Thursday, September 27, 2018

"Instructed Eucharist" at the final Episcopal 101 class.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A perspective we don't  see very often: a view from the "steeple" of St. Stephen's before the cross was taken down to be repainted.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The week of September 24



Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday September 26 – The feast of St. Michael & All Angels  (observed)
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant


Thursday September 27
6:00 p.m. – Episcopal 101 – Instructed Eucharist

Friday September 28   
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Sunday September 30  19 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Children’s Chapel
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Coffee Hour following

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The altar originally located in the oratory of the Rectory was moved into the Children's Chapel today.  Luckily no one saw the middle-aged priest and Senior Warden wrestling it up from the basement of the Rectory to the church next door.


Monday, September 17, 2018

The week of September 17


Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday September 19
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant

Thursday September 20
6:00 p.m. – Episcopal 101

Sunday September 23  18 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Children’s Chapel
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Coffee Hour following

12:45 - Vestry

Sunday, September 16, 2018

New additions

When you come to Mass this morning, take a moment to notice a few new additions to the interior of the church. One is this beautiful, wooden, hand-carved (and possibly quite old) carving of Mary and Child which was donated to St. S's this past week. It's supposedly English, which ties in well with our interior. Also, we have two new shields in the vestibule. The top one is the Episcopal Church shield. The bottom.one is the shield of St. Stephen.




John Anderson's sermon for 17 Pentecost


The Ear of a Servant

By John Anderson


September 16, 2018


The words that we hear today from the prophet Isaiah come from what are known as the Servant Songs.  Isaiah writes about the Servant as one who hears God’s call for goodness and justice, and obeys that call in the midst of a world that is filled with violence, ignorance, sin, greed…  


These Servant poems are some of the most beautiful and compelling words in the Bible.  Christians who hear this text see Jesus as the Suffering Servant, the One who lived out God’s vision of goodness in the world and willingly suffered and died.  Jewish people see the Suffering Servant as the nation of ancient Israel as it tried to live out God’s vision and be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). As we hear these words today we can see them as both Israel and Jesus.  And, as we hear these words today, we can hear them as describing us, God’s people alive today in a world that needs hope and light.
Martin Luther, the great 16th Century church reformer whom Father Jamie has mentioned many times, taught that all Christians are priests.  He called this the priesthood of all believers. He writes “through baptism we have all been ordained as priests.” According to Luther it is the duty, calling, and honor of all Christians to be servants in the world.  All Christians are to pray for and with each other, provide comfort and assurance, food and drink, teach and proclaim the Word as we understand it, confess our sins and hear others confess their sins. We are all priests, teachers and ministers.  To use Isaiah’s language, we are all “Suffering Servants.”


That is quite a responsibility.  It can be daunting to think that we are all priests and ministers, suffering servants called by God.  What can we do as individuals to bring healing and hope to a hurting world? How can we make a difference?  Today I want to lift up one of the qualities that I see in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. It is a quality that I have been working on in my life over the last several years.  It’s a servant skill that takes a lot of practice. It is the willingness and ability to listen carefully, to listen patiently, to listen with compassion. Listening is an ordinary, everyday thing, but it is essential to good servant-hood.


Many churches are currently struggling with some controversial issues that threaten to divide us, and have in fact divided many parishes.  Churches all over the country meet to discuss and debate these hot button issues. A few years ago Bishop Margaret Payne from the ELCA Lutheran church told of her experience at one of these very heated church gatherings.  At a church conference called for the purpose of discussing and debating the issue of homosexuality in the church...who should be a member, who can be ordained, in what capacity can gay people serve… pastors, lay-persons and bishops gathered to express their views.  Bishop Payne arrived at the conference ready to fight. She knew how she felt; she was passionate about her opinion and she was prepared to take anyone on who dared to confront her. She said that her opinion was like her sword. She was ready to cut at anyone who disagreed with her; she was ready to cut through the conference with her sword.


As she sat in the convention center she noticed that everyone had a different perspective.  She noticed that nearly everyone was as passionate as she was. Bishop Payne settled in and listened carefully to everyone.  She chose to hold her own opinion to herself for a while. Over the next several days of the conference she listened carefully as the people talked and debated.  She listened carefully as they worshiped together, sang hymns together in harmony, as they heard the Great Thanksgiving and received Holy Communion together, and yes, she listened as they disagreed together.  It was clear to Bishop Payne that all of those people, as different as they were, loved Jesus Christ as much as she did.


When she did address the conference she realized that her opinion, her sharp sword, had softened.  She had been transformed by hearing the words of others. She had been transformed by hearing sacred hymns, by hearing the Word preached, by hearing the prayers of the people, by hearing the communion blessings.  By listening carefully to others, her own opinion had changed, at least a little. Now, I don’t know if she did a full 180 or not. In fact, I do not even know what her opinion was in the beginning of the conference.  That does not matter. What matters is that she said God transformed the sword of her opinion into a plowshare. By listening to others she was changed, softened, made more willing to hear others and work with them. When she spoke her words more likely sustained the weary rather than cut them down. I wonder if others at the conference had a similar experience.


We can all listen.  As servants of God we must listen.  Most of us are eager to have our thoughts and opinions heard.  Often times as we listen to another speaking we are busy in our heads planning our next words.  But learning to be quiet and listen to others may be more important. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  If Bishop Payne had brashly spoken out before listening to the other people speak, pray, sing, worship...if she had come out swinging her sword she may have seemed like a fool. Instead, she listened carefully and was transformed and humbled by what she heard.  Perhaps Bishop Payne meditated on the words of Isaiah that we hear today: “Morning by morning he wakens---wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught” (Isaiah 50: 4). Rather than be the fool, she learned to be a humble servant, one who listens to others.


This does not mean that we should never speak.  It does not mean that every time we speak we are a fool.  But learning to listen carefully first helps us to speak carefully.  Isaiah said, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, so that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word” (Isaiah 50:4).  If we listen carefully to others we can speak with words that heal, with words that sustain the weary. Anyone can learn to do this. We are all priests and ministers called to be servants in the world.


There was a wonderful, sweet old fellow in one of the many nursing homes in which I have worked.  We’ll call him Ralph (because that was his name). Most of the time Ralph did not know the day of the week or where he was currently living.  Quite often he believed he was back home and needed to get to work fixing his car or a piece of machinery. One day when I was at work one of the nurses was having a bad day.  Her little boy had fallen out of bed and broke his arm that morning. She was very worried about her little guy. While she worked with Ralph bathing him and feeding him she talked about her little boy.  She had to talk about her son, even if nobody was listening. The nurse was not sure how much Ralph heard or understood. But he seemed to be listening with compassion and concern. And she felt so much better just talking to someone about her worries; it felt so good for somebody to just listen to her.


About a month later Ralph wheeled up to the nurse as I was visiting with her.  By this time her son’s arm was almost fully mended. Ralph said, “How is your little boy’s arm?”  The nurse was shocked. She could not believe that Ralph remembered her little boy. She almost burst into tears because this lovable old man in a wheelchair had listened to her and remembered what she said over a month prior.  With moist eyes and trembling lips she said, “He’s much better Ralph, thanks for asking.” Ralph gave us a toothless grin (the Pepsodent smile, my dad called it), nodded, and wheeled off down the hallway. I knew Ralph well; his own suffering in life had been in enormous. He had learned to be a Suffering Servant along the way.


Ralph may not have known the day of the week or where he was, but he was a priest among all believers.  He had the ear of a servant and the tongue of a teacher and he knew how to sustain the weary with a word.  


We can all become good listeners as a way of making the world a better place.  When we calmly, lovingly, patiently, listen to others we are telling them something; we are telling them that they matter; what they have to say is important;  that they are being heard. There is probably enough talk in the world right now. St.James reminds us of the power of our tongues and the damage we can inflict with our words.  Our Psalm tells us that God inclines his ear to us (Psalm 116:2). Perhaps God does more listening than talking. So often I want an answer from God. But perhaps I should rejoice that God is listening to me.  God listens to us carefully. Let us imitate our God and incline our ear to one another. Let us have the ear of a Servant so that when we do talk it is with words that will sustain the weary. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Repainting the Steeple Cross step #1

When you come to Mass tomorrow don't be surprised to see the cross on the steeple gone from its place. This morning a hearty group of parishioners took it down so that it can get a much-needed painting. Thank you to Leo Wilking, Paul Sando, Sebastian Tackling, John Anderson and Mike Morrissey for their hard work.













Monday, September 10, 2018

The week of September 10



Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Monday September 10-Tuesday September 11 – Fr. Jamie out of town


Wednesday September 12 –The Feast of the Holy Cross (observed) 
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/ preacher
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant

Thursday September 13
6:00 p.m. – Episcopal 101

Friday September 14
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Sunday September 16  17 Pentecost
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Children’s Chapel
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Coffee Hour following

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Photos from Sue Morrissey's artist talk Friday night at the Spirit Room.


Photos by Amy Phillips

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Monday, September 3, 2018

The week of September 3


Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday September 5
6:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper following at a local restaurant

Friday September 7
Fr. Jamie’s day off

5:00 p.m. – Sue Morrissey art opening at the Spirit Room, Fargo

Sunday September 9  – DEDICATION SUNDAY
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
+ Blessing of Backpacks + Children’s Chapel start-up + New Member Sunday +
 POTLUCK following

September 10-11 – Fr. Jamie out of town