Upcoming Congregational Activities
Sunday. December 13: at the 10:30am service: Christmas Pageant
Sunday, December 20: at the 10:30am service: Holy Baptism -Gretchen Strauss
Sunday, December 20: after the 10:30am service: Potluck and AWAKE art exhibit
Thursday, December 24: Christmas Eve Services
4:00pm Family-Oriented Service with Music
8:30pm Musical Prelude and Carol Singing
9:00pm Festive Eucharist with Music
Sunday, December 27: AWAKE, AWARE, and ALIVE will NOT meet
Wednesday, January 6: 6:30pm Epiphany Service
January 21-22: Trinity Institute: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice –St. Philip’s Columbus
“O come, o come, Emmanuel,” “Let all mortal flesh keep silence,” “Humbly I adore thee, verity unseen.” Since I was a child, my favorite hymns have been the solemn ones. My family sometimes tease me about my fondness for “dirges,” but there’s just something about this music that speaks to me. It’s maybe not a surprise, then, that Advent has always been my favorite season of the church year. In the midst of the relentless gaity of the commercial Christmas season, I like the reminder that the big events in life, no matter how much joy they may bring us, are always accompanied by something else – uncertainty, fear of change, sorrow for what is passing away. The position of solemn waiting, of anticipation tinged with fear and awe, is precious in the midst of our hectic lives, and I appreciate the opportunity to sink into it for a few hours on Sunday morning. Given all of this, it’s probably fitting that I am helping to lead our Rector search committee. “Solemn waiting” seems like a good description of the search process. Our excitement at the future in store for our community is necessarily colored with sadness for our loss and with anxiety for all that we can’t know. We are impatient. I am taking the opportunity of Advent to remind myself that there is holiness in waiting, and that it’s OK to feel anxiety in a time of change. We can be impatient together in this season of Advent, and we can celebrate with our anxieties in the midst of Christmas joy, because they are part of our care for each other and for the life of our parish.
On a more practical note, the Rector search committee is finalizing our profiles based on feedback from the Diocese, and we will soon begin “taking names.” We can talk more about how the process will unfold in a future column – for now, just know that the process continues and we will hopefully begin interviews early in the new year. Please keep the committee in your prayers as we work, and wait, this Advent season.
Search Committee Co-Chair
Ponderings of the Interim Rector
Transitions come in many forms. Melanie’s Search Committee report speaks of the transition in Rectors, but this is also a transition-time in the Church at large. We have transitioned out of the long liturgical season of Pentecost, where we celebrate God’s Holy Spirit and the many forms of ministry to which we are called as Christians. We have transitioned into Advent—which is a transition time in itself, the time of waiting, the time before Christmas. A time that we remember when Mary and Joseph went on a journey, at the end of which their lives would radically change.
We are living in rapidly and radically changing times ourselves. One of the most recent indications of this truth appeared in the Episcopal News Service (ENS) this week. ENS posted an article from the Huffington Post entitled: PleaseCalmDown:HaveaCookie. In the midst of the tense atmosphere to which Donald Trump threw gasoline into the fire of prejudice, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, issued a set of suggestions to their employees about how to make workplace holiday parties welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Several Tennessee legislators were upset that the university choose inclusivity over promoting Christmas symbolism. The governor, in fact , responded by saying that he thought that UT should lose its state funding because of this policy.
But Tyson House, the Episcopal/Lutheran Campus ministry, stood up loud and clear in support of the University’s policy. Campus Pastor John Tirro wrote a letter to the legislators inviting them to their Christmas party at Tyson House, saying that they did not feel threatened by the policy. They affirmed their support of honoring the diversity of all people in all ways, including religious beliefs. (For the full article, go to Huffington Post).
Since the release of It’s a Wonderful Life (a movie that I still love to watch) we have transitioned from an Anglo-Saxon, white male dominated, pseudo-Christian culture, into one that is increasingly more and more diverse in gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation awareness, and religious affiliations. Some people are in radical denial of that truth. St. Stephen’s continues to claim as its ministry an affirmation of the richness of God’s creation and our responsibility to “strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being”. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 305) We stand in solidarity with Tyson House and cookies will be available in our office to anyone of any background this week and next.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
AWAKE, AWARE, ALIVE
- AWAKE Christmas Pageant is THIS Sunday, December 13, in the 10:30 am service. Entitled, ‘All in The Family.’ Come and experience the celebration of Advent and Christmas with us this season.
- ALIVE is not meeting after church today, and will resume on Sunday, January 17.
- AWAKE Art Exhibit, Sunday, December 20; we will have children’s artwork on display throughout the building, along with pictures from the Pageant by Chris Donaldson. Many different artistic expressions from our children and youth/ teens have been seen over the last few years in this annual event, and this year will add to those memories.
4.AWAKE Potluck dinner NEXT SUNDAY, December 20, following the 10:30 service. This is a TRUE potluck dinner; whatever people bring is what we will eat! Let Jeff Watters know, via email, etc., as to what you are bringing, like main dishes, side dishes, salads, chips, drinks (non-alcoholic, please). As for dessert, Matthew and Corrina Strauss are bringing a cake to celebrate daughter Gretchen’s baptism, that is happening in the 10:30 am service.
- AWAKE and AWARE will not meet on Sundays of December 27 and January 3.
Altar Guild Pre-Christmas Cleanup
A REMINDER that the Altar Guild will be cleaning silver and brass, and getting things ready for Christmas Services—the first session will be after church this Sunday, Dec. 13th. Whatever is not completed will be done on Sat., Dec. 19th at 9:30am. Both sessions should be about an hour and a half. IF you have not let Faith know which session you can attend, please contact her at email@example.com
NSI is getting ready for Christmas. St. Stephen’s will be collecting boxes of potatoes, 500 of any kind, the count as of December 6 was 288. The potatoes need to be at church by THIS Sunday, Dec. 13.
Also you can “adopt” a child to buy gifts for Christmas. NSI has requests for gifts for more than 900 children. Under the pulpit is a tree with paper ornaments on it. Each ornament tells the guardian’s name and phone number, the child’s name and age and child’s gift preferences. Also on the ornament are instructions if the gifts should be wrapped and how to label the gifts. NSI is asking that in fairness for our neighbors, many of whom in a family could be adopted by different community members, that you spend approximately $50 per child. As some of you did last year, you might want to go with a friend or another family to buy the gifts. All gifts should be to church by Sunday, December 13.
Wrap It Up!
NSI is participating in a “Wrap It Up” event in the Short North at the Garden Theater. The event will take place Saturday, December 19th from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Community members can come to have their gifts wrapped by NSI volunteers for free in exchange for a canned good or cash donation. NSI is looking for volunteers to assist with gift wrapping in one to two hours shifts that afternoon or for donations of wrapping paper or ribbon to use during the event. Anyone interested in participating or donating can contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 614-297-0592.
Green the Church!
As we have in past years, we ask that any of the congregation who can, bring greens from their yards before Dec 22. A team will use them to decorate the main altar, with a few red/white poinsettias to create the natural look to which we are accustomed. If you have questions, please contact Jerrie Cribb at email@example.com
Christmas Greenery Memorials
Beginning Sunday December 13 (Advent 3) Memorial envelopes will be available in the pews for donations to the Flower Fund. You are invited to submit names of those you would like remembered or honored in our Christmas bulletins, with or without a monetary donation. Donations to the flower fund are used to fill out the Christmas greenery (and Easter flower) displays. The deadline for name submissions and donations is Monday, December 21.
Kenyan Crafts support JAM, Dec 13 and 20
For the next 2 weeks Kathy Sellers will be offering crafts from the HIV+ Widows and Orphans for purchase. Most of these crafts are handmade and support the HIV+ Widows and Orphans who are supported by JAM (Justice And Mercy Community Integrated Project), the organization in Western Kenya that I have been supporting since 2006.Many of you saw Kennedy Otieno, the Director of JAM preach this past summer. I have had the privilege of visiting many of these sites and seen firsthand both the difficult conditions in which they are living and more importantly their resilience and community spirit. Payment can be made by cash or check. -If you have questions, please speak to Kathy. Thank you for your support of the Widows and Orphans of Western Kenya
Save the Date
St. Stephen’s is Co-Sponsoring the Trinity Institute at St. Philip’s on Woodlawn Ave
January 21-23, 2016
Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice: Explore the more pressing issues of our time: structural racism, mass incarceration and policy change. Come with open ears and leave with a greater capacity go to back into your community and create change!
Book Club News: 2016 Plans
The first Book Club meeting of 2016 will be on Wednesday, January 13 starting at 6:30 PM at Kaethe Sandman/Pete Anderson’s home. As in 2015, Book Club will meet on the second Wednesday of each month in 2016, so mark your calendar for the year and plan to join in the fun! At the January meeting we will be planning books for the year. Each person attending is asked to suggest one or two book titles for book club discussion. The only 2 rules are 1) you must already have read the book you are recommending, so that you know it will provide a good basis for discussion, and 2) the book must either be available for purchase in paperback or available in large quantity of readily obtainable copies at the local library. All types of books, fiction and non-fiction, are welcome. Do plan to attend to help select the reading list for the year. Even if your book is not selected for book club discussion, it will go on a list of recommendations for the entire group.
For the January meeting, please kindly contact Kaethe in advance to let her know if you plan to attend. We will share a potluck dinner. You are invited to bring a main dish, side dish, bread, dessert or beverage to share. Everyone is welcome!
LGBTQ Scholarship Opportunity: Point Foundation
Point Foundation (Point) is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit. Point promotes change through scholarship funding, mentorship, leadership development, and community service training. Scholarship applications for 2016-17 are open from November 1, 2015 to January 19, 2016 on the Point Foundation website.
Reminder: If you’re mailing something to the church, especially time-sensitive materials, we recommend using the PO Box! St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, PO Box 82263
Columbus, OH 43202