Saint Stephen’s Daily Prayers, Thursday, May 6, 2021

Staying Safe and Staying Connected

 Good Morning Saint Stephen’s Church,

 Alleluia. Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Today’s Prayer

I have not brought about, or bought, or made myself. From the start I discover myself as a given – one big gift given to myself. What else should I make of my life but one big thanksgiving?

–         Brother David Steindl-Rast

Brother David Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk and author. Born in Austria in 1926, he emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s and joined a newly founded Benedictine community in New York. Much of Steindl-Rast’s life work has been about interfaith dialogue, specifically Buddhist-Christian dialogue. From his work with various religions, a focus on gratitude emerged, leading him to found A Network for Grateful Living, an international organization dedicated to empowering people to practice gratitude in their day-to-day lives. The University of Massachusetts holds both Steindl-Rast’s published and unpublished writings, as well as his journals, sermons, correspondence, and more, in its Special Collections, under the title “Brother David Steindl-Rast Papers.” 

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 comfort and healing for all who are affected by the Coronavirus around the world:  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 perpetrated 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 a reverence for the earth as God’s own creation: that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to God’s honor and glory, and for wisdom, guidance, and persistence as we face the challenges of climate change and work for the flourishing and health of all the earth.

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

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; 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:  Eunice, Vincent, Priscilla, Ruth, Cindi, Mary Frances, Debbie, Joe.

For all the blessings of this life.

 For our dioceses in the Anglican Communion:  The Diocese of Bujumbura – The Anglican Church of Burundi.

For all who have died:  Anne, Katherine, Richard, Taylor, Alice, Shirley. 

For one another.

Something to share

From “Religion of the Heart”

In healthy religion, morals, dogma, and ritual remain rooted in authority of the heart. And remember, the heart stands for the whole person…. It always has to be the whole person that stands behind the religious response, not only your intellect, not only your will, not only your emotions…

The basic question is, “Where does your ultimate religious authority reside?” And if your answer is, for example, “In the Bible,” then you have to ask yourself, “And who tells me that the Bible has authority for me?” For other people the ultimate authority resides in the Koran or in other sacred scriptures. Who gives the Bible authority over me? Is it not my own heart that freely (and authoritatively) recognizes authority and so validates it? If we continue questioning, we come to the insight that our ultimate religious authority resides within each one of us. I say it resides there. I’m not saying that each one of us is the ultimate religious authority. That would be nonsense. But my ultimate religious authority is also “within,” or else I could never recognize it “out there.” The heart “recognizes” authority in a threefold sense of the word. The intellect recognizes authority in the sense of identifying it as such. The will recognizes authority in the sense of acknowledging its claims. The emotions recognize authority in the sense of appreciating that it deserves to be honored. Only when intellect, will, and emotions, each play their part, is the recognition of authority wholehearted. The moment I accept responsibility for recognizing authority in my own heart, my religion comes of age….

Obedience as virtue in Jewish tradition, in Christian tradition, in other great religious traditions in the world, means far more than doing what somebody else tells you to do. It means, ultimately, listening with the heart. It is an intensive form of listening, the most intensive form of listening…

We think that human beings find it extremely hard to submit to external authority. The opposite is true. We all have an inordinate tendency to yield to the demands of external authority, even in flagrant violation of our own hearts’ better judgment….The fact is we are so prone to be submissive to authority, that all our efforts should go into teaching children to stand on their own feet against authority if necessary. Only if we bend backwards, may we hope to overcome our congenital bent to conform to external authority. …

Because obedience as virtue is a listening with the heart, training in obedience is not training in conformity. Its highest goal is not to produce puppets, but prophets. For a long time religious traditions have known that the highest obedience is the obedience of the prophet. 

       –  Brother David Steindl-Rast

News and Updates

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas as it provides COVID-safe humanitarian assistance, such as transportation, food and medical care, to people seeking asylum in south Texas.

Please consider a donation to Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Response Fund to support the organization’s continued assistance to vulnerable communities impacted by disasters, both natural and human-made.

 www.episcopalrelief.org/what-you-can-do/give/donate-now/individual-donation

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 weekday & Saturday morning.  Join us 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 and transition.

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,

the rains fall soft upon soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of God’s 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.