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!

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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+

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30 Mar

Newsletter, March 29

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week

If there is ever a moment in a story when you can look back and say “That’s it,” Jesus raising his best friend Lazarus from the dead is it. This is the scandal that tips the balance, and the drum beat towards the cross intensifies. This is miraculous – beyond any healing. This is outrageous, and as presented in the gospel of John, it is entirely orchestrated by Jesus. God will be glorified as Lazarus emerges from the tomb. This paves the way not only to the cross, but it also prefigures the Easter miracle too. Continue reading

23 Mar

Newsletter, March 22

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
“Live as children of the Light” Ephesians 5:8-14
What does it mean to be a child of the light?  Light imagery is very much a part of our theological vocabulary.  “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them,” continues the letter to the Ephesians, “For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly, but everything exposed by the light becomes visible…”  This part we know, right?  We all have things that we would rather not have brought out into the light.  This is about our own dealings with our hidden desires and temptations; not the outing of others’ failures and faults.  God knows our faults and our failures.  God knows our sinful shame and our desire to self justify only too well.  But this is the same God who loves us, and is swift to forgive.  It seems no accident to me that the psalm for Sunday is the beloved 23rd Psalm, where we are consoled by a loving shepherd who leads us and provides for us, even when we do the hardest work of all, and face our own secret stuff and bring it to light.  That light heals, takes away the fear, softens the shame and allows us to be absolved and freed from its hold over us.  It’s a process of admission, naming and wherever possible seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. Just doing that begins a journey to wholeness.+

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