A Message from Rev. Paula+
Beloved Community,

Although this newsletter is reaching you a week before Christmas when we are all caught up in preparations at home and church, I am mindful that we are still in Advent, a season of prayerful reflection about God's presence in our lives, God's work in and through all people, times gone by and yet to come. It is a paradoxical time, a time in which the inherent tensions of being Christians in a largely secular society, are perhaps more visible than at most other times. It is both a busy, hectic, got-to-get-things-done time and a time of sacred waiting.
Today I share with you two thoughts, both from deeply faithful women of God. I don't recall exactly when I first came upon them, though I know the first was some time during seminary.  I share these because they speak to the way in which what we are doing in Advent as we prepare for what we celebrate on Christmas flies in the face of what many people would think reasonable or real.  And yet, for those of us who know God through Jesus Christ, not only is all of this real and reasonable, it is a profound statement of faith and hope.  Holding onto faith and hope at this time, when so much seems out-of-control and surreal can help us get through whatever it is we face in this world because we know that God is present with us always.
  "Advent is the season when Christians are called to live with more hope than the world thinks reasonable." (Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, former President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School),
"This is the irrational season when love blooms bright and wild. If Mary had been filled with reason there would've been no room for the child." (Madelaine L'Engle, author and Episcopal lay woman).
Peace & Blessings,
Giving in Faith
A repeat of last week, with a plea that you make your pledge now.  If you'd like to talk privately about why this is so important, feel free to talk to Rev. Paula or Fran Taber.

We're at the time in the budget process when knowing how much we can count on to fund all of the ministries of this faithful, Spirit-filled parish is crucial.  So...if you haven't submitted your pledge of an intentional, proportional level of giving, please do so now.  Our ministries will flourish and your lived faith will be deepened.  Giving in faith is one of the most time-tested and reliable ways to experience living faith in new and transformative ways.

We are grateful that some of you include year-end stock giving as part of your financial commitment to St. Stephen's.  Because of the way these gifts are received and managed, please alert Dave Van Houten ( bookkeeper@ststephensmillburn.org or (973) 376-0699, ext. 33) to expect your gift.  This will ensure that it is accounted for properly.
Sunday School and Nursery Update
This Sunday, December 22nd,  is Youth Sunday.  There will be nursery care but no Sunday School. 

The following Sunday, December 29th, both Linda and Greg will be away so there will be no nursery care or Sunday School.  We're having a baptism, which is a fun way to have all of the children in the parish involved in the liturgy, so please do come to church if you are in town.

A couple of parents asked about receiving the "Family Page" from the weekly lessons. Beginning in January, please look for a special Sunday School email each week.  In that email, which will be brief, will be the "Family Page" and occasional updates and news about the Sunday School.

December 19, 7:30 pm - Blue Christmas - A service of healing & reflection
December 24, 5 pm - Family Christmas Eve Service - Children & Senior Choirs
December 24, 10 pm - Christmas Eve Festival Eucharist - Special Musical Guests
December 25, 10 am - Christmas Day Spoken Eucharist

FLOWERS:  If you would like to donate for Christmas flowers, please let Doreen know by 12 noon Thursday, 12/19 in order to be included in the Christmas bulletins.  You may call the office at 973.376.0688, ext. 32 or email church@ststephensmillburn.org.

GREENING OF THE CHURCH:  We will be readying the church for Christmas celebrations after the 10 am service on December 22nd.  Please join the Altar Guild for this time of preparation and fellowship.

Wednesday Worship Update
Beginning in January, we will hold Wednesday worship ONCE A MONTH, on the FIRST WEDNESDAY AT NOON.  We will share in the Eucharistic celebration.  
Finance Committee Meeting
Youth Sunday
Vestry Meeting
Bakery Bible Hour
Epiphany Open House at the Rectory
Finance Committee Meeting
Third Thursday Theater
Vestry Meeting
Youth Sunday
Reading with the Rector

Beckerath Organ 50th Anniversary 2019-2020 Recital Series
John Charles Schucker
Johann Vexo
December 18, 7:30 pm
December 22, 10 am
December 29, 11:30am
January 3, 9 am
January 5, 11:30 am
January 15, 7:30 pm
January 16, 7 pm
January 19, 11:30 am
January 26, 10 am
January 26, 11:30 am

Sunday, February 23, 4 pm
Sunday, April 19, 4 pm

Liturgical Stewardship Schedule

   December 22, 8:00 am

   Reader & Chalicer:  Allison Walker
   Altar Guild:  Nancy Sieffert


December 22, 10:00 am

Readers:  Felder Dorn, Fran Taber
Chalicist:  John Soughan
Ushers:  James and Katie Wade
Altar Guild:  Alex Cole
Coffee Hour:  Altar Guild

December 29, 8:00 am

Reader & Chalicer:   Michelle Ellingham
Altar Guild:  Maria Nazareth


December 29, 10:00 am

Readers:  Jean James, Ladi Owolabi
Chalicer:  Roger Riedel
Ushers:   TBD
Altar Guild:  Julia Dorn
Coffee Hour:  Open

This Week:  December 22

Next Week:  December 29

Links to the Wider Church

The Episcopal Diocese of Newark

The Episcopal Church

The Presiding Bishop

Giving with Tithe.ly
Tithe.ly is a mobile-friendly app designed by a clergy person and used by thousands of congregations across the country.  With Tithe.ly, you can do one-time or recurring payments, as well as help with the nominal fee of using the service.  You can download the app from the App Store or Play Store, or you can do it online at tithe.ly/give. Enter St. Stephen's Church in the search menu and we should pop up.  You'll know it's  us if it says "St. Stephen's Church, Millburn, NJ 07041."

It's also possible to access Tithe.ly through our website - click on the "Give" button in the menu and you will be given the option to use Tithe.ly. 

Don't worry.  If you prefer to use a check or cash, that's fine.  If you are a Vanco user and want to keep it that way, that is good, too.
Office Hours and Contact Information

Office hours are Tuesday thru Friday, 10:00 am to 1:30 pm or by appointment.
Phone: 973.376.0668  
Fax: 973.376.4002
Website: ststephensmillburn.org
Main email: church@ststephensmillburn.org
Follow us on:  FacebookInstagram and  Pinterest

Doreen Schindler, Parish Administrator can be reached at ext. 32 or

The Rev. Paula J. Toland, Rector can be reached at ext. 21 or 
She is an occasional blogger at fromthestillness.