Saint Stephen’s, Schenectady January 2005
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The Epiphany Of Our Lord
The name "Epiphany" is derived from a Greek word meaning "manifestation" or "appearing." It is also called "The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles." This phrase is a reference to the story of the Wise Men from the East.
A Christian observance on January 6 is found as early as the end of the second century in Egypt. The feast combined commemorations of the visit of the Magi, led by the star of Bethlehem; the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan; and Jesus' first recorded miracle, the changing of water into wine at the marriage of Cana of Galilee -- all thought of as manifestations of the incarnate Lord.
The Epiphany is still the primary Feast of the Incarnation in Eastern Churches, and the three fold emphasis is still prominent. In the West, however, including the Episcopal Church, the story of the Wise Men has tended to overshadow the other two events. Modern lectionary reform, reflected in the Book of Common Prayer, has recovered the primitive trilogy, by setting the event of the Baptism as the theme of the First Sunday after January 6th.
Our celebration of Epiphany at St. Stephen's will take place on Sunday, January 9th at the 8:00 am and 10:15 am with Eucharist and Renewal of our Baptismal Promises.
Household Blessing For Epiphany
A custom from Eastern Europe that is presently being recovered in North America is the practice of blessing homes on Epiphany. Members of the household go from room to room expressing thanks to God for each room and asking God to bless the room and its intended use. Some small symbol of the blessing may be carried to leave in each room: a candle, a cross, "gifts" of the Magi. The procession ends outside the front door where the door's lintel is marked in chalk with the year and the initials C,M,B - each separated by a cross - recalling the traditional names of the Magi: Casper, Melchior and Balthasar. The members of the household are then invited to add their own initials. Also at this time it is appropriate to pledge volunteer time or other gifts for Bethesda House or some local homeless shelter as signs of our thankfulness to God. The ritual ends with a celebration of the Eucharist. Talk to the rector if you would like to have your home blessed.
...To Stacy DeBritz, Allison de Kanel, all our Church School teachers and students who allowed the Christmas ‘putz’ to happen.....and to the parents who helped it all come together
...To the Alter Guild and brass polishers par excellence who polished all the brass in the church, and made Christmas beautiful
...To all who took time on a busy Sunday-before-Christmas to help 'green' the church
...To Tim Olsen, the Choir members and all the instrumentalists who helped to make Advent and Christmas beautiful
...To the lectors, chalice bearers and acolytes who made our worship possible
...To all those who helped in the toddler and nursery rooms
...To the ushers and to the offering counters
...To our Office Manager, Kathy Miller, who worked so hard to prepare bulletins and make last minute arrangements come together.
From the Rector
This Christmas season finds us in so many different places and conditions. Many I have talked with in passing conversation mention their worry over job security as the Christmas bills begin to arrive. Others are still on their holiday trip visiting family and friends. Some struggle with how to make ends meet on a fixed income, while others are beginning college savings plans with the birth of a new child. This season also finds more and more of our church members involved in ministries who try to help people for whom Christmas is bleak.
One of my favorite Christmas carols is "In the Bleak Midwinter" and every year I ponder the question asked: "What can I give him, poor as I am...If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part..."
As I look back over the year 2004 I am proud of what our relatively small parish has done for Schenectady and for our own congregation. We are very involved in the many outreach programs of Schenectady Inner City Ministry and our members are involved in most every community agency I know: from tutoring young students to serving meals to the homeless. Our youth groups, increasingly have been involved in service projects and have great plans for 2005!
In addition, the folks who are attending to the needs of our own church have done their part. Thanks to generous financial giving we are one of the few churches I know who are able to close our books in the black as well as to do such things as fixing roofs and keeping up on general maintenance.
Yes, St. Stephen's struggles with what it means to "do our part" and as community needs and congregational needs increase I suspect so will our struggle. We all stand together in the bleak midwinter, trusting that by grace, we may at best give Him our heart.
When To Call Your Clergy
Many people have the idea that the only time they should call their priest or deacon is when someone is critically ill or when there is a death in the family, and some don't even do that. Here are ten occasions when you should have no hesitation in picking up the phone to call James or Pat:
1. Before going to the hospital: it makes no difference whether you are going to the hospital for major surgery or for a routine checkup - call before you go.
2. When alcohol or drugs become a problem for you or for someone you love: the alcoholic or drug dependent person is not a hopeless sinner - he or she is a person with a disease who needs treatment. There are no easy answers to chemical dependency, but the clergy can help you to understand these problems or to assist families and individuals in locating help.
3. Before you engage a lawyer: this does not mean before you get an attorney for any purpose, but before engaging one when a husband and wife are considering separation. If you take the Christian view of marriage seriously, you will wish to talk through your situation with clergy or other pastoral counselor before matters proceed to the point of seeking legalcounsel.
4. When a baby is born: when a new member of our family is born, James or Pat would like to call while the mother is still in the hospital. This is a good opportunity to rejoice with the family and to ask God's blessing upon the child.
5. When you would like to talk or pray about a difficult decision: the big decisions in life are so important that they should be "talked out and prayed through". Your work, perhaps getting married, a change in jobs - are all included.
6. When you know someone in need of spiritual help: it is part of our Christian responsibility to be alert to the needs of others. If you know of someone who needs help, do not
hesitate to call. Together, we may be able to find a way to minister to those in need.
7. When there is a death in the family: no matter what the hour of day or night the clergy should be called at once. Their task is to bring you to strong consolation of our Christian faith and to counsel with you concerning arrangements for the funeral.
8. When you are spiritually depressed: remember, help is available! The finest Christians have all gone through their dark night of the soul. Don't try to fight it through alone. If God seems far off and religion has lost its reality, you are not the first person to feel that way. Don't struggle with spiritual depression by yourself.
9. Before anyone enters the armed forces or leaves for college: Not only will the clergy want to know their address away from home, but would like to opportunity to make a personal visit to assure them of the concern of their home parish while they are away.
10. When you want to share a thanksgiving: when a parishioner wants to share a thanksgiving for all God's gracious gifts, the clergy will be delighted to share this with you.
Parish office - 346-6241
Fr. James - 370-3573
Deacon Pat - 372-5836
Good Food! Fine Entertainment! Hair-Raising Stories!
Yes, it's time for the youth group's annual dinner to thank the parish for helping us go to work camp last summer. Mark your calendars - Saturday, January 29, at 6 PM. Come join us for a delicious meal, and see and hear some of the good things that happened at workcamp last summer. And - best of all - there's no charge: this is our way of thanking the parish for so generously supporting us in these trips.
A Reminder To KERYGMA Students
We have completed the "Interpretation" course, and all of us have a greater appreciation for the ways in which Scripture speaks to us, and our own ability to hear what it is saying. We still have two books from the Schenectady County Public Library that need to be returned: "The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary" and "The Oxford Companion to the Bible." If you have borrowed one, please return it to the Deacon or the public library.
Thank you. Deacon Pat.
Many, many thanks to all who worked on creating the Christmas Putz: to Stacy DeBritz for her design and overall supervision, to Allison de Kanel for the script used in the presentation the last Sunday in Advent, to Steve Sombor for his assistance with lighting, to the teachers and parents who provided materials and help, and to the youth of St. Stephen’s, from preschool through high school, who made the figures, assembled the putz and presented the story to the congregation.
Many thanks also to Tim Olsen and the Children’s Choir for the eapolitan Carol, which they sang Christmas Eve.
We will have REGULAR CLASSES through January, Sundays, 9-10 AM
In the next few weeks, we will need substitute teachers in several classes. The hours are few, the rewards are many. You will work with another teacher, dividing responsibilities as works best for you both. You will get to know some of the young members of St. Stephen’s, and learn along with them.
Positions available are:
If you are interested in helping for a few weeks, or for the rest of the school year, please speak to Father James, or call Richey Woodzell, 372-9398, or the church office, 346-6241.
Movie Night Out at St. Stephen’s
The first in our movie series will be The Greatest Story Ever Told, directed by George Stevens with "creative association" with the poet Carl Sandberg. This epic film is a grand scale recreation of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, from his humble birth and teachings to his crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. Lavishly produced at a cost of $20 million (an enormous amount for the time) and honored with five 1965 Academy Award nominations, this film is long – 3 hours and 19 minutes! The version we will be seeing was recently restored to its original theatrical brilliance complete with intermission and overture, but no opening advertisements or cartoons.
Come and enjoy a night out with discussion afterward. We will gather in the parish hall on January 14th at 7:00 pm.
Terri and Sarah's Moving Day
At the present moment, it looks like Terri and Sarah will move into their new apartment on Saturday, January 8th. Terri is so eager to be in her own place at last, and she will graduate from her rehab program on January 14th. We have a wonderful collection of household furnishings for them, and I too am looking forward to seeing them settled in their new home. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so generously to their welfare. I hope we can bring back some pictures of moving day to share with the church.
Episcopal Relief and Development Assists Families After Tsunamis in South Asia
Episcopal Relief and Development is providing $50,000 in initial emergency assistance each to the Diocese of Colombo, Church of South India, and Church of North India to supply immediate humanitarian needs to people in Sri Lanka and India. ERD is working in partnership with Church World Service to provide an additional $100,000 for shelter, medicines, and personal hygiene products. "People of all faiths are working together to respond to this unprecedented challenge." said the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of the Diocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
ERD will continue working with communities to assess ongoing needs and provide long-term development assistance following the disaster.
Please continue to pray for those suffering in affected areas.
To support families devastated by the tsunamis, donate to the South Asia Relief Fund. Please go to www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129.
Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development, South Asia Relief Fund, PO Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.
What Is The 'Vestry'?
The vestry is a group of eleven lay representatives from the parish who are charged with the temporal affairs of the congregation. They meet monthly with the rector presiding. The vestry spends considerable time on income and expenses and on writing the annual budget. They set the salary scales and are responsible for raising the money to meet expenses. The vestry also has the important job of finding a new rector whenever a vacancy occurs. Three representatives are elected at the annual parish meeting for a term of three years. In addition, a Warden (vestry officer) is elected for a term of two years.
Nominating Committee Appointed
In an attempt to be as inclusive as possible in nominating parishioners for elective offices, the vestry has appointed the outgoing members of the vestry as a nominating committee. They are securing the nominations for the five positions vacant for next year. In addition, nominations will continue to be made from the floor of the Annual Meeting of the parish. The elected offices are:
3 - three year terms for 2005 Vestry
1 - Warden - two year term
Lenten Study To Begin Early This Year
St. Stephen’s will us for our Lenten Study this year, a new contemporary series of faith-based classes starting January 30th. In recent months, the Episcopal Church has been making headlines globally and locally. The increasing amount of tension in relation to the prophetic actions of The General Convention and the newly consecrated gay Bishop, Gene Robinson, has created a buzz within the Church, as well as in the larger community. Page 7
In response to the attention, we are offering a series of eight Christian education courses called Via Media. The program is focused on continuing the conversation, and it's open to anyone who has ever been curious or interested in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition. Our objective is to create an open and inclusive environment that appeals to people wondering about The Episcopal Church, as well as our existing congregation members. We encourage people to bring their ideas and questions, and we'll provide the informational resources and a place to exchange your thoughts and voice your opinions.
Over a period of eight weeks, we invites those seeking a deeper spiritual community to enter both the journey and the conversation.
Using a combination of learning styles which includes video, written materials, small group discussion, and large group forum, a group of people encounter the basic principles of Christianity through the Anglican approach of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. All people are encouraged to ask questions, and to learn how to answer their own questions of faith.
We will meet on Sunday evenings at 5pm in the parish hall for our study and a simple soup and bread supper, from Jan. 30th to March
There will be no Agape in January. Our next meeting will be on February 4th. when Bruce Tatge will give a presentation on Christian Sites in Turkey. It sounds as though Bruce has some really interesting photos to share with us. As usual we will gather at 6pm. and plan to eat at 6:30pm. Please bring a covered dish to share and also your own dishes and utensils.
Christmas Cards to the Jail
1150 Christmas cards! That's a lot of holiday cheer. (I am glad we didn't have to lick all those stamps.) We certainly had many hands making light work, including the 9:00 Adult Education class, many helpers during the Coffee Hour, Diane Reed and Allison DeKanel sharing the delivery process, and even a "trusty" to carry the bags of cards for us throughout the jail. It is always a heartwarming experience for us, and the inmates at the Schenectady County Correctional Facility are most appreciative. I bring you their thanks, as I carried to them your offering of greeting cards.
Nursery News! The nursery is back! Come downstairs to meet Margaret Trawick, the Nursery Coordinator and a member of St. Stephen's congregation, and plan to leave your young ones in safe comfortable care. Here are the basics: - Safe, reliable nursery care is routinely available on Sunday mornings from 9:00 a.m. through the end of the 10:15 a.m. church service. - The Nursery Coordinator and one scheduled parent volunteer will be with your child each week. Should your child need you, one of them will find you in the sanctuary. - Parents are required to sign children in and out using the sign-in/out sheet. - Parents should provide the Nursery Coordinator with clean diapers and wipes in case a change of diaper is required. - Parents should provide snacks or drinks for your child to have during nursery time. The nursery will not offer snacks due to risks related to food allergies. - Any questions or concerns should be brought to the attention of Margaret Trawick or Father James Brooks-McDonald. - A Parent Volunteer Schedule will be available for your reference.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
1935 The Plaza
Schenectady, New York 12309
The Rev. Dr. James R. Brooks-McDonald, Rector
The Rev. Patricia L. Jones, Deacon
The Rev. John H. Peatling, Rector Emeritus
Dr. Timothy Olsen, Director of Music
Ms Katherine Miller, Office Manager
Warden: Grant Jaquith
Warden: Shari MacIvor
Clerk: David Caruso
Treasurer: Denise Crates
Chancellor: Rosemarie Jaquith
Class of 2004 Dave Carroll
Class of 2005 Steve Ras
Class of 2006 Marilyn Dare
THE CHURCH OFFICE, located at 1229 Baker Avenue, is open every weekday from 9:00 am to
TELEPHONE/FAX: The office telephone number is 518/346-6241 and the office fax number is 518/346- 6242. Please leave a message if no one answers and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Our email address is email@example.com . The rector’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Our website address is http://www.albany.net/~ststeph/
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