The Messenger

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church  April, 2001  

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From the Rector

Dear Friends,

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  bed.

        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 family.

        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 night.

        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. 

There 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 méros  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 upside-down.

          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. 

Our 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...

The Recipe!!!!

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

pinch salt

1/2 tsp (or more) cayenne pepper (I use 1 tsp and a pinch)

powdered sugar

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 straws.

*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!  

 The Red Tent

On Monday, May 7th at 7:30pm in the parish hall there will be a discussion group for the book The Red Tent.  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  

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

All 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.

Communion Class

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, 4:45-6:15 pm

Second session:  May 30, 4:45-5:30 pm

Bishop Herzog to Speak

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.

On 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.

April Schedule



Ushers Needed

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.

Holy Week Worship Schedule

**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 Eucharist
    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.

Easter Even Vigil to Begin the Easter Celebration

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
and so begins the first Eucharist of Easter, 2001.  The service begins at 7:30 p.m.


Maunday Thursday 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 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. 

April Flowers

22      In loving memory of Frances N. Reid    given by William B. Reid

29      In honor of the loved ones of Stewart and Naomi Vanda

April Birthdays

1        Richard Hoshko, Stacia Lyons

2        Janet Faubion

3        June Russell

4        Alik Versocki

5        Kira Dietz

9        Gerald Perregaux

10      Lucy Clark, Gordon Jaquith

11      Hiola Henry, Viki Brooks-McDonald, Tanner MacIvor

12      Steve Ras, Bailey Mertz

15      Kathy Miller

16      Don Reid, David Crates

18      Kent Molino

19      Jean Slanker

20      Dorothy Rigley, Liz Varno

21      Dave Stevens, Rebecca Emaelaf, Karen Malcolm, Cory McKeone

22      David Holcombe

23      Cindy Marshall

28      Kathleen Small

April Anniversaries

5        Olive and Jack Luczka;   Gillian and Sid Woodcock

6        Steven Koch and Susan Townsend

20      Pearl and Omer Burton

29      Mildred and John Barber; Josephina and Peter Nevius, Budd and Carole Mazurek