My first memory of Lent was approaching a classmate at school, giving her a big smile and a waving, and her curt reply being “my mom and dad said you’re not supposed to be happy during Lent.” I was somewhat taken aback, even more so when I took out my pudding cup at lunch and she told me “you’re not supposed to eat dessert during Lent.” I thought to myself “well Lent sure stinks.”
I came to discover that, for many people, the belief is that the whole purpose of Lent is to be sad, avoid joyfulness at all costs, and to generally punish yourself because that’s what God wants you to do during Lent. There was always some vague attachment to Christ died on the cross for you, so during Lent you should be sad about it, or Jesus suffered in the wilderness for 40 days, so you should suffer for 40 days too to see what it feels like. Too often they get all the way through the 40 days and nothing has changed in their life other than some resentment over lost pudding.
I want to propose a different way of looking at Lent. It is--instead of a “season for sadness”--a season for reflection. It is a time to take an honest and sometimes hard look at the things that are keeping you separated from God in your life. If the Great Commandment is to love God and love your neighbor, then what would it be like if we all spent the 40 days of Lent reflecting on the things in our life that get in the way? I promise you that it is not smiling and waving at a friend. It probably isn’t pudding cups either (though self-indulgence can certainly be something that gets in the way). During Lent I will take the time to ponder the ways in which I put my own self-interests ahead of loving God and my neighbor, the times I let fear or timidity or fatigue or anything else get in the way--not to make myself sad but instead to help me be aware so that I can do something about it.
In the Gospel, Christ was baptized and then immediately went out into the wilderness to pray. When he came out he was ready to get to work at the ministry of his life, God’s mission of love in the world. This Lent you will all get to make choices about how you participate, if there are indulgences you will give up, and if there are disciplines you will take on (I highly recommend the St. Stephen’s Lenten devotionals created by our very own parishioners!). It is my prayer and hope that, whatever you choose to do during this Lent, it will help you to remember your own baptismal vows, call you out into your own wilderness to pray, and lead you back ready to get to work at the ministry of your life.
P.S. Please know that I am always ready to talk with you if you would like guidance, suggestions for Lent, or even just some good old prayer. Blessings! -S.B.
Annual Meeting Information
The Senior Warden for 2018 is Bruce Murphree.
The Junior Warden for 2018 is Doug Fair.
2018 Ministry Budget
Loving God, Sharing Jesus, Rejoicing in the Spirit
Worshipping Together: $130,111.54
Forming Christians: $122,812.86
Serving the World: $116,123.32
Pastoral Care: $55,457.28
Building Fellowship: $116,294.06
Spreading the Word: $67,848.92
Total Ministry Expenses: $608,647.98
How are these ministries funded?
Pledges (support church operations):
Plate offering (support outreach):
Giving for specific ministries:
Income from investments:
Income from PLUS After School Program:
Total Ministry Funding:
Everyone at St. Stephen’s deserves our unending thanks for all they do to help us participate as ministers in God’s mission for the world.
A copy of the operational budget detailed by line-item is available upon request at the church office.
With pancakes, bacon, sausage and
all the toppings you can imagine. February 13th
This is a fundraiser for the youth group to be used for Mission Trips and other outreach projects throughout the year.
Ash Wednesday Services
Communion & Imposition of Ashes (with ASES Chapel) Noon
Imposition of Ashes 5:30 pm
Communion & Imposition of Ashes
Ashes to Go at Lamar University
From mid morning until after lunch, near the dining hall. Let Deacon Pat know if you are interested in helping.
2018 Lent Saturdays of Service
This year is our 7th Annual Lent Saturdays of Service. Wow! We have done a lot of good work over the years. We’ve worked together, gotten to know each other better, we have provided services in our community and we have had so much fun. Those we serve are also so complimentary of St. Stephen’s folks. Our ministry hospitality goes off campus as we Love God, Share Jesus and Rejoice in the Spirit.
This year we revisit some of our favorite organizations and we add some new friends. As our community continues to work hard to recover from Hurricane Harvey, your Common Mission team thinks it is important for us to participate in that effort showing our community that we care about their struggles. The service is spread out over Lent so that everyone can find on their calendar to participate. And, there is something for everyone to do. For example, when we work at Boys Haven we always provide lunch for the residents. You could make sandwiches or brownies and take them out there.
A detailed brochure will be published but go now and mark your calendars for these opportunities!
February 17 – light construction work with Operation Blessing
February 24 – party with the Memory Care Residents at
Clairmont Nursing Home
March 3 – organizational work at Ubi Caritas as they complete their move
back into the clinic building
March 24 – planting blueberries and other gardening work at Boys Haven
2018 Lenten Interfaith Preaching Series
"The Church Will Stand"
hosted by The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Presenter:Rev. Marilyn Fiddmont
March 4, 5, 6
7:00 PM "...and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18
Notes of Thanks
Thank you for the lovely flowers. Love to all of you.
XO Betty Wheeler
My Dear family-
This note is far too late but still sincere - I send my love and gratitude to you for your generosity to me and our community after the hurricane. I used my gift card to get some things I'd lost, but more invaluable were your prayers and concern for me. I love our church family, and I pray more abundance and blessings for all of us.
Dear St. Stephen's,
Thank you for your efforts in hosting the blood drive in December. Our community blood supply could not exist without volunteers like you. I extend my gratitude on behalf of LifeShare and the community.
The primary use for donated blood is to help cancer patients; however, other needs are also common right here in our community. Blood is often life-saving during surgeries, as treatment for those with blood disorders, following a trauma accident, during childbirth, and in many more situations.
Because of your support, 10 donors selflessly came to give 6 blood products for the community supply.
We want to thank you for sending us the two gift cards. It was greatly appreciated and warmed our hearts to receive that unexpected blessing.
Thank you so much!
Brandi and Curtis (Wright)
Dear Friends at St. Stephen's,
I know we are anticipating what 2018 has in store for us...we are all glad to have 2017 done and done. As I look back to 2017, I cannot imagine traveling that path without you. You have been so faithful to Some Other Place and its activities and programs.
Thank you for all that you have done for us and the community around you. We look forward to working with you this year. I hope you will call me if you have a question or a need that I might be able to help with. As always, I am in awe of God's wondrous works through you.
I especially want to thank you for the wonderful volunteers from your congregation ... I don't know what I would do without them.
Holy Week and Easter Dates to Remember
March 25, Palm Sunday
~Services at 8 am and 10 am with Liturgy of the Palms We will celebrate First Communion at 10 am as well.
If you are interested in First Communion classes, please contact the office. March 29, Maundy Thursday
~Agape Dinner at 6 pm and service at 7:30 pm March 30, Good Friday
~Services at Noon and 7:30 pm March 31, Easter Vigil
~Service at 7:30 April 1, Easter Sunday
~Services at 8 am and 10 am with Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 am