From the Rector
This year Easter almost is as early as it can be! Therefore, Ash Wednesday is also very early - February 13th! The weeks before Lent are a good time to decide what your Lenten discipline will be this year. As I was growing up in church the emphasis was on giving up something for Lent. One problem with this is that we often get so caught up in trying to keep our Lenten denial, that we loose track of the true reason we are doing it. Another problem is that we can perform the denial for the praise of others, and thus rob ourselves of that which we seek: true intimacy with God.
There is another way to observe a holy lent. Instead of giving up, we can take on such activities as weekday Eucharists or participation in a Lenten study group. This year we have increased Lenten opportunities by adding a Sunday evening study series. Increasing the amount of time spent in reading the Bible and other religious books, in meditation and prayer, and in doing extra work to help the poor and needy - are all worthwhile forms of Lenten discipline. Taking on additional activities during Lent is an excellent way to prepare for Christ's resurrection, because these are the very activities which were such an important part of Jesus' ministry. How many times in the Gospels can you remember Jesus urging his disciples to give up something? But think of the times Jesus urges his followers to feed the hungry and tend to the needy.
Up to a point Ash Wednesday is supposed to make us uncomfortable as we contemplate our sinful condition. However, this stark, penitential day, the first of the 40 days of Lent does not have to be the beginning of a time of negativity, when we dwell on denial. I am urging you today to consider taking on a spiritual activity, rather than giving up something. The difference between giving up and taking on is that taking on an activity is a creative act; giving up something is not. But don't think that taking on something for Lent is easier or requires less pain than giving up something.
Taking on an activity is every bit as much a discipline as self-denial, but is more like the mother's joy at birth which overshadows the pains that precede it.
So Lent is not only a time for us to remember the shortness and frailty of human life, a time reflecting on our tendency to sin; it is also a time of spiritual refreshment and new commitment to Christ. We shall not be unduly depressed, for we are children of God, in Christ. Lent is a time when all we are called to do is to be who we are created to be. We need only be human, a simple matter of being in relationship with God and other human beings.
Opportunities for Spiritual Growth in Lent
Thursday Evenings: We begin the evening with Evening Prayer in the church at 5:30. After the service we gather in the Parish Hall for a light supper: hot soup and beverages will be provided and can be supplemented with a sandwich from home. Finally, at around 6:45 we gather in the Library for our Lenten Study series.
Mtr. Lorrie will lead the Thursday study series on
"What is 'Call' in Chirstian Life?". (See article below.)
Thursday Mornings: For many, the Season of Lent is a period of healing - - spiritually, emotionally, relationally and physically. The Sacrament of Healing is offered as a part of the Eucharist at 10:00 am. It involves the Laying on of Hands and anointing with Holy Oil of Unction. After the service we gather in the rector's study for a Bible Study based on the following Sunday's scripture readings.
Sunday Eucharists in Lent: The Prayerbook gives many liturgical observances that are especially appropriate for Lent. Each Sunday in Lent will begin with the "Penitential Order" (p. 319) which includes a confession of sin. Throughout Lent we will be using Rite I.
Sunday Evenings: This year we will add a study series on Sunday evenings at 5:30 in the parish hall. Fr. James will lead a bible study based on Handel's Messiah. We will examine those passages which most pertain to the Lenten season:
|Feb. 17||Behold the Lamb of God|
|Feb. 24||He Trusted in God|
|March 3||Who is the King of Glory?|
|March 10||Glory to God in the Highest|
|March 17||I know that my Redeemer Liveth|
|March 24||Why Do the Nations Rage?|
Everyone is invited to the evening Eucharist after class.
Fridays in Lent - Stations of the Cross: 'Station' is any place in the church where, during a solemn procession, there is pause for a prayer. 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. Please call the parish office if you wish to experience this tradition.
Lent affords us a good opportunity to explore areas of our liturgical tradition that not widely used in our church.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
Don't miss the traditional Pancake Supper on Tuesday,
February 12th! at St. Stephen's marking the last time for festivities before
Lent begins, on Wednesday!
Menu includes pancakes, sausages and a beverage. The price includes all you can eat!
Bring your family, your friends and your appetite! Volunteers are needed to help cook, serve and clean up.
BRING YOUR PALMS FROM 2000 PALM SUNDAY TO BE BURNED FOR ASH WEDNESDAY.
Ash Wednesday Services
Ash Wednesday is February 13th with the Imposition of Ashes and Eucharist as follows:
Services will be held at various times so that each Christian can observe the beginning of this penitential period which leads us into our celebration on Easter Day. Barring illness, every Christian certainly will be in church on Ash Wednesday to begin his/her disciplined preparation for a meaningful celebration of Easter.
Making a confession in preparation for Easter is a long-standing tradition form 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 parish clergy. A short brochure describing this sacrament can be found on the Welcome Table in the parish hall.
....to ICHTHUS who made over 100 sub sandwiches for their fundraiser on January 26
....to all who submitted reports for the Annual Meeting
...to our sexton, Dave, who keeps digging us out of the snow when we have it.
...to Pauline Northrop who plowed through so many numbers in preparing our Parochial Report for the national church
....to the Adult Choir who not only make beautiful music for us, but also made us proud in representing us at the choir festival at the Cathedral
Parish Leadership Conference in
March 2nd, 2002, 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of All Saints
The Diocesan Parish Leadership Conferences are open to Priests, Deacons, Vestry members, Wardens, Evangelism Leaders, Church School Leaders, the Heads of Ushers and Greeters, Parish Administrators, the Clerk of the Vestry, the Treasurer, and the three newest members of each parish. The theme is “empowering people to transform parishes.” Nine different workshops are available, from “Duties and Responsibilities of Church Wardens and Vestry” to “Conflict Management” to “Intercessory Prayer.” Call the church office or visit the Diocesan website http://www.albanyepiscopaldiocese.org to register.
Youth Retreats at Beaver Cross
Don't forget to register for Winter SonShine
2002. This is 3 days of fun at the beautiful snow-covered (?) Beaver Cross Camp
near Cooperstown. There are two separate SonShine events -one for Middle School
and one for High School. The dates for these are Feb 17-20 and Feb 21-22
respectively. Call the church office for registration information or call Beaver
Cross at 607-547-9489 or beavercrosS@stny.rr
Speaking of Beaver Cross. ..
The fine folks of Beaver Cross
have just released their summer schedule for 2002. They have made some upgrades
to the accommodations, expanded the "Challenge Course" and installed a
new portable Climbing Wall! We will have registration forms available by early
February. Here are the dates:
Beaver Cross Summer
2002 (use fall 2002 grade)
Beaver Bound: Grades 1-2 June
Community Camp 1 Grades
3-5 June 3O-July 6
Camp 2 Grades 3-5 July 7-13
Community Camp 3 Grades
6-8 July 14-20
Community Camp 4
Grades 6-8 July 21-27
Camp 5 Grades 6-8 July 28-Aug 3
Community Camp 6 Grades
9-12 Aug. 4-10
Community Camp 7 Grades
9-12 Aug. 11-17
Several of our families of young children have asked me about communion classes for their little ones. We generally practice ‘infant communion’ in our parish. But by the time children are finishing first grade, they are old enough to understand what it means to participate in the Lord’s supper. That is the time for some focused instruction for the children and their parents. We will be offering communion classes for children and their parents, along with some activities to complete at home. There will be two consecutive classes, 1 1/2 hours each, sometime during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of March. We will make bread and grape juice and learn about how our Lord welcomes his people to his feast. These classes are open to anyone, even if you have been receiving communion for years. Please let Mtr. Lorrie know that you are interested, and we will figure out the best times for the classes.
Lenten Study Series
What is "Call" for the Christian?
“ . . . let each of you lead the life to which God called you.” [1 Cor 7:17] We are to called to become fully the people God created us to be, living our lives in response to God’s call to us as Jesus lived out his life faithful to God’s call for him. Hearing one’s call also means discovering one’s truest self. But how can we hear God’s call to us? Sometimes it seems our ears are filled with a cacophony of other voices the expectations of others, the seductive promises of social ambition, and the voice of our own ego.
In this Lenten study series we will
learn about discernment, the way of hearing and following God’s call to us. Participants will commit to some reading and reflection time
outside of class. If there are enough people who want to participate, classes
will be offered at two different times: Thursday
evenings 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. (after Evening Prayer at 6:00 p.m. and our
traditional soup supper), and Saturday mornings 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
The first classes will be Thursday, Feb. 14th and Saturday, Feb. 16th,
respectively. Please speak to Mtr.
Lorrie or call the church office if you would like to participate.
Get ready for more fun at the next
:"Friday Night Off"
Some of you may recall that St Stephen’s held a “Friday Night Off” program last fall, just as Advent started. We had a great turnout, and a lot of fun. And no one had to cook!
For those of you who may have missed the first one, read on: this will catch you up. “Friday Night Off” is an intergenerational fellowship and activity program that allows members of St Stephen’s to get together without the pressure of preparing meals for their families at the end of a long week.
At our last Friday Night Off, over 30 people showed up for active games, making Advent wreaths and sharing lasagna. It was a really good time!
Our next Friday Night Off will be Friday, February 15, at 6:00 p.m. Our Lenten Friday Night Off will feature two different meatless soups. We’ll make sure that one will appeal to children! Our theme is “Game Night”. So bring your favorite board games, and we’ll bring ours…. from Twister to backgammon and everything in between.
A sign up sheet will be on the shop counter. Please sign up so we can plan for enough food. As last time, price per person will be very reasonable. If you need a ride, please call Karen Malcolm at 370-8779. If you have any questions, call Karen with those, too.
Whether you are cooking for one or seven, it’s better to share a meal with us that you don’t have to make! Please mark your calendar for Friday, February 15. It won’t be as much fun without you!
Christmas Cards Delivered to Jail
On December 16th, Deacon Pat, Allison deKanel, and Gloria Kavanah visisted over 200 detainees and inmates at the Schenecetady County Correctional Facility, distributing Christmas Cards to all who wanted them. We were welcomed enthusiastically and with much appreciation by all: calls of “Merry Christmas,” “Thank you and God bless you!” followed us from floor to floor. One man with a large family in Chicago wished he had more than the five cards we offered, but ha cheerfully said, “ Oh well, oatmeal better than no meal!” Because we had to leave before we were finished (lockdown is at 2:45 and no outsiders are allowed), Carole Merrill-Mazurek completed the job on Monday afternoon, distributing the cards to nearly 100 individuals.
This Christmas Card project has grown a lot since the years we delivered cards to perhaps 15-20 women; This year we gave out 1750 cards, already stamped with a total of $595 worth of postage to approximately 350 grateful recipients. It was a privilege to represent the people of St. Stephen’s, who contributed so generously by donating unused cards, sorting, stamping and bundling the cards, and by providing postage. This year we received additional cards from Janet Hutchison, owner of “The Open Door Bookstore.” Thank you to all of you who contributed, on behalf of the men and women at the jail and their families and friends.
(Donation of unused greeting cards for the jail--Christmas, birthday, etc. - are welcome at any time. Please place them in the deacon’s mailbox in the Nave extension.
Stewardship and the Engineer
By Murray Roseberry
Many of you know me as spiritual person and the spokesman for Stewardship. However, there is a darker side. I am also an analytical, hard nosed, take no prisoners, engineer. How can this be? One side of me deals in Godly matters, the other strictly in science. How do I reconcile these "opposite" internal views? During the next few months, I will try to explain how I not only deal with this dichotomy but also how I find God in dealing with this duality. This brings me to the question for this month. How do I reconcile the idea of a church budget which is fixed in January with a pledge program which in not completed until May. The engineer says this cannot be so "I need to know how much I can spend so that I can accurately budget for the year." And the Steward in me says "All things come from God and He will provide for the Church's needs."
Well as we all know by now, the 2002 Church budget exceeds last year's income by $10,759. This certainly got the analytical side's attention. The analytical side may have been able to handle a difference of $3000 or $4000 that would have been in the normal variability. But this is too much unknown revenue and the Stewardship side must realize that is this totally unacceptable. However, the Stewardship side was not to be so easily deterred. The Stewardship side look at it another way. $10,759 divided by 52 weeks divided by 140 giving units yielded $1.48 increased pledge per giving unit per week. Totally within reason for the upcoming pledge campaign. Furthermore, we all agreed (even you analytical types) that we needed to do what we are doing to bring God to more people. Now is not the time to doubt our purpose or resolution.
During the coming Spring season, each of us should have frank and open disscussions with God about our Stewardship and make the best choice based on God's needs and our individual needs. We should not base our pledges only to provide what is needed but on the results of our discussions with God about where we should be based on our Stewardship of God's Bounty. Remember the decision made is between you and God, and is the right decision if made with faith and prayer.
New Vestry Members
At the Annual Meeting on January 20, the following were elected to the vestry:
Grant Jaquith was elected Junior Warden and Murry Roseberry became the Senior Warden.
Thanks . . .
Belle Beck wishes to thank everyone for their cards and good wishes for her birthday.
Altar Flowers in February
In memory of Edna Phillips given by Howard and Margaret Phillips
In memory of Emilie and William Voelker and Anna and Arthur Lindstrom given by Robert and Shirley Voelker
In honor of the loved ones of Robert Malmros; In memory of Naomi Vanda given by Vicki Hoshko
|3||Nick Brooks-McDonald; Megan Price|
|5||Mildred Barber; Charles Ackner|
|6||Don Nelson; Alexxis Gibbs|
|8||Pat Jones; Drew Prescott|
|14||Nan Blaufuss; Taylor Trawick; Carolyn Manor; Christoper Ehler; Marilyn Causey|
|19||Honey Morris; Chris Nelson; Mary Alexander|
|21||Gregg Varno; Shari MacIvor|
|24||Pauline Northrop; Benjamin Pierson|
February Wedding Anniversaries
7 Allison and Paul deKanel
10 Christine and Keith Nelson24 Karen and David Malcolm
Did You Know?
Odds and ends....