25 May

Newsletter, May 24

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week

Rogation days are set aside in our church calendar to remind us of the four seasons of the year. They hearken back to a time when we were more in tune with agricultural seasons and the gift and blessing of our Creator God. Rogation Sunday in rural parishes is filled with meanings we have forgotten. Many hold a procession into the fields, to sprinkle Holy water and bless the crops and the coming harvest of wheat, corn or tomatoes.

Continue reading

17 May

Newsletter, May 17

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
“If you love me…” Is the question we are asked this week.  We should not be too quick to answer.  This is deep stuff, and reluctant as we are to have a silence that might suggest wavering commitment, we should weigh our answer carefully.
What does it mean to love Christ and how does it change our behavior?
“Love one another as I have loved you,” comes to mind, but then we are not Jesus, and we have neither the depth of love nor the sacrificial resolve to do as Jesus does.  We are all just a pale imitation.  A bit like fish sticks compared to real crab!
For me loving God, has always been about an intention to try to follow Christ’s way.  It is to be loving, forgiving, accepting of others even when we disagree.  Being right is a lonely place.  If you love me, is about relationships where respect, dignity and self sacrificial love are the foundations.  And, because none of us is perfect, I am always grateful for the chance to realize my failures and know that I am loved enough to try again.  So how does “If you love me”… affect the way you are?

Continue reading

03 May

Newsletter, May 3

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
Good shepherd Sunday is always the fourth Sunday after Easter, reminding us that God cares for us and seeks us out.  This year we have our family friendly service and we will listen to a children’s version of the gospel read from a chair this week, like story time.  If you have a toy lamb or sheep, bring it.
Sheep farmers know that sheep learn specific clicks and whistles, and will faithfully follow the shepherd they know.  The Gospel of John tells us we come to know God’s voice when we hear it, and follow what we hear.  I wonder when and how you have been aware of God’s “voice”?  I also wonder what our children will make of it?  We’ll see.  Don’t miss it!

Continue reading

26 Apr

Newsletter, April 26

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
Joyful, Joyful!

We had a wonderful evening of song with the Papermill Choir Benefit Concert. In return for using our space for rehearsals during the fall and winter they put on an annual benefit concert. This year it raised over $3000 for our church operating budget. What a wonderful, joyful way to say thanks. Special thanks also go to the Dinan family, Barbara Riedel, MaryAlice Chech, Eugene Foley and especially Claire, for managing presales, publicity, set up, front of house and take down.

In this Easter season, let us be brimful with gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of Christ resurrected. Our ministries exist because Christ gave himself for us – “Love one another deeply from the heart” the letter from Peter reminds us; we truly have much to be thankful for. + Continue reading

20 Apr

Newsletter, April 19

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
Alleluia Christ is risen!  The week after Easter is depleted, but it is also filled with a deep, abiding peace.  The heavy lifting is done; the objective is achieved; the services are completed – and God showed up, because no matter how well we sang, or didn’t, the Lord is Risen indeed!

Continue reading

05 Apr

Newsletter, April 5

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week

Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

This Sunday brings us to the holiest time of our church year.  Here at St. Stephen’s we begin with the Procession of Palms and the dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel this Sunday. “Why do we do the Passion Gospel on Palm Sunday?” you may ask.  So, a little teaching seems appropriate.  In the 1979 revision of the prayer book, it was recognised that the convention of having Good Friday off was no longer a part of the culture. This mean’t that many would not experience the importance of the crucifixion in our faith.  So an accommodation was made to the Palm Sunday service.  The spirit of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is carried through the Holy Communion, and following that point, we turn our thoughts to the last days of Christ’s life and his death in the Passion Gospel.
All through Holy Week, the scriptures enter real time and we follow the daily events in the Daily office readings of the journey to the cross.  You can follow along at The Mission of St. Claire or sign up for Lenten meditations at www.dioceseofnewark.org, where online meditations are following the Daily Office readings for Holy Week.
We will travel this journey in real time through Holy Week, with these services:
Wednesday April 12, at 7pm – The Stations of the Cross
Thursday April 13, at 6:30pm – The Maundy Thursday service of  Eucharist and foot-washing; followed by the stripping of the altar, with a one hour silent prayer vigil
Friday April 14, at 10:00am – A children’s Good Friday service
Friday April 14, at 12:00 noon – 3pm – A three hour Good Friday service with meditations and piano on the seven last words from the Cross
Friday April 14, at 8pm – 8:45pm – The Good Friday service from the Book of Common Prayer
These services are at the core of understanding our faith, and serve to engage us and deepen our spirituality.  So, even if you can only manage one of the services in Holy week, as you visit friends and family at Spring break, or offer hospitality to our IHN guests, take a moment to recognize the gift and blessing of God in this Holy season.  Join us as we immerse ourselves in our faith in a way that tells the story and prepares us for the Easter message of hope and joy+

Continue reading