Sunday Service Video Stream

JANUARY 17, 2021 SUNDAY

Happy Sunday,  Saint Stephen’s Family!

Two items below:

(1) Sunday’s service.  Abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other safety measures, a small worship team was able to produce our 45th  virtual service!

THE WORSHIP TEAM:

Celebrant: The Reverend Franklyn Colebrooke Sr+
Crucifer: John Todd
Lay Reader: Winsome Foulkes
Organist: Mark Gibbons
Videographer: Michael Wells

 

You may watch the church service here:

https://youtu.be/Ce7VCTjjXm4

The hymns are 7, 440, and 535.

Let’s watch the service at 11:00 am Sunday together as a church from the safety of our homes.

Virtual services will continue for the foreseeable future.  We are following Diocesan service guidelines which require our county to be under certain thresholds and have stable or declining case rates.  Harnett county is still above those thresholds.  Stay tuned.

(2) Future Services Schedule through February:

January 10 – Justin Gabbard

January 17 – Franklyn Colebrooke Sr+

January 24 – no service

January 31 – Justin Gabbard

February  7 – supply

February 14 – Franklyn Colebrooke Sr+

February 21 – Justin Gabbard

February 28 – Franklyn Colebrooke Sr+

I look forward to seeing you in person soon! Vaccines, do your magic!

Michael B Wells, Senior  Warden
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Erwin NC
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Sunday Service Video Stream

JANUARY 10, 2020 – SUNDAY

Happy Sunday,  Saint Stephen’s Family!

Four items below:

(1) Per diocesan policy, Fr. Steve is not permitted to function as a priest or celebrant for us for 12 months.  This incudes not officiating at services (baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc.).

(2) Clea Gallian is a Lay Eucharistic Minister and can provide communion, etc. for those in need.  Her email is cleadonovan@hotmail.com.

(3) Sunday’s service.  Abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other safety measures, a small cast was able to produce our 44th  virtual service!

THE CAST

Celebrant: The Reverend Justin Gabbard
Crucifer: John Todd
Lay Reader: Winsome Foulkes
Organist: Mark Gibbons
Video: Michael Wells

You may watch the church service here:

https://youtu.be/zMaKrzJ8hNo

The hymns are 121, 295, and 616

Let’s watch the service at 11:00 am Sunday together as a church from the safety of our homes.

Virtual services will continue for the foreseeable future.  We are following Diocesan service guidelines which require our county to be under certain thresholds and have stable or declining case rates.  Harnett county is still above those thresholds and the number of COVID-19 cases is currently climbing.  Stay tuned.

(4) Schedule through February:

    January 9  – Justin Gabbard
    January 16  – supply
   January 23  – no service
   January 30 – Justin Gabbard
   February 6  – supply
    February 13 – supply
    February 20 – Justin Gabbard
    February 27 – supply

I look forward to seeing you in person soon!

Michael B Wells, Senior  Warden
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Erwin NC
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Sunday Service Video Stream

DECEMBER 27, 2020 SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Good Sunday,  Saint Stephen’s Family!

Two items:

(1) Father Steve’s last service.  Abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other safety measures, a small cast was able to produce our 43nd  virtual service!

This was Fr. Steve’s final service with us.  He has officially retired.  We wish him and Karen many, many happy years of retirement.  He has been a true blessing to our church.  We experienced a seasoned priest at the top of his game!

Many of you participated in today’s drive through communion.  It is recommended that you consume the sacraments while watching the recorded service on Sunday.

THE CAST

Rector and Celebrant: Father Steve Teague
Crucifer: John Todd
Acolytes: Peter Strickland, John Todd, Jacob Wells, Thomas Wells, and Paul Wells
Lay Reader: John Todd
Organist: Mark Gibbons
Videographer: Michael Wells
 

You may watch the church service here:  https://youtu.be/1G6Q2IE8S8A

The hymns are:

494
87
525

The postlude is a very special hymn to Fr. Steve. Give it a good listen.

Let’s watch the service together as a church from the safety of our homes at 11:00 am Sunday.

(2) Virtual services will continue for the foreseeable future.  We are following Diocesan service guidelines which require our county to be under certain thresholds and have stable or declining case rates.  Harnett county is still above those thresholds.  Stay tuned.

Below is the schedule of recorded services to watch on Sundays for the next two months.

January 3 – no service

January 10  – Supply Priest

January 17  – Supply Priest

January 24  – no service

January 31 – Supply Priest

February 7  – Supply Priest

February 14 – Supply Priest

February 21 – Supply Priest

February 28 – Supply Priest

March …  to be determined.

I look forward to seeing you in person soon!

Michael B Wells, Senior  Warden
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Erwin NC
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Daily Gospel

DECEMBER 26, 2020 SATURDAY

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
— John 8:12

 

Dear People of Christ,

In Christmas the theme of light is repeated often and in many ways. We put lights outdoors, lights on our trees indoors, maybe a star at the top. We looked for the Christmas Star the other night.

In this year quickly ending, we are still people walking in darkness, and always will be – until we need no longer celebrate Advent. We waited, God comes again.

Christmas offers three liturgies that concern light. The Christmas Eve service, or vigil, with the light of heavens, angel voices, to shepherds in their dark fields. The early Christmas Day service, focuses on the lowly and poor, shepherds called to the child of Bethlehem. And the last liturgy focuses on the light from the beginning, that now has come into the world in Jesus, the incarnate one.

Our Christmas readings hint of that greater light, a higher power at work than powers of this world. A king reigns through peace, generosity, gratitude to God and love for all peoples. The adult Jesus invites us from darkness that enshrouds us in this world, to follow the true light — the light of life.

How we celebrate Christmas in these days depends on where we are – in the darkness. How is the birth of Jesus bringing light to your life – what it means, and how to live it? Has the darkness of the recent months awakened a yearning for God — and your compassion with the humanity of others? Can you see by taking Jesus’ yoke, harnessing yourself with him, in humility and humbleness, living as he – a new desire to change the world, even people close around you?

We might wish and wait right now for a different world, even to escape the world If we walk that direction, we may run into Jesus walking past us — in the opposite direction. Christmas — heaven, the true light of the world has come. God is with us. As we embrace our humanity with God’s gift of light and love — the light of this world may grow a bit brighter.

Be the light of Christ where you are and where you go, to one and all, this day — Fr. Steve
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Christmas and Sunday Readings & Comments

DECEMBER 24, 2020 CHRISTMAS EVE/SUNDAY SERVICE

Dear Beloved in Christ,

A brief overview of texts for the first service for Christmas, read on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, giving you a choice of Eve or Day you want to watch – (or both – no extra charges). We have recorded one service.

The first Collect of the Christmas Day Propers links Christmas with our anticipation of the Second Coming. The judgment — not to be considered as a final disposition to heaven or hell — takes grace seriously. It is freely given love of God, in human flesh and life, the Child at Christmas. Christ is the gift who guides us to shape our lives by divine love, for living in the divine kingdom of heaven even now.

The Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah echoes this theme. The prophets look ahead, anticipating what God will do. The coming of one is announced, but also anticipates the nature of divine rule. The text from Isaiah and the Psalm are closely related to the political ideology of the Davidic monarch in Israel, and how it functioned in a political sense. Later the Jews began to understand it’s preparing them for life in a different kind – God’s.

Paul’s words to Titus, and Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus, clarify the juxtaposition of the two kingdoms. As in Isaiah, the birth of a new king is heralded with the fanfare of the birth of a political, national monarch. But then these texts point not to armies and wars – power and victory — but a different definition of power and victory in the kingdom of God – the power of justice and righteousness to change lives and help create a just world for all.

As you read Luke’s Christmas story, notice the juxtaposition of King Jesus, no safe place to be born, wrapped in bands of cloth — and the Emperor Augustus, living in a palace in Rome. The power of his edict brings Mary and Joseph to Joseph’s hometown for taxation enrollment. We know which king reigns on earth, and hear hints in the special – other worldly events of King Jesus’ birth of that kingdom God brings among us. We know which king ultimately and finally reigns. These texts prepare us to live now – the “not yet” we await, which for some who accept God’s new ordering of this world, is grace and gift. The words of “Away in a manger” come to mind, “Prepare us Lord Jesus — to live with you there.”

The text from Titus celebrates the King who has come, but who comes again. For those prepared and awaiting God’s rule, the grace of God, the kingdom, has already begun on earth as in heaven. It is God’s “Christmas gift” — a blueprint for living fully in the love and grace of the Father, so we will know and welcome — and feel welcomed and familiar in the new kingdom God finally establishes in us all.

Common threads can be found in all three of the Propers or Lections, for Christmas. Two Gospels are from Luke, with different shades of emphasis. The third is John’s Gospel prologue for Proper 3. All prepare us for the Second Coming of Christ — and the special qualities that establish which kingdom we choose now. These texts ground us in the first coming, and one to come. For we who read and hold these stories dear, it is more than sweet memories of Christmases past. It is again being addressed by the loving kindness of God’s coming. The peace Christ brings is also peace that will disrupt and overturn the broken ways of this world. For some that sounds like a warning. For others that sounds like hope. Each year the stories of Christ’s birth bring a renewal of joy and hope as we prepare and await the final gift God promises to bring.

Blessings, love, hope, and joy found in rehearing anew, God’s story in these days — Merry Christmas, Fr. Steve

CHRISTMAS – Proper 1

For Christmas Eve and Day

The Collect

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Isaiah 9:2-7

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness–
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

The Psalm

Psalm 96

Cantate Domino

1 Sing to the Lord a new song; *
sing to the Lord, all the whole earth.
2 Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; *
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations *
and his wonders among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; *
he is more to be feared than all gods.
5 As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; *
but it is the Lord who made the heavens.
6 Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! *
Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!
7 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; *
ascribe to the Lord honor and power.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; *
bring offerings and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; *
let the whole earth tremble before him.
10 Tell it out among the nations: “The Lord is King! *
he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it; *
let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
12 Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy
before the Lord when he comes, *
when he comes to judge the earth.
13 He will judge the world with righteousness *
and the peoples with his truth.

The New Testament

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

The Gospel

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see– I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

[When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.]
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Christmas Eve

December 24, 2020 – Christmas Eve

For he says, ’At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! — 2 Corinthians 6:2

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

I’d be driving home around 1:00 in the morning, Christmas Day. Often the streets had snow, either on them or piled to the curb. Christmas lights and decorations of downtown were particularly stunning. Only I was there to see them as I drove home in peace and quiet. I hummed the tune to “Silent Night.” All was calm, now – and the world in darkness, so bright.

I revisited our late service. The last person to leave that night was Drew, waiting to talk with me. He rarely came to church, and I was a bit surprised to have noticed him in the back during the service.

His eyes are red. He felt troubled. Before I could wish him a “Merry Christmas,” he began a story. “Steve, it was on this night, 20 years ago, Christmas Eve, my teenage daughter was killed in a terrible, car accident. I had to be here tonight. I had to hear again, that God did come to earth, to be like one of us. I had to experience that special calm I could feel on this night, God gives, you know, ‘All is calm, all is bright.’ I was hoping I could find it again. Christmas Eve wasn’t that anymore for me. I was scared. Hearing the story, singing the carols, lighting the candles in the dark and singing, “Silent Night,” I felt God’s peace return – that I would see my daughter again.”

It was one of those moments he needed no words from me – just a smile, and a nod – a hug and a Merry Christmas. Off into the night he went.

Christmas Eve/Day can be a painful time. For some, sadness and grief is quiet and overwhelming. Paul wrote, “See, now is the day of salvation.” It’s here already, waiting for us, not just once. Each now is the right time.

May this day, this night, tomorrow – you find in the special silence Christmas brings — the silence of a birth in your heart — All calmed, and all once again bright.

I also thought of the words penned by Presbyterian minister Henry Van Dyke in the 19th Century, “Gone From My Sight,” and the image of a ship arriving on a shore, watched as it left, now unseen from this side – carrying one you love, now out of sight. On a distant shore loved ones await their arrival. Each day is now the day of salvation — what God revealed at Christmas – “All is calm, All is bright.” for all, those we love, hold, and see – and those we miss. It’s a moment to whisper that simple prayer for God’s goodness,

“Thank you, Lord.” Christ is born – the time of our salvation is here. – Father Steve

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Christmas & Sunday Service 2020

DECEMBER 24, 2020 CHRISTMAS EVE

Merry Christmas,  Saint Stephen’s Family!

Two items are below.

(1) Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service.  Abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other safety measures, a small cast was able to produce our 42nd  virtual service!

THE CAST

Rector and Celebrant: Father Steve Teague
Crucifer: John Todd
Lay Reader: Winsome Foulkes
Organist: Mark Gibbons
Videographer: Michael Wells
 

You may watch the church service here:  https://youtu.be/1FMQxYnV5hU

The hymns are:

83 (v 1, 2, 6)
 96 (v 1, 4)
79 (v 1, 5)
84 (v 1, 2, 3)
111
100

Let’s watch the service this evening and again on Christmas Day together as a church from the safety of our homes.

(2) Drive Through Communion – SATURDAY 12/26 at 11:00 AM.  A small disposable sealed communion cup with consecrated bread and wine (see link) will be distributed.  Approach from the south on 12th street in front of the church (from the direction of Erwin First Baptist Church).  An acolyte will bring the communion cups to your car.  It is recommended that you save the cup and consume the sacraments while watching the recorded service on Sunday.  Fr. Steve and Karen will be on hand to greet the participants.  This is likely the last time we’ll see them in person before Fr. Steve retires.  So come and wish them well with a hearty wave from your car.

The event will be video recorded to include in Fr. Steve’s last service with us.

Virtual services will continue for the foreseeable future.  We are following Diocesan service guidelines which require our county to be under certain thresholds and have stable or declining case rates.  Harnett county is still above those thresholds.  Stay tuned.

I look forward to seeing you in person soon!

Michael B Wells, Senior  Warden
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Erwin NC
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Sunday Service Video Stream

DECEMBER 20, 2020 FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Happy Sunday,  Saint Stephen’s Family!

Two items below.

(1) Christmas Eve Drive Through Communion – Thursday, December 24, 4:00 pm.  We will have a drive through Christmas Eve communion at 4:00.  A small disposable sealed communion cup with consecrated bread and wine (see link) will be distributed.  Approach from the south on 12th street in front of the church (from the direction of Erwin First Baptist Church).  An acolyte will bring the communion cups to your car.  It is recommend that you save the cup and consume the sacraments while watching the recorded Christmas Eve service later that evening.  Fr. Steve and Karen will be on hand to greet at the participants.  This is likely the last time we’ll see them in person before Fr. Steve retires.  So come and wish them well with a hearty wave from your car.

(2) Sunday’s service.  Abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other safety measures, a small cast was able to produce our 41st  virtual service!

Special note: The postlude is a recording by The Piano Guys.

THE CAST

Rector and Celebrant: Father Steve Teague
Crucifer: John Todd
Lay Reader: Kathy Tuttle
Organist: Mark Gibbons
Video: Michael Wells
 

You may watch the church service here:

https://youtu.be/hgt2y6n3MEs

The hymns are 56 (v 1-5), 265, and 66.

Let’s watch the service at 11:00 am Sunday together as a church from the safety of our homes.

Virtual services will continue for the foreseeable future.  We are following Diocesan service guidelines which require our county to be under certain thresholds and have stable or declining case rates.  Harnett county is still above those thresholds and the number of COVID-19 cases is currently climbing.  Stay tuned.

I look forward to seeing you in person soon!

Michael B Wells, Senior  Warden
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Erwin NC
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Sunday Readings & Comments

DECEMBER 20, 2020 FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Dear Beloved Friends,

Here we are — approaching the end of Advent once again. Even in this time of health crisis and national upheaval, the Liturgical cycle keeps us grounded in God’s story and connected to a bigger life that is not just later, but holds us now.

And so, with the Collect, we pray for God to make pure our lives and souls. The past and future are held in Christ’s presence within. And finally, when Christ comes for us — we shall be prepared. John the Baptist points the way — as each day, we repent of sin — and turn toward God’s love and healing. In so doing we grow in grace, and Jesus is reborn in us.

The despair and apprehension that greet us in the first weeks of Advent, now give way to a mood of joy and expectation. God is about to do a new thing. Israel’s promised Savior and Redeemer, anticipated by prophets is now the light about to break forth anew into this world and our lives. It is beyond our understanding — yet evokes hope in the new thing God has done and keeps doing.

The lesson from Second Samuel extols Yahweh’s choice of King David’s offspring for the promised one of our salvation. It is the lineage of David through history to the birth at Bethlehem. That kingdom no longer existed by Jesus’ day. And that’s part of the mystery of God’s ways. God comes to do a new thing — to organize a kingdom for the healing of all peoples and nations in Christ.

One of the selections for the Response is the Magnificat, as we read last Sunday. The Psalm for today is the option – another form of Magnificat, this time extolling David’s lineage through God’s faithful keeping of covenant, regardless of human failure. A covenant with David — a light that has gone out by now — never goes out to God – or for the purposes that fulfill God’s promises to this world – always echoing divine truth for those who have ears to hear.

The Epistle reading from Romans is the final three verses, Chapter 16, a benediction for the church at Rome. Paul rejoices that they live in this present time, when God’s power to save and heal is revealed. That which had been secret for ages, is now shouted to invite all into this new covenant – what was secret is now disclosed. We can rejoice — even in dark times. The promise of a Davidic king, as no other who followed David is true and kept in Christ. Now, the present is the time to rejoice in the light of God’s glory.

The Gospel is that beautiful story of Gabriel’s visitation to announce God’s call to Mary. Will she consent? And why will she? Mary has a heart for God of obedience and surrender. She knows God sends prophets or angels, to invite us into a deeper place with Him. Now God has come to her. Mary consents…as someone has said, “The world, now sighs, with relief.” So much rests on this young woman’s decision — fraught with so much unknown, not even in knowing the implications of her consent. That is our journey as well. Do you trust God? Do you listen, hear – like Samuel of old – “Speak Lord, your servant listens.”  Mary listens, chooses wisely. And here we are. She is our model. Be still, and listen – for the Father never ceases speaking, inviting, and calling you, too.

Blessings and God’s peace filling our hearts and minds, as we prepare the way for Christ to come anew within, before long — Fr. Steve


December 20, 2020 Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Collect

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

1 Your love, O Lord, for ever will I sing; *
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2 For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; *
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3 “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; *
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4 ‘I will establish your line for ever, *
and preserve your throne for all generations.’”
19 You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people: *
“I have set the crown upon a warrior
and have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20 I have found David my servant; *
with my holy oil have I anointed him.
21 My hand will hold him fast *
and my arm will make him strong.
22 No enemy shall deceive him, *
nor any wicked man bring him down.
23 I will crush his foes before him *
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him, *
and he shall be victorious through my Name.
25 I shall make his dominion extend *
from the Great Sea to the River.
26 He will say to me, ‘You are my Father, *
my God, and the rock of my salvation.’
 

The Epistle

Romans 16:25-27

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith– to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

The Gospel

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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Sunday Service Video Stream

Happy Sunday,  Saint Stephen’s Family!

Three items below.

(1) Bishop’s Visit.  Our Suffragan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, “Bishop Anne”, spent an hour with the vestry in the fellowship hall (with masks and six+ feet apart) Wednesday night (12/9).  She brought warm greetings from the diocese, prayed, praised the continuing of our ministry here in spite of COVID-19, and gave each of vestry member an opportunity to talk about our hopes.  She is optimistic about our future.

(2) St. Stephen’s Annual Report.  We will not be able to have an annual meeting this year because of COVID-19, but we will prepare a 2020 Annual Report for our records and history.  Committee chairs and other group leaders, please send the report of your group’s 2020 activities to Heather Honeycutt before December 16 at  kheathersauls@yahoo.com  She is compiling the St. Stephen’s Annual Report.

(3) Sunday’s service.  Abiding by physical distancing guidelines and other safety measures, a small cast was able to produce our 40th virtual service!

Special note: The postlude was recoded some years ago in our church on our organ by world renowned organist the late Carlo Curley.  Curley gave an excellent mini-concert to show off our newly refurbished organ. Curley passed away in 2012.  https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-19250242

THE CAST

Rector and Celebrant: Father Steve Teague
Crucifer: John Todd
Lay Reader: Nancy Silvers
Organist: Mark Gibbons
Videographer: Michael Wells
 

You may watch the church service here:

https://youtu.be/6FjT0Wk2S-o

The hymns are 59, 72, and 437.

Let’s watch the service at 11:00 am Sunday together as a church from the safety of our homes.

Virtual services will continue for the foreseeable future.  We are following Diocesan service guidelines which require our county to be under certain thresholds and have stable or declining case rates.  Harnett county is still above those thresholds and the number of COVID-19 cases is currently climbing.  Stay tuned.

I look forward to seeing you in person soon!

Michael B Wells, Senior  Warden
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Erwin NC
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