The Messenger

December, 2002


Advent

 Advent begins on Sunday, Dec. 1st.  It is a time to prepare for Christ's birth as well as for His second coming to judge the world.  It is a time of watching and waiting and great expectation.  Purple, the color of thoughtfulness and introspection, is the color of the season. The Greek letters, Alpha (the first of the alphabet) and Omega (the last letter) combine to make the symbol for this season of the year signifying that God is Eternal ?? the beginning and the end.  Come and worship during Advent in joyful anticipation of the birth of our Lord.

 

 Cleaning and Greening of the Church

 Help prepare the church for Christmas. On Saturday morning, December 21st, beginning at 11:00 a.m. we will meet in the Parish Hall to clean the church, polishing brass, trimming candles, hanging of the greens, and generally prepare the church for our celebration of Christ's birth.

 

Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

 The patron saint of our parish is St. Stephen whose life we will celebrate on Thursday, December 26th at a festive Eucharist.

 Stephen was called one of the "seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (Acts 6:3).  He was chosen by the apostles to relieve them of the administrative burden of "serving tables and caring for the widows." This became what the Church traditionally considers to be the work and ministry of a deacon.

 Stephen's activities involved more than simply "serving tables" for the Acts of the Apostles speaks of his preaching and performing many miracles.  These activities led him into conflict with some of the Jews, who accused him of blasphemy, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.  His powerful sermon before the Council is recorded in the seventh chapter of Acts.  His denunciation of the Sanhedrin so enraged its members that, without a trial, they dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death. 

 Saul, later called Paul, stood by, consenting to Stephen's death, but Stephen's example of steadfast faith in Jesus, and of intercession for his persecutors, was to find fruit in the mission and witness of Paul after his conversion.  The Christian community in Jerusalem, taking fright at the hostility of the Judean authorities, was scattered; so that for the first time the Gospel of Christ began to spread beyond Jerusalem.

 Come celebrate our patron saint on Thursday!

 

Christmas Services

Christmas Eve

5:00 p.m.  Family Eucharist 
10:45 p.m.  Christmas Carols
11:00 p.m.  Festive Candlelight Eucharist

***

Christmas Day

10:00 a.m.  Eucharist

***

Feast of St. Stephen   Thursday, December 26th

10:00 a.m. Eucharist

***

First Sunday After Christmas   December 29th.

8:00 a.m.  Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist

***

The Holy Name of Our Lord    New Year's Day

10:00 a.m.  Eucharist

***

Epiphany Sunday   January 5th

8:00 a.m.  Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist

 

Advent

 Advent begins on Sunday, Dec. 1st.  It is a time to prepare for Christ's birth as well as for His second coming to judge the world.  It is a time of watching and waiting and great expectation.  Purple, the color of thoughtfulness and introspection, is the color of the season. The Greek letters, Alpha (the first of the alphabet) and Omega (the last letter) combine to make the symbol for this season of the year signifying that God is Eternal ?? the beginning and the end.  Come and worship during Advent in joyful anticipation of the birth of our Lord.

 

 

 Are YOU interested in becoming a member of St. Stephen's?

Inquirer's classes are a basic four week course which is 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.

 The course is required for all who wish to be confirmed or received into the church.  The next Confirmation will be held at the Cathedral of All Saint's on December 7th at noon.  The first inquirers' class will be held on Dec. 1st , Sunday morning in the rector's office and continue for the next three weeks.  Anyone who is willing to make the commitment to these classes and still would like to be confirmed/received on December 7th will be welcome.

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

A few weeks ago I visited a woman whose mother needed to be in a nursing home.  She had so many questions about how to best meet her mother's needs and she kept getting conflicting information from the agencies who were involved.  I listened to her frustration and prayed with her.  In addition, what she needed was a knowledgeable friend to walk through this with her.

A few years ago I had the privilege of visited new parents at Bellevue Hospital.  Mom and daughter were very healthy, but mom was apprehensive about taking care of her new born at home.  Both her mother and mother-in-law lived in other states and had careers themselves.  They could not come and help the new mom for any length of time.  Mom and dad needed someone to help them get used to caring for their beautiful daughter.

 These are just a few of the situations in which I feel very inadequate.  Care teams help, but what these people also need is a professional who knows how the medical system works, basic wellness information, and spiritual nurture.

Last month we gave a Parish Nurse Ministry Survey was given to everyone at the Eucharist for your input about the need for a parish nurse here at St. Stephen's.  The feedback has been positive.

 A parish nurse has an office at a church, but does not practice traditional nursing.  Rather, s/he meets with individuals and groups within the congregation for medical, spiritual and pastoral needs of our members.  The parish nurse does this at the church and especially at he place where a parishioner lives. 

 Working with agencies in Schenectady County such as Public Health, Visiting Nurses, Family and Child Service Association and Catholic Charities, a parish nurse could help arrange for hospitalization and alternate care, nutrition information, and well-baby education.  For those with spiritual needs the parish nurse offers to pray with them and contact one of the clergy of our congregation.

The parish nurse attempts to integrate faith and spirituality with the promotion of good health practices.  S/he address the whole person.

 For several months the parish council and the vestry have been discussing how such a ministry might work in our church.  If you have not already filled-out the Parish Nurse Survey, please see me and I will give one to you. 

 I ask everyone to keep the possibilities of this ministry in your prayers.

 Shalom,
Fr. James

 

 

Door Step Visitors

 A few years ago we, as a welcoming congregation, would deliver a small loaf of bread at the door step of  first-time visitors' homes.  A card accompanied the bread explained that the bread was a gift from St. Stephen's and that we valued their visit.  If the visitors answered the door, the Door Step Visitor was instructed to not enter the house, even if invited.  If the visitors were not home, the gift was left between the doors.

 Many parishioners have told me over the years how special that gift was to them.  The next day they received a letter from me welcoming them and if they came again two or three times I tried to schedule a visit with them.  In this way we are a welcoming church.

 Over the years we dropped this practice because a lack of  parishioners who were willing to be door step visitors.  Partly, this was because so few volunteered and the burden fell on them almost every week. 

 The Parish Council would like to revive this way of welcoming new people.  We need people to bake bread and we need people who could deliver it.  This is the way it works.  Small loaves of bread are frozen and kept in the parish kitchen.  Each Sunday the rector will fill out a 'bread card' with the name and address of the visitor.  A map of the Capital District will be available.  A volunteer will take a loaf, the card and a brochure about St. Stephen's and deliver it after coffee hour.  It's as simple as that!  Please call the parish office (346-6241) if you are interested in any aspect of this ministry.

 

We Can Change the World  

Let us not only pray for "the victims of hunger, fear, injustice and oppression"    but also be "those who minister to the sick, the friendless and the needy."

By giving to Episcopal Relief and Development we can participate in the "ministry of the whole church for the whole world" and act on what we say in the Prayers of the People each Sunday.

 Ways to give: Mail to

Episcopal Relief and Development
PO Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101

Phone: (800) 334 7626 ext. 5129 and give your credit card number

Go to the Web   www.er-d.org  and give on line.

 Call Kabby Lowe for information, materials or a visit. (518) 346 8879

 

New Worship Booklet

 Advent is a time to begin a new Church Year, and a new worship booklet.  We will use this booklet from December 1, the first Sunday in Advent, through January 5, the second Sunday after Christmas.  Advent and Christmas are seasons in which we focus on the Incarnation of Christ, God's coming to live among us as a human, and we look forward to his coming again in glory at the end of the age.

For the Gospel Procession we will sing an appropriate Canticle, a song or prayer derived from the Bible.  (A deacon's aside: please lift your voices and sing out: the Bible, the Word of God, is coming into the midst of God's people, just as Jesus came to dwell in our midst at Christmas.) The Prayers of the People will be on a separate, colored sheet inserted in the worship booklet.  Instead of reading all the names printed there, the reader will read only the names that worshipers have written that day on the Prayer Request sheet at the back of the church.  So when you take the Prayers of the People home to use during the week, your prayers will add to the prayers we say together in worship.

The Eucharistic Prayer that we will use during this period is also found inside the back of the Book of Common Prayer.  (We used it a few years ago, so many of us are familiar with it already.)  The post-Communion prayer is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, p.365. As we move through the seasons of Advent and Christmas, and reach Epiphany, when Jesus was welcomed by foreigners and outsiders (called Gentiles in those days), let us welcome him once again into our lives, and make a home for him in this place and time.

 

 Blue Christmas

 The holiday season can be a time of stress and sorrow for those who have recently lost a loved one, or experienced some other loss.  Surrounded by joyous celebrations, one can feel even more lonely and sad.  To offer an opportunity for quiet and reflective worship, St. Stephen's will hold a "Blue Christmas" service on Sunday, December 22, at 7 pm.  The service will include scripture readings, prayers, quiet music and candle-lighting.  Please join us, and invite anyone for whom you think such a service would provide comfort at a difficult time.

                                  Deacon Pat for the Worship Committee

 

Women's Quiet Day

    All women of the church are invited to an "Advent Quiet Day" at St. Stephen's on Saturday, December 7th, from 10:00 to 2:30 (no later than 3:00).  This is an opportunity to come together in community, setting aside the "busy-ness" of one's life, to nurture one's intimate relationship with the Holy.  The theme for this year's Quiet Day will be "Incarnation."  There will be periods of silence and of sharing.  Please bring with you:

 

                a journal and pen/pencil

                a bag lunch, something to drink

                comfortable clothes and shoes

                a blanket and pillow.

 

   Our leader for this day will be Alice Houghtaling.  Alice is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance ( www.spiritualguidance.org ) and a graduate of Shalem Institute's "Group Leader's Program" ( www.shalem.org) .  She offers spiritual direction/companioning in her home, and works in various retreat settings leading contemplative prayer groups.

               There is no fee for the day, but we will take up a freewill offering for the Campus Protestant Ministry at Union College.  Childcare will be provided if needed.  If you are interested, please sign up at the shop, or call Cherie,  Jeanette, or Richey.

 

 

Flowers, etc.

December 1     In loving memory of Marilyn Regula  given by Don Regula

 December 8     In honor of the loved ones of Belle Beck and family  given by Belle Beck

                        In honor of the loved ones of Mary DeBritz and family given by Mike & Stacy DeBritz

 December 15   In loving memory of he women of St. Stephen’s given by the Altar Guild

 December 22   In loving memory of Mildred and William Wilson, Sr.  given by Marilee and Bill Wilson  

December 29   In loving memory of Virginia Malmros  given by Robert Malmros

 

December Birthdays

 

     1 Peter Nevius,  Rebecca Kelly

      5 Luise Peake,  Kurt McKeone

      6 David Kaczka

      7 Millie Gittinger

      8 Vicki Hoshko,  Jarrod Fowler

    10  Eleanor Malcolm

    12  John Liberis,  Claudia Ashelman

    13  Nathan Phillips

    14  Belle Beck

    15  Robin Kaczka

    16  Suzanne Coonradt

    17  Robert McCalley

    18  Jed Dare

    20  Shirley Gretz,  Taylor Pierce

    21  Jean Greenspan

    23  Stephen Sombor

    25  Rob Olberg,  Budd Blanchard

    26  John Petito, 

   27  Steve Chapman, Ron Michelson, Isabelle Jaquith

    28  Anne Somor, Gloria Kavanah

    29  Carl Hatlee,   Theo Scafidi,    Tom Rigley

    31  Denise Crates

 

December Anniversaries

       2  Denny & Joan Moss

    10  Robert Olberg & Andrea Worthington

    12  Mark & Mary Pasko

    15  Scott & Trina Moss

    18  Daniel & Edith Lundquist

    22  Gerald & Linda Perregaux

    30  Grant & Rosemarie Jaquith

 

Testimony

Since I was young, at least eight years before now, I have been fascinated with the historical context that is known as the Bible. At first my goal was simply to understand the many books, chapters, and verses contained in its vast content. After reading the entire Bible about twice in two different versions, I came to understand that it was not the words and sentences contained in its covers that were really of import, but the ideas and morals behind them. When I came to this realization my study left trying to understand what was written and shifted to greater understanding of what was meant by its writing.

This research has taken up a few years of my life and I became aware that, to greater understand the meanings of the Bible, I first had to understand the people who spoke and wrote them. All Christians believe in God, we all believe in the awesome power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There are however, still many different ways to worship, and many different ideas to support or oppose. In my undertaking to better understand Jesus, I acknowledged that I needed to do as he would do and think as he would, or at least give it my hardest try.

At about this time, I was offered my first chance to take part in a life influencing experience that is Reach Workcamps. It gave me the ability to meet people who were trying to understand what faith is about, people also pondering the real meanings of the Bible. More importantly, it gave me the ability to learn others opinions on the subject through social interactions to weigh against my own. To top that off, it gave me a chance to help make the lives of many people who rolled lower in the game of life that much better. With teamwork and hard work by day, and inter-youth discussions by night, I slowly began to realize what my religion actually was to me.

Besides this I learned that what Christianity really is to you depends on what you expect of it. It’s your backbone if you need guidance, your stronghold if you need protection, and your explanation if you just want to know, “why?”  To make my point, I really must say that if you still wonder sometimes about what was meant during the gospel, or if you feel that what you are doing really needs more explanation-- experiment. Find some way to participate in a church activity or some other community event, search for workshops or speaker events and listen to others ideas and beliefs or perhaps even create your own event.

More importantly, please, keep an open mind. Never disregard others ideals because they differ too greatly from your own. Remember that we are all different and no one can say that what you believe is wrong. Religion is more than a bunch of rules and ceremonies written down to dictate to you what to believe, it is a backbone to further understand ourselves and the world around us.

To guide you in your search, I would like to offer to tell you one thing that guides me in mine. From the Book of First Corinthians, Chapter Thirteen; “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Shalom.

(Given at the Youth Work Camp service last month.)