Saint Stephen’s Daily Prayers, Thursday, January 6, 2022

Staying Safe and Staying Connected

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany!

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

Today’s Prayer

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son

to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by

faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to

face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen

         –  Book of Common Prayer, p. 214

 The Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River, and at his first miracle, at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Epiphany is one of the three principal and oldest festival days of the Christian church (the other two being Easter and Christmas). 

Epiphany originated in the Eastern church, where it at first included a commemoration of Christ’s birth. In Rome, by 354 the Nativity was being celebrated on December 25, and later in the 4th century the church in Rome began celebrating Epiphany on January 6. In the Western church the emphasis has been the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus, which is seen as evidence that Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came also for the salvation of the Gentiles. In the East the focus of Epiphany is the baptism of Jesus and the revelation that the incarnate Christ was both fully God and fully man.

There are many traditions regarding this feast and the season it commences. One delightful was to celebrate Epiphany is to prepare and eat a Kings’ Cake, which would include a toy baby hidden inside. Just as the Magi made a careful search for the Christ child, partakers of the Kings’ Cake hope to find the baby in their slice of cake. The person who finds the baby Jesus in his or her piece of cake is awarded the honor of providing the next Kings’ Cake and/or hosting the next gathering.

Another tradition is the Magi’s blessing of the house, which would be chalked above the doorway. For this year, the blessing is 20+C+M+B+21. The numbers correspond to the calendar year (20 and 21 – 2021); the crosses stand for Christ; and the letters have two-fold significance: C, M, and B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), but they are also an abbreviation of the Latin blessing Christus mansionem benedicat – “May Christ bless this house.”

Light is also an important symbol in Christianity. We move from Advent wreaths to Christmas Eve candlelight to the tongues of fire of Pentecost. This is a feast daynot a season.  Tomorrow we will begin a period of Ordinary Time (the liturgical color is green until Lent). Iit is a time in mid—winter which is about revelation, enlightenment, and the increase of light.

May Christ bless each and every one of us; and may enlightenment be ours in this time of increasing light.

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:  Alice, Lisa, Rick, Bette Ann, Phil, Jennifer, Josh, Shaun, Candace, Robert, Heather, Jackson, Michael, Mary, Bill, Jim, Eunice, Jane and Bruce, John, Audrey, Melanie, Joe, Rebecca, Skip, Curt, Jackie, Audrey, Sunny, Diana.

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 and Carol Gallagher, Assisting 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: Charline, Janet, Marilyn, Don, Eunice, Ruth, Mary Frances, Vincent, Priscilla, Joe.

For all the blessings of this life.

For our dioceses in the Anglican Communion:  The Diocese of Northern Izon – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) (Niger Delta Province).

For all who have died:  Stewart Vanda, Dawn Schlansker and Betty McCullough.

Something to share

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,

Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,

The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;

But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

        –  Christina Rosseti

News and Updates

Annual Meeting – Our annual meeting will be held on Sunday January 23, 2022 at 11:00am on Zoom.  Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.  If you have a report to include, please submit it to office@st-stephens.church by Sunday January 16.

SiCM Food Pantry – Thanks to everyone who donated stuffing mix and baking supplies to the SiCM food pantry during the months of November and December.  For January, we are going to reinstate collecting personal hygiene products, such as shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste (please, no toothbrushes as the pantry has many of them), body wash, bar soap, etc., as well as feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons).  These items are always in high demand at the pantry.  Thank you for all your support!  – Linda Emaelaf

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal Church in Colorado as it responds to the devasting wildfire that tore through Boulder County on Thursday, December 30. The Church mobilized its Disaster Response team to identify people in Superior and Louisville whose homes were destroyed or damaged and who may not have other support systems. The diocese is distributing gift cards to help them with groceries, gas and other supplies. 

Episcopal Relief & Development is also partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky to provide assistance to people whose homes were damaged or destroyed, unhoused people, immigrants, refugees, first responders and other people who have been affected by the storms. 

Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Fund will support the organization’s response to wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters, both natural and human-made.

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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