28 Jul

Newsletter, July 27

Rev Sheelagh’s Sabbatical Notes
“So,” you ask, “How did it go?”

Well it was perhaps the most spiritually illuminating thing I have done in a long while. They call it writing an icon for good reason for many ways it is very similar to writing.  However, unlike writing, the process of iconography is not a creative process.  Rather the writer slavishly follows the patterns, colors and traditions of ancient traditions.  It is more of a spiritual practice.  A process of allowing one’s inner spirituality to emerge and for the inner divine spark to reveal itself from within the icon.  It is a part of a process called kenosis or self emptying and opening to what the inner spiritual ear discerns of divine revelation.  Writing an icon begins always with prayers, for that is the purpose of an icon, to evoke the divine. There are about twenty stages to writing an icon.  Each is about both technique and spiritual engagement.  It starts with a white gesso board, which represents in spiritual terms, Divine light, uncreated space.  Each of us has a fragment of the imago dei within us.  That speck of the divine source is the author of the icon we eventually write.


First we laid on the ancient pattern of the form. This looks like adult coloring pages at this point. Then the brown clay mixture called bole is spread onto the halo, to receive the gilding,  which is the image of the light of God.  Clay, called Adama in Hebrew, because from the earth Adam was formed.

The gold is laid onto the bole which is moistened by breathing onto it.  Just as God breathed life into Adam. Then we laid on the dark pigments, because out of the darkness (chaos) came light and shape. This was very hard for a beginner to do,  I wanted to take control and paint. Which led to several big messes.  At the end of the first day of mistakes,a more experienced iconographer advised me, “just place a blob of pigment on the gesso and let God decide where and how it goes.”  In other words, let go and let God! Gradually, the details are written in, in reverse.  Going from shadows towards highlights, emerging out of the darkness into the light and then finally, small slashes of purest white that represent the divine energy. 


Writing an icon is both a spiritual practice and a spiritual journey.  Just like our own journey, the writing is at times bold; sometimes filled with doubt and fear and occasionally filled with awe and wonder.  When I got myself out of the way, things flowed more easily; when I wanted things just so, the results were usually forced and often necessitated the master iconographer step in and fix it!


God is in the hand that writes the icon, and God decides what will be revealed. Each reveals something about the spiritual self who becomes an instrument of God in the process.  All the beginners worked on the Archangel Michael.  The resulting icons are each as unique as the various hands and souls who wrote them.


June 1-Sep 1June 1-Sep 1Rev. Sheelagh’s Sabbatical
July 5 – August 197am-6pmPreschool Summer Camp
July 31, Sunday11amBaby Shower at Coffee Hour for North Porch
August 14, Sunday11am-12:30pmVestry Meeting
August 14, Sunday11amGrocery Gift Card Sunday
August 23-August 273:30pm-7:30pmDrumming Camp

Serving at the Altar  7/31 & 8/7

8am Preacher: M. Walker
8am Reader: A. Walker
8am Preacher: Rev. K. Ballard
8am Reader: C. Francis
10am Preacher: M. Walker
10am Readers
1. F. Dorn
2. B. Churchill
10am Preacher: Rev. D. Darves
10am Readers
1. O. Owolabi
2. K. Wade
Chalicist: D. PriceChalicist: J. Scharff
Ushers: B. & J. MajtykaUshers: E. Maurer & M. Hirschfeld
Altar Guild: N. Sieffert & J. JamesAltar Guild: N. Sieffert & J. Dorn
Coffee Hour:  T. ScharffCoffee Hour:  Open
Altar Flowers:  OpenAltar Flowers: Open


If you have any dates or events that need adding to the St. Stephen’s Calendar please send them to Claire, and all articles and e-mails for the newsletter by NOON on Tuesday to church@ststephensmillburn.org.  Thank You.


North Porch Christmas In July
This Sunday concludes our annual Christmas in July collection for North Porch. Please remember to contribute diapers, Enfamil, baby food, and baby wipes. Clothing, toys, and other baby items are not part of the emergency needs at this time.  Checks can be contributed as well – these can be made to North Porch.

Drumming camp is coming, and I want to share the details with you.  The children will be coming to St. Stephen’s from Tuesday 8/23 to Saturday 8/27 from 3:30 – 7:30 pm.  Here is a rough plan for the schedule:

  •    3:30PM vans arrive, children have a hearty snack (granola bars and fruit), children have free play time on the grounds
  •    4:00-5:00PM younger children drum and older children do arts and crafts (Drumming in parish hall)
  •    5:00-6:00PM older children drum and younger children to arts and crafts (Drumming in parish hall)
  •    6:00-6:30PM dinner (Meals in parish hall)
  •    6:30-7:15PM outdoor sports and games
  •    7:30PM vans leave to take the children home

We do not yet have a list of participating children, but once we have a clearer sense of the number of children and their ages we can make any necessary scheduling adjustments.

Reverend Sheelagh will not be at the helm this summer, but we have a core group of volunteers who will be present at the camp each evening.

  • Yah-yah Kamate will serve as the drumming instructor
  • Kim Williams will assist Yah-yah with the drummers
  • Gary Jones, Fran Taber, and Susan Dinan will serve as co-directors with clearly defined responsibilities, so we will not be getting into one another’s way.
  • Reverend Kathleen will provide her calming and inspired presence.
  • Sara Ruth Dorn will manage dinner and snacks.  She will need helpers each night.  If you want to help with food pick-up, preparation, and/or service please let Sara Ruth know which evenings you are available (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday) and the times you can assist. She can be reached at 973-467-9847 or Fdorn231@aol.com.
  • Gesine Ehlers will coordinate arts and crafts.  If you want to assist in the arts room please let Susan Dinan know by responding to this message.
  • Grace Savoia-Di Gregorio and Miles Ben-Egypt will serve as camp counselors, with Miles in charges of sports since he has experience as a soccer coach.  Elizabeth Hawk will serve as a junior counselor.

Would you like to help with the camp?
If you want to volunteer to work with the children, please let Susan Dinan know when you are available to do so, and what you would like to be involved in doing.  If you would like to contribute money to the food fund, please let us know.  If you would like to contribute food, please let Sara Ruth and Susan know so we can plan accordingly.  We will be ordering food from local restaurants (Peter’s, Millburn Diner, and Pizzeta) again this summer, and we will ask ShopRite and Trader Joes for snack donations, but as you know these children come from food insecure homes, and it is nice to provide them with substantial snacks and meals. Thank you for your support of our drummer!

Shakespeare In The Park  Saturday August 27     


Even Shakespeare is in the Christmas spirit!! If your summer needs some added festivity remember to join in and travel to Cold Spring, New York on the Hudson to see “As You Like It” on August 27.  A group from St. Stephen’s enjoyed the beautiful grounds at Boscobel and the great show produced by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival last year.  If interested contact Theresa Scharff for details.

Men Of St. Stephen’s Retreat
Calling all Men of St.Stephens!  A retreat “just for men” is in the process of being planned in late Summer (September).  We hope to use the Convent of St. John Baptist in Mendham for the day.  Please consider spending some time alone and with other men of the parish  for a day of spiritual renewal and growth.  Contact Paul Boegershausen or Theresa Scharff  for more information.

Coffee hosting and flowers
Please sign up with Susan Dinan for coffee hour.  Please Let Eugene or Claire know if you would like to donate flowers.  The rest of July is still open to order flowers, so please consider taking ONE Sunday in memory of a loved one, or in thanksgiving for an event.  Flowers are priced at $40, $50 or $60 for the two vases.

Sabbatical Prayer
Gracious God, in you we live and move and have our being: We pray that you guide Rev. Sheelagh during this intentional Sabbath time.  May she return to St. Stephen’s restored in body, mind and spirit.  We also pray that you bless this parish and all who come here.  May we carry out with joy the ministries to which we are called.  May this also be a time of intentional prayer and reflection for us. By your Spirit, empower all to be strengthened by the gifts you give and to be renewed as servants of God.  Amen.