Five services at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, will mark the week of April 14-21. The Christian Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on April 14. The 9:30 am service will start outside, weather permitting, where worshipers will be given palms, and process into the church. “Like those in Jerusalem, we raise our palms in adoration of Jesus as he enters the holy city,” said Pastor Joseph Graumann. The choir anthem, “Cry Out Hosanna! Hosanna!” by Gilbert M. Martin will reflect the theme.
The next two services take place on Maundy Thursday, April 18, when those gathered will commemorate Jesus’ last supper with his friends, and Good Friday, April 19, when worshipers will hear how an instrument of death becomes for Christians the tree of life. Both services will be at 7:00 p.m. and each will include special music.
Candlelight, contemplation, cross decoration, communion, and even a christening will all be part of the Saturday, April 20 Easter Vigil that begins outside at 7:15 pm, just before sunset. Take a break from Easter preparations to hear parishioners’ personal stories based on biblical texts, and share in the joy of both a baptism, and the reveal of what the St. Stephen Art Guild has created for the large outside cross.
“As our annual Easter art project, we will cover the cross in stained-glass like colors, showing us that the cross is the lens through which God’s light shines,” said Pastor Graumann. In previous years, the cross was arrayed in a hand knit coat of yarn squares, and wreathed in flowers. Baptism is a much older Easter Vigil tradition, the pastor notes. “Since the early church, Christians have traditionally baptized newcomers at Easter Vigil. This year, as we celebrate Jesus’ passover through death into life, we rejoice in baptizing a new member.”
From now through April 10, worshipers at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, can get both food – and food for thought at the Word-Up Wednesday soup supper and holy communion church service. Come at 6:30 each Wednesday for a simple soup and bread supper and stay for a service that will examine liberation theologies, centering on LGBTQ identities, disability, ecology, and others.
“Each Wednesday, we gather in prayer, break bread, have some soup and discussion, then conclude with sharing the wine, just as the earliest Christians gathered,” says Saint Stephen Pastor Joseph Graumann.
Wednesday worship provides “an opportunity for people who can’t get to church on Sundays to come and experience Jesus,” says the pastor, as well as something less formal than a traditional Sunday service for people who might want two weekly options during Lent. It more resembles gatherings in the first century church where “early Christians sang songs you didn’t need a hymn book for, shared stories of their ancestors, talked about God at work in the world, and shared communion,” he added. At St. Stephen, everyone who wishes to share the bread and wine is welcome at communion.
In addition to Word-Up Wednesdays, the weekly Sunday worship takes place at 9:30 am, followed by coffee and fellowship. Sunday School for children from pre-school through grade 6 takes place during part of the service.
Six youth and two adults from St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, headed south for the February school break. Rather than a typical tropical vacation destination, their goal was Washington, DC, where they not only engaged in traditional volunteering at a food bank and a soup kitchen, but also spent a full day on Capitol Hil. While there, they met with ELCA Advocacy, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s ministry that works for change in public policy through political channels on behalf of biblical values such as peacemaking, hospitality to strangers, care for creation, and concern for people living in poverty and struggling with hunger and disease.
“This year’s mission trip demonstrates a changing understanding of youth education in the ELCA,” said Pastor Joseph Graumann, who along with youth leader Sarah Maston, chaperoned the group that includes Zach, Caitlyn, and Samantha Gogan, Emily Haley, Abby Maston, and Emma Keledjian. In addition to finding out about the church’s priorities in Washington, the group met with their local elected officials and had a full tour of the Capitol.
Also on the agenda for the 5-day trip was a visit to Luther Place Memorial Church, built in Washington, DC in 1873 as a memorial to peace and reconciliation following the Civil War. The neo-Gothic building resembles the shape of a ship, and is well known for its stained glass windows picturing twelve reformers. Luther Place has renovated neighborhood row houses, opened its doors to the homeless and later formed and worked with a multi-denominational coalition to open a facility to shelter and house people in need, and founded the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, now a national program that places hundreds of volunteers with social-justice oriented organizations.
St. Stephen parishioners surprised Pastor Joe last Sunday with a very special birthday cake for his milestone 30th birthday. The elaborate confection, created by Glenn Maston, was inspired by the Jeopardy game board– and the 2006 appearance by the then 17-year-old Joe Graumann’s appearance on TV’s Teen Jeopardy. He advanced to the semifinals of the popular show.
A top layer of the sheet cake, made from icing-covered and removable graham crackers, indicated three categories: pop culture questions from 2006, birthdays, and biblical numbers (answers: 30). By carefully removing the crackers, the answers were revealed in the cake below. Those attending the post-service coffee hour had a choice of devouring either white or chocolate cake below.
Although the cake was baked and decorated by Glenn, a cake enthusiast whose avocation is to create fancy, simple, and even strange cakes for all occasions, it is obvious that St. Stephen’s youth played a part – many of them have Pastor Joe’s Jeopardy photo on their phones, Glenn noted.
Check out the photos to see all the details in this incredible cake!
Throughout the world, Christians are celebrating Epiphany, or the 12th Day of Christmas in a variety of ways. Closer to home, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, will present a choir cantata, “Follow the Star, Follow the King,” at the 9:30 am worship service on Sunday, January 6.
Although choral music will be the focus, the presentation will also include readings. The Biblical scriptures that tell the Advent and Christmas story are “punctuated with themes of light,” notes the program description. Follow the Star, Follow the King is the journey from spiritual darkness to light, culminating in the birth of Jesus.”
While the choir will present both familiar and original music, led by St. Stephen Music Director Stanley Hanson of Hudson, those who attend will also have the chance to sing Christmas carols and participate in a worship service that includes Holy Communion.
Sunday will be a busy day at St. Stephen Lutheran Church. “A Campfire Nativity” is the theme for this year’s annual potluck dinner and pageant, which will begin at 4 pm. Children and other parishioners will play the roles of all the people – as well as animals and angels – who were part of the first Christmas in Bethlehem. Liz Greer of Hudson is coordinating the event.
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.