As Thanksgiving ends and the Christmas season begins, Christians mark the pre-Christmas season of Advent, a “time of holy preparation,” notes the Rev. Joseph Graumann, pastor of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough. “We look to the past and celebrate our ancestors while looking forward to Jesus coming among us.”
To focus on Advent, the first season of the Christian church year, St. Stephen will offer a series of Wednesday evening services at 7 p.m. on November 28 and December 5, 12, and 19. Everyone is welcome to take a step away from the sometimes frantic Christmas preparation to participate in the “Word Up Wednesday” services, which will offer discussion and Holy Communion, as the series moves from a season of darkness into light. One of Advent’s most prominent symbols is the candles lit at the beginning of each week.
“In the first week of Advent, one candle is lit amidst the darkening skies,” said Pastor Graumann. “Week by week, the number of candles grows to turn darkness into light. This is what we celebrate; moving from the darkness of the present age to the light of the presence of God.”
The Advent services will focus on how the light of Christ breaks into a dismal world. “As Christians, we bear that light within us and share it with others.”
To celebrate Christmas, St. Stephen will offer a 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service, with candlelight and carols, and music from voice and handbell choirs, and a 9:30 am Christmas Day service. Both will include Holy Communion.
Hello Saint Stephen Lutheran Church members and friends. Join us January 13 @ 3PM for some great hockey with the Worcester Railers at the DCU center. We will be getting group discounted rate seats for the afternoon game. These tickets will make great stocking stuffers for Christmas. Sign up on the sheet on the narthex table. Looking forward to seeing you at the game! See Ken LaPlante for more information on ticket prices.
Jane Woolsey of Hudson and Martha Domke of Marlborough frame a collection of about 250 cans of hearty soups and other foods gathered by members and friends of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough for the Hudson Food Pantry during the first two weeks of October. If the church reaches its goal of donating at least 500 food items by the end of the month, Thrivent will give the Hudson Food Pantry $500 as part of its Feed Northeast 2018 campaign. (Thrivent is a financial services organization and fraternal benefit society that donates to causes supported by its members.) This effort is through the Thrivent Member Network-Northeast Region, which has encouraged members to host an October food collection to impact food insecurity in their local area and support their favorite hunger-fighting 501c3.
Fall and winter holidays are just a few weeks away. For some area families, gift-giving occasions are stressful because they compete for the same dollars needed to buy clothing or food. The people of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St. (Route 85), Marlborough would like to help by offering a Clothing Giveaway on Saturday, November 10 from 10 am to noon. All items are FREE.
There will be a selection of gently used clothing for men, women, babies, and children, as well as accessories such as hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, boots, and belts – all at no cost. Those who come can bring their own bag, or take a bag provided and fill it with whatever they can use.
John the Baptist said, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none.” (Luke 3:10) The people of St. Stephen offer an entire rack of coats at the Giveaway. Typically, 50 coats go to new homes during the fall event. Church members and friends are looking through their closets now to meet this goal. This is the fifth year the church has hosted spring and fall giveaways, and fall 2018 marks the 11th Giveaway.
Shoppers can expect to find seasonal sweaters, tops, pants, pajamas, skirts, dresses, and tee-shirts in all adult sizes, as well as children’s clothing. Most items will be gently used, but some will be almost new and could be gifts for others.
Tight budgets often don’t leave anything for fun purchases, so the planning committee is making sure there will be costume jewelry, purses, and scarves, so shoppers can pick up a treat for themselves as well.
For more information about Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Stow, Sudbury, and Bolton. Worship takes place on Sunday at 9:30 am, and Wednesday at 6:30 pm.
Christian education for children will resume on Sunday, September 16 at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough. Sunday School classes will be offered to children from pre-kindergarten (age 3) through grade 6, and no pre-registration is necessary.
Children will be present for the beginning of church at 9:30 am, the “Gathering,” through a brief children’s sermon, leave for lessons during the “Word” portion and return for communion with their families. Sunday School is connected to worship, since the curriculum is lectionary-based. Students will experience one of the Bible lessons featured in that Sunday’s worship service.
Saint Stephen uses Sparkhouse's Whirl curriculum that engages students in fun and innovative ways. It highlights participation in the wider church and provides a launching point for deep conversations in the family..
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Stow, Sudbury, and Bolton. Worship takes place each Sunday at 9:30 a.m., followed by coffee and fellowship.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the nation’s largest Lutheran church, with approximately four million members split into 65 synods, or territories, across the United States and the Caribbean.
A village in need will have a clean, safe, convenient water source, thanks to the members and friends of Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, who raised a total of $3270 as part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) World Hunger Water Well Project. Last week’s Wickets for a Water Well Croquet Tournament capped the fund-raising effort, which also included a coin jug at church and online giving.
Fun and food characterized the tournament at Saint Stephen, which attracted six, 2-person teams, along with enthusiastic well-wishers who cheered on the participants and enjoyed ice cream, root beer floats (a crowd favorite), banana splits, milkshakes, and apple pie. After a first round, the top four teams engaged in a playoff round.
First prize went to Hudson residents Marlea and Frank Dutt, “The Strikers,” second to Pam and John Narahara of Marlborough, “The Ninja Warriors,” and third to Elaine and Peter Recklet of Hudson, “The Seahawks.” Their friendly opponents included Linda and Stan Hanson, “The Treble Makers,” the team of Emily Hanson and Ann Weston, and the team of Elizabeth and Harold Greer.
Melanie Whapham of Marlborough, who organized Sunday’s event, said the croquet tournament, “with a very creative set of Saint Stephen Rules of Play, looks to be a keeper. Watch for the Croquet Tournament and Ice Cream Social to be an annual event.”
The tournament raised $790, the coin jug $350, and the remainder came from online giving. Wickets for a Water Well was also a Thrivent Action Team project.
The ELCA World Hunger Water Well Project works to provide safe water systems like wells, spring boxes and boreholes; provide health, hygiene and sanitation programs; and provide agricultural irrigation systems in three corners of the globe – the United States, Zimbabwe and in China.
Music, games, Bible stories, crafts, snacks, and science projects will all be part of Vacation Bible Camp at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton Street (Route 85), Marlborough, Monday, July 30 to Friday, August 3, from 9 am to noon.
Register now by going to to Https://2018.cokesburyvbs.com/saintstephenlutheran .There is also a link on the Saint Stephen Lutheran Church website: www.saintstephenlutheran.com. Suggested fee for the entire week is $10, with a maximum of $25 per family, and scholarships are available. Although pre-registration is appreciated, walk-ins are also welcome.
“Rolling River Rampage” is the 2018 theme for VBC, which is open to children from Pre-K through Grade 4. With the church sanctuary decorated to resemble a riverside campsite, complete with a waterfall, young “Rafters”and their “Guides” will learn to “Experience the Ride of a Lifetime with God.” Participants will discover how to find adventure, acceptance, joy, rest and peace. The program includes a daily snack. A group of enthusiastic volunteers, teen through adult, will lead the sessions.
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton. Sunday worship is at 9:30 am.
With 30,000 young people and leaders assembled in one place, speakers who inspired, community service that encouraged further action, and connections made with individuals and groups, the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston made a big impact on the teens from SSLC and their leaders. Those who attended were Caitlyn Gogan, Samantha Gogan, Zach Gogan, Matt Haley, Abby Maston, Sam Maston, Deb Gogan, Pastor Joe and Sarah Maston.
What surprised Sam Maston “was the sheer numbers. Thirty thousand people is very hard to visualize and imagine, and not until the first night with everyone gathered in the stadium did I know what 30,000 people looked like.”
In the stadium, the small numbers mattered, too, and Samantha Gogan remarked on that.
“I was impressed by the seemingly small connections that we made in the stadium and in the gathering in general, like flashing our lights across and doing patterns during the mass gathering, high fiving everyone you see, and trading bracelets.” Sam added, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that much joy and kindness in one space before.”
Both Sam and Samantha agreed that the speakers offered powerful stories and insights. Theologian and author Nadia Bolz-Weber “talked about how God’s grace really is for everyone,” Sam related. The Rev. Will Starkweather told his story, one of “darkness and self harm,” and how with faith he came to realize, “there’s grace for everything, because God’s grace is never ending.”
Samantha spent her community service day learning about human trafficking. “It is important that people are made aware of it.” She wants to share her new awareness with the people of Saint Stephen and the larger community. “I want to participate in the Red Sand Project at the church or at the school. You put red sand into the cracks of side walks to represent the people and cases who fall through the cracks and don’t get the help they need . You write inspiring messages to the hotline for human trafficking. The project helped me to understand human trafficking and what we can do to help stop it.”
A takeaway for Sam was a realization that “God really changes everything. This was exemplified through all the stories I heard during that week, and am only beginning to truly grasp.” Recognizing that” the rest of the world isn’t always as nice those gathered in Houston, united through Christ. It’s our job to bring God’s love and grace to one another. If not us, then who?”
Every three years, 30,000 high school youth and their adult leaders from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gather for a week of faith formation known as the ELCA Youth Gathering. Along with music, worship, and Bible study, they take part in small group interactive learning in a 700,000 square foot learning center, huge gatherings in a stadium, a Synod day where they connect with others from their geographical area, and a community service day, with participants serving at almost 100 venues throughout the Houston area over the course of the gathering.
Relay for Life of Marlborough Hudson takes place this Saturday, June 2, from 10 am to 10 pm at Ward Park in Marlborough. Saint Stephen Lutheran Church is well represented, providing the keynote speaker, a 15-member team, and two members of the Executive Leadership Team.
Team members include Leeann Brewitt, Dave and Martha Domke, Betsy Field, Pastor Joseph Graumann, Elizabeth and Harold Greer, the Maston family, Ann Weston, Melanie and George Whapham, and Jane Woolsey. The team is in a respectable fourth place in their fundraising as of this writing. To donate or join the team, go to www.facebook.com/RFLMarlboroughHudson. When directed to the website, scroll down to find the team list.
Melanie Whapham and Deb Roberts are members of the Executive Leadership Team. Planning meetings are held monthly for ten months every year.
Pastor Graumann, who provided a moving and insightful talk last year, has been invited back to again offer the keynote address, which kicks off the event at 10 am. Sometime after that he will volunteer for something quite different – a 15-minute stint in the dunk tank!
Last year, the Saint Stephen team earned the prize for best decoration, and this year, with a Flaming Flamingos theme, they hope to do it again.
When the sun goes down at every American Cancer Society Relay For Life event, hope shines the brightest. During the Luminaria Ceremony, which will take place between 8:45 and 9:15 pm, hundreds of luminaria will light the track to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has taken too much.
Support the Relay by stopping by during the day. Listen to the keynote, take a lap with a team member, bid on an auction basket, play a lawn game, buy a snack or a meal, enjoy some oldies music, and watch or participate in the dancing, ranging from Zumba to belly dancing to country.
Serving at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a camp, and working at a food warehouse were among the “vacation week” activities for a group from Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, MA who traveled to Philadelphia for a recent 5-day mission trip. Pastor Joseph Graumann and youth leader Sarah Maston accompanied eight teens: Caitlyn, Samantha and Zachary Gogan, Matt Haley, Aline and Emma Kaledjian, and Abby and Sam Maston. They were part of a volunteer group of 22 teens and six adults from Central Massachusetts involved in LIPY (Lutheran Inter-Parish Youth).
Four from Saint Stephen chose to volunteer at a senior living facility, where they played balloon volleyball and board games with the seniors, and joined them in arts and crafts. “We also ate lunch with our senior friends every day,” Sarah Maston noted. “The kids really enjoyed getting to know the seniors and their personalities.” For those who remained at Camp Innabah, in Spring City, PA, where they stayed overnight, their days were taken up with grounds clean-up and painting to help prepare the facility for summer campers.
The pastor chaperoned at a soup kitchen at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. “We arrived ready to help, “ he said, “but instead through their gracious hospitality and education, they helped us to see the realities of life in North Philadelphia. This is a church that changed alongside its neighborhood to be a center of justice and solidarity, and many churches would do well to follow their example.”
For Sam Maston, the working at Share Nourishing Community, a food bank, was “ a wonderful experience and I really enjoyed helping others.” Volunteers packaged food into boxes, and sent them to both organizations and individuals. “We got to interact with some buyers as we helped them load the food into their vehicles.”
After completing their volunteer service, the entire group worshiped at Grace Lutheran Church in Royersford, PA. “It was very beautiful!” Sarah Maston said.
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton.