31 Dec

Newsletter, December 30

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: December 30, 2015

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I can’t tell you how much this sentence means to me. There is so much packed in here. For me, it explains how we all came to be where we are. The Word, that spoke existence into being is also the Word, that becomes enfleshed and incarnate as Jesus, who knows the resurrection is assumed back into the one God. For humanity, who have the gift of language, it is something we can appreciate. Language, thought, creative ideas, all come from words. Change begins with one or two people expressing ideas in language. The greatest moments in life, are marked by special words.
Little wonder then, that this passage resonates. How marvelous that God would be Word. And yet we have so few words to express what God might be. Perhaps it is fitting, that the wordy creatures, just can’t explain it all. It is the same Word that causes us to cry out “abba, father!Continue reading

24 Dec

Newsletter, December 23

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: December 23, 2015
Come as you are – wherever you find yourself.


So where do you find yourself this Christmas?  Every year, it feels different to me.  Some years it is filled with joy at the birth of a child, or grandchild; we are filled with expectancy and the vicarious joy of watching our children and grandchildren enjoy the gifts they receive. Other years, we approach with a more subdued nuance.  Perhaps it is a year when we have lost a loved one, a job, or a relationship.  The invitation though is always “Come”- and the hope is we will say “let us go and see this thing that has come to pass.”  When we get there, nothing is demanded of us, remember that.   All we are asked to do is to come, and to see, and to marvel at the mystery.  To simply be present is enough.  Utterly.  So be at ease, wherever you are standing this year.  God’s gift to you is that God loves us just as we are, wherever we find ourselves. Shepherd or king – Come as you are.+
Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Rector, Vestry and staff of St. Stephen’s. Continue reading

16 Dec

Newsletter, December 16

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: December 16, 2015

The Angel Gabriel Visits Zechariah

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah” the Angel said;
“Your prayer has been answered.”
And Zechariah’s disbelief cost him his words.
Who would have thought this old and priestly man,
Would yearn and pray to become a father?

Echoing the prayers of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Who may well have knelt in prayer,
And begged for a child with the woman they loved.
How little we hear of their yearning, their grief, their pain.

In God’s good time, the messenger says, just out of sight,
She, who is barren, will conceive;
“How can this be?” Echoes into the night.
The heart stopping gasp of excitement and thrill,
Comes with the quickening of a flutter in the womb.
For God has filled the barren places,
He has filled them with good things.

She laughed aloud, Sarah, that mother of Isaac.
And Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, once thought barren,
Became the mother of twins, Esau and Jacob;
And Jacob’s wife, Rachel, who could not conceive,
And yet she bore both Joseph and Benjamin.
Hannah, mother of Samuel, who dedicated her son to God.
And Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, mother of John,
who would prepare the way.

Each prayer, each plea, answered in God’s own time;
Woven into to the tapestry of God’s wonderful works,
Each son ordained to prepare the coming of the Lord,
In God’s own way.


And the unborn leap for joy within the swollen bellies
Of Elizabeth and cousin Mary,
And filled with the Holy Spirit,
They sing the song of Hannah, the Magnificat,
And we reply,
O Come, O come, Emmanuel.

Written by The Rev. Sheelagh A Clarke , photo taken in Ein Karim, Israel

Continue reading

10 Dec

Newsletter, December 9

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: December 9, 2015

As I write this I am aware that when you read this I will be in deep silence.  I am spending a week of continuing education up at Holy Cross Monastery.  My week will begin on Friday December 4, with a program led by Martin Smith SSJE, a well-seasoned spiritual leader who has written widely on spirituality, including Season for the Spirit, Love set Free, Nativities and Passions, and Reconciliation. The theme of the retreat is, not unsurprisingly, “O Come, let us adore Him.” The program will be followed by a five day deep silence, in which the only communication will be a daily meeting with an assigned spiritual director, and the five worship services each day.  When you read this, I will be half-way in. Silence is my spiritual friend.  I know it scares a lot of people, but for me, as a hearing impaired person, there is a freedom that comes with not having to strain to hear.  Silence is the “home” place for me.  I am at ease, as God created me, in the silence of my deafness.  Ironically, it is in the silence that I often hear what I need to hear.  We spoke about finding the holy in the ordinary events of each day.  I am yearning to know where the Holy Spirit will direct my attention, and eager to find the places once more, where I can fall on my knees and adore him.  Sound like a tryst? it is, believe me, and I can’t wait.+ Continue reading