We are still in the season of Epiphany and we hear stories about great realizations. This past Sunday (Jan. 17th) we heard the call stories of Phillip and Nathanael. We have a variety of reactions to Jesus’ invitation to follow him. Phillip jumps to it right away, while Nathanael is a bit skeptical. Both responses are valid, and the invitation is simple “Come and See.”
Christmas has ended (sigh) and now we are in Epiphany! This is a great but often overlooked season, when we hear stories about epiphanies about Christ. An epiphany is a great realization or “a-ha” moment (I dislike that term). We all have these moment, but how often do we have them about God? The answer might surprise you. Perhaps the questions should be how often do we notice our epiphanies about God?
We had a guest preacher this week, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. After the horrific events in our capital on Jan. 6, 2021, Bishop Curry released a message for all the church. Please listen closely to his wise words and take them to heart.
Merry Christmas! Today is the 3rd day of Christmas (there are 12) so keep celebrating, but please be safe!
Here are recordings of our services from Christmas Eve. We have a shortened Family service with a hymn sing and the longer form Midnight Mass. Both feature our talented musicians, so please check them out!
Finally, a story about Mary in Advent 4. It seems like it took a long time to get to the Christmas story in this “Christmas Season.” Well, it is still Advent, when we are waiting for Christmas to start! Now, I am not scolding you for celebrating Christmas early. Everyone needs joy in their lives and if Christmas makes you happy, GO FOR IT, any time of year, especially this year. But in the Church year, we are still in Advent, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Jesus.
So we celebrate the Annunciation this week, when the angel appears to Mary and tells her of her destiny. This is a wonderful story of faith, acceptance of God, and true discipleship.
We had our first ever virtual Christmas Pageant and it was WONDERFUL. It is at the end of the service, or you can watch it by itself here.
Thank you for stopping by. If you want to join my church on Christmas Ever (5pm Family Service with carol singing, or 10:30pm Midnight Mass) please message me or comment below and I will send you the Zoom link! Or, you can watch it after.
So, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Please be safe, first and foremost. If we are extra careful this year, we can enjoy many more years of joy!
December 13th was Advent 3, Christmas is not far off! Here is my yearly priestly reminder: Christmas is a 12 day long feast that STARTS on December 25th. So, don’t throw your tree away so fast and keep celebrating all 12 days (or as long as you want, honestly, we need JOY this year).
Also this past weekend we blessed our new outdoor Nativity set. The children/youth started fundraising for this project last year. They raised the funds to purchase Mary, Joseph, the angel, and the baby Jesus. Then they built the stable themselves! It was a wonderful outreach project for the parish, as the set sits by our Main St. entrance for all to see as they drive/walk by.
Anyway, we held an outdoor event (masks on) to celebrate the addition. This took the place of our tradition “Cookies and Carols” where the kids make and decorate cookies, we eat them, and sing carols after reading the Christmas story. This time we had hot cocoa from Dunkin’ and individually wrapped cookies.
It was a wonderful event and it made my heart happy so see the children playing and the adults chatting in person (safely distanced). It also made me feel sad that we can’t get together more often. We just have to remember that we make sacrifices now in order to be able to have a bigger and better time next year. The children’s hand bell choir also payed a few tunes. Here are some pictures!
Now in our second week of Advent, we hear from Mark and John the Baptist. John cries out in the wilderness preparing the path for Jesus. That is what Advent is all about, waiting for Jesus, but this doesn’t mean sitting around, this is an active waiting. Prayer, repenting, reflecting, loving our neighbors.
Happy New Church Year! We are now in Advent, which is a short season of anticipation leading up to Christmas. (Don’t forget that Christmas is a 12 day feast that STARTS on Dec. 25th).
This season is when we are to take some time to reflect on God’s gift of love that came in the form of Jesus all those years ago. This is something we should do all the time, but in Advent we have some special time set apart for that purpose.
Below is our service from Advent 1. For some reason the camera goes all blurry, but never fear, you can just close your etes and listen instead of looking. Hopefully I’ll figure out the problem before next week. When we do the service, I am all alone in the church, so it is nearly impossible for me to trouble shoot on the fly.
Yesterday (11/22/2020) was Christ the King Sunday, also known as the last day of the Church Year. Next week, Advent starts!
It was also a special day for St. Stephen’s as we had a Bishop visiting us virtually. The Right Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Assistant Bishop of Long Island, joined us for worship (on Zoom) and preached. (read more about her here) Bishops must visit each parish in their Diocese on a rotating basis, so it is not uncommon to have a Bishop visit periodically. What is interesting this time is that it was all online.
Due to COVID restrictions and in an effort to keep our people safe, we have a short 30 minutes service in person at 9am, and then at 10am we have our main service on Zoom. The 10am service is the mostly like “normal” with beautiful music sung by the choir, laypeople reading and praying, and the celebration of Holy Eucharist. The difference is that I am in the Church alone (with 1 other person behind the scenes-far away) and everyone else is at home. While this is not idea for our community building, it is what is best for now. My main priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy while still worshipping God together.
It was a pleasure to have Bishop Wolf as a guest and I encourage you to watch our service on YouTube:
I realize that is has been a very long time between posts and for that I apologize. A lot has happened! As of October 2019, I am back in Long Island at St. Stephen’s in Port Washington, NY and I had another baby in January of 2020. All that combined with the COVID pandemic and life being busy and I have neglected my site.