January 4th, 2024
A Message from Libby – Sharing the Light
“O God, you have bound us together for a time as clergy and people to work for the advancement of your kingdom in this place. We give you humble and hearty thanks for the ministry that we have shared. We thank you for your never-failing presence with us through this transition time, and for the deeper knowledge of you and of each other that we have attained. We thank you for opening our hearts and minds again and again to your word, and for feeding us abundantly with the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
This prayer was part of the Farewell Liturgy for Interim Priest and Congregation in last Sunday’s Lessons and Carols service. As I reflect on the 20 months we’ve spent together as priest and people, I am incredibly grateful to God and to the people of St. Paul’s for a rich and hopeful experience. It has been a joy to see positive changes accompanied by new momentum building.
In this season of Christmas and Epiphany, one of the prominent symbols is the light of Christ coming into the world in the past, the present, and the future. I have seen that light glowing in this congregation and I look forward to seeing it burn ever more clearly as you move into a new phase with your new Rector. Your delightful gift to me of a variety of candles speaks volumes. Thank you for that gift, as well as the lovely Open House Brunch on December 17. The card accompanying the basket of candles said, “The best time for new beginnings is now.” Both St. Paul’s and I can take that to heart.
On January 9, I’ll celebrate the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Those years have included a wide variety of ministry venues. When I retired from full-time ministry in 2014, I never dreamed I’d continue to serve through Interim Ministry for nine more years. Now as I retire again, I look forward to seeing what God has in store next! In January, I’ll provide a bit of behind-the-scenes support for St. Paul’s, and eventually Jim and I may return to the pews as parishioners. There are many projects I want to complete that aren’t related to church employment, and I hope to spend lots more time with my grandchildren. Nevertheless, I’ve learned over the years that God always has something new in store and I wait expectantly for that new glimmer of light to appear.
My prayer for you and me today is summed up in the Epiphany Blessing: “May Christ, the Son of God, be manifest in us, that our lives may be a light to the world; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, and remain with us always. Amen.”
Beloved in Christ,
Happy New Year, and for just a couple more days, Merry Christmas!
I hope that you have all found ways to celebrate these festive days with friends and loved ones,
and are ready for all that this new year will bring.
In this new year, you and I are embarking on a new thing together, as priest and parish. As with any new relationship, we’ll have many firsts this year—our first Sunday together, our first Easter and Christmas, our first annual meeting, firsts in the service and outreach that we will do together, and much more.
The Prayer Book appoints the first day of the year—January 1—as the feast of “The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” I love that the name of Jesus is the first thing our church calendar encourages us to celebrate each new year, that the first name we proclaim, indeed the first word on our lips, can be the name of Jesus. It’s as if the calendar is reminding us: this Holy Name is our theme, this and every year. Jesus and indeed, his very name, is the center of our life together as a Christian community.
I pray that as we begin this new relationship, we will never lose sight of the One who has called us together, whose Holy Name we proclaim in all of our worship, in our service to our neighbors, in our every celebration, and in our care for one another. May the One whose name we take up each new year bless you in all that is to come.
I can’t wait to be with you on January 14. You are in my prayers. Until then, I ask your prayers for Brett and me as we finish packing our boxes and move to Stockbridge next week! It will all be here so soon, and I am so excited to meet you.
In the Holy Name of Jesus,
The Epiphany – Sunday, January 7
(transferred from January 6)
8:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M.
Collect for the Epiphany
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Scripture for the Epiphany: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
Worship Team for Sunday, January 7
Celebrant/Preacher The Rev. Jane Tillman
Reader Diane Dillon
Intercessor Sharon Billetter
Celebrant/Preacher The Rev. Jane Tillman
Reader Gale Page
Intercessor Bill Higgins
Usher/Greeter Diana French
Fellowship Host Gale Page
Musician Nancy King
Worship Team for Sunday, January 14
ONE SERVICE at 10:00 A.M.
Celebrant/Preacher The Rev. Samuel Vaught
Assisting Priest The Rev. Jane Tillman
Reader Bill Higgins
Intercessor Virgil Stucker
Ushers/Greeters Anne Covell and Lis Stucker
Fellowship Patty Melville, Coordinator
Musician Nancy King
Parish Prayer List
People we pray for on Sundays: Bruce, Charles, Linda, Veronica, Jeff, Karen, Lisa,
Rosalind, Kit, Jacob, Kathleen, Doug, Holly, Rick, Keith, David, John, Lenore, Vicki, Donna, and Sonja.
People on our Long-term prayer list: Allie, Irby, Ginger, Joan, Duncan, Bernadette, Ray,
Piers, Katrina, Rich, Karen, Michael, Tom, Khali, George, Barbara, Christy, John, Anthony, Margie, and Estreeta.
We pray for an end to war and violence in our world.
We pray for our partners in ministry at Christ Trinity, Sheffield, and at Grace Church,
Great Barrington, as they move to their new location today.
We pray for the residents and staff of the Austen Riggs Center and the Riverbrook
Outreach Ministry of the Week: Lee Food Pantry
Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: St. David’s, Agawam
Anglican Cycle of Prayer: The Scottish Episcopal Church
Birthdays: Diana French, Jake McCandless, Chris Johnson, John Tedeschi
Thank you to everyone who helped make our Christmas Worship beautiful and meaningful. We welcomed 215 people to our four services on December 24-25 and 52 for Lessons and Carols on December 31. Our regular and guest musicians added a great deal to worship: David Smith (organ/piano), Nancy King (organ/piano), Delana Thomsen (piano), Elizabeth Silver & Jessica Belflower (violin), Kyra Saltman (cello), and Ryleigh Fillio (voice). The Altar Guild was phenomenal. Chris & Tracy Johnson, Jim Wade, Jorja Marsden, Bernadette Brusco, Carl Sprague, and Diana French were instrumental in decorating the church, Jennifer Carmichael and Robin Race made sure we had poinsettias, and quite a few people prepared food, read scripture, or led prayers. The steady presence of Verger Darryl Lafferty, Ministry Intern Sharon Billetter, and Priest Associate Jane Tillman helped worship flow smoothly. I’m sure to have inadvertently left someone off this list, but please know how much all your contributions are appreciated.
We also celebrated the birth of Christ by reaching outside our walls by giving over $2,000 to Multicultural BRIDGE, as well as donating food for Lee Food Pantry and diapers for the Berkshire Diaper Project. We ended the year with strength and joy, filled with wonder at the gift of the Word Made Flesh in Jesus and claiming hope for the future for all the people of God. That is no small thing!
Sunday, January 7, 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Sunday, January 7, 6:30 p.m. – Community Christmas Caroling on the Stockbridge Library Lawn, sponsored by the Marian Fathers
Wednesday, January 10, 5:30 p.m. – Vestry Meeting
Saturday, January 13, 9:30 a.m. – St. Paul’s Team serves at Lee Food Pantry
Sunday, January 14, 10:00 a.m. – The Rev. Samuel T. Vaught’s 1st Sunday
Sunday, February 11 – Annual Parish Meeting
Bishop Fisher's Christmas Message
January 3, 2024
A Pastoral Letter at Christmastide
I write to the all faithful in the Christmas season—a time of light and joy—to speak to you about the opposite of Christmas—the hatred that infects our hearts. The Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama has written a prayer for times of violence that begins:
God of all humanity,
In times of violence
We see how inhuman we can be.
I have bid your prayers for all the victims of violence in Israel and Gaza. We have shared resources to assist you in giving aid to the suffering. And our prayers for a just and lasting peace for all who call the Holy Land home, has not yet been realized. But I am not writing to you about the horrors of the war there. I am writing to address the ripples of hatred that we are feeling here in our nation, on our college campuses, and in our local communities. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are not just on the rise. Hate speech, bomb threats and acts of violence have been directed to Jewish synagogues right here in our diocese—three synagogues in the Berkshires and one in Florence. The news that three young Palestinian men were shot in Burlington, Vermont, confirms that the war over there has unleashed ancient hatreds here. We are witnesses to this. We cannot ignore what we are seeing or be silent as our Jewish and Muslim neighbors live in fear.
As follows of Jesus, we renounce acts of hatred against any child of God. We proclaim the innate dignity of every human being because we are all made in the image and likeness of the Creator. As your bishop, I encourage each of you to advocate for peace here, as well as in war-torn places. Clergy, especially, are encouraged to reach out to rabbis and imams alike. In the powerlessness of war, we can be witnesses. We can shine light in the darkest corners of the human soul and proclaim that love is the way.
As the twelve days of Christmas come to a close, be assured of my prayers for the Jesus movement in Western Massachusetts. Together, we can speak peace amid war, act justly amid the chaos, and love even those with whom we disagree. This is the power of the Word made flesh. This is Christ being born in us.
Faithfully in Christ, The Right Reverend Douglas J. Fisher Bishop, Western Massachusetts
i Pádraig Ó Tuama, Daily Prayers with the Corrymeela Community, Canterbury Press Norwich, 2017, 43. ur
Register now for
Bending Toward Justice 2024
The Social Justice Commission of our diocese is happy to announce that registration is open for the 6th annual Bending Toward Justice conference which will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church, South Hadley on January 20, 2024.
Come pray in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Listen to the Word and discern how the Spirit is calling the Church to action. Connect with others who are working for God's justice in our time and place.
Keynote Speaker: The Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of New York
Learn more and Learn more and register
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
29 Main Street, P.O. Box 704
Stockbridge, MA 01262
Church Office Voicemail: (413) 298-4913