The Messenger

April 1999

From the Rector.....

Dear Friends,

We are now entering the last weeks of Lent and I urge you to follow the journey of these two weeks so that Good Friday and Easter may be for us all a deepening of our Christian understanding and commitment as a community. This year we are trying something different for Maundy Thursday. Since that day is also the first evening of the Jewish Passover, and since the Last Supper of Jesus was the Passover Sedar, we, at Saint Stephen's will also celebrate with a Sedar service and supper. Children have a special part in the supper, so I hope entire families will come.

The Holy Week and Easter service schedule is printed in this newsletter. Please pull it out and put it on your refrigerator or message board at home. Why? Because there is no greater journey than the spiritual journey of Holy Week, for it is the journey which gives meaning to the whole of our lives. Come to Jerusalem and see again the love of God and our salvation.

Finally, I commend to you one of the great prayers in our prayerbook, the Collect for Monday in Holy Week, pp. 168 (Traditional) and 220 (Contemporary). My experience affirms the profound truth of this prayer. What is your cross? What is your way of the cross? We all have one or more crosses to bear. And we cannot run away from or run around them. We have to pick them up and carry them responsibly. And the miracle is - the Easter miracle is! - that we discover that our cross is the way of life and peace, and I would add the way of true freedom. It is through the repeated experience of this miracle that we grow and mature in our life's pilgrimage, with God's help.

May your Lent and Easter this year bring you life and peace and freedom.

James

HOLY WEEK WORSHIP SCHEDULE

Palm Sunday - March 28, 1999
7:30 am Morning Prayer
8:00 am & **10:15 am Procession with Palms & Eucharist

Holy Monday - March 29, 1999
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:30 pm Eucharist

Holy Tuesday - March 30, 1999
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:30 pm Eucharist

Holy Wednesday - March 31, 1999
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:30 pm Eucharist

Maundy Thursday - April 1, 1999
9:00 am Morning Prayer
10:00 am Eucharist & Healing
6:00 pm - A Passover Sedar, - Eucharist, Stripping of the Altar
9:00 pm Prayer Vigil through the night

Good Friday - April 2, 1999
9:00 am Morning Prayer
12:00 Noon Stations of the Cross
** 7:30 pm Lessons & Prayers

Holy Saturday - April 3, 1999
9:00 am Morning Prayer
7:30 pm Great Vigil of Easter, **Lighting of the New Fire, Lessons & Prayers, Festive Eucharist & Baptism

Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999
7:30 am Morning Prayer
8:00 am and **10:15 am Festive Eucharist

** Child care provided

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BECOMING A MEMBER OF ST. STEPHEN'S?

THE ANGLICAN ETHOS is a series of four classes which are held in an informal atmosphere and taught by the rector. For those who are new to the Episcopal Church, or looking for a new spiritual home, this course will provide an introduction to the Church - - its history, beliefs, worship, and work in the world.

Or, if you were confirmed earlier in life, and wish to renew your commitment at an adult level, consider this course as a part of your continuing Christian education. The course is required for all who wish to be confirmed or received into the church.

These classes will be held on Sunday afternoons at 1:00 p.m. beginning on May 2nd. New members will be welcomed on Sunday, May 23rd. Confirmation will take place at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany sometime next fall.

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.

CROP WALK FOR THE HUNGRY

Set aside Sunday, May 2, for the annual 10-kilometer CROP WALK in Schenectady. This event, which raises money to fight hunger locally and worldwide, begins and ends at City Hall on Jay Street. Registration at Center City, at the corner of Jay and State Streets, is from 12:30 to 1:15 pm. The WALK begins at 1:30 after a 15-minute ceremony.

In 1998 over 1,00 walkers from area churches and other groups participated, making it the largest CROP WALK in New York State. We raised more than $59,000 which was transmitted to CROP, the Community Hunger Appeal arm of Church World Service. From this amount, about $15,000 was returned for local hunger fighting efforts by area food pantries and the Nutrition Program for the Elderly. The other 75% was used for worldwide relief, assisting victims of strife in Bosnia, refugees in Africa, and the hundreds of thousands of people whose standard of living is too low to enable them to meet basic nutritional needs. This year CROP has also helped with the ice storm relief efforts in northern New York, purchasing and delivering generators and 2,500 blankets to the affected communities.

Last year over twenty parishioners from St. Stephen's walked, and many other parishioners contributed in other ways, raising over $1500.

We need: walkers or runners
sponsors for walkers or runners
registrars for the day of the walk
greeters to welcome returning walkers or runners.

Please join us!! CROP WALK forms and sign up sheets, as well as details on time and location, are available after both services each Sunday, (except Easter).

..............Richey Woodzell. Richey

Adult Education on Sunday Mornings

Each year the adult education program explores spiritual issues which affect our congregation.

April 11 FORGIVENESS: What does it mean to forgive other people for harm done to you and what things do you need to do to achieve forgiveness.

April 18 CONNECTING: How much do we need one another? Is is through our connections with others, our family and friends, through our rituals, that we survive the difficult times that come to everyone.

May 2 SUFFERING: All people suffer in life. How can we bounce back and keep on going in the face of suffering?

May 9 MIRACLES: What is a miracle? A physical phenomenon? Or can it simply be an awakening - seeing the same things of life in a new way.

May 16 LONELINESS: Many people feel lonely in life, and yet are ashamed to admit it. How can people feel closer ties to other people and to the community that will result in their feeling less lonely?

May 23 GUILT: Modern life is very complex, and it's impossible to live it without making mistakes. So how do we feel and act when we are less than perfect.

There will be no Church School for the adulds or children on April 25th. Child care will be available from 10:15 am to 11:30 am.

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.

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.

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 Lilies for our Shut-ins

Easter lilies will adorn the altar on Easter Sunday and until after services the following Sunday, April 11, and will be taken to shut-ins in the parish. A list of shut-ins will be posted. If you can help, please check off on the list the persons to whom you are delivering after the service on April 11th.

Delivering flowers from the altar is a very special ministry, and gives a great deal of pleasure for the short time it takes to do it. If you wish to become part of this service one Sunday each month, please contact Kabby Lowe.

Thank you very much.

.................Kabby Lowe

EASTER BASKET PROJECT

The Service Committee again is creating an opportunity for us to reach out to some of our less fortunate neighbors by organizing an Easter hamper 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, April 12th. 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 forth 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.

The flowers on the altar in April are given to the Glory of God.

April 5 - PALM SUNDAY. The palms are given as a thankoffering By Gillian and Sid Woodcock

12 - EASTER DAY - see Sunday bulletin

April 19 - In memory of Frances Reid by William Reid

April 26 - In memory of Norman Santer and the loved ones of Mildred Santer

"SAY IT WITH A BOOK"

You are invited to express yourself by donating a new book to the Church Libraries.

Each donated book will display a label with the donor's name and personal message.

This is the perfect opportunity to....

All friends members of Saint Stephen's congregation are welcome to become involved in this venture. It's a great way to help our library grow.

The next time you have something to say....

"SAY IT WITH A BOOK."

General information contact the parish office.
THANK YOU!