The Messenger

May 1998

From the Rector.....

Dear Friends,

A friend shared a prayer with me last week that hit close to home. It goes, "Lord, help me to be the man my dog thinks I am."

We got Moriah as a 8-week old Golden Retrieve puppy for Christmas. She has graced our lives in so many ways by her playfulness, affection, love and devotion. She's Viki's dog, of course - right!!! - but I admit, she and I have developed a strong bond between us. She greets me at the door when I come home in the afternoon. She sits by my side when I read the newspaper. She studies my face when I am worried. On more than one occasion she has licked the tears from my eyes when I was sad. She looks up to me as if I could do no wrong.

Now, I know better. I'm aware of my sinfulness as the next person. Somehow, though, relating to Moriah brings our the best in me. I don't want to let her down. Consequently, when I'm with her I make an intentional effort to curb my anger, to exercise patience and restraint, to express words of affirmation and praise.

Now, if all this seems silly - my relationship to a dog - just think how much more powerful our adoration for each other can be. As people of faith we have the opportunity to see each other as children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. The world may be quick to point out our faults, but through the eyes of faith, we are able to recognize each other's potential.

Put into practice, this has a transforming quality. When you treat others with reverence and respect, they tend to respond in kind. And when others see in you the image of God, it can't help but affect how you think and act.

"Lord, help me to be the man my dog thinks I am." For what it's worth, I'm going to let this be my prayer for a while; only I'm going to expand it to include my wife and children, parents, friends and anyone else who is able to see the Presence of God in me. My hunch is, it'll help me recognize the goodness in them as well.

James

LOGOS

Reaching Children and Youth through the Church

Our LOGOS program has concluded this year with a very spirited bang - with our marrionette show and a festive dinner including "make your own pizza's" and party poppers! Thank you again for everyone involved with the program this year. It was wonderful to see it return with such enthusiasm and commitment.

And big thanks to the entire congregation for the wonderful audience for our production of "Dry Bones," rhe kids had a giggly good time cheering old Ezekiel up with their dancing and singing. We are sure you will all remember our enchanted valley every time you hear "Dem Bones" or read Ezekiel 37! There is a video tape of the show available to anyone who would like to see it.

The following notes were found in the LOGOS mailbox summing up what LOGOS is all about:

L aughed - a lot!

O nly ate the chocolate-flavored ice cream sundaes

G ot to know some really neat kids

0 pened up my eyes to a dedicated group of adults

S omething I will do again, given the chance....

What volunteering at LOGOS is like -

by Dawn Chupay

"As a newcomer to LOGOS, I found LOGOS both challenging and rewarding. The children in LOGOS were precious and entertaining. The crafts and learning were fun and productive. I wish to thank the other staff members for their tireless effort and endless energy especially Debbie Trawick and Jean Kolb. I only wish more men could enjoy their children and be a part of the LOGOS experience."

..........Murray Roseberry

Worship Notes

Many people have commented on the beauty of the services during Holy Week and on Easter Day. The Worship Committee is most appreciative of the generous amounts of time and energy contributed by many groups and individuals: Tim Olsen and the choirs, the bell choir and the special musicians on Easter Day; the altar guild, Dave the sexton and all who made extra efforts to clean and beautify the church; the acolytes who met their obligations and those who filled in when needed; ushers, lectors, and chalicers; Janice, for all the extra printed material she provided; readers of special lessons, feet for washing, folders of palm crosses and of bulletins - and those whose contributions are known to God alone. Truly, our worship is a work of the people!

During the Easter Season, from April 12 through May 24, worshippers are encouraged to stand, if you are able, during the Great Thanksgiving. This reflects our deliverance in Christ from sin, and our worthiness to stand before God in praise and thanksgiving. (BCP, p.368)

Our use of a modified Great Thanksgiving, originally planned for the Easter season, will begin instead in the fall, with educational presentations for both children and adults.

............Deacon Pat for the Committee

ICHTHUS: AN EARLY CHRISTIAN SIGN

One of the earliest and most important symbols of Christ was the fish, known as the "ichthys." It was found on many Christian monuments and used in Christian art, stories, and on jewelry.

There were many reasons why the early Christians used the fish as their symbol. First of all, it stood for life and happiness. It was also easy to draw. This was especially important because early Christians were persecuted and they often used this secret sign as a means of communication. Since the fish could be drawn quickly, the Christians would not be easily caught. Finally, each letter in the Greek word for fish was also the initial letter of the words Jesus Christ, God's Son Savior.

I stood for Jesus
x stood for Christ
O stood for God
U stood for Son
S stood for Savior

ICHTHUS Youth Group

On June 28, Ichthus, St. Stephen's high school youth group, travels to Lititz, Pennsylvania for a week-long work camp. Bringing together high-schoolers from all over the country, these camps combine work, play, and a religious framework into an unforgettable experience, for the young people and the adults who go with them.

What happens at workcamp?

Starting each day at six in the morning, we work on a variety of projects to help poor and elderly people have better homes in which to live. The work might include replacing a roof, building, a new room, replacing floors or stairs, repainting. or building a wheel-chair ramp. The work is hard, challenging, and verv rewarding.

In the late afternoon everyone returns to the school which houses the camp, to shower, socialize, and relax until supper. In the evening, we take part in programs that explore the spiritual side of our lives, focusing on the connection between the work we do for others at workcamp and the work God does in and throulh us. We close each day with a meeting of our church group, to talk about our experiences that day and to see what lessons we can draw from them.

What can you do to help? We need to raise approximately $5000 for this summer's camp; you can help by doing the following:

1) Keep those pennies rolling in!

2) Keep those bottles and cans rolling in!

3) Buy shares in a workcamper - you'll hear how in the next week or two

FROM THE DEACONS BENCH

The Corrections Officer spotted me walking down the corridor, "Is that Deacon Jones?" "Is that OJ?" Yes, the Deacon is back in jail! Once again, after several years, I am visiting the women in the Schenectady County Jail on Sunday afternoons. (Some of you may remember that I had been doing so for several years when I left to attend seminary in Rochester in 1987. Cece Perry, who is now a priest in Rhode Island, was the next one to carry on this ministry of St. Stephen's; when she left, Allison DeKanel took over, and has continued as our missionary to "the church behind the walls.")

And now I am back: what goes around, comes around, as they say. It is good to be there again. Some things are still the same: some familiar faces among the staff, the same old dingy, airless tiers (housing units), since the women are still housed in the old part of the jail. Some things have changed: when I first visited there were at most 8 women, and now there are 40, with others "farmed out" to other counties' facilities. They wear orange uniforms now instead of their own clothing. I must wear a photo ID when I am there, and pass through a metal detector. But we still read the lessons together, the same lessons we read that morning at St. Stephen's. We talk about Scripture, about God's presence in our lives, about their personal concerns, and we pray. Sometimes there are hugs through the bars, sometimes there are tears.

One program change that I find especially helpful is a monthly meeting of jail staff representatives and people who provide programs, whether religious, educational or support groups. We meet to share ideas, information, changes, scheduling, and simpl y to know who else is engaged in serving the needs of county jail inmates. It is helpful to see the larger picture, and to understand the reasons behind some of the requirements and restrictions that we must deal with. And it helps to increase respect between professionals and volunteers.

On Easter Day I was privileged to assist Father Shaw, the Roman Catholic Chaplain, at two Masses for the women. Sister Terese and I each said one of the prayers, the women read the lessons, Father Shaw preached and celebrated. It was a joy to share in those services: I can't think of a better place to celebrate the Resurrection.

...............Deacon Pat

LOGOS

Reaching Children and Youth through the Church

We will schedule a very important meeting for all adults and parents involved with this years LOGOS program for mid May. We have a number of items to tie up as well as discuss and plan for the future of the LOGOS program.

There are many areas of volunteering with this program, with varying degrees of time involvement. Some of these include:

Cook Team: Cook once every 5 weeks, budget provided. Prepare meal for 40 people. 3 people to a team. Arrive at church 5:30, dinner at 6:15. Cook books available for ideas and recipes.

Clean Up: Run dishwasher, clean and put away dinner ware. Arrive at church 6:30. Work every week or on a rotating schedule.

Table Parent: Be present every week and "parent" a dinner table. 5 kids per table, 2 adult "parents." Must be willing to laugh and play games with these very endearing children. Arrive at church at 5:50. WARNING.- Some games involve ping pong balls, ice cubes and other wacky props.

Activity helper: Be present every week or on a rotating schedule beginning in January and prepare/assist with indoor sport activities or project. Arrive at church at 4:30.

Teacher: Be present every week, prepare lessons. Arrive at church at 4:30 for a 45 minute class.

More adult help is always needed, please consider how you might be a part next year. You will grow as much as the children. For more information contact Jean Kolb, 456-6156.

REMEMBER OUR VISITORS - PLEASE WEAR YOUR NAMETAG

EXPLORING THE ANGLICAN ETHOS

This course is intended to introduce prospective members of our parish to the ethos of Anglicanism. It is also a good 'refresher course' in our beliefs for any member of the parish. The study will explore our particular ethos: Anglican traits rooted deeply in the past (200 A.D.) of Britain's relatively pragmatic and moderate peoples. It explores why we Episcopalians do what we do and how our church has been shaped and is being shaped. It is required for all adults who wish to be confirmed or received into the church, but is open to all members of the Parish Family.

The class will begin on May 3rd and end on June 7th.

All classes will meet in the downstairs classroom and will be led by the the rector.

THE FEAST OF PENTECOST

The Feast of Pentecost marks the end of the Easter Festival in the Liturgical year. But it is not the end of anything, but the beginning of that new life in Christ. In our prayerbook Pentecost is properly designated as the fiftieth day of Easter -- the celebration begins with the day of Resurrection and ends with the gift of the spirit to the Church. That giving of the Spirit is to be understood as a resurrection appearance.

The import of Pentecost as the final Resurrection appearance is that through the gift of the Spirit, Christ's presence is forever insured for the community of the faithful. This we indeed celebrate!

We will celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, May 31st. This feast is as important as Christmas or Easter and St. Stephen's is hoping to have everyone present for the celebration. There will be a renewal of our Baptismal vows, especially appropriate on this day, and special music. Red is the color associated with the Holy Spirit, so wear something red to church!

ADULT EDUCATION

Sunday mornings

May 3 through May 24

A FRESH APPROACH TO THE BIBLE

In this course, the Rev. Charles Sheerin will formulate basic questions which the thoughtful reader brings to the Bible. What is it? How is it used? What does it have to say to me? This year Mr. Sheerin will deal with the letters of St. Paul. Those who have attended Mr. Sheerin's past courses here have found that he takes a risk and a joy in the Bible: a risk that we might get it wrong, and a joy in the discovery of the living Word becoming flesh.

EASTER WAS BEAUTIFUL AND GRACE-FILLED

What a joyous Easter Feast it was. Again this year we had the largest attendenance ever at both the 8:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Eucharists. The Easter Offering was over budget again this year. Easter flower offering was generous and the flowers were as beautiful as most could remember. The music this year was splendid. The Bell Choir out-did themselves and the combined LOGOS and Adult choirs had us tapping our feet with their version of the Halleluia Chorus from Handel's Messiah. How wonder to have everyone having a share in the Festival. Let's use the remaining days of the Easter season to rejoice with one another as we say:

ALLELUIA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA.

Thank you......Thank you

.....To all cooks who cooked and baked our suppers before the Thursday Lenten studies.

.....To the Altar Guild and to brass polishers par excellence who polished all the brass in the church, and made Easter Day beautiful with flower arrangements.

.....To Tim Olsen and the choir members; to Marilyn Dare and all the bell ringers who helped to make Easter Day joyous.

.....To the lectors, chalice bearers and acolytes who made our worship possible.

.....To all those who helped in the toddler and nursery rooms.

.....To the ushers and to the offering counters.

.....To our administrative assistant, Janice, who worked so hard to prepare bulletins and make other arrangements.

.....To Dave, our sexton, who made the church shine again

.....To the ECW who made our palm crosses.

.....and the list goes on and on!

ASK THE RECTOR

Dear Rector,

I need to understand the giving of communion to very small children. As I understand it, in the early Church there was a long period of teaching before people were admitted to the Holy Eucharist. I understand the principle of inclusion and the sense of awe in children, but I would need to know how much preparation is given by parents and clergy before children receive the sacrament. It may well be that my culture and my deep sense of tradition prevents me from accepting this practice fully but in honesty, I must at least state my problem with it.

...........Wondering
Dear Wondering,

I give the children of St. Stephen's Communion bread when their parents agree to it. My reasons for this are several:

1) My theology of Eucharist was shaped by a man named Aiden Kavanaugh who took the Eastern Church as his model where babies are literally "spoon fed" the Eucharist from a chalice where the bread and wine are mushed together.

2) Theologically I think in somewhat of an Old Testament way--newborn (boys) were circumcised and made an immediate part of Isreal (on the 8th day). Baptism is our equivalent in that through the waters of baptism we are made part of the "new Isreal" the Body of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is the meal which symbolizes our full inclusion in Christ.

I was raised in an Episcopal Church which taught and practiced that childern do not receive Communion until they were Confirmed (about 11 or 12 years old). But the net effect of this was that I was raised as "Pagan" with "Christian" parents. I sat in my pew while they went up to receive the bread and wine, or I went up and watched the rector pass me by. I suppose I relish the idea that the children of St. Stephen's will never know a time when they were not nourished by the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood.

As to their understanding it--I'm not sure we ever grasp the mystery of this sacrament. I dare say that I don't even to this day--it is beyond the intellect and into that mysterious realm of sharing and partaking in a community ritual.

Opportunities for Special Gifts to Saint Stephen's

New Prayer Books for the Pews - $16 each
Please designate the person whom you are honoring or remembering for the inside book plate.

Library Book - variable price
Please designate the person whom you are honoring or remembering for the inside book plate.

Chapel Chairs - $280 each
Please designate the person whom you are honoring or remembering for the brass plate attached to each chair.

Chapel Credence Table - $1,300
Please designate the person whom you are honoring or remembering for the brass plate attached.

Chapel Lectern - $2,150
Please designate the person whom you are honoring or remembering for the brass plate attached.

Chapel Altar - $4,000
Please designate the person whom you are honoring or remembering for the brass plate attached.