November 26, 2023

We are happy to know that many people new to worship in the Episcopal Church come to St. Stephen’s, and we welcome you!

Throughout the service, the people’s responses are in italics. If you would like to learn more about the parts of our worship, click on the titles of each section.



The people stand for the Processional Hymn.

Processional Hymn #57

Opening Acclamation & Collect for Purity

Blessed be the one, holy, and living God.
Glory to God for ever and ever.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


God be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray. 

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The people sit.

A Reading from Ezekiel

Thus says our Sovereign God: “I myself will search for my sheep; I will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when their flocks are scattered in every direction, so I will search for my sheep and rescue them, no matter where they scattered on that day of full clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the countries and bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by its streams and wherever there is a settlement. I will feed them on good pasture land, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing ground. I myself will tend my flock and have it lie down, thus says your Sovereign God. I will seek out the lost, I will return the strayed, I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and I will watch over the fat and the sleek. I will be a true shepherd to them.”

Therefore, thus says God to you: “I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep, for you shove aside the weak with flank and shoulder; you butt them with your horns until they are scattered in every direction. I will save my flock and they will be ravaged no longer. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will set up over them one shepherd to care for them: my servant David. He will care for them and be their shepherd. And I will be their God, and my servant David will be their leader. I, the God of Israel, have spoken.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

Psalm 100

The choir will sing the antiphon once, and the congregation will repeat it. Choir and congregation will sing the verses together, changing notes on the underlined words and switching between the A and B verses.

A Reading from Ephesians

From the time I first heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of the holy ones, I have never stopped thanking God for you and remembering you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Savior Jesus Christ, the God of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation, to bring you to a rich knowledge of the Creator.

I pray that God will enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see the hope this call holds for you—the promised glories that God’s holy ones will inherit, and the infinitely great power that is exercised for us who believe. You can tell this from the strength of God’s power at work in Jesus, the power used to raise Christ from the dead and to seat Christ in heaven at God’s right hand, far above every sovereignty, authority, power or dominion, and above any other name that can be named—not only in this age, but also in the age to come. God has put all things under Christ’s feet and made Christ, as the ruler of everything, the head of the church, and the church is Christ’s body; it’s the fullness of the One who fills all of creation.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

If You Knew

by Ruth Muskrat Bronson

If you could know the empty ache of loneliness,
Masked well behind the calm indifferent face
Of us who pass you by in studied hurriedness,
Intent upon our way, lest in the little space
Of one forgetful moment hungry eyes implore
You to be kind, to open up your heart a little more,
I’m sure you’d smile a little kindlier, sometimes,
To those of us you’ve never seen before.

If you could know the eagerness we’d grasp
The hand you’d give to us in friendliness;
What vast, potential friendship in that clasp
We’d press, and love you for your gentleness;
If you could know the wide, wide reach
Of love that simple friendliness could teach,
I’m sure you’d say “Hello, my friend,” sometimes,
And now and then extend a hand in friendliness to each.

The people stand for the Gospel

Gospel Hymn #462

The Gospel

The Holy Gospel of Our Savior Jesus Christ According To Matthew
Glory to You, O Christ.

Jesus said: “At the appointed time the Promised One will come in glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, and will sit upon the royal throne, with all the nations assembled below. Then the Promised One will separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be placed on the right hand, the goats on the left.

“The ruler will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you blessed of my Abba God! Inherit the kindom prepared for you from the creation of the world! For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me; naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me; in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then these just will ask, ‘When did we see you hungry and feed you, or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we see you ill or in prison and come to visit you?’ The ruler will answer them, ‘The truth is, every time you did this for the least of my sisters or brothers, you did it for me.’

“Then the ruler will say to those on the left, ‘Out of my sight, you accursed ones! Into that everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and the fallen angels! I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome; naked and you gave me no clothing. I was ill and in prison and you did not come to visit me.’ Then they in turn will ask, ‘When did we see you hungry or thirsty, or homeless or naked, or ill or in prison, and not take care of you?’ The answer will come, ‘The truth is, as often as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.’ They will go off to eternal punishment, and the just will go off to eternal life.”

The Gospel of Our Savior.
Praise to you, O Christ.

The people sit for the Homily.

The Homily

The people stand for the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed 

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Please stand or kneel for the Prayers of the People.

The Prayers of the People

Let us pray for the Church and for the world. 

Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your Name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. 


Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer. 

Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good. 


Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. 


Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us. 


Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your salvation. 


Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom. 


Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Celebrant: Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. 

Confession & Absolution

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbors.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen. 

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

Please stand for the peace.

The Peace

The peace of God be with you.
And also with you.

Offertory Anthem: Creator of Beauty and Giver of Light

Text: Beverly Easterling. Music: Mark Schweizer (Quoting the Hymn Tune: Nettleton).

Creator of beauty and giver of light,
Who set the stars shining in dark sacred night;
We offer our music with hearts full of praise,
With joyful thanksgiving for all of our days.

In pastures of heaven, where green valleys sing,
And high mountains echo, each prayer to our King;
May this song, a gift forever be found,
Now offered with grace, and eternity bound.

The journey of each soul remains in your care,
Your guidance and faithfulness, always you share;
Your spirit, within us, each strength that you send,
Returned to your glory, a world without end.


As the offering plates are brought forward, we sing…

Praise God from whom all blessing flow, Praise God all creatures here below, Praise God above, ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

The Holy Eucharist

Please stand.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth. For by water and the Holy Spirit you have made us a new people in Jesus Christ our Lord, to show forth your glory in all the world. Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

The Sanctus

Holy and gracious God: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all.  Jesus stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world. 

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Savior Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper Jesus took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.” 

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, Almighty God, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in Christ. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with Absalom Jones, Martin Luther King, Jr, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Savior. By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and for ever. Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.

Fraction Anthem

Sung once by the cantor, repeated by the congregation.

The Celebrant offers the gifts to the people, saying

The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

The people are invited to come forward for communion.

Communion Hymn #382

Postcommunion Prayer

Eternal God, you have graciously accepted us as living members of our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Savior. Amen. 


Live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always. Amen.

Closing Hymn #477


Alleluia! Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!


Notes on our worship:

The Episcopal Church uses hymns from the entirety of the Christian tradition. We sing ancient hymns that were written before there was such a thing as musical notation, Medieval hymns composed for vast, echoing cathedrals, spirituals that were sung in places where slaves gathered to worship in secret, hymns set to folk tunes from throughout the world, and contemporary worship songs.

Our worship starts with an invocation, a way of asking God to be present with us. There are many ways to invite God into our worship and our lives, and many names for God that touch on different aspects of God’s presence. During Easter Season, we focus on Christ and resurrection – the ways in which God is present within our humanity and leads us to new life.

A number of ancient hymns are still used by the church in worship. Many of these hymns draw upon scripture. During the Season After Pentecost we are using a Trisagion, which invokes the Holy Trinity.

A collect is a prayer that “collects” the thoughts and hopes of the congregation. Each Sunday has its own assigned collect, which states the theme that most if not all of the lectionary readings will address.

The Episcopal Church follows The Revised Common Lectionary, which assigns Sunday readings throughout the year. Right now we are in Year A. The Readings consist of passages from the Psalms, Hebrew Testament (also called the Old Testament) and/or the Christian Testament (also called the New Testament). Jesus was Jewish, and so much of what he taught was inspired by centuries of Jewish thinkers and sages. Christianity has always affirmed the need to stay connected to these Jewish roots. At St. Stephen’s, we use The Inclusive Bible translation.

The Psalms also come out of the Jewish tradition. They were the worship songs of ancient Israel. Listen to the words, and you’ll notice that Psalms often express anger, sorrow, and resentment, as well as joy and thanksgiving. All of our emotions are present in the Psalms, and they teach us that it’s okay to bring our whole selves into our worship of God.

As we sing the Gospel Hymn, we bring the Gospel to the center of the church because it is the center of our lives and worship.

There are four Gospels in the New Testament. Three of them are synoptic, a word that means “with one eye.” These three Gospels were drawn from the same sources and tell many of the same stories, with different emphasis depending on the Gospel. The fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, was written for a specific, and now vanished, Christian community, that had a very different set of concerns and ideas than the communities that are addressed in the synoptic Gospels.

The homily is a time of exploring how the readings relate to and inform our daily living. 

We pray for everything — for our community, for our nation, for the world, and for everyone who has asked us for prayers. Requesting prayers is simple. Fill out the prayer request form that you’ll find on the lecture stand near the greeting table with as much information as you would like us to have. We’ll collect them and add your prayers to our weekly prayer list. The list goes out each Tuesday to a dedicated group of people who will pray for you and your loved ones throughout the week. The list will also be used during today’s worship.

The Liturgy of the Table begins with the Sursum Corda, in which the priest asks the people’s permission to pray on their behalf. St. Gregory the Great said that “those who sing pray twice.” Therefore the priest will usually sings part of the Eucharistic prayer. 

The Sanctus is another ancient hymn, drawn from scripture. When we sing the Sanctus, we are presuming to praise God on behalf of all creation. It is possible that animals and insects and plants are all praising God on our behalf as well, in ways that we can’t understand.

Why do we emphasize “one bread, one body”? We believe in Jesus as the only Son of God. We all share in one bread, representing the one body of Jesus, and one cup, memorializing the blood of Christ that was shed for our salvation. 

What do we believe is happening to the bread and wine towards the end of the Eucharistic prayer? Jesus is present in the elements we share during Holy Communion. Our interpretations of what this means may differ from person to person. We may understand this literally or figuratively. Regardless, we know this to be Christ’s true presence. 

At St. Stephen’s, we have an “open table,” meaning that you are invited to receive the Eucharist regardless of where you are on your faith journey. To receive communion, come forward down the center aisle when invited by the priest. The priest will place the bread in your palm. To receive a gluten free wafer, extend your hands, palm down, when receiving communion. If you would like to receive communion in “one kind,” meaning that you want to receive the bread but not the wine, simply cross your arms over your chest as the chalice is offered to you. If you would like a blessing from the priest in lieu of partaking in the Eucharist, please cross your hands over your chest.