Saint Stephen’s Daily Prayers, Thursday, March 25, 2021

Staying Safe and Staying Connected

 Good Morning Saint Stephen’s Church,

 We continue our life of daily prayer. The Lord be with you!

Today’s Prayer

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

           –        Book of Common Prayer, p. 240

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation

Today’s feast commemorates how God made known to a young Jewish woman that she was to be the mother of Jesus, and how Mary accepted her vocation with faith and courage. Mary’s assent to Gabriel’s message opened the way for God to accomplish the salvation of the world. Mary’s self-offering in response to God’s call is reminiscent of Abraham, the father of believers. Just as Abraham was called to be the father of God’s people, and accepted his call, so Mary was called to be the mother of the faithful. She is God’s agent in the mystery of the Incarnation.

From Our Prayers of the People 

For the special needs and concerns of our congregation. 

We remember people throughout the world: in places of war and strife, especially refugees and all victims of violence and oppression.

For the just and proper use of your creation: for the victims of hunger, fear, injustice, and oppression.

For comfort and healing for all who are affected by the Coronavirus:  for physicians, nurses, and all others who minister to the sick and the suffering, and for those administering the vaccination, may God grant them wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience, and may God keep them healthy and safe.

For all essential workers: for police, firefighters, EMTs, postal workers, sanitation workers, grocery personnel, delivery and transport workers, and all who must report to work because what they do is essential for our well-being, health, and safety.

For all historical acts of injustice and oppression: especially those perpetuated against native, Black, Hispanic and various Asian Americans in this abundant land, that we may recognize racism in ourselves, in our church, in our society, and the times we have failed to take action.

For those on the Parish Prayer Chain:  Mary, Bill, Mary Frances, Jim, Eunice, Jane and Bruce, John, Audrey, Marissa, Melanie, Joe.

For those who are homebound: Joan, Janet and Marilyn.

For our Government Leaders: Joseph Biden, President of the United States; Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State; Gary McCarthy, Mayor of Schenectady.

For our Church Leaders: Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, William Love, and Daniel Herzog, retired bishops; James and Dennie, our priests; Pat, our deacon emeritus and Allison, our Lay Reader.

For those who are imprisoned: those particularly vulnerable at this time, especially the women in the Schenectady County Jail.

For Members who request our prayers for strength and healing:  Marilyn, Priscilla, Ruth, Cindi, Mary Frances, Debbie, Joe.

For all the blessings of this life.

 For our dioceses in the Anglican Communion:  The Diocese of Banks & Torres – The Anglican Church of Melanesia.

For all who have died:   Glen, Charles, Ward, Virginia, Louise, Theodore, Irwin, Eleanor. 

For one another.

Something to share

Annunciation

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,

almost always a lectern, a book; always

the tall lily.

Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,

the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering, 

whom she acknowledges, a guest. 

But we are told of meek

obedience. No one mentions 

courage.

The engendered Spirit 

Did not enter her without consent.

God waited. 

She was free to accept or refuse, choice 

integral to humanness.

Aren’t there annunciations of one sort or another in most lives?

Some unwillingly undertake great destinies,

enact them in sullen pride, uncomprehending. 

More often those moments when roads of light and storm 

open from darkness in a man or woman, are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair and relief.

Ordinary lives continue.

God does not smite them.

But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

She had been a child who played, ate, slept

like any other child – unlike others, wept only for pity, 

laughed in joy, not triumph.

Compassion and intelligence fuse in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous that any in all of Time,

She did not quail, only asked a simple,

‘How can this be?’

and gravely, courteously took to heart the angel’s reply,

the astounding ministry she was offered: 

to bear in her womb Infinite weight and lightness;

to carry in hidden, finite inwardness, nine months of Eternity;

to contain in slender vase of being, the sum of power – 

in narrow flesh, the sum of light.

Then bring to birth, push out into air, a Man-child

needing, like any other, milk and love – 

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of

when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed, 

Spirit

suspended

waiting.

She did not cry, ‘I cannot I am not worthy,’ 

Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’

She did not submit with gritted teeth, raging, coerced.

Bravest of all humans, consent illumined her.

The room filled with its light, 

The lily glowed in it, and the iridescent wings.

Consent,

courage unparalleled,

opened her utterly.

              –     Denise Levertov

Becky Holder shared this prayer in the wake of the multiple shooting this country has experienced in a week:

Lord, in our shock and confusion, we come before you.

In our grief and despair in the midst of hate,

in our sense of helplessness in the face of violence,

we lean on you.

For the families of those who have been killed we pray.

For the shooters—help us to pray, Lord.

For the communities that have lost members—their anger, grief, fear—we pray.

For the churches striving to be your light in darkness beyond our comprehension, we pray.

In the face of hatred, may we claim love, Lord.

May we love those far off and those near.

May we love those who are strangers and those who are friends.

May we love those who we agree with and understand,

and even more so, Lord, those who we consider to be our enemies.

Kyrie Eleison. Lord, have mercy.

Heal our sin-sick souls.

Make these wounds whole, Lord.

–          Prayer adapted from the Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice

News and Updates  

This Sunday’s Readings: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j96DkvSYdAMs0kr7gGkJc7v-QfnO_Jnz/view?usp=sharing

Palm Sunday Passion Script: http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/passion/mark.html 

Workshop: Using a Labyrinth during a Pandemic – If you are new to the labyrinth, attending this workshop could serve as a great introduction to the labyrinth experience. If you’re already familiar with the labyrinth, join us and re-connect with a community of like-minded souls. It will take place via Zoom this Saturday, March 27th from 10am to noon.  For the link, please send a request to: james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.

Episcopal Relief & Development in HAITI – Since 2014, Episcopal Relief & Development has provided technical and financial support to a Savings with Education microcredit program, equipping some of Haiti’s most vulnerable women with business skills training, mentoring and life skills to enable them to be successful small business owners.

In addition, Episcopal Relief & Development is working with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti in building networks of community volunteers, equipped with knowledge and skills needed to respond effectively to disasters and assist their communities before, during and after a disaster.  They have worked to raise awareness about COVID-19 and ways to reduce its spread.  The diocese also provided personal protective equipment (PPE) to four communities in Port-au-Prince that have been particularly devastated by COVID-19.

It’s not too late to support Episcopal Relief & Development as a Lenten offering!  Please consider making a donation. You may do this through St. Stephen’s.

 Reminder

If you have an update/news, a prayer or poem or something inspirational you would like us to share with the congregation, please send it to us. Please also send us any prayer requests. We will incorporate these into the Morning Prayers as best we can: james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.

Prayerbook Morning Prayer in Zoom – each morning.  Join Dennie and me for an inter-active service of Morning Prayer at 9 am. Time to bring your prayer concerns will be provided.  (contact Becky for the link:   becky.holder@gmail.com).

If you need a prayerbook, and are not in a position to purchase one, please contact me: james.ross.mcd@gmail.com. I will make sure you have your own Book of Common Prayer. 

Our church campus is only partially open due to the current pandemic.  Please see our website for further information: https://st-stephens.church/. Most parish meetings and gatherings are canceled or postponed until further notice.

Our office email is: office@st-stephens.church.

We continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and the NY  Department of Public Health https://www.health.ny.gov/ for information, updates, and guidance

Be careful what you read online. There are reports of false information circulating in an attempt to create fear and confusion. It is critical to discern what and how something is said as well as what is not said. And, God forbid, always remember – any online or texted-based solicitation from me for money is A SCAM. Do not reply to such messages. Delete them.

Our goal is for all of us to stay in touch and connected in this time of isolation.

Share this news, and spread some love, not the virus!

Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be at your back,

May the sun shine upon your face,

he rains fall soft upon soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Be of good courage. We are in this together, and we will be together again soon. God bless you and may God be with us in the days ahead.