St. Stephen by Your Deacon and Postulant; Mike and Jackee
I thought I’d better mention that last Sunday our first reading concerned the stoning of St. Stephen. He was born in c. 4 AD and was stoned to death in c. 34 AD (the reported dates vary by several years). That means he was about 29 years old when he died. He was an ordained deacon of the church.
When the disciples realized the Greek-speaking widows were being neglected in favor of the Hebrew-speaking widows, seven men were ordained to serve the community. Stephen “worked great wonders” among the people. This ultimately led to false charges before the Sanhedrin and his execution by stoning. All this is contained in Acts 6-7.
The idea that someone is that fervent in their faith in Jesus the Christ is so foreign to most of us. I have long wrestled with the question, “to what point of threat would I resist before denying Jesus?” Would just voicing a denial be a true turning from Christ?
In some places in the world this can be a real concern for people. But, this is simply a mind game in the circles we live in here in Eugene. It does bring up questions about, “what is denial?” How do I deny Jesus when I neglect other people (the reason deacons were ordained)?
We are told, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And so, if we ignore our neighbor we are denying Jesus by flaunting this second of the great commandments.
St. Stephens’ feast day is December 26th
Pictures throughout the year. Everything from Blessing the Animals, Christmas decorations, bingo, working in the garden. making palm crosses, preparing for Easter and Rector Ann Gaillard’s installation. Friends, family, fun and fellowship!
Dear Parishioners and St. Thomas’ Church Community –
I hope you are safe and well! As you are aware, the Governor Brown is starting gradually to lift restrictions later this week for retail stores, gatherings, restaurants, etc… We’re not sure yet what that will look like for Lane County. Bishop Hanley has been in close conversation with the governor and other clergy leaders in Oregon, as well as with the Presiding Bishop and the other diocesan bishops around the country about what in-person church gatherings might start to look like. My understanding is that Bishop Hanley will be issuing guidelines to individual parishes about reopening on a gradual basis. I am sure those guidelines will include things like limiting the number of people to 50 or fewer, maintaining 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and so forth. There will be quite a bit of preparation involved to make in-person worship happen at St. Thomas, so I’m sure it will be well into June before we are able to get together. I will keep you informed as I and the Vestry know more. Please know that Bishop Hanley has been wonderful about communicating with the clergy in the diocese, holding weekly Zoom office hours and brainstorming with us about what might be possible when we resume in-person church services.
As always, I’m including the link to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s weekly video, “Habits of Grace” : https://episcopalchurch.org/habits-of-grace?wvideo=xops3jbhvi&wkey=YWVzZ2FpbGxhcmRAZ21haWwuY29t&foreign_data=mailchimp_campaign_id%3Afeb4fb1918
Also, Keri Davis, St. Thomas’ Musical Director, has recorded for us a lovely hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Here is the link, and below are the words: https://soundcloud.com/user-87407182/sweet-hour-of-prayer
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Words: W.W. Walford Music: William Batchelder Bradbury
1 Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
that calls me from a world of care,
and bids me at my Father’s throne
make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
my soul has often found relief,
and oft escaped the tempter’s snare
by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
2 Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
the joys I feel, the bliss I share
of those whose anxious spirits burn
with strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
where God my Savior shows his face,
and gladly take my station there,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
3 Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
thy wings shall my petition bear
to him whose truth and faithfulness
engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face,
believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my every care,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
Participate in St. Thomas’ worship services on Facebook every Sunday morning. Either click on the small Facebook logo in the upper right hand corner of the page or go to this site: https://www.facebook.com/st.thomas.eugene/
Once you have reached St. Thomas’ Facebook page, you will see the posting for Sunday Worship. Click on the blue (https://uso2webzoom) link and the worship will be read aloud.
He is risen!
I read an email today from Richard Rohr. Richard Rohr, OFM, is an American author, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has been called “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world.” In that email, I was struck by the following quotation: “The total social program that Jesus advocated was based on communion, friendship, distribution, and partnership.” The article adds, “…the power of God over all—is developed [through Jesus] in a horizontal way by the distributed Spirit indwelling each social entity (individual, family, local community, the whole people). This distribution of the God-expressing Spirit implies that people must be in active partnership with God at all points.” The portion I omitted was a comparison to other organization models that are based on power.
The social program of Jesus sounds like Church! It sounds like St. Thomas…working together to bring the world to Christ and promoting the welfare of all in the community. St. Thomas is there…St. Thomas is there for everyone to lean on. St. Thomas is the people of the parish. As a community we continue our virtual worship, we maintain the business of St. Thomas, we take care of the facilities. Each person has their gifts to offer.
The Kairos prison program has a motto, “Listen, Listen, Love, Love.” All the Kairos volunteers can really do is to model a Jesus community so that all around them can learn to know Jesus. But at St. Thomas we add, “Help”. We Listen, Love, Help. The recent Outreach push is great example. All those food cards distributed to people of the local community who need help … especially during these strange times.
Gods Peace to you