Saint Stephen’s Daily Prayers, Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Staying Safe and Staying Connected

Today’s Prayer

Almighty and everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in your Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas.

Thomas the Apostle, also called Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament Thomas appears to have been a thoughtful if rather literal-minded man, inclined to skepticism; but he was a staunch friend when his loyalty was once given. The expression “Doubting Thomas,” which has become established in English usage, is not entirely fair to Thomas. He did not refuse belief: he wanted to believe, but did not dare, without further evidence. Because of his goodwill, Jesus gave him a sign, though Jesus had refused a sign to the Pharisees. His Lord’s rebuke was well deserved: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). The sign did not create faith; it merely released the faith which was in Thomas already.

Thomas’ honest questioning and doubt, and Jesus’ assuring response to him, have given many modern Christians courage to persist in faith, even when they are still doubting and questioning.

From Our Prayers of the People 

For the special needs and concerns of our congregation.  

For comfort and healing for all who are affected by the deadly tornadoes devastating communities in six states this weekend.

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 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:  Sharhonna, Chris, Louis, Philip, Rick, Louise, Clara, Robin, Jackie, Waid, Dan, Hugh, Debby, Jeanne, Theresa, Josh, Amy, Greg, Warren, Steven, Craig, Donald, Gerald, Molly, Kenny, Sunny, people of Afghanistan.

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: Charline, Janet, Marilyn, Don, Eunice, Ruth, Mary Frances, Vincent, Priscilla, Joe.

For Shirley- today is her birthday! 

For all the blessings of this life.

For our dioceses in the Anglican Communion:  The Diocese of Ilaje – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) (Ondo Province).

For all who have died:  Gertrude Welter, Clifford Santer, Gladys Titterington, Jeffery Knight, Margaret Collins, Suzanne Fleischmann.

Something to share

O Oriens (O Dayspring)

For December 21, the antiphon is based on Isaiah 9:1; 58:8; 60:18-20, Malachi 4:2, Luke 1:78-79, John 8:12 and Revelation 22:16

O Dawn in the East,

splendor of the everlasting Light and Sun of Justice:

Come and give light to those sitting in darkness,

in the shadow of death.

From O Come, O Come Emmanuel:

Verse 6:

O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high,

and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;

disperse the gloomy clouds of night

and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

Dawn in the East

We pray our Lord to give us light of His revelation and life to all humankind, to lead everyone on earth out of spiritual darkness into the glory of a life unending.

The Shortest Day 

So the shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive,

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, reveling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us—Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,

This shortest day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!

–  Susan Cooper 

Today, the shortest day of the year, we might not be feeling any love towards the cold, dark of the winter solstice. But poetry reminds us of the beauty in all things, even the frosty, bitterness of December days. Instead of looking upon the solstice with dread, this week we are reminded of the enchantment of winter, the magic of the holidays and we are provided with warmth and solidarity of family and friends and church – even when the icy winds blow. 

News and Updates

CHRISTMAS EVE

4:00 p.m. Eucharist

CHRISTMAS DAY

9:00 a.m. Morning Prayer (Zoom)

FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN SUNDAY

December 26th

9:00 a.m. Eucharist

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. Sunday Morning Prayer is at 8:00am.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 next year.

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.

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.

For All Gatherings at the Church – Every individual on site NEEDS to wear a mask, even if you have been vaccinated! The mask should conform to ASC standards (covering both nose and mouth, well fitted – not a bandana/gator/scarf).  Let’s work together to keep the few activities we have!

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.

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