Stephen’s Episcopal Church
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In one week we will begin Holy Week. This is when we move back and forth from the sacred rites here in the church to the family traditions at home, and then back again to the richness of the church. Let me suggest a few simple gestures for church and home which can bring the sacred mysteries closer to us.
Our Procession with Palms begins our Week. We begin with a parade.
But leading the parade, we notice that the cross is cover with red.
Even from the beginning we are prepared for that Gospel story just given.
We all participated in it: just as we waved our palm branches in greeting
Jesus, so we yelled 'Crucify him!'. We
are aware of our human weakness that shouts praise and joy one moment and
judgment and condemnation the next. When
you leave the church, be sure to take extra palm branches for your house and
leave one over the door or behind a cross or over the fire place, or over your
Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week are traditional days for 'spring house
cleaning'. If you haven't done it
already, do a special cleaning, spiffing everything up for the celebration of
new life on Easter. Also, these are
good days to bake and cook ahead for the Easter feast.
On Wednesday, begin to plan the Easter dinner. After the Eucharist at noon I will have simple 'Blessings
Over Food' for the special Easter dinner. Come by and pick up a copy for
everyone who will be there on Easter Day. Then come to our Seder in the parish
hall that evening in which we will share a ritual meal commemorating the flight
of the Jews out of bondage out of Egypt,
foreshadowing the Last Supper for Jesus and his disciples.
This is always an enjoyable time for families.
On Maundy Thursday, at the end of the church service, you will remember
that the altar is stripped, the red sanctuary light is extinguished, and
the place is left hollow and empty.
You are invited to stay as long as you
wish in the church, but let me suggest that when you go home, talk as
little as possible, keeping as much of the holy silence as you are able, as a
If you have crosses on your walls, this would be a good time to cover them with
cheese cloth or something similar.
On Good Friday, things are quiet: both at church and at
home. Come at noon to the Stations
of the Cross, a very moving pilgrimage through the crucifixion.
St. Stephen's will be open all afternoon for silent prayer and
meditation. At home it would be
appropriate to quiet all radios, TVs and stereos.
It is a day to turn inward and to keep in mind the way of Christ's
passion. Our projects and actions
could involve our children, and include their creative participation.
A simple rugged cross can be made this day by fashioning two sticks
together and putting or hanging it in a prominent place.
Good Friday is also a traditional day of cleaning out the fireplace, and
laying kindling for the new fire of Easter night.
The idea is to take home the fire from the Easter candle on Saturday
night and to use this candle to light the new fire in your fireplace.,
At church there will be no Eucharist.
In the evening we will share in prayers and anthems.
All the daylight hours on Holy Saturday are filled with the last
preparations for Easter. Easter
clothes are cleaned and pressed. Last
minute groceries are purchased for the Easter dinner.
And then we come to the decorating of eggs. The egg is a symbol of new
life and the breaking through from imprisonment to freedom.
It is a good idea not to finish decorating your eggs over the week, and
to leave Saturday as the day to finish them.
Some eggs can be dyed, but I suggest that each family member paint one
egg, with symbols of the resurrection and new life, the butterfly, flowers for a
new springtime, chicks and rabbits as signs of fertility and new life.
And then reserve one egg, painted gold, on which the word ALLELUIA is
written. This is the best egg to
find in the hunt on Eater morning. Saturday
is also the day to make an Easter egg tree.
In the evening at church we will have candles for everyone to hold during
the service, but let me suggest that each family bring a their own fat candle,
placed inside a jar so that you can carry home this new Easter fire which has
been blessed in the worship service. It
is sometimes a real trick to keep the lit candle all the way home, but the
adventure is worth it. When you
come home after the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, light a candle in each our
your rooms from the Easter flame. Light
the kindling and nurse it into a good fire.
Later, wish each other a warm and happy Easter, and turn in for the
During the next week we move from raw tragedy to reconciling triumph;
from dying with Christ, we will be raised with him at the end of the week.
Consider these suggestions for home and church.
We won't have an opportunity like this for at least another year.
Some thoughts on the Maundy Thursday liturgy of footwashing
Now before the festival of
Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to
the Father. Having loved his own
who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
[John 13:1] Jesus begins
his last few hours with his disciples by getting up from supper, and like the
lowliest of household servants, washing the feet of his disciples.
But Peter, unlike the rest of the disciples, cannot accept his Lord's
lowly service. As Jesus approaches with the washing basin and the towel, Peter
is horrified. He refuses to allow Jesus to serve him: "You shall not ever
wash my feet even unto eternity," he cries.
This is the irony we often see in John, where deep truth issues from the
mouths of those are blind to the truth. Peter
is protesting more truth than he knows -- it is indeed “unto eternity” that
his Lord desires to cleanse him.
is something in all of us that wants to resist God's humility.
It is more comfortable for our pride to ally ourselves to a God who is
never other than magnificent. We may even imagine that in some (suitably
far-off) moment we will welcome the Almighty Overpowering God.
But Jesus does not allow his followers this option.
When Peter resists having his feet washed, Jesus tells him clearly what
it will take for him to find acceptance -- acceptance with Jesus, and
ultimately, though him, with God. "If I do not cleanse you, you can have no
with me." The word méros is
usually translated 'part' though it has a far richer meaning.
Méros can mean part, or share,
or place, something included in the whole -- it indicates participation in some
ongoing endeavor. The sense is, "If you do not allow me to do this for
you, you cannot be included or participate in what I am doing.”
These words turn normal human expectations about acceptance and inclusion
We think of 'earning our place' in the group, 'doing our part' in the
family, 'making our way' in the world, and we act accordingly.
Like Peter seems to do, we automatically expect that God will act in the
same way. We just want to be clear
about what God's terms are. In our
anxiety to know what it is we must do to make our place with God, we often fail
to notice the obvious: God does not need for us to do anything.
sacramental reenactment of this gospel story on Maundy Thursday is meant to turn
our normal human expectations about acceptance and inclusion upside down.
We come to the realization that our first though can never be, “What
can I do for God?'” The answer to that is, “Nothing.”
Our first thought must always be, “What would God do for me?”
One answer to that is that God
would cleanse me. And I must admit
that I need to be cleansed, and acknowledge that I cannot cleanse myself.
I will want to resist, just as Peter resisted.
That is why this is not a comfortable liturgy for anyone – it feels way
too intimate and physical, and somehow backwards
from our usual way of operating. But
that is exactly why the discomfort is worth enduring.
Receiving whatever God would do for us requires that we accept the gift
on God's terms -- our part is to accept with wondering reverence whatever
service God is pleased to offer.
Through this liturgy we can get a
glimpse of the kind of thing that can happen if we answer our Lord’s call to
"Follow me." We
experience Jesus' faithfulness with Peter, and the way he meets Peter's
resistance with relentless tenderness.
We can see why the humility of men and women is never found in their performance of “humble service”, but begins with their
willingness to receive service from God.
This month's cartoon....
Bits and Pieces...
Karen Malcolm, who hadn’t been
receiving The Messenger, found out from one of her friends that her cheese wafer
recipe was in demand. So she brought it to the Office and we are happy to print
it. There were many requests.
Cheddar Cheese Rounds
(This a great food processor recipe.)
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar, grated
8 oz. butter, sofened
2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp (or more) cayenne pepper (I
use 1 tsp and a pinch)
Mix cheese and butter. Blend well and
add the remaining ingredients (except pwd. sugar). Do not overmix. (Like
piecrust if over-worked, rounds will be tough). Form dough into balls the
size of large marble, roll in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Flatten
with a glass or criss-cross with a fork. Bake at 375° for 7-10 minutes.
*I add powdered chipotle pepper, which
gives a slightly smokey taste.
*You can roll out and cut into cheese
*You cn add finely chopped pecans.
*You can make thumbprint cookies and
fill with strawberry preserves.
So, now Karen has her Messenger (I
hope) and we have the recipe!
Please join us and bring any friends
who have read the book and would like to discuss this very interesting story.
Dessert and beverages will be provided. Any questions, contact Vicki Hoshko
372-7819 or email@example.com
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!
The Flowering of the Cross
children of St. Stephen’s are invited to participate in the Flowering of the
Cross at the 10:15 service on Easter Sunday.
Families are asked to provide a flower
for each child to place in the cross. If your yard has an abundance of blooms,
please bring a few extra to church. There will be containers for donated flowers
just inside the main entrance of the church.
Children (parents are welcome, too)
will follow the choir and clergy down the aisle during the processional hymn.
The cross will be in front of the chancel steps, and volunteers will be ready to
assist the children in placing the flowers on the cross. The “flowered “
cross will remain in church until just after the sermon. Ushers will then place
the cross in the front yard as a symbol of our rejoicing.
Many years ago, the Flowering of the
Cross was an Easter tradition at this church. We will be using the original
white cross made especially for this children’s ceremony.
To help families prepare for the feast
of the Pentecost, we will be having “communion classes” for children and
their families on the last two Wednesdays of May.
We make bread and grape juice, and learn about how our Lord welcomes his
people to his feast.
First session (parents attend), May 23,
May 30, 4:45-5:30 pm
Bishop Herzog will be the keynote speaker at the Province 2 women’s meeting on Friday April 27 at the Dominican Spiritual Life Center, 1945 Union Street, Niskayuna.
Dinner, 5:30 ($20), call Kabby Lowe to register.
Saturday morning, following there will be a panel about overseas missions with
those from our diocese who have
returned from the Sudan and Haiti and Argentina.
We need more ushers for the 10:15 am service. It is a very easy job and only requires your services once a month (or less frequently if we get more volunteers). Call Melissa Ehler iof you have any questions. Melissa will be stepping down as captain of the ushers, so a volunteer for that position is also needed. Call Melissa to volunteer.
**Palm Sunday – April 8, 2001
8:00 am & 10:15 am Procession with Palms & Eucharist
Holy Monday - April 9, 2001
12:30 pm Eucharist
Holy Tuesday - April 10, 2001
12:30 pm Eucharist
Holy Wednesday - April 11, 2001
12:30 pm Eucharist
6 pm Seder Meal
**Maundy Thursday - April 12, 2001
10:00 am Eucharist & Healing
7:30 pm Eucharist & Stripping of the Altar
9:00 pm Prayer Vigil through the night
**Good Friday - April 13, 2001
12:00 Noon Stations of the Cross
7:30 pm Lessons & Prayers
Easter Vigil – April 14, 2001
7:30 pm Lighting of the first fire
Nine lessons and musical responses
Easter Day – April 15, 2001
8:00 am Choral
9:00 am Easter Egg Hunt
10:15 am Choral Eucharist
7:00 pm Eucharist
On Palm Sunday, we enter the most
significant eight days in the Church’s calendar.
It is of the greatest importance that we participate in the experiences
described in the church calendar, because living through them, walking the way
Christ walked, we uncover the core of Christian Belief and living.
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 communion to be
brought to you at home by one of the clergy.
The Church will be in darkness.
Into that darkness will be brought the new light of Easter and carried
through the Nave to the altar where the Paschal Candle will be placed in its stand to burn through the fifty days of Easter till
the Ascension of our Lord.
We will rehearse our history as a
people of God from creation through the Red Sea out of bondage with God's
promises for his people culminating in the story of the Resurrection.
Easter is the festival of Baptism and
we shall celebrate that sacrament as well as have the opportunity to renew our
own baptismal vows.
And then the shout be raised
HE IS RISEN, THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED,
and so begins the first Eucharist of Easter, 2001. The service begins at 7:30 p.m.
MAKE THIS THE BEGINNING OF YOUR EASTER.
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 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.
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.
In loving memory of Frances N. Reid
given by William B. Reid
In honor of the loved ones of Stewart and Naomi Vanda
Richard Hoshko, Stacia Lyons
Lucy Clark, Gordon Jaquith
Hiola Henry, Viki Brooks-McDonald, Tanner MacIvor
Steve Ras, Bailey Mertz
Dorothy Rigley, Liz Varno
Dave Stevens, Rebecca Emaelaf, Karen Malcolm, Cory McKeone
Olive and Jack Luczka; Gillian and Sid Woodcock
Steven Koch and Susan Townsend
Pearl and Omer Burton
29 Mildred and John Barber; Josephina and Peter Nevius, Budd and Carole Mazurek