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St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

"Our Mission Is to Know Christ and Make Him Known in Word and Deed."

A message to our Jewish neighbors.

Friends, As we anticipate the setting of the sun this day (Thursday 7 December 2023 -- 24 Kislev 5784), we remember our Jewish neighbors, friends of ours who are our elder siblings among the sons and daughters of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeccah, Jacob, Rachel and Leah. We recall from the first verses of Scripture that the way that we keep time is "Evening and Morning." As the sun sets tonight, Hanukkah begins. This feast continues from the setting of the sun tonight until the setting of the sun on the eighth day (Friday 15 December 2023 -- 3 Tevet 5784). This feast is a celebration of light. Its roots are in the time of the Maccabeans. It commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbinic tradition states that there was only enough oil to light the candles of the menorah for one night. Miraculously, the oil that could only be expected to give light through one night provided light for 8 nights! The imagery is powerful! I am especially struck by how profoundly powerful and timely this miraculous truth is at this present time. The morning hours of this day of preparation for this feast mark 2 months since the beginning of the current horrendous acts of evil that were unleashed on October 7th. We see around us an increase of darkness, not only in the lengthening of the nights at this time of the year, but more so in these days as this conflict continues and as families are still separated from their loved ones, especially from those who have died in these last two months in these acts of murder and those who remain as hostages, of whom nothing else is known. Sadly, we have seen a rise in anti-semitism in recent months in frightening and alarming levels not dreamed possible. It has become "fashionable" again to express hatred towards our Jewish friends. Is this something new? Perhaps not! Perhaps this current time has simply removed the stigma associated with such thoughts that has made these sentiments unacceptable at times in recent history. This is true not only in the world around us. Again and again, I am dumbfounded and offended by those in the Church who are not willing to stand tall and proud with our Jewish neighbors. Even before October 7th, I hope that you have seen in and from me a clear commitment to support our Jewish neighbors, and that this support is deeply rooted in my Christian faith and my vision for how our ministry that we share as priest and parish congregation should be lived in the world. Our stand with and support of our brothers and sisters must never waver, no matter the consequences. The times in which we live are days when we so dearly need the hope that the light continues to shine, especially when it seems as if there is no chance that that light will remain. May we as brothers and sisters in a united family celebrate these coming days with our Jewish brothers and sisters as we have never dared to do before in the hope and the joy that the light continues, in thanks to the Holy One who is our unity and our strength, the Holy One who can do far more than we can desire or imagine. And as we celebrate side by side with and for our Jewish siblings, may we, in the mercy of the Holy One, become living Menorahs that shine brightly in the world, especially when the darkness around us seems most certain to overwhelm us and all who bear godly light that brings hope and life beyond measure. And may this experience of ours so shape us that from this time forth, that light in us will never depart from us. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה. Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higiyanu laz'man hazeh. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season. Hanukkah sameach! Happy Hanukkah! Fr. Tim

A Statement of the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council:

The Council Stands with Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, and Muslims

Approved for Presentation in the Community Friday 17 November 2023

"It has been over a month since Hamas led its brutal campaign of horrific violence and death against Israel. The war, brought on by Hamas violence, has led to the deaths of thousands more, and the toll is surely going to rise before the dust settles. During these difficult, and often confusing, times we feel that it is imperative for us to take a firm stance so that our community knows where their faith leaders stand. We, the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council, firmly stand against all acts of antisemitism and Islamophobia. We extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed or injured in the attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023. We also extend condolences to those who know someone who has since been killed in the resultant war. We stand in solidarity with the nation of Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. We stand in solidarity with Palestinians, their right to self-determination, and Muslim communities worldwide. We vehemently condemn all acts of terror, antisemitism, and Islamophobia. The mission of the Wyoming Valley interfaith Council has always been to foster understanding and peaceful coexistence among all faith groups, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to these ideals. Therefore, we call upon all communities of faith to join in solidarity against terrorism, hatred, and intolerance. It is crucial that we stand united, and work towards fostering a peaceful and harmonious society. We extend our heartfelt gratitude towards the countless individuals and organizations working tirelessly to provide aid and support to those who have lost so much due to Hamas and their supporters. May those who wish to harm the innocent falter, and may we all soon heed the prophetic call that every sword may become a plowshare, every spear a pruning hook. And may the one who makes peace in the high heavens grant a lasting peace to us and all the world." Father Tim is a member of the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council Keep praying! Wednesday 15 November was the 40th day of this conflict. I need not tell you the significance of "40 days" for us as Christians and for our Jewish elder siblings in the faith as we share with them as sons and daughters of Abraham! There is another layer of significance in this that I will name. We have short attention spans. The war in Ukraine confirmed this fact, and continues to reveal this shortsightedness. I believe that we can and must acknowledge that the one and the ones who have most benefited from this violence in the Holy Land are the President of Russia and the nation of Russia. The suffering of Ukrainians is slipping off our radar. My fear, as we anticipate how long this conflict in the Holy Land could endure, is that something may put this on the back burners of our attentiveness very easily. This must not happen! Keep praying! And as we pray, remember that a fundamental aspect of our Anglican theology and tradition is that our prayers shape us, our reactions, our awareness, our proclamations, and our search for God's justice on earth as in heaven! Yours, in the Peace that God promises, in God's own time, Fr. Tim+

Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Transforming lives of the vulnerable and displaced in the Middle East through support of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and its schools, hospitals, and centers for children with disabilities.

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The Way We Serve

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” - Matthew 22:37-39

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- Romans 12:13

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How Giving Can Pay it Forward

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Father Tim Alleman

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Worship With Us!

8:00 AM Sunday Holy Eucharist Rite I
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