Gratitude Note: For real life and common bond at a Christmas Party. This was a gathering of our Northeast Clericus of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma (sounds impressive huh?) – clergy and clergy spouses in the area. We are all friends and partners in ministry – and more. At the party I stepped back in my mind and here is what I saw. There were two cancer survivors and one who wants to be. Three had recently experienced deaths in their families. Three are retired and one soon will be. Two who could not be there and two who were, had children and grandchildren in Christmas school concerts. One who wasn’t there has surgery tomorrow and another stayed home because of a crisis with a parishioner. Two are facing a bright but uncertain future. We ate, drank and laughed – conversation was lively as people moved from group to group. The common bond? Love for God, the Church and each other that is authentic and sustaining. What an amazing group of people! What an amazing Presence!
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Gratitude Note: All the Stars on the Christmas Star Tree are gone! For twenty-six year Steve and Cheryl have provided a Christmas tree in St. Luke’s Narthex covered with stars. Toy and clothing requests are on the stars from Foster Children. Members of the parish take the stars and return with the stars attached to gifts. This year the stars disappeared faster than ever. Toys and clothes are piling up in the office – absolutely amazing. What a difference this will make for the Foster Children and Foster Parents! With each gift goes our desire that they get a sense of God’s love for them. Over the years we estimate that gifts have gone to over two thousand children – that is huge! St. Luke’s you do it over and over “With Arms Wide Open” – I am so grateful.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:24 PM
Monday, December 5, 2016
Gratitude Note: For the happy bell ringer -- Georgia Gates. She just finished her last cancer treatment. Wearing my favorite hat and Bob's favorite smile, Georgia rings the bell -- the bell of healing and joy. A host of friends at St. Luke's and beyond are celebrating with Georgia and Bob tonight. Christmas has come early for the Gates. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 9:48 PM
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Gratitude Note: For December’s Prism of Christ – Dolores McCreary. For several years St. Luke’s Vestry (board) has selected a member of the parish each month to honor and thank as a “prism” of Christ and Christ’s ministry in our midst. Recipients of this recognition are usually involved in a variety of ways in the church and the community. More importantly, they embody the Spirit of Christ in all they do – this is who they are. This morning I had the privilege of announcing that Dolores McCreary is the Prism of Christ for December. As St. Luke’s organist and choir director she has been a gift to us week after week for years. To list everything she has done in our church and the community would be impossible. What we can say without reservation is that people can see and experience Christ in Dolores consistently – this is who she is. The people she has blessed through the years are innumerable. Thank you, Dolores – and thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:51 PM
Friday, December 2, 2016
Gratitude Note: For The Shack by Paul Young and now a movie version. The book had a wonderful impact on a lot of people when it first came out -- including me. The spiritual insights and depth where liberating and inspiring -- especially with the second and third readings. My soul's imagination and connections continue to be fed when I think about The Shack. I hope the movie is just has good, but I would encourage people to read the book first and then see the movie. This is good spiritual stuff. (I could not post the trailer for the movie, but it can be easily found in a search)
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:15 PM
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Gratitude Note: For the “Rosa Parks” of every generation who alert us to injustice of every kind and challenges us to do something about it. On Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42-year-old seamstress named Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger, even after the white bus driver demanded that she do it. After her arrest, Parks was tried and convicted for civil disobedience. She helped start a movement. I was ten years old and attending Emerson Elementary School in North Tulsa. In sixty-one years we have come a long way, but we have so far to go. I am grateful and too often discouraged.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:20 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Gratitude Note: For my daily humiliation – at 6:32 a.m. no less. The now famous picture of the old & young priests was taken by Lyndsey Stuart and not be Bob W. He had taken the acolyte pictures for the previous nineteen years. She volunteered this year – Bob did the arranging. I must have had a brain-freeze and got things upside down – happens more and more these days. Lyndsey does not look anything like Bob W. – thank God! She has a passion for photography and does good work. Her correction was gentle and with “LOL.” I am grateful for my “daily humiliation” and for the great picture which I will keep right side up. Now, on with the rest of Tuesday, the First Week of Advent.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 9:13 AM