Sunday, July 16, 2017

The week of July 17

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday July 19  
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher
Incense is offered at this Mass
Supper at a local restaurant follows

Friday July 21
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Sunday July 23  – 7 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/Darcy Corbitt, preacher

Coffee Hour following

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The week of July 10

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Monday July 10
Deadline for The Ambassador

Tuesday July 11 St. Benedict
5:00 p.m. Wedding at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday July 12  
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher

Friday July 14
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Sunday July 16  – 6 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher

Coffee Hour following

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The week of July 3 at St. Stephen's

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s
Tuesday July 4  
4th of July –church staff holiday

Wednesday July 5  
6:00 p.m. – Healing Eucharist*
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher
Supper at a local restaurant follows

*Please send Fr. Jamie the names of anyone in need of healing prayers you would like prayed for at the Healing Mass. We will be praying for all by name at this Mass. 

Friday July 7
3:00 pm – Burial Liturgy for Marlys Lundberg (+6/10/2017) at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, Fr. Jamie, officiant

Sunday July 9  – 5 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher

Coffee Hour following

Sermon from today by John Anderson

4 Pentecost
July 2, 2017
Sermon by John Anderson

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.”

The lines I just read are from a psalm we did not read today: Psalm 13. It was part of today’s lectionary reading list but was not part of our service. Yet when I read the scriptures for this week I kept returning to Psalm 13. There are several psalms like this…psalms in which the writer is expressing grief, sorrow, doubt, loneliness and defeat.  If you ever feel this way, you are in good company; the authors of the psalms are never bashful to express their sense of God’s absence from their lives. Expressing pain and sorrow is not foreign to biblical faith. Last week we sang such a psalm:

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” (Psalm 69:1-4)

People in great suffering, the downtrodden, the lonely, the marginalized, the oppressed, may utter words in their hearts much like these psalms. It can truly feel as if God is absent, that we are alone in our struggles. O, if only God would answer our prayers. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? Everyone here has perhaps felt like that at some point in their life.

The psalm I have shared gives voice to many people in the world, and even in our community, who suffer. The sick, the hungry, the marginalized, the oppressed, the hopeless, the sinner, the lonely…  Suffering comes in many forms, and scripture allows us to claim it and name it.  And scripture often provides comforting assurance as well.

Our gospel reading this morning offers hope, an answered prayer, to those who suffer and feel alone. English teachers will tell us not to use a word too often in one paragraph. Being the rule breaker he often was, Jesus uses the word “welcome” six times in this one short paragraph.  The word “welcome” dominates this gospel reading.

Jesus teaches his disciples about the importance of welcoming others. To welcome someone is to welcome Jesus Himself; and to welcome Jesus is to welcome the One who sent him.  This is no small thing. To welcome others, is to welcome God. 

One of the most soothing words one who is in the midst of suffering can hear is “welcome.”  If you are lonely, welcome. If you are oppressed, welcome. If you feel lost and forgotten, welcome. If you are sick and dying, welcome. If you are a sinner and feel hopeless, welcome. 

Nearly four years ago I was the lowest I have ever been in my life. I was heartbroken, angry, lonely, hopeless, confused, wracked with doubt and fear…  With little left in my tank to help others, I walked away from a life of ministry as a pastor, thinking I may be done with God, because I thought maybe God was done with me.  Yet, I wasn’t done.

For a few weeks I thought about it. Then one Sunday I came here, to this little church. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what I would find, who I would find. What I found were ordinary people, friendly people, broken people…like me. Those people weren’t overly curious why I was there. They didn’t ask a lot of questions. They simply welcomed me as if I had always belonged.  And my healing began.  

I was not thrown from a horse, or blinded by the light. I did not see the heavens open with choirs of angels singing.  I heard no booming voice giving me clear answers and directions. But over the next weeks and months I heard hymns sung by regular people. I heard the Eucharistic Liturgy offered. I received the sacrament. I heard words of love and encouragement. And I felt the soothing balm of welcome soak into my soul. God’s healing came through the hands and hearts of ordinary people living the Gospel as they understood it. And my prayers were answered.

My friends, this is the place where prayers can be answered. God can use us in our brokenness to help others. God can work through us to answer the prayers of the suffering. People who are crying out “O Lord, will you forget me forever?” can begin to have at least some of their prayers answered here among us, and through us.   We are God’s people, entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18), and we are called to welcome others in the name of Jesus Christ. When we do so, we welcome Christ Himself, and the One who sent him. It’s what we do pretty darned well here in this church.

Are we heroes? Nah. Have we come up with a revolutionary “new” way to “do church?”  Nope. We’re just trying to be faithful to Christ and his radical, and often uncomfortable, idea of welcoming others.

My friends, we can help God answer the prayers of the suffering. And to help us understand how we will do that, I will close with the words of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582):

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.” Amen!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The week of June 26

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday June 28  
5:00 pm – Becoming an Ally Class

6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher
Supper at a local restaurant follows

Thursday June 29 – July 3
Fr. Jamie’s out of town

Sunday July 2  – 4 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Morning Prayer
John Anderson, celebrant/preacher

Coffee Hour following

Friday, June 23, 2017

A heartwarming story involving our own Adam Breth:

Celebration of Life for Marlys Lundberg July 7th

The Burial Liturgy for Marlys Lundberg will be 3:00 p.m. on Friday, July 7, 2017 at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, in Fargo. Fr. Jamie will officiate at her service.

Committal of her ashes will be in Riverside Cemetery, Fargo.

Please continue to keep the repose of her soul in your prayers. Please also pray for her loved ones at this time.

Marlys’ full obituary can be found below:

Marlys Jane Lundberg died peacefully in her sleep on June 10, 2017 at her home in northern California.

In 1946 Marlys married Stanley C. Ford. They made their home in Enderlin, ND, Mason City, IA and Fargo, ND where they raised their four children.

After the death of her husband Stanley, Marlys went to work in the district office for US Senator Quintin Burdick and was a part of the US Senate district staff until her retirement.
In 1977, Marlys married Fargo attorney and vintage car aficionado, Lowell W. Lundberg. They made their home in Fargo, ND and Mesa AZ.

Marlys was a proud member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fargo. The family is touched and honored to have the Reverend Jamie Parsley preside over Marlys’ celebration of life at the Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home.

Marlys is survived by her two children, Stephanie [Luigi] Paruccini and James [Ellen] Ford. In addition to her two children, Marlys is survived by two sisters, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Marlys was preceded in death by her husbands, Stanley C. Ford and Lowell W. Lundberg, her sons, Kory and Tracy Ford and two of her siblings.