From the Rector.....
Last month I wrote about the Jubilee Year as our opportunity to rededicate ourselves to
God's worship and service, even as we rededicate our parish church for another fifty
years. This month I would like to share with you some of the events that are being
planned for the next year.
Music has always been an important at Saint Stephen's and it is fitting that our
celebration include several musical events. At this time I am arranging for the folk-singing duo called the Miserable Offenders to perform here sometime in the late
winter. They blend voices with guitar, tongue drums, Tibetan bowl and synthesizer to
create a sound that moves from the hauntinly meditative to sheer joy. Their two
compact discs can be found in the Church Shop if you want a preview of this wonderful
Outreach to those in need has also been an important ministry of our congregation.
Therefore as a part of our Jubilee Year I am arranging for Carl Dudley, a nationally
known professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, to give talks and lead workshops
on the churches' role in welfare reform, a topic on which he is currently doing research.
In April he will speak to the clergy and laity of the member congregations in
Schenectady Inner City Ministry and will be the preacher at our Eucharists that Sunday.
The Jubilee Year is our opportunity to rededicate ourselves to God's worship and
service. Let me know of other ideas you have that might help us to be a rededicated
people during the next year.
A blessed Advent, and a Merry Christmas,
THE ADVENT WREATH
Pre-Christian peoples who lived far
north and who suffered the archetypal
loss of life and light with the
disappearance of the sun had a way of
wooing back life and hope.
'Primitives' do not separate the natural
phenomena from their religious or
mystical yearning, so nature and
mystery remained combined. As the
days grew shorter and colder and the
sun threatened to abandon the earth,
these ancient people suffered the sort of
guilt and separation anxiety which we
Their solution was to bring all ordinary
action and daily routine to a halt. They
gave in to the nature of winter, came
away from their carts and fields and put
away their tools. They removed the
wheels from their carts and wagons,
festooned them with greens and lights
and brought them indoors to hang in
They brought the wheels indoors as a
sign of a different time, a time to stop
and turn inward. They engaged the
feelings of cold and fear and loss.
Slowly....slowly....they wooed the sun-
god back. And light followed darkness.
Morning came earlier. The festivals
announced the return of hope after
Christians have developed a tradition of
the Advent wreath to help us take time
out from our busy Christmas
preparations and to open our hearts to
The circular form of the wreath, like
God's love, is never-ending. The
greenery that covers it reminds us of
everlasting life and hope because
evergreen trees are green even in the
midst of winter.
The candles are symbols of the light
God brings us. Three of them are
purple, the royal color for the new King.
The fourth candle is pink and is lit on the
Third Sunday of Advent when we
celebrate with special joy. Some people
light a white candle, the Christ candle, in
the center of the wreath on Christmas
A "Simple Family-Advent Service" for
each Sunday in Advent is available on
the welcome table in the parish hall.
A tradition at Saint Stephen's is the
"Gathering Straws" to soften the waiting
manger bed in your household creche.
It is just helpful in reminding children
about the season of Advent. For every
good deed a straw is placed in the
manger as a graphic sign of growth and
preparation for the Christ Child we
await. On Christmas Eve, the little
manger, now soft with straw, is brought
in procession to the waiting stable
where the figure of the Child is placed
during the night.
Small bags of straw can be found on a
table in the Parish Hall Extension.
As we unpack the Christmas creche, let each piece become a prayer
that our lives will be changed during Advent.
As we place the stable, let us remember how a place, never meant
to be a home, sheltered our Lord. Let us pray that our homes
will be places of hospitality for all who enter them.
As the star shone to give direction to the magi, let us hold high
a faith in Christ to give direction to our lives.
As the shepherds were the most common of folk and yet the only
ones to be summoned by angels, may we never forget that God calls
the simplest among us to tasks of greatest glory.
As the magi moved in the deep belief that God was acting in this
world, may we always look for that same redemptive activity and
never be so proud that we cannot seek our Lord with childlike
As sheep and donkey, oxen and lamb looked on the holy miracle in
wonder and sang the newborn child to sleep, may we too stand in awe
before each miracle, wondrous or simple, which our God will work.
As the angel proclaimed the tidings of God, may we be open to
hear God calling us to be a part of God's plan.
As Joseph wondered, then obeyed where he could not understand,
may we be obedient even in the face of our own lack of
As Mary opened herself to the miraculous working of God through
may we be instruments of God's love in whatever humble way we are
As God was in Christ, reconciling the world, may we in prayer
kneel before the manger and wonder again at the miracle of
THE ADVENT CALENDAR
The "Advent Calendar" helps us count days. "We await a Savior, the Lord Jesus
Christ." This cardboard calendar has a window for each day in Advent and a door
for Christmas. Shutters close over the window and keep secret the picture or
message hidden inside. With the passage of each day and additional window is
opened and contents revealed.
Each family member can be responsible for a certain window. Hung against the
window, the light shines through the picture emphasizing how darkness gives way as
A variety of calendars can be found at the Church Shop.
We celebrate His birth
because we believe
We believe because in Him
we have faith
We have faith because He
first loved us
We love because He
taught us how
...... Kim Chapman
O you who love festivals,
Come gather and sing the praises
of the fair beauty of bishops,
The glory of the fathers,
The fountain of wonders and great protector of the faithful.
Let us all say: Rejoice, O guardian of the people of Myra,
Their head and honored counsellor,
The pillar of the church which cannot be shaken.
Rejoice, O light full of brightness
That makes the ends of the world shine with wonders.
Rejoice, O divine delight of the afflicted,
The fervent advocate of those who suffer from injustice.
And now, O all-blessed Nicolaus,
Never cease praying to Christ our God
For those who honor the festival of your memory
With faith and with love.
AN ENGLISH CAROL
Farewele, Advent; Christmas is cum;
Farewele fro us both alle and sume.
With paciens thou hast us fedde
And made us go hungrie to bedde;
For lak of mete we were nyghe dedde;
Farewele fro us both alle and sume.
While thou haste be within oure howse
We ete no puddynges ne no sowce;
But stynking fisshe not worth a lowce;
Farewele fro us both alle and sume.
There was no fresshe fisshe ferre ne nere;
Salt fisshe and samon was to dere,
And thus we have had hevy chere;
Farewele fro us both alle and sume.
Oure brede was browne, oure ale was thynne,
Our brede was musty in the bynne,
Oure ale soure or we did begynne;
Farewele fro us both alle and sume.
The tyme of Cristes feest natall
We will be mery, grete and small,
And thou shalt goo oute of this halle;
Farewele fro us both alle and sume.
SAINT STEPHEN, DEACON
The patron saint of our parish is St.
Stephen whose life we will celebrate on
Thursday, December 26th at a 10 am
Stephen was called one of the "seven
men of good repute, full of the Spirit and
of wisdom" (Acts 6:3). He was chosen
by the apostles to relieve them of the
administrative burden of "serving tables
and caring for the widows." This
became what the Church traditionally
considers to be the work and ministry of
Stephen's activities involved more than
simply "serving tables" for the Acts of
the Apostles speaks of his preaching
and performing many miracles. These
activities led him into conflict with some
of the Jews, who accused him of
blasphemy, and brought him before the
Sanhedrin. His powerful sermon before
the Council is recorded in the seventh
chapter of Acts. His denunciation of the
Sanhedrin so enraged its members that,
without a trial, they dragged him out of
the city and stoned him to death.
Saul, later called Paul, stood by,
consenting to Stephen's death, but
Stephen's example of steadfast faith in
Jesus, and of intercession for his
persecutors, was to find fruit in the
mission and witness of Paul after his
conversion. The Christian community in
Jerusalem, taking fright at the hostility of
the Judean authorities, was scattered;
so that for the first time the Gospel of
Christ began to spread beyond
Come celebrate our patron saint on
6:00 p.m. Family Eucharist
10:45 p.m. Christmas Carols
11:00 p.m. Festive Eucharist
10:00 a.m. Eucharist
FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN
Friday, December 26th
10:00 a.m. Eucharist
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
8:00 a.m. Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist
THE HOLY NAME OF OUR LORD
New Year's Day
10:00 a.m. Eucharist
SECOND SUNDAY after CHRISTMAS
8:00 a.m. Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist
Many cameras were in evidence at the splendid 70th anniversary
dinner November 16. Do you have a good snapshot from the party
that could be shared with the church?
There will be a marked box on the SHOP counter for all contri-
butions. They will become part of the permanent archives of St.
Stephen's, and photos will not be returned.
Thank you for adding another level to a very wonderful event.
Advent begins on Sunday, November 30th. It is a time to prepare for Christ's
birth as well as for His second coming to
judge the world. It is a time of watching
and waiting and great expectation.
Purple, the color of thoughtfulness and
penitence, is the color of the season.
The Greek letters, Alpha (the first of the
alphabet) and Omega (the last letter)
combine to make the symbol for this
season of the year signifying that God is
Eternal -- the beginning and the end.
Come and worship during Advent in
joyful anticipation of the birth of our
The flowers on the altar in December are given to the Glory of
Dec. 7 - In memory of Mary Daly and Donald Atkinson by Mr. and Mrs.
Dec. 14 - In memory of Mildred Briggs and the loved ones of Sondra and
In memory of Karen Morris O'Hare by her mother, Helen Morris.
Dec. 21 - In memory of the loved ones of Diana and Salvatore Belardo.
Dec. 25 - CHRISTMAS DAY.
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
"People often think of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' as the days
preceding the festival. Actually, Christmas is a season of the
Christian Year that lasts for the twelve days beginning December 25
and lasting until January 6 - the Day of Epiphany, when the church
celebrates the revelation of Christ as the Light of the world and
recalls the journey of the magi.
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not allowed
to practice their faith openly. During that era someone wrote 'The
Twelve Days of Christmas' as a kind of secret catechism that could
be sung in public without the risk of persecution. The song has
two levels of interpretation: the surface meaning plus a hidden
meaning known only to members of the church. Each element in the
carol is a code word for a religious reality.
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
The five gold rings recall the Torah (Law), the first five
books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the
The eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing? These are the nine fruits of the Spirit
(Gal. 5). The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in
THE GIVING TREE
The service committee is pleased to announce that St. Stephen's
will once again becollecting presents for "our" needy families.
This tradition has become a very special
part of Christmas for many in our church. Parishioners who want
to participate in thisprogram may do so by:
- taking an envelope from the Giving Tree in the parish hall and
purchasing the item suggested inside, or by
- contributing money for larger items to be purchased. Checks
should be made payable to St. Stephen's with "Giving Tree" noted
on the bottom.
Cards will be placed on the tree as soon as our ever helpful
social worker gives us
the list of families and their wants and needs. Distribution of
the gifts will take place
on December 21, so it is essential that your gifts be at church
by the 10:15 service on
We hope that this will be a joyful opportunity for families to
share with others in our
community the love that God has given us in the priceless gift of
the Christ Child.
For further information please call Pauline Holmes, 384-0904.
Thank you for your
PARISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE
On Christmas Eve it is the tradition of
this parish for each new family or
individual to place their offering of an
ornament on the same tree at one of the
worship services. The tree remains up
through Epiphany (Twelfth Night).
Ornaments are kept and used over and
over again each year so that each
Christmas all families of the parish are
represented on the tree.
Come to the Church on Christmas and
bring your offering for the tree.
0 COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
Come caroling on St. Stephen's Day. Share your Christmas
celebration with shut-in members of our parish who are not able
to attend Christmas services.
We will meet at the church at 2:30 pm on Friday, December 26 and
return by 5:00 pm.
All ages are welcome - no choral experience required. We will
provide carol booklets and refreshments.
A sign-up sheet will be at the SHOP counter in December or please
call Richey Woodzeil, 372-9398.
St Stephen's Christmas Pageant
Directed by the Senior High Youth Group Sunday, December 21, 1997
Everyone is invited to attend
Potluck dinner will follow - see the sign-up sheet at the Shop.
CLEANING AND GREENING OF THE
Help prepare the church for Christmas.
On Sunday afternoon, December 20nd,
beginning at 10:00 am. We will meet in the
Parish Hall to clean the church, polish
brass, trim candles, hang the greens,
and generally prepare the church for our
celebration of Christ's birth.
A BLESSING for the
HOME CHRISTMAS TREE
O Lord Jesus Christ, who by your death
on the wood of the tree redeemed the
world from sin and darkness, grant, we
beseech you, the abundant grace of
your Incarnation that we may so live by
its light as to be worthy living branches
of yourself, and in your strength bear
the fruit of good works to eternal life.
Be with us here, Lord Jesus, as we
meet in love around this tree in grateful
memory of your birth in Bethlehem.
May we, showing forth your love, be
guided by angel song, and may our way
to you be lighted by signs from heaven.
Family growing? Need an up-to-date photo for the St. Stephen's
"rouges gallery"? New to the parish? Maybe you never did get
around to putting a photograph on that marvelous three sided
photo gallery that George Woodsell created for us a few years
ago. I'm willing to take family pictures or just you if that's
the family group. All you have to do is catch me before or after
church. A good place is in the nave itself, in front of a
stained glass window or in the chancel in front of the altar. No
guarantees, but it won't cost you anything either. If the
resulting print is O.K., we can put it up on the board.
........ Chris Jones, the choir guy who carries the camera.
SHOP AT THE CHURCH SHOP FOR
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
PREPARATIONS AND PRESENTS.
CHILD CARE CHRISTMAS EVE - the
Community Room will be open at the
6:00 p.m. service. Toddlers are invited
to share the church service experience
with their families, but it can be a long
time for some to be still.
THANKS FOR YOUR HELP
Many, many thanks to Stacey DeBritz for making the calls and to
all the people who brought us meals after David was born and
Marilyn was recuperating from surgery. Your generosity and
thoughtfulness heped us more than you know.
...........Jed, Marilyn, Devon and David Dare
EVERY MEMBER CANVASS
The Every Member Canvass for pledges
in 1997 is quickly drawing to a close. If
you have not returned your pledge card
to the parish office, please place it in the
offering plate during the Eucharist on
Sunday, Dec. 8st or please send them
into the church office.
The gratitude of the parish is extended
to those who have worked so diligently
on the canvas, especially to Norman
Hoffmann who served as Chairperson.
On the Use of the Columbarium in the Chapel of the Resurrection
Now that our new Columbarium has been dedicated in the Chapel of the Resurrection, I
think the issue of cremation and the use of our columbarium needs to be re-addressed.
A number of people have asked good questions about the appropriateness of
cremation for Episcopalians. I have suggested that:
* humans have a deep feeling that a corpse must always be dealt with reverently
* the Christian belief in resurrection reinforces this feeling
* if cremation appeals to you as the most reverent and proper way of committing the
physical remains to the elements, nobody can condemn your judgment on Christian
However, the opportunity of purchasing a niche in our columbarium has created new
questions for some. In several families a spouse has left instructions for their ashes to
be scattered in the mountains or over a body of water or to the wind'. Most often these
instructions are carried out, yet there still remains the need for surviving family
members to visit the site' on special occasions such as Memorial Day or the
anniversary of the death and to be able to leave flowers in memory of that person.
Scattering ashes outdoors makes it very difficult to meet this heartfelt human need. Let
me share with you what two members of our church have done.
Behind each niche in the columbarium is a box made of oak. The box is large enough
to contain the remains of a loved one. When the remains of a loved one have not been
available, some members have taken possessions of their loved one - a favorite article
of clothing, a copy of their birth or baptismal certificate, a symbol of that person's
profession or hobby - and have placed these remains' in the box where ashes would
normally go. A memorial plaque with the person's name and dates of birth and death is
mounted on that niche in the columbarium. Thus family members have a quiet,
meditative place to remember that person.
I have been asked other questions as well. First, if it is desired that the burial rite be
performed in church in the presence of the remains, is there any difference in degree of
appropriateness between an urn with ashes in it or a casket with an embalmed corpse
in it during the burial service? I must answer that there is absolutely no difference that I
can see. Why should there be? In the end, the committal is of "ashes to ashes"- and
"dust to dust."
Also I have been asked to express my view of how the ashes should be finally
disposed. I think the only test of fitness which should be applied is that of loving
respect for the wishes of the departed and for those who mourn the death. Given
my experience over the past fifteen years I caution anyone who is considering having
their remains scattered - consider the importance for your survivors to have a place'
where they can remember you.
Death is a subject about which none of us wishes to think, but prudence and
stewardship, as well as concern for one's family and self, require that each of us be
prepared for the inevitable consequences of living and dying. The best time to prepare
for these eventualities is when one is in good health. We are very fortunate to have a
columbarium in a chapel which is full of light and symbols of hope. Please consider it in
New books recently added to the library include the Following:
Armstrong, "Black-eyed Susan"
Bell, "Grandma According to Me"
Capon, "The Parables of the Kingdom"
De Paola, "Tomie De Paola's Book of Bible Stories"
Gray, "Mother Teresa"
Newson, "The Woman's Bible Commentary"
Nouwen, "Behold the Beauty of the Lord"
Armstrong and Bell are both local authors. Look For these books
on the shelves after Christmas.
A new book, "Reader's Digest Who's Who in the Bible" has been
given in memory of Gwen Robbins by her daughter, Suzanne Taylor.
More than 500 people are profiled, From Aaron to Zophar. At the
end of the book there is a helpful list of 3400 people mentioned
in the O.T., N.T. and Apocrypha.
TO USHER OR NOT TO USHER? THAT IS THE QUESTION...
One of the questions on the Worship Committee Questionnaire in
September dealt with the ushers' service to the congregation. We
asked: "Would you prefer having ushers at the 10: 15 service
control the flow to the Communion rail? Why or why not?" Of the
31 responses 17 said "no," 1 1 said "yes," and 3 said "only on
special occasions." The reasons given were thoughtful and
helpful--and varied. (That's St. Stephen's for you!)
Several people prefer more orderliness and dignity to the present
"confusion." Others find it hard to stand in long lines,
especially when accompanied by small children. Some people
appreciate the assistance of the ushers at the chancel steps.
These are important issues, and there are several ways to respond
to them. Liturgy means "the work of the people." We are a
community at worship, and we show consideration for the needs of
others--for space, for quiet, for assistance. There is no need
to empty the pews all at once; it may be better to wait in the
pew until the line is shorter. If the trip to the altar is too
hard, the sacrament can easily be brought to people where they
sit. There is plenty of time. There is plenty of bread and wine.
We are not in a race, or on a march, rather we are part of the
dance of God's people, sharing and celebrating the gifts God
gives so abundantly. At larger services, when there are more
visitors than usual, ushers may be needed to control when people
leave the pew. But in ordinary times, we are small enough not to
need crowd control or even.gatekeepers. Let's try to do "the work
of the people" in an orderly way, sensitive to those around us.
........ Pat Jones for the Worship
At the meeting of nursery parents in September several
matters of importance were discussed.
A new list of rules were drawn up which will be posted for
ALL who use the nursery to see and to follow. Sarah Rapp, the
nursery helper, and the volunteer nursery parents will be
enforcing the following:
- No hitting
- Use indoor voices
- No running
- No children over 5 years
- Help put away your child's toys before you leave
- 3-5 year olds may be supervised in the other Sunday
School rooms with
Every child must be signed in and out
- Please hang any diaper bags on hooks near the changing
table and use clothes pins with the child's name
- Do NOT bring your child if he/she is running a fever
- The small nursery room is reserved for sleeping infants, nursing
moms and changing babies
- The nursery staff and volunteers are expected to change soiled
diapers and accompany children to the bathroom
- Please do not bring any red juice Snacks will be eaten
As I begin my tenth season of teaching in the Disabled Ski
Program at Ski Windham in the Catskills, I want to share with the
congregation why it means so much to me. During the coffee hour
following the 10:15 service on Sunday, December 7, 1 will show a
video about the program and be happy to answer any questions.
As a point of information, last year we served 805 students
during 1,247 lessons with 105 volunteers. This year we will add
a program for children with serious illness at the Double "H"
Hole in the Woods Ranch. We are the largest program in the east.
NOVEMBER SCHENECTADY INNER CITY MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS
SICM Highlights are an easy way to alert your congregation to
what is new at Schenectady Irmer City Ministry. The Highlights
is ready to insert in your church bulletin or newsletter. It
includes urgent needs, current issues, concerns and notes from
the latest SICM Assembly. If you have any questions, please call
Marianne Comfort at 374-2683.
Food-Buying Co-op Seeks Support
Save and Share Food Buying Co-op is expanding its reach into the
community with discounted units of quality food. Monthly
packages of meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and nonperishables
are available for $15, which may be paid in cash or with a
combination of $13 in Food Stamps and $2 in cash. Groups
interested in hosting a Save and Share site or in getting
information to share with others, should call Nancy Cozzy at 346-5207. Volunteers axe also needed the fourth Friday of each month
between noon and 6 p.m. to unload the truck that brings the
groceries, to distribute the food to participants or to clean up.
To volunteer, call Nancy Cozzy.
SICM Selling "Shares" for a Mortgage Burning
SICM seeks supporters to buy 'shares' in its building to pay off
the remaining $24,000 mortgage and to create a building reserve
fund. Shares are $180 each, and may be purchased in one lump
sum, quarterly, or in $5 monthly installments. Shareholders --
individuals, congregations or groups within congregations -will
be listed on a plaque of appreciation to hang in SICM's
Ecumenical Center. Gifts of stocks are welcome., and remember to
consider GE matching funds. For more information, call Marianne
Comfort at 374-2683.
Welfare Reform Progress Cited
Church and Community Worker Jim Murphy reported that Schenectady
County has agreed to offer the Child Assistance Program, a
statewide program that removes some of the barriers for welfare
recipients transitioning to work. The county also is hiring a
coordinator to work with individuals needing transportation
assistance to get to jobs. As the county continues to shape its
welfare policy, churches will be asked to address welfare-to-wages projects and efforts to overcome employment barriers for
Damien Center Needs Meal Sponsors
The Schenectady Damien Center still has some slots open for
groups to prepare and serve the monthly Saturday night dinners at
Emmanuel Baptist Church. Available dates are July 18, Aug. 22,
Sept. 19, Nov. 21 and Dec. 19. For more information, or to
volunteer your congregation or community group, contact Jerry
Oliver at 861-5062.
Christmas Caroling through Hamilton Hill Set
The Shalom Zone focused at Albany Street United Methodist Church
and Christ Church Episcopal will be sponsoring Christmas carohng
through Hamilton Hill on Saturday, Dec. 13. Everyone is welcome
to this event, which will start at Christ Church Episcopal on
State Street and conclude at Albany Street United Methodist
Church for a giant tree light and refreshments. For more
information, contact Jerry Oliver at 861-5062.
SCHENECTADY INNER CITY MINISTRY
930 Albany Street,
Schenectady, New York 12307-1514
Relating the resources of the churches to the human needs of the