Staying Safe and Staying Connected
Good Morning Saint Stephen’s Church,
We continue our life of daily prayer. The Lord be with you!
O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have
caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world:
Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in
remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following
his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.
– Book of Common Prayer, pp. 238-39
Today is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Paul, or Saul as he was known until he became a Christian, was a Roman citizen, born at Tarsus, in present-day Turkey. He was brought up as an orthodox Jew, studying in Jerusalem for a time under Gamaliel, the most famous rabbi of the day.
Paul spent much of the first half of his life persecuting the nascent Christian movement. His motivations are unknown. The chief persecutors of the Christian movement in Jerusalem were the high priest and his associates, who were Sadducees. Paul was a Pharisee and Acts depicts his mentor Gamaliel as defending the Christians.
Whatever his reasons, Paul’s persecutions probably involved traveling from synagogue to synagogue and urging the punishment of Jews who accepted Jesus as the messiah. Disobedient members of synagogues were punished by some form of ostracism or by light flogging, which Paul himself later suffered at least five times (2 Corinthians 11:24), though he does not say when or where. According to Acts, Paul began his persecutions in Jerusalem following the stoning of Stephen.
Paul was next on his way to Damascus when he had a vision that changed his life: according to Galatians 1:16, God revealed his Son to him. More specifically, Paul states that he saw the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1), though Acts claims that near Damascus he saw a blinding bright light. Following this revelation, which convinced Paul that God had indeed chosen Jesus to be the promised messiah, he went into Arabia—probably Coele-Syria, west of Damascus (Galatians 1:17). He then returned to Damascus, and three years later he went to Jerusalem to become acquainted with the leading apostles there. After this meeting he began his famous missions to the west, preaching first in his native Syria and Cilicia (Galatians 1:17–24). During the next 20 years or so (c. mid-30s to mid-50s), he established several churches in Asia Minor and at least three in Europe, including the church at Corinth.
An encounter with Christ changes one forever, and it may also change the course of the Church, and the course of the world.
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 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 vaccinations, may God grant them wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience, and may God keep them healthy and safe.
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: Reena, Jim, Bruce, Chris, Audrey, June, Caleb, Sunny, Josh T, Pat J.
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, and all their families.
For all the blessings of this life.
For our dioceses in the Anglican Communion: The Diocese of Kagera – The Anglican Church of Tanzania.
For all who have died: Jane Tatge, Jesse Dipley and Gladys Wilcox.
Something to share
When I was Saul, and sat among the cloaks,
My eyes were stones, I saw no sight of heaven,
Open to take the spirit of the twisting Stephen.
When I was Saul, and sat among the rocks,
I locked my eyes, and made my brain my tomb,
Sealed with what boulders rolled across my reason!
When I was Saul and walked upon the blazing desert
My road was quiet as a trap.
I feared what word would split high noon with light
And lock my life, and try to drive me mad:
And thus I saw the Voice that struck me dead.
Tie up my breath, and wind me in white sheets of anguish,
And lay me in my three days’ sepulcher
Until I find my Easter in a vision.
Oh Christ! Give back my life, go, cross Damascus,
Find out my Ananias in that other room:
Command him, as you do, in this my dream;
He knows my locks, and owns my ransom,
Waits for Your word to take his keys and come.
– Thomas Merton
News and Updates
A Eucharist of the Resurrection for Jane Tatge will be held this Saturday, January 29 at 11:00 am at Saint Stephen’s Church.
Free Covid-19 Test Kits – the federal government is making free covid-19 test kits available for each household (4 total). You can make the request at www.covidtests.gov. Anyone who may have more test kits than they need can donate them to SiCM. They will be distributed to those SiCM serves.
Christopher and Patricia Jones
204 Glen Eddy Drive
Niskayuna,m NY 12309
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Communions: If you or someone you know is unable to attend church on either a long or short‑term basis, please contact me (email@example.com) if you would like to have communion brought to you. We will make visits on Sunday after our regular Eucharist at church and always wear a mask.
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!
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.