December 15, 2020
A Message from Rev. Paula
Beloved Community,

When I opened this beautiful Christmas card from one of you I immediately felt my breathing slow and a sense of calm come over me. In that moment, I realized that my usual ways of thinking about Christmas as the inbreaking of God into our broken world or the birth of Love have an added dimension this year: I am focused much more on hope.

Jesus' birth, at a time in human history that was as challenging as this time in which we find ourselves today, for some of the same reasons, offered those who needed it most hope for a new way of life. It may be an understatement to say that 2020 has brought many of us to our knees, lamenting the virus and the politics and the social injustices that have occupied so much of life this year. In that place, we find ourselves seeking God and experiences of grace in ways that may be new to us. Our faith allows us to hope that tomorrow and next week and next year will bring comfort and solace, as well as the peace of heart and mind that we crave. And we may wonder if it is possible, if the promises we rely on are true. Is it possible to meet the newborn Jesus again this Christmas as if for the very first time?

I share with you now another of my favorite poems by Madeleine L'Engle, which always gives me hope that I will meet God no matter how broken I or this world seems to be:

The Risk of Birth, Christmas 1973

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & trust were trampled to scorn --
Yet here did the Saviour make His home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn --
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Peace & Blessings,
Giving in Faith
As of December 11th, we have 12 pledges for a total of $54,960, which includes two new pledges. This is good news, though we are still about $82,000 away from our goal of $137,000, which will enable us to continue to live our faith in the ways that reflect our call to share God's love with each other and the world around us.

Financial stewardship is a spiritual discipline. As we are reminded in Matthew 6:2, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." It also is a practical matter. Your Finance Committee needs to know what to expect to build the budget for the upcoming year. Your Vestry and Rev. Paula need to know what to expect so that all of the decisions related to ministries can be made. Giving in faith is crucial to how we live our faith, one-by-each and in community.

It is not too late to make a pledge (It's never too late!). You may mail your pledge using the form provided with the financial stewardship mailing or make a confidential pledge online using the "Give" tab on the website. If you would like a pledge form, please let us know and we can send one to you, either by email or "snail" mail.
Connection & Common Worship
Sundays, 10 AM
Live-streamed to YouTube, Facebook, and via Zoom. Bulletins are available on the St. Stephen's website. All links can be found at the bottom of the newsletter. Zoom passcode is 225839.
Please note: When joining the Zoom service, please make sure your device is on mute. Thank you.

To call in, dial by your location:
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 864 1664 1640
Passcode: 225839

The Sunday service will also be broadcast on HTTV (Comcast TV 36 and Verizon TV 33) on Tuesday at 6 AM and 3 PM.

Coffee Hour
Sundays at 12 PM via Zoom
To call in, dial by your location:
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 895 5857 6382

Daily Prayer
M-W-F 8:30 AM, T-TH-SAT 7:45 PM
Most days Rev. Paula will lead prayer live on Facebook, though occasionally it will be a "Prayerful Interlude" or a recorded reflection. Videos of all posts can be easily accessed from the Facebook video library.

Adult Formation Advent Series Sundays, December 6, 13, 20 at 1 PM
A 3-week series of conversation based on Church Anew's Christ/Christmas/Covid video conference. We'll view short (7-minute) videos and talk about how they impact the way we live our faith this Advent. To keep things simple, we will use the Coffee Hour Zoom link.
From Bishop Hughes & The Episcopal Church

Share Your Prayers
Bishop Hughes invites all of us to write down our prayers during this pandemic and share them with the diocese as a way to help each other. For details, please visit the diocesan website.

Diocesan Memorial Wall
This is a virtual place to gather, grieve, reflect, and honor the lives of those who have died during the pandemic, whether or not it was due to COVID. To visit the wall and/or submit a name, visit here.

Noonday Prayer & Litany of Hope
Fridays, December 4, 11, 18, 12 PM
The Diocese of Newark is invited to join in Advent Noonday Prayer via Zoom. The service includes a "Litany of Hope." You can download the Order of Service here and join the Zoom service here.

To join by phone: 929.205.6099
Meeting ID: 854 6786 7747
Passcode: 170445

Lay Conversation with the Bishop
In Spanish - Wed, Dec. 16, 6-7:30 PM
In English - Thurs, Dec. 17, 6-7:30 PM
Bishop Hughes invites all to a lay conversation to share news and perspectives on where we are as a dioces "in such a time as this." Please use the Zoom links in the "This Week in the Diocese" link above.

Lessons & Carols from the 'Real' Bethlehem
Saturday, December 19, 10 AM
A joint Episcopal and Lutheran service - officiated by all five Episcopal and Lutheran bishops in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Jerusalem - this simulcast service connects us to our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land, hearing familiar carols and readings in both Arabic and English, and with a special Christmas homily from the Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most. Rev. Suheil Dawani. You can access the service link here.
St. Stephen's Zoom Events
St. Stephen's Virtual Christmas Party
Sunday, December 20, 6:30-8 PM

Look out for a special invitation e-newsletter with details on Thursday, December 17.

St. Stephen's News
Angel Tree

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our congregation outdid themselves with TARGET gift card donations for our Drumming Camp kids & families. We are thrilled to be able to bring them some joy this holiday season and to provide a way for them to acquire what they need to celebrate Chrsitmas. We can't thank you enough for your continued commitment to this ministry. A total of $1315 was donated in Target gift cards.
Faithful Outreach
The Apostles' House & North Porch

Collection bins are located outside the Narthex doors in the parking lot. Donations can be dropped off at any time.

Apostles' House - Items needed - Canned goods and non-perishable food items. 

North Porch - URGENT need of Enfamil Infant Formula 12.5 oz containers (yellow label), baby wipes, and diapers size 4, 5, and 6.

Online Donations - If you are unable to drop off items at the church, and would like to contribute, you can make purchases and/or donations directly to these organizations at the following links:

North Porch Donation Link
The Apostles' House Donation Link
Cross Roads Camp & Retreat Center
Year End Giving
A message from Cross Roads: Without the support of so many, Cross Roads would not have been able to meet the many challenges we faced this year. Your year-end gift can help us continue our ministries in new and creative ways.Thanks to the generosity of the Diocese of Newark, any size gift will be DOUBLED. Gifts can be made online here or by sending a check made payable to Cross Roads Camp & Retreat Center to 29 Pleasant Grove Road, Port Murray, NJ 07865.

Wednesdays Away
10 AM - 12 PM
Upcoming Dates:
12/2, 1/6, 2/17, 3/3, 4/7, 5/5, 6/2
These monthly retreats are open to all people interested in exploring new faith practices. The cost is $10/person per gathering. Visit the Cross Roads website for session details and to register.
Teen & Youth Ministry
Diocese of Newark
POP UP Youth Ministry

POP UP is a welcoming youth ministry group for grades 6-12 offering fun activities, community, and faith formation via Zoom. Meets one Sunday a month at 3 PM.

Visit the diocesan link for details and to register. Next event will be in January.

Cross Roads Youth Programs
2021Youth Retreats: Explore!

Cross Roads will be hosting virtual youth retreats for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 in February and March. Visit their website for details and to register.

Follow Cross Roads Camp on Facebook & Instagram for the latest upcoming events!
Resources During Covid
There are many, many resources available to parishes and individuals to help sustain our faith practices during this unprecedented time. We have moved the list to our website here. This is by no means a complete list, though it does cover many areas of need.
St. Stephen's Prayer List
Please keep the following St. Stephen's family members and friends in your prayers...

Jeff Loggins, Jimmy Hasenkamp, Ian Janeczko, Alex Cole, Peggy Thompson, Sue Macbeth, Matthew Anderson, Felder Dorn, Julia Dorn, Joan Shuss, Corey Toland, Hailey Rose Fout, Kris Hunt, Donna Riggi, Blanchard Family, McManus Family, Bernard & Nathan, Fitzgerald Family
Weekly Lectionary
December 20, 2020 - Advent 7
Emmanuel Sunday

2 Samuel 7:1-11
Canticle 15
Luke 1:26-38
Christmas Services
Longest Night Service via Zoom
Monday, December 21, 7:30 PM
with Christ Church Short Hills and The Church of the Atonement (ELCA) in Philadelphia. You can join the Zoom link here. The passcode is 232850.

Christmas Eve Family Service with Pageant via Zoom
Thursday, December 24, 4 PM
A fun and creative re-telling of the Christmas story, with some of our children and adults sharing their acting talents from the comfort of their own homes. Because our children are involved, the Zoom link is available only to parishioners and their loved ones. This service will not be live-streamed.
You can join the Zoom service here. The passcode is 577342.

Christmas Eve Festival Service
Thursday, December 24, 7 PM
A beautiful service of prayer and music to celebrate the Incarnation. As is our custom, the music will be extra special with violin, organ, trumpet, and song. All are welcome to join us as we stream live to YouTube and Facebook. Parishioners are also welcome to join via Zoom here. There is no passcode needed.

Christmas Day Message
December 25, 10 AM
Rev. Paula shares a pre-recorded Christmas message via YouTube and Facebook, with music by Peter and Kira Hanson and Sean Toland.
Giving with is easy with options for recurring donations or one-time use for when you are away or not able to be in church (like all of us now due to COVID restrictions).

You can access via their website or their app on your smart phone. Be sure to search for the correct account - "St. Stephen's Church Millburn." Once you have accessed the account page with our address, you will be instructed to follow the prompts.

Stock Donations & Year-End Notes
If any parishioner would like to make a year-end stock donation, please contact our bookkeeper David VanHouten at 973-376-0688, Ext. 33.

All 2020 donations should be post marked no later than 12/31/2020.
Office Notes
This newsletter will be the final FULL newsletter of the year. There will be a highlights newsletter the week of 12/21 and no newsletter the week of 12/28. Look for the next full e-newsletter the week of January 4th. Happy New Year!

Office Hours
Until we are through this public health emergency, there are NO office hours. Please call Rev. Paula to arrange for pastoral care.

Due to COVID restrictions, only teachers and staff are allowed to be in the building during school hours. If you need to visit the parish office/building for any reason, please contact us for an appointment. Thank you.
Important Links
Zoom Links
Links for Sunday Worship Live-Stream & Social Media
Website Links
Other Social Media Links
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
119 Main Street, Millburn, NJ 07041

Parish Administrator, Doreen Schindler
973.376.0688, Ext. 32

Rector, The Rev. Paula J. Toland
973.376.0688, Ext. 21

Fax: 973.376.4002


Director: Nancy Siracusa
Phone: 973.376.3534, Ext. 20