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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15 Mar

Newsletter, March 15

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week
Wasn’t a snow day just such a gift?  Even though we paid it forward and will pay it back, there is such a blessing in being able to wake up and know that it would be irresponsible to go out.  A freedom indeed.  Consider also the wonder of snow.  Each snowflake is unique-totally.  Just like you and me.  Water is the source of life, and is finite in that the only supplies are already here on the planet.  It is not a renewable resource.  Jesus tells the woman at the well this week, that the living water that he provides to those who believe is infinite, and we will never thirst.  We need both kinds to live fully and let’s  smile and rejoice at the beauty of this wonderful earth we share.
March 15 & 22,
Lenten Pilgrim Program
March 19, Sunday
Vestry Meeting & Retreat
St. Stephen’s Rectory
March 25, Saturday9am-3:15pm
Vestry University
St. Elizabeth’s Church
169 Fairmount Road, Ridgewood, NJ
March 26 & April 2, Sunday11:15am
Cake & Conversation
Parish Hall
April 8 – 14
IHN Week
Interfaith Hospitality Network
April 9, Sunday8am & 10am
Palm Sunday Services
April 13, Thursday6.30pm-9:30pm
Maundy Thursday Supper & Service
April 14, Friday
Good Friday Services
April 16, Sunday8am & 10amEaster Sunday Services
April 16, Sunday11:30amEaster Egg Hunt
April 23, Sunday7pm
Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir
Serving at the Altar  3/19 & 3/26
Mar 19, 2017
8am Reader: N. Sieffert
Mar 26, 2017
8am Reader: A. Walker
10am Readers:
1. B. Churchill
2. F. Dorn
3. K. Wade
10am Readers:
1. J. James
2. P. Wick
3. O. Owolabi
Chalicist: S. C. ClarkeChalicist: J. Soughan
Ushers: F.L. & M. Priddy
Ushers: O. & P. Moore
Altar Guild: N. Sieffert & A. Cole
Altar Guild: A. Walker & J. James
Coffee Hour: Rev. Sheelagh & Heloisa Rooney
Coffee Hour: Cake & Conversation
Altar Flowers: No Flowers During Lent
Altar Flowers: No Flowers During Lent
There are a number of scholarships available to college bound students.  See link below.  Deadlines are approaching fast.  Please contact Rev.  Sheelagh if you need a letter of support.  http://dioceseofnewark.org/funding/scholarships


Food Barrel
A meaningful project for the season of Lent for families and individuals is ready and waiting right outside the church door that opens into the narthex.  It is our FOOD BARREL, waiting to be filled with nonperishable food that will be distributed by Apostles’ House in Newark to help alleviate hunger in our county.
Lenten Pilgrim Program, March 15 & 22, at 7pm
Join us for our spring spiritual study group “Pilgrim.”  A study guide aimed at introducing our faith to newcomers and going deeper for those already on the journey.  Wednesdays every week in the Rectory.
Cake & Conversation!
March 26 & April 2.
It’s Lent – so no cake, except that every Sunday in Lent is a feast day.  So we will celebrate it by having cake and conversation at coffee hour, where we listen for what God has been up to; is up to; and is calling us to become as St Stephen’s.  The children’s table will do this too – in their way.
The questions and the emerging thoughts will be shared each week – so don’t worry if you miss a Sunday.  Join us on March 26 and April 2.  Where? After church in the Parish Hall.
Vestry University, Saturday, March 25, 2017
(Today is the last day for sign up)
To Register Click on the link below:
Vestry University
Join us in our 29th year of offering hospitality to homeless families supported by the Interfaith Hospitality Network for the Homeless.
In 1987 St. Stephens became one of a few dozen congregations involved with a new ministry to homeless families – IHN – the Interfaith Hospitality Network for the Homeless.  Since then, another 6,000 congregations have done the same, involving more than 160,000 volunteers and collectively serving more than 600,000 children and adults.  Volunteer congregations host families for a week offering food and shelter while the case management team helps them move toward permanent housing and self-sufficiency.
We host next from April 8 to 14.  This year we will vary our normal hosting schedule.  With Passover and Holy Week only days apart and in partnership with Temple B’nai Jeshurun,  we will host from Saturday morning April 8 to Friday morning, April 14 – Good Friday.
We will be on hand on Sunday, March 19, to share more about IHN, family homelessness and how small acts of kindness can support families in distress and enrich our own.  If you are newer to the church and the program, come to learn how simple things like cooking a lasagna, reading to a 3 year old and sleeping overnight, help families stay together at a time of crisis – changing the course of their, and their children’s lives.  If you’re an old hand at IHN, come and share your experiences and expertise.
Volunteers are needed to stay overnight, to cook and serve meals, to entertain children, to run errands and for the set up and take down work to convert classrooms to bedrooms.  To learn more, talk to Margo Greenfield or Blair Majtyka.
As always, Meal Coordinator Sara Ruth Dorn will conduct signups during coffee hour for volunteers to prepare and serve dinners and purchase the necessary breakfast and snack staples.
Meal Plans for IHN Guests
When we host the guests from the Interfaith Hospitality Network in April, we have the following opportunities  for this special  ministry:
       1.  Donate food items and supplies
       2.  Cook a meal at home or at the church
       3.  Serve a meal to the guests, the overnight hosts and to you the server(s).
A server for the dinner hour needs to arrive to set the tables at 5:30 p.m. to be ready to serve the meal at 6. We learn the number of guests with the ages of the children usually the week before their arrival.  The network staff has been helpful in letting me know of any food allergies.  I pass this information to anyone who cooks.
Sign-up sheets for donations will be available during coffee hours.
Questions?  Telephone Sara Ruth Dorn (973-467-9847) or email fdorn231@aol.com
Save The Date For A Wonderful Evening Of Song And Dance!
Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir
7:00pm, Sunday 23 April 2017
Tickets will go on sale in April,   $20 adult, $15 senior, $10 child
Please contact Susan Dinan with questions.
Dates & Deadlines
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.
09 Mar

Newsletter, March 8

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week

Jesus is my superhero!
It’s been a week of bring the good news to our smallest children.  Pancake Tuesday saw us burning palms for ashes;  Sunday we had a children’s message that went off in some surprising directions.  Today’s parents it seems, have taught healthy eating.  The candy just was not the “temptation” I thought it would be.  We did get to some great suggestions for doing good things, like sharing, being a friend and praying for our families.
And just when everything seemed to unravel the Spirit shows up.  The conversation moved to praying for a superhero.  And deeper and deeper it went.  Superheroes fix things and make them good, you see. They fight evil and help those in trouble.
Good enough.  Bottom line.  We all agreed that Jesus is our superhero.

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01 Mar

Newsletter, Ash Wednesday, March 1

Rev. Sheelagh’s Thought For The Week

Eve of Ash Wednesday.
In the darkness, the fire catches and flares.  Little faces are lit up by the orange glow of the flames; they cough as the acrid black smoke rises.  Clutched in their hands are the palms saved from last year.  Dry, crispy, coiled into weird snake like shapes.  As the flames die away, the embers glow in the bottom of the can, and the children see how church traditions fold over year over year.  These, they understand, are the ashes that will be smudged on their velvety smooth foreheads; mortality the last thing on anyone’s mind.
“From the dust you were created, and to dust you shall return.”
Every year, etching the ashy cross onto lined and unlined brows, I catch a glimpse, forever etched on my retina it seems, of a loved one covered from head to toe in ashes, fleeing an ashy reminder of our mortality on a bright, blue, sunny September morning.  And I understand the urgency of life once more.

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