Saint Stephen’s Daily Prayers, Saturday, September 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

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Sergius of Moscow, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

–          Holy Women, Holy Men

St. Sergius is one of the most popular of the Russian saints. He is the founder of Russian monasticism. His spiritual influence shaped the mind of Christian Russia and continues through to the present.

He was born at Rostov, about 1314. Sergius was simple and gentle in nature, mystical in temperament, and eager to ensure that his monks should serve the needs of their neighbors. He was able to inspire intense devotion to the Orthodox faith. He died in 1392, and pilgrims still visit his shrine at the monastery of Zagorsk, which he founded in 1340. The city contains several splendid cathedrals and is the residence of the Patriarch of Moscow.

The Russian Church observes Sergius’ memory on September 25. His name is familiar to Anglicans from the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, a society established to promote closer relations between the Anglican and Russian Churches.

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 our allies around the world in harm’s way: for those who are still trying to leave Afghanistan; may God be with them and their families.

For the victims of Hurricane Ida: for people who have evacuated, for those who are still in their homes, for first responders and everyone who has been impacted by Hurricane Ida from Louisiana to Rhode Island.  

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 as we continue to deal with the Coronavirus variants. 

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 recognize 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 Pat, Katie, Mike, June, Kenny, Danny, Charlotte, Diana, Caleb, June, Ruth, David, Kathy Nick, Roberta, Beth, Walker, Warren, Steven, Susan, Ann, John, Stephen, Don, Ruth.

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

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

For our Church Leaders: Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop; Michael G. Smith, Assisting 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, Mary Frances, Debbie, Joe. 

For all the blessings of this life.

For our dioceses in the Anglican Communion:  The Diocese of Southeast Florida – The Episcopal Church (IV (4) Province).

For all who have died:  Mildred, Kathryn, Reuben, Timothy, Dennis, and Elsie.

Something to share

The Beggar at the Church Door

His eyes are like faded burdock.
He clasps the coins in his hands.
He was a glorious shepherd,
Now he sings of times past.
And in the corner, an old woman
Sheds tears in front of an icon.
She used to be his beloved,
His drunk nectar in a green meadow.
Dry dust coats the scrolls of years.
No bygones to sandbank dawn.
Only a gnawed-up crutch,
As always, clatters in his hands.
Now she’s a stranger to him.
She’s forgotten his piercing flute.
And when she rushes out the door,
She’ll drop a kopeck in his palm.
He will not look in her eyes.
Eyes meeting would be too painful.
But, crossing himself in the icon corner,
He’ll pray for God’s servant by name.

 – Sergei Esenin (translated from the Russian By Anton Yakovlev)

Serving the Bear

A bear was in the habit of visiting St. Sergius’ hut in the forest, especially during spring and fall. St. Sergius regularly shared his food so that he could feed the bear. Often St. Sergius did not have much food as there were times when the wilderness did not offer much, especially after the long cold of the Russian winter. Usually he had only dried greens and herbs, some bread and water from a nearby spring, but at times even these were scarce. Many times there was no bread at all. When this happened, both he and the bear went hungry. Sometimes, when there was only one piece of bread, the Blessed Sergius did not please himself, but rather gave the entire piece to the bear, and would be pleased not to eat that day. “Better he be hungry,” he said, “than to offend the bear by dismissing him without eating.” To the reproaches of his brother monks, he replied, “the bear does not understand fasting.”

– The Life of Saint Sergius, translated by M. Klimenko, pp. 109-110.

News and Updates

Tomorrow’s Readings:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v6FFDJl6Tnkc_FiHZGQ2hp3ViMtYP69T/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=109485766909959793279&rtpof=true&sd=true

Episcopal Migration Ministries – The Episcopal Church has served immigrants new to the U.S. since the late 1800s, when the Church opened port chaplaincies to minister to sojourners on both coasts. In the 1930s, local parishes collected donations to provide steamship passage for those fleeing Nazi Europe. Out of this effort, the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief (PBF) was born, the forerunner organization to Episcopal Relief & Development and Episcopal Migration Ministries. Through the mid- and late 20th century, we partnered with other faith organizations to resettle those oppressed by the Iron Curtain and the genocides of Southeast Asia. In the 1980s Episcopal Migration Ministries was formally established and, in partnership with a network of affiliate agencies, dioceses, churches, and volunteers, is today one of only nine national agencies through which all refugees enter the United States. Episcopal Migration Ministries is trying to find sponsors and housing for Afghan people entering the U.S.   Perhaps this is a way St. Stephen’s congregation could provide this ministry. 

https://episcopalmigrationministries.org/volunteer-community-interest-form/

New Parish Directory – We are in the process of updating our congregational directory.  Would you please take the time to fill out the form sent out on Monday?  I would like EVERYONE to fill it out, even if your information has not changed.  This is in order to further communication among congregants.  A new Parish Directory will be sent out as soon as we have all the updated forms. Thank you so much.

Celebration of Life this morning – Millie Gittinger is inviting the congregation to a celebration of Clark’s life at the church at 11am.  A Reception will follow in the Courtyard.

Christian Education classes will begin tomorrow during the 9 am service. Bethany will bring the children to the classroom after the gospel is read. If you have any questions, please email her at office@st-stephens.church.

Reminders 

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 Daily 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).

Our church campus is only partially open during the waning of the pandemic.  Please see our website for further information: https://st-stephens.church/. Hopefully, most parish meetings and gatherings will resume this fall.

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

Home Communions: If you or someone you know is unable to attend church on either a long or short‑term basis, please contact me (james.ross.mcd@gmail.com ) if you would like to have communion brought to you. We will make visits on Sunday after our regular Eucharist at church.

We continue to comply with all of these: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html ; the NY  Department of Public Health: https://www.health.ny.gov/ ; the Schenectady County Health Department:  https://www.schenectadycounty.com/COVID19; and the Diocese of Albany https://albanyepiscopaldiocese.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cleaning_guidance_houses_of_worship.pdf.

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.

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.