Holy Week services 2017

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Maundy Thursday services will be held at 6:30 p.m. with an agape meal, followed by the liturgy and the stripping of the altar.

It is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. It comes from the Latin mandatum novum, “new commandment,” from Jn 13:34. The ceremony of washing feet was also referred to as “the Maundy.” Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the eucharist by Jesus “on the night he was betrayed.” Source

Good Friday liturgy will be at 12 noon.

The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial. The liturgy of the day includes John’s account of the Passion gospel, a solemn form of intercession known as the solemn collects (dating from ancient Rome), and optional devotions before the cross (commonly known as the veneration of the cross). Source

Easter Sunday celebrations will be at 8 and 10 a.m.

The feast of Christ’s resurrection. According to Bede, the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. Christians in England applied the word to the principal festival of the church year, both day and season. Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, the pascha or Christian Passover, and the eighth day of cosmic creation. Faith in Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday or third day following his crucifixion is at the heart of Christian belief. Source

Please join us downstairs in the undercroft following the 10 a.m. Easter Sunday service for tea and cookies!

Are we here to simply survive?

Sermon for Aug. 28, 2016, by the Rev. J. David Else:

I believe St. Stephen’s is at a critical time in its life. I believe McKeesport is at a critical time in its life. I believe our church, our nation, our world is at a critical time in its life.

Let’s get back to St. Stephen’s. By all rights, we should be closing up shop. Our resources, both financial and our membership, are not sustaining. We’re damned good survivors, don’t get me wrong, but are we here to simply “survive”? Continue reading

Thanking God in a Time of Uncertainty

Dear Friends in Christ,

We enter into the time of Thanksgiving with fear on our hearts, with concerns about our future both near and far away.

Twenty-four hours a day, the media has been filled with images of horror. We hear stories of unspeakable terror. We hear about victims who are too young to be singled out for death, of the elderly and of the innocent. It makes it hard to focus on Thanksgiving when our hearts and minds are being pulled away by the events perpetrated by people bent on destroying and killing.

The Old Testament lesson for tomorrow, from Joel 2, reminds us of God. A God who loves and cares for his people.

Do not fear, O soil;
be glad and rejoice,
for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
O children of Zion, be glad
and rejoice in the Lord your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil…

Twice Joel tells us to “Fear not.” He then goes on to remind us that there will be an abundance; that the rains will come; and that the threshing floor will be full and the vats overflowing with wine. Joel reminds us that God is bigger than any event. God is bigger than any series of events.

It is from God that we receive our abundance. The abundance that gives us life and joy.
Continue reading