The Messenger

March 1997

From the Rector.....

Dear Friends,

We say it again: Easter is the high point of the Christian year. Jesus went through the depths to get to that climactic Sunday, and during Lent, we are following in our minds and hearts that harrowing way. Then, out of agony, triumph. This is the crux of Christianity.

Christmas is another summit in the church year. We don't encourage competition among our celebrations! But in the Bible, two gospels give lovely accounts of the Birth; all four concentrate on the Death and its Sequel. The earliest gospel, Mark, begins with Jesus' baptism, and then gives half of the text to the Passion and the Resurrection. But page counting doesn't really count. What is important is that Christmas derives its deepest significance from Easter. The precious bundle in the manger is worshiped because it is bound for the empty tomb. In orchestral terms, Christmas is the anacrusis, the conductor's first upbeat which focuses the player's attention, and Easter is the downbeat when the major theme is sounded.

During this month we will be surrounded by marshmallow bunnies and chromatic eggs and fantasy hats. And after a winter of dark cold days we can all rejoice in jonquils and tulips and birdsong and SPRING.

But for Christians this month is our holiest time of the year, our "high holy days." These are the few special days in the year when we celebrate the great events of our faith. Nothing is "higher" than the events of Holy Week. Easter cannot have its meaning if we haven't made the journey to the Cross that begins on Palm Sunday and goes through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (both of which come during the week, yet are essential for us). On Maundy Thursday we remember Christ's last supper with his disciples and the beginnings of our Eucharist. On Good Friday Christ hung on the Cross for us all. It should not be a day for business as usual for any of us. It's a day to be in church. It's a day even to follow the lead of our Jewish friends and stay home and be still on our most holy days.

And then at the very end of the month, out of the darkness of the vigil on holy Saturday, Easter breaks forth! However you interpret that, it is a specific instance, a revelation of God's will, God's dependability, God's care, God's community. This month we move from the agony of the cross to the triumph of the resurrection. Our holiest days.

Thanks be to God!

James

HOLY WEEK WORSHIP SCHEDULE

Palm Sunday - March 23, 1997
7:30 am Morning Prayer
8:00 am & **10:15 am Procession with Palms & Eucharist

Holy Monday - March 24, 1997
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:30 pm Eucharist

Holy Tuesday - March 25, 1997
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:30 pm Eucharist

Holy Wednesday - March 26, 1997
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:30 pm Eucharist

Maundy Thursday - March 27, 1997
9:00 am Morning Prayer
10:00 am Eucharist & Healing
** 7:30 pm Foot Washing, Eucharist & Stripping of the Altar
9:00 pm Prayer Vigil through the night

Good Friday - March 28, 1997
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:00 Noon Stations of the Cross
** 7:30 pm Lessons & Prayers

Holy Saturday - March 29, 1997
9:00 am Morning Prayer
7:30 pm Great Vigil of Easter, **Lighting of the New Fire, Lessons & Prayers, Festive Eucharist & Baptism

Easter Sunday, March 30, 1997
7:30 am Morning Prayer
8:00 am and **10:15 am Festive Eucharist
Bishop Vincent Pettit, Celebrant

** Child care provided

Stations of the Cross

A 'Station' is any place in the church where, during a solemn procession, there is pause for a prayer. At St. Stephen's these include the creche at Christmas, the entrance to the church on Palm Sunday and the baptismal font on the day of Pentecost (when there are no actual baptisms!) During Lent there is a practice in which fourteen 'stations' are visited in turn, with a pause for a reading, a versicle and response, a prayer, and a time for meditation. In this case, the 'stations' are fourteen pictures depicting incidents in the narrative of Christ's passion, from Pilate's house to the entombment. These pictures will be placed around the church on Fridays and booklets which lead the participant through each station can be found on the table in the back of the church. The church and chapel will be open each Friday from 9 am to 9 pm.

HALLELUJAH: The Bible and Handel's Messiah

As a sequel to our Advent study Richey Woodzell and Allison De Kanel are leading the Sunday Morning Adult Education hour in a biblical study that explores the Scriptural texts of Handel's Messiah and includes musical commentary. The classes meet on Sunday morning beginning at 9:00 am and last until 10:00 am in the parish hall. Participants are asked to bring their Bibles to each class.

The remaining schedule is as follows:

Mar. 2 - Who is the King of Glory?
Mar. 9 - I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
Mar. 16 - Who Do the Nations Rage?
Mar. 23 - Hallelujah, Worthy Is the Lamb, Amen.

HOLY WEEK TRADITIONS AT SAINT STEPHEN'S

Holy Week, formerly known as "Passion WeeK', is the final and most important week in Lent. Holy Week marks the final phase of the spiritual preparation for Easter, A preparation which began on Ash Wednesday with prayer, reflection, worship, study and self-sacrffice. The time from Palm Sunday to Easter is a time when we relive the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as we recall the events of Jesus' last days on earth.

PALM SUNDAY

On Palm Sunday we recall Jesus'arrival in Jerusalem. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sent two of the disciples ahead to Jerusalem telling them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me" (Matthew 21:1). Following Jesus' instructions, the disciples found the animals and prepared them for Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. As the crowd saw Jesus entering, some spread their garments on the road before him; others cut branches and laid them there. The crowd shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9).

This Sunday has a two-fold focus; the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is marked with the blessing of the palms and procession, while the emphasis of the Eucharist itself if upon the passion of our Lord, his suffering and death. This is the only Sunday of the year on which the Gospel centers upon Jesus' death, since Sundays are in their own nature 'IIttle Easter' celebrations of the resurrection. There is a double irony to this double observance: what is apparently a triumphal entrance into Jerusalem was followed six days later by betrayal and crucifixion. What is apparently the total defeat of the cross becomes God's areat victory over evil and death.

MAUNDY THURSDAY

\ On Maundy Thursday we recount Jesus' last evening with the disciples to prepare for their Passover by going into the city and securing a furnished room for the meal. The disciples did as they were instructed and prepared the meal. According to John, Jesus washed the disciple's feet during the supper. This humble act was Jesus' way of teaching them to respect and serve others regardless of their status. During the meal with his disciples, Jesus took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this and devide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes'(Luke 22:17-18). He also gave them bread saying,'This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).

After the meal, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives. Not able lo keep watch with Jesus, the disciples slept while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethesemane. He placed his life in God's hands and prayed, "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done" (Luke 22:42).

Later that night Judas betrayed Jesus with the sign of a kiss, identifying him to an armed crowd which then took Jesus to be arrested.

The name 'Maundy Thursday" comes from the Latin word "mandatum" or "commandment" referring to the "new commandment" of love given by Jesus at the last supper (John 13.-34). The term "Maundy" or "mandatum" then was applied to the foot washing ceremony of this day (John 13:1-15).

The double theme of the service is thus the Last Supper as the institution of the Eucharist and the foot washing as an example of humility and love.

After the holy communion, the remaining sacrament is removed from the sanctuary where a prayer watch is kept, in commemoration of the watch in the Garden of Gethsemane. The altar is "stripped" in order to prepare for the Good Friday liturgy.

FOOT WASHING: On Maundy Thursday at the 7:30 p.m. Eucharist we would like to have volunteers from the congregation for footwashing by the clergy. If you would like to be one of these representatives of the congregation, please sign up at the parish shop.

PRAYER WATCH: There is a sign-up sheet on the shop counter for the Maunday Thursday Vigil. It is suggested that two or more persons sign up for each one hour segment.

GOOD FRIDAY

On Good Friday we remember the crucifixion of Jesus and the events which led to his death. After Jesus was convicted of committing blasphemy by the high priests, Pontius Pilate condemned him to be crucified, Yielding to the pressure of the crowd. On the way to Calvary ( 'the Place of the Skull"), Jesus was whipped, mocked, spat upon and crowned with a wreath of thorns. Simon of Cyrene was forced to help carry the heavy wooden cross upon which Jesus would hang.

The outline of the Good Friday service we know as a separate service, comes from the Jerusalem church in the 4th century. The focus is upon the crucifixion of Jesus. The liturgy begins with the reading of the Passion Gospel (tradftionally the account from John). This may be read or sung by various lectors with the congregation taking a part. The second major element is the Solemn Collects, prayers of the people, preserved from the early liturgy.

The very name of this day, "Good Friday" (which originated In the English Church) expresses the double-sidedness of our response - sorrow for our sins which brought about the suffering and death of our Lord and yet humble thankfulness for the atonement.

GOOD FRIDAY OFFERING: On Good Friday we remember in a unique way the witness that Jesus gave to us on the cross. Through his obedience and through his suffering -- through the fateful steps he took each day of Holy Week -- he showed the world just how much God loves us. Jesus' entire life was a witness to that love and the cross continues to be a sign of that reality.

In the midst of religious tensions, historic animosities and political unrest, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East stands witness to the people of our Lord's homeland, proclaiming and serving the same message that Jesus brought to that land almost 2,000 years ago.

On Good Friday we stand with the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem as it witnesses to the love of God in a strife-filled part of the world through our prayers and financial support. Please be generous in your support of the continuing ministry of our sisters and brothers in the Middle East.

EASTER VIGIL

This service is the most ancient liturgy (except for the Eucharist itself) in the church. The Easter Vigil is the preparation for and leads into the first eucharist of Easter. it begins with the blessing of the new fire and lighting of the paschal candle, which symbolizes the light of creation, the pillar of fire at the Exodus, and the Risen Christ - "The Light of the World". The service moves from darkness to light, from death to life. The vigil continues with a series of lessons from the Old Testament, sketching out the history of God's dealings with God's people, from creation to the promises of the new covenant. This Liturgy of the Word is followed by baptism. With the paschal candle lighted, the promises of the covenant proclaimed and baptismal vows renewed, we await the resurrection of our Lord and prepare for the Festive Eucharist on Easter morning.

A pick-up choir will be formed for the Holy Saturday service on March 29. This is an opportunity for those who would like to sing but can't make a long-term commitment to serve. We will rehearse from 8:30-9:00 pm on March 6, March 13 and March 20. If you are interested please contact Tim Olsen at 383-6101.

We invite all members and friends of St. Stephen's to be present at these services. If you are infirm, please call the office to arrange for communin to be brought to you at home by one of the clergy.

EASTER BASKET PROJECT

Following on the success of the Christmas Tree Project, the Service Committee would like to create another opportunity for us to reach out to some of our less fortunate neighbors by organizing an Easter hamper 00,6 project. The intention is to give Easter hampers of food to our "Christmas Tree" families. Rather than asking members just to give cash, we will place request slips naming needy food items, on the "old rugged cross" in the Community Room. These are generally canned and dry goods, that we can organize into hampers for "our" families, giving each hearty Easter fare. Please take a slip and return the food item by the 10:15 am service on BASKETS Easter Sunday, March 30th. Any questions, please call Pauline Holmes at 384-0904. Thank you for your support.

REMEMBER OUR VISITORS - PLEASE WEAR YOUR NAMETAG

EASTER EGG HUNT!!

Come to the third annual Easter egg hunt at St. Stephen's from 9am to 10:15am on Easter morning. The egg hiders are getter better every year!

 

CONFESSION

Making a confession in preparation for Easter is a long-standing tradition for many in the Church. This is an individual confession to a priest. The service of Reconciliation of a Penitent in the Book of Common Prayer provides an excellent form for personal self- examination, confession and reception of God's forgiveness. If anyone is interested in participating in this rite as we move toward Easter, please feel free to contact the rector. A short brochure describing this sacrament can be found on the Welcome Table in the parish hall.

AUCTION: reaching up for Outreach

The April Auction preparations are well underway. The auction committee wishes to thank everyone for the goods and services pledged to date. If you have not notified us of your contribution please do so now. All items must be in by March 16th. This deadline is very important as we need to catalog and organize our merchandise for the preview bidding to begin on March 23rd.

Preview bidding for the silent auction only will continue through March 30th. We will display as much silent auction merchandise as space allows, all other items will be cataloged for bids. Final bidding will take place Friday, April 4th, the night of the event. You need not be present to win a bid, but it is highly recommended. A $2.00 bidder registration charge will be collected prior to your bidding. All family members may use the same bidder number.

At this time we are continuing to solicit businesses and restaurants for merchandise and gift certificates. If you are associated with or know of any business that may donate items please ask them for contributions or notify us and we will approach them. We have forms available that most businesses require for their own donation records. We stress that many businesses are very willing and eager to contribute and give back to the community they serve. Please extend yourselves with this worthy endeavor.

We are also requesting donations for our children's raffle. We are in need of toys, books, videos, puzzles, etc., either new or used in good condition. A book of 25 tickets will go on sale Friday, April 4th for fifty-cents. Kids can buy multiple books and use as many tickets on any item as they would like.

A "pajama party" will begin after the children's raffle in the community room. Kids are invited to bring along a sleeping bag and pillow and enjoy some standard slumber party activities: video & snacks; ghost stories for the older set and games.

For further updates and information see the auction display in the Parish Hall.

We expect all parishioners to be present Friday, April 4th and suggest everyone bring at least one friend. Our auction has been publicized widely throughout the greater Schenectady area (look for our press releases in local monthly journals and daily newspapers as well as posters, fliers and brochures at area establishments). So come early, enjoy a delectable delicacy and get a good seat!

The Auction Committee
Jean Kolb, Kim Chapman, Co-Chairs

REPORT FROM THE ECW EVENING GUILD

At the meeting of February 17, 1997, we were fortunate to have with us Deacon Karen Kleinman, who spoke about the bishop selection process. Deacon Kleinman is on the committee that has been searching for a new Bishop for the Albany Diocese. She graciously answered our many questions, and the very educational evening closed with Compline.

Father James has ordered copies of Six New Gospels and as soon as they arrive an announcement will be posted in the church. Marilyn Dare and Mousumi Franks will do their best to distribute the copies to those who have ordered them, in plenty of time to read them before the April meeting. Deacon Pat will lead a discussion of the book.

We have a reservation at Barry House for May 30 & 31, 1997. There are still a few spots open, so if you would like to go and haven't reserved a spot, please call Mousumi Franks at 393-2237. The retreat will begin with evening prayer and dinner on Friday evening and continues through dinner on Saturday.

All evening guild meetings are held on the third Monday of every month, with the business portion of the meeting beginning promptly at 7:30 pm. The next meeting will be held at St. Stephen's on March 17th, where a presentation will be made about activities of the ECW in this diocese. Hope to see you there!

Mousumi Franks

SCHENECTADY INNER CITY MINISTRY

Relatating the resources of the churches to the human needs of the city

The FOOD PROGRAM is exploring expanding hours at the food pantry by opening the last Tuesday and Thursday mornings of each month. Jars of baby food, cocoa mix envelopes, tea bags, jello/pudding, Freihofer coupons - all are needed food items. To expand the hours ten volunteers will be required. Please call Pat Obrecht, 346-4445, if you are able to help.

BETHESDA HOUSE also needs volunteers from 1-3 pm. The project director there is John Davis, 374-7873.

DAMIEN CENTER is sponsoring a new "light supper night" and is looking for folding tables, folding chairs, volunteers for cooking and drivers who would help guests get to the center on Monday, Wednesday or Friday nights. Laurie Bacheldor, 374-8215 or 374-2683, is the one to contact.

YOUTH GROUP WORK WEEK: TENNESSEE, HERE THEY COME

It's not too late!!! Campers entering 9th grade in the fall of 1997 through age 20 are welcome to join the group July 5 - July 13.

There will be a can drive at a later date. Save empties and call Suzanne if there is a space problem.

Plans are underway for a car wash - possibly in conjunction with the June 14 rummage sale

A special thank you to Chris Jones for his great jellies.

EPISCOPAL CANDIDATES ARE ANNOUNCED

Four candidates have been named as possible successors to Bishop Ball when he retires as bishop of the Albany Episcopal diocese.

Rev. Kenneth John Dorsch from the diocese of Maryland. The 51-year old has been rector of St. John's in Hagerstown since 1992 and was ordained in 1971.

The Very Rev. Philip Menzie Duncan 11 of the diocese of Dallas. He is 52, was ordained in 1970 and has been the dean of St. Matthew's Cathedral since 1993.

Rev. Daniel William Herzog of Christ Church, Schenectady. He was ordained in 1971 and has been at Christ Church since 1994.

Rev. Pierre Welt Whalon of the diocese of Central Florida. He is 44 and was ordained in 1985.

Rummage Sale

Notice to all pack rats! Start sorting now to donate to St. Stephen's rummage and yard sale JUNE 14.

Organize your basement, clean out the attic, redecorate, upgrade, donate:

Housewares
Furniture
Small Appliances
Rugs
Toys and Games
Books
Jewelry
Collectibles
Linens
Baby items
Knickknacks
Plants
Infant clothing to size 2
More information in the Messenger next month. Meanwhile - start sorting!