focus on Simeon's declaration that the infant Christ is the light of the world.

 -- Erin+

Did You Know... 
(a trivia series on all things Episcopal)
That the joint responsibilities of the vestry and clergy include:
  • Articulation of the congregation's mission
  • Assurance of effective congregational planning
  • Assurance of adequate resources and effective leadership
  • Establishment and monitoring of programs and services
  • Communication with congregation
  • Communication about the Episcopal Church at large
  • Communication with the wider community
  • Assessment of the vestry's and clergy's ministries
A Reflection from the Sr. Warden
In many ways I struggle with change. I had a word processor in my office until a few months ago - it finally died, and because no one makes them anymore, I felt sad as I couldn't even replace it! I've actually wondered if my business partner hadn't pushed me into the 21st century, if I would still be typing envelopes and statements for 800 customers every month? Hard to admit, but it is a possibility. You can see I don't always adjust quickly!
But then I started to think about all the changes we've made in past years here at St. Matthias' - some large, some small, some short-lived (like the 'foodless coffee hour' which lasted one week), the no announcement policy (which lasted a bit longer), and the many changes we made in 2015, when we had supply priests, and then an interim. For the first time, we held our Ash Wednesday service in the evening, we changed the Maundy Thursday service from an Agape Supper to a Seder type service, we accommodated Carol and received Holy Communion while standing instead of kneeling, we changed the way we elect Vestry members, we completely changed our policies and procedures regarding building usage, we changed our Winter Survivor's Party menu, ended the Saturday evening service in Manitowish Waters, and on and on. And in some cases, I had my doubts (except for the foodless coffee hour - I knew that one wouldn't work!). I feared not many would come to the evening Ash Wednesday service - but in fact we had larger attendance than when we did the noon service. I loved the Agape Supper and was unsure about the Seder type service - but it was beautiful. Was concerned that some may want to kneel for Communion (and some did prefer that)... but I didn't notice anyone not approaching the altar rail because of it, etc. etc.
So what I am trying to say, in my sometimes round-about way, is I have learned we all need to accept/embrace change and realize that some ideas are better than others. Some changes will endure for years to come, and others will change again - but that's OK as that's how it should be. And again on a personal note, while thumbing through an office supply catalog the other day, I did find a word processor and realized that I really don't need that anymore - I've changed and found a better way!
Chris Clark
Jr. Warden's Report:  Tips for Winter Slip and Fall Prevention

Each year we post this reminder regarding winter safety. At St. Matthias' we don't have full time staff to shovel and salt on a 24-hour basis. If you see a problem, we have a bucket of salt and a shovel by each door at church. Please help when you can! (We all need to look out for each other.)

The following suggestions may help keep you safe from falls.
  • Walk slowly and carefully on icy or snowy walkways. Take short, deliberate steps in which the mid-foot strikes the ground first, not the heel.
  • Be aware that black ice can look like wet pavement.
  • Be especially cautious when new snow may have hidden icy patches beneath it.
  • Make sure footwear has good treads and is appropriate for cold or wet weather. (Plastic, leather, and rubber shoes are not safe.)
  • Avoid walking with your hands in your pockets; keep hands free for balance.
  • When possible, avoid carrying large amounts of materials.
  • Place your full attention on walking. Digging in your pocketbook or backpack or using cell phones or other devices while walking is dangerous.
  • Be aware of changes in friction on walking surfaces (for example walking from snow to ice, from curb to road, or from inside to outside).
  • Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them. Watch out for slippery parking lots, roadways, or sidewalks when stepping out of a vehicle.
  • When getting out of your vehicle, look down at the surface. If it's coated with ice you might want to park in a different place.
  • When entering buildings or homes, be aware that immediate entrances and stairs may be slippery from melted ice or snow.
  • Remove the snow from the soles of your footwear as you enter a building or vehicle.
  • If you have to walk through an icy car park or driveway, try to find a firm arm to lean on. Nearly everyone is happy to help a person move along a slippery walkway. All you have to do is ask.
  • Bring a mobile phone when you go out of the house. If you fall, it could sometimes be hard to get up.
  • If you have railings going up to your front door, make sure that they are sturdy. They should be able to support you in case you slip.
Parish Updates 
Seeker's Classes
Anyone who is interested in looking at Episcopalian traditions regarding confirmation/reaffirmation or baptism is encouraged to join our weekly series of "Seeker's Classes". Classes will start at 12:30 pm each Sunday during Lent, and should last about an hour each. Please sign-up on the bulletin board if you are interested in attending.

Healing Services  
Healing services will be held each Tuesday at 12:00 noon, and 5:00 pm.  Contact Erin Kirby for more details.
Lent Madness 2016 

Have you ever looked at the church calendar, only to find yourself wondering if Julian of Norwich was 'holier' than Athanasius?  (Or are you like most of us, who weren't even aware that there was a Saint Athanasius, let alone know what he did to be considered a saint?)
Welcome to Lent Madness, where each weekday during Lent, we are given two saints of the church -- some ancient, some modern -- and asked to compare them and (of all things) vote online as to which we feel led a holier life. Not only do we learn a great deal about these holy men and women, but what makes this Lenten devotion even more engaging is the fact that all these saints have been placed into a single-elimination bracket (yes, like March Madness), and many of us here at St. Matthias' try our best to predict which saint (by merit of having the most votes from churchgoers everywhere) will win the 'Golden Halo', the theoretical prize of this competition.
If you would like to try your hand at filling out a bracket, they are readily available from the Church Office, in exchange for a $5 donation.  Like the past few years, St. Matthias' will have a parish-wide competition, and the parishioner who comes closest to correctly guessing the perfect bracket will win a prize, and get to choose which charity we support receives all of the funds raised.
Competition begins on 'Ash Thursday', February 11th, so be sure to get your completed bracket turned in to Michael at the Church Office quickly!
All voting, snarky commentary, and saintly competition can be found at:
Music Ministry Team:  Evensong Update
Written by Teena Orling

We have added to our Evensong collection, and (in case you weren't there on January 21st) we have a David Cherwien (CHAIR-wine) version now.  We will return to Holden in April, June, and then mix the Cherwien and Holden off and on.


Who is David Cherwien?  He is a "renowned church organist, conductor, composer and improviser" (Morningstar Music) who currently serves as Director of Music at Mt. Olive Lutherin Church, Minneapolis.  He was born in 1957 in Iowa, and has worked in Chicago, Seattle, and Berlin.  He is also the Artistic Director of the National Lutheran Choir, and has conducted hymn festivals in the area, notably on All Saints' Day.  His wife is Susan Palo Cherwien, also a composer of hymns.


I know him from my days in the American Kantorei in St. Louis, with Bob Bergt.  Mr. Cherwien would come to St. Louis every season for a Bach recital and hymn accompanist on the organ at the St. Thomas & St. Titus Chapel at Concordia Seminary.  He definitely is a Bach scholar, and hopefully as you will see, a master at intimate worship, connecting the age-old texts with more contemporary music.

Music Ministry Team:  Introduction to Hymnody
Written by Le Ganschow


Our Music Ministry Team thought it might be interesting for persons reading our monthly Ambassador to learn something about the history of some of our hymns and other service music.   In future months we hope to continue this series.


The term that describes this body of music is called "hymnody," defined as "...the singing or the composition of hymns or sacred songs ...especially the collective hymns of a specific religion, place, or period."


Several parishioners recently have commented on the beauty of "God to Enfold You", the piece we have been singing during Communion.  Its appeal likely lies in the melody's simplicity, pleasing harmony, soothing words, and quiet repetition.  The repetition, in particular, quiets the mind and encourages reflection.


Marcia & Bob Holt brought the piece to the Music Ministry Team's attention as a result of their visit to the Isle of Iona, a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland.  Iona was a centre of Gaelic monasticism for four centuries, renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty.  In 2013 Marcia & Bob traveled to Iona with their granddaughter Bryn, during Bryn's year abroad.  They loved this tiny, quiet place of beauty, and hope to go back some time.


Today the Iona Community is an ecumenical Christian community of women and men who seek to live out the Gospel in a way that is radical, inclusive and relevant to life in the 21st century.  John Bell is Iona's composer, director, and spiritual leader.  The community established Wild Goose Publications, where Marcia and Bob ordered four books for assistance in selecting our service music.  You will see references to music from this publisher in our church bulletins.


The Iona Community runs three island residential centres on the isle of Iona and on nearby Mull.  These centres are places of welcome and hospitality where individuals and groups take part in weeks on a variety of themes with an exciting range of leaders.


Interested persons can go to the Wild Goose Publication website for books or CDs.


We currently sing the following piece during communion and have selected another of John Bell's compositions from Iona beginning Lent 1 (February 14).


God to enfold you, 
Christ to uphold you, 
Spirit to keep you in heaven's sight. 
So may God grace you, 
Heal and embrace you, 
Lead you through darkness into the light.
Touchstones:  Nelson Mandela
Written by Diane Diederich
Yes, a new year is upon us, and many of us make "New Year" resolutions. As a beginning, I'd like to ask you to ponder a quote from Nelson Mandela and find out for yourself what 2016 and beyond will bring:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be talented, brilliant, gorgeous and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You're playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Along with this quote, goes the story of a person who had a near-death experience. The person said he wasn't asked about good deeds, but instead was asked, "Have you lived your life according to the purpose for which you came?" Indeed. Have we lived our lives to the fullest, focusing on our purpose (to not have a clue what that is gives us a wake-up call that it's time to find out), concentrating on actions that move us in that direction?
Are we living for all we're worth?
TTFN: Diane
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