Gratitude Note: For the reassuring notion that the Lord will not smite thee if thou dost not show up in church on Sunday. That is actually true every Sunday even though your worship no doubt pleases God and blesses others in your community of faith at St. Luke’s – or any church. None-the-less the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at St. Luke’s at 8:00 and 10:30 in the morning – that is just what we do. At the same time use good judgment regarding icy conditions. Above all things be safe – don’t take risks. I will greet and celebrate those who are there – but we will not give out merit badges. God will be present at the Altar and at your fireplace. “Make-up church” will happen as usual at the Monday 5:30 service in St. Luke’s Chapel. May the Grace of God be with you in the morning and always.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Gratitude Note: For a must see video recommended by the two youngest members of St. Luke's staff -- Fr. Sean and Erin. This is a must watch regardless of how old you are -- and especially if you don't think this applies to you. This is worth the time. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:28 PM
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Gratitude Note: For a remarkable Sunday at St. Luke’s – sacred moments kept happening. The stage was set by the Visitation of Bishop Ed (Konieczny). Six adults were confirmed and received into the Episcopal Church – and more are waiting in the wings. In the early service the Bishop commissioned Jeff Birk for his diocesan mission trip to Uruguay. During the Children’s Homily I asked the Bishop to bless children – and he did – one by one. They will remember that moment. He was also very affirming of our parish in his “adult” homily and expressed gratitude for the church we have become. After explaining and reassuring the church regarding the Rector search-process, he made a special announcement. The beginning of February he will make Fr. Sean Ekberg the “Priest in Charge” at St. Luke’s and that he would be staying here until the new Rector arrives. That announcement was very well received to say the least. Then I was surprised by the gift of a “Prism of Christ” made especially for me as my retirement date is approaching – really surprised. I was speechless – humbled and filled with love and gratitude. Then, we shared Holy Communion which brought it all together in the Presence of Christ. What a day! What a holy time. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:31 PM
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Gratitude Note: For the conclusion of Christmas and beginning of Epiphany – Friday, St. Luke’s, 6:00. Fr. Sean will celebrate and I will preach – with a little help from my friends. According to Holy Scripture there were a variety of responses to the birth of Jesus – Shepherds praising and sharing; pondering by Mary; Joseph smiling and dreaming; Wise Men kneeling then taking the backroad; and fear in high places. (Ok – I imagined the part about Joseph) Each one had “epiphanies” of God – awareness, thin places, dreams, presence – God with us. What did you experience during Christmas? What are you open to experiencing in Epiphany? What is your growth potential? How aware of the sacred do you want to be? This Epiphany start again with others on the journey to know and be known by God – seeking and being light in the darkness – needing and anticipating something “more” in life. The Epiphany service of reflection, quiet, scripture, prayer, music, sharing and Holy Communion just might be what you need. Everyone is welcome – a safe place to be and where love flows freely. Friday, January 6th, 6:00, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for about an hour. Fear not!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:42 PM
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Gratitude Note: For an incredible and unusual gift – a kidney. In the morning Paul will have surgery not because he is sick, but because he is healthy and giving – donating one of his kidneys to someone he has never met. What a gift – the gift of life for someone who needs a transplant. When I think of all the gifts I have given and received this Christmas, love flowed freely and I enjoyed every moment. Yet, when I think of Paul’s gift…I feel a sense of something even deeper of joy and gratitude – I sense something sacred is happening. I understand he has wanted to do this for some time and he is about to fulfill that desire. Please pray for Paul on Thursday morning – for his surgery and recovery. And, pray for the person who will receive his kidney and the life that comes with it. At the same time, be mindful of what this gift might be saying to you about giving and receiving – with people known and unknown to you. Of course I am speaking of something more than giving away a part of your body – something of your soul. Again I am reminded of how connected we are with each other – and the Creator who gives life continually and freely – grace that knows no limits. May this story enrich your Christmas and lead you to Epiphany. Something very special is happening here. Thank you, Paul. And, thank you, Jesus. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:01 PM
Monday, January 2, 2017
Gratitude Note: For the gift of season greetings. This is always true, but I seemed to be more aware this year of the “gift” of greetings and the connections they create. Yes, I am talking about Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – so simple, traditional and seasonal. The greetings give us something to say not only to friends and acquaintances, but also to total strangers. I especially noticed this on our annual Christmas trip to Kansas City. I didn’t offer the greetings glibly, but with intentionality – a greeting with meaning – at least most of the time. Strangers, people avoiding eye contact, folks in hurry, crowds in elevators – everyone seemed to respond. There was at least a brief connection with another human being. I don’t know how people actually felt about the exchanges, but I enjoyed the moments – fleeting as they were. New friendships were not created, but we briefly shared something in common. While I am grateful for the greetings and responses in these holiday seasons, I have to wonder if maybe there is a lesson in this for me – perhaps each of us. Perhaps I could create a series of greetings for the year like the Hallmark cards. Or, perhaps just be more sincere with my “Good Morning” or even “Hello.” Or, really mean it when I say, “How are you?” – actually ask the question and listen. Oh well – just some holiday musings. Have a blessed new year – I mean it.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 12:00 AM
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Gratitude Note: For New Year’s Day on Sunday with renewal of our Baptismal Vows. I know that may not sound exciting to a lot of folks. Football, parties, special dinners, countdowns, fireworks and drinking a little more than usual – there are a lot of fun alternatives with family and friends. All of them are fine with me – just be safe. This is also an unusual New Year’s Day in that the celebration occurs on Sunday. And, at St. Luke’s there will be a baptism for a “fresh one” from God and will be the first Baptism for my colleague, Fr. Sean. All of that is exciting enough, but there is more. This gives each of us an opportunity to renew our Baptismal Vows -- a reaffirmation of who we are in Christ and our desire to follow Christ in 2017. So, come and join us at 10:30 in the morning. Celebrate God’s love for you and get a great start for the New Year.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:35 PM