The Voice of St. Stephen

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1 The Voice of St. Stephen Volume Issue THE INCARNATION: THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS For many, Christmas is the time to think of Jesus as a baby in a manger. While the birth of Christ is a special and miraculous event, it isn t the primary focus. The central truth of the Christmas story is this: the Child of Christmas is God. Christmas is not about the Savior's infancy; it s about His deity. The humble birth of Jesus Christ was never intended to conceal the reality that God was being born into the world. Yet, the world s version of Christmas does just that. Consequently for the greater part of humanity, Christmas has no real meaning at all. Perhaps no one can ever fathom what it means for God to be born in a manger. How does one explain the Almighty becoming man, yet remaining the Almighty? Our minds can t even begin to understand what was involved in that. Nor can anyone explain how God could become a baby. Yet He did. Without forsaking His divine nature or diminishing His deity, He was born into our world as a tiny infant. He was fully human, with all the needs and emotions that are common to us all. Yet He was also fully God; all wise and all powerful. For nearly two thousand years, debate has raged about who Jesus really is. The world has offered various explanations. They say He is one of many gods, a created being, a high angel, a good teacher, a prophet, and so on. The common thread of all these ideas is that they make Jesus less than God. But the Biblical evidence is overwhelming that this child in the manger was the incarnation of God. Saint Paul captures the essence of Jesus divine nature and underscores the truths that make Christmas real. In his letter to the Colossians he says, He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For all things have been created by Him and for Him. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross. There is no greater truth in all the world than that. St Stephen Anglican Church Anglican Church in North America

2 PASTOR S CORNER A FEW WORDS FROM FATHER JIM Saint Ignatius of Antioch, one of the Apostolic Fathers wrote, See that you all follow the Bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery (priests) as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the Bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the Bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the Bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church. It is not lawful without the Bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. On the first weekend in December the second Sunday of Advent, our diocesan Ordinary, Bishop Bill Ilgenfritz will be visiting us here at Saint Stephen. As the divinely appointed leader of our diocese, Bishop Bill is ultimately the pastor of all the churches in the diocese including our beloved Saint Stephen community. He is the one to whom Father Rickey, Deacon Clay, and I turn for pastoral and spiritual leadership. But I want to make it very clear that he is available to every member of this church. I know him to be a wise, loving, and caring man of God who will listen to any concerns that you may have. If anyone would like some time to speak to him privately, please let me know and I will work to secure an audience with him sometime during the weekend that he will be here. Be aware that there will be certain episcopal rites (including a confirmation) within the worship service that will likely make the service somewhat longer than usual. These are things that can only be administered by our Bishop and we have to make allowances in our time so that they can be accomplished with the proper dignity. Please plan for that so that we can all give our full attention, participation, and reverence to these occasional rites. Rest assured that when you have need of episcopal ministry, we will give you the same care and respect as well as the full attention that you deserve. Last but certainly not least, let s welcome our Bishop and his wife, Lois, with open arms and celebrate our relationship in the Body of Christ.

3 COMMUNITY INTEREST NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS KROGER COMMUNITY REWARDS Donating to Saint Stephen Church has never been so easy! You can support your church community just by shopping at Kroger. With Kroger Community Rewards, your shopping gives back to the community. It's an easy process. Enrolled members shop at Kroger, and when they complete a transaction using their Kroger Plus Card, our church becomes eligible for a reward check each quarter. Saint Stephen Church raises funds with every eligible purchase enrolled members make. Please join in supporting Saint Stephen Anglican Church by signing up for Kroger Community Rewards and reregistering your card. This takes just a few minutes, costs you nothing and allows you to support your church every time you shop at Kroger. Printed instructions are available. ANGLICAN CHURCH FAIR One of the biggest hurdles we face in our church growth effort is unfamiliarity with Anglicanism and the Anglican way within the broader community. Toward the end of increasing that familiarity, we will be hosting a THE ANGLICAN WAY event on Saturday, December 5 from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM. Bishop Bill Ilgenfritz will participate in it with us. This can be a worthwhile exercise for all of us and we ask everyone to participate in the event. THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION Saint James wrote, Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. There is healing power in confessing our sins. In addition to the healing grace that flows from God, spiritual and psychological healing comes from openly revealing our sins. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at the church from 10:00 AM until Noon on Saturday, December 12.

4 PAGE SIX: VOICE OF THE COMMUNITY WHAT IS THE INCARNATION? Advent is our yearly reminder to sharpen and deepen our understanding of the incarnation. The Incarnation refers literally to the in-fleshing of the eternal Son of God Jesus becoming human God becoming one of us. The doctrine of the Incarnation says that the eternal second person of the Trinity took on humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. A helpful way to remember the key aspects of the incarnation is found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint John: The Word became flesh. The Word: The Word refers to the eternal Son of God who was in the beginning with God and who himself is God. From eternity past until he took on humanity, the Son of God existed in perfect love, joy, and harmony in the fellowship of the Trinity. Like the Father and the Spirit, he was spirit and had no material substance. But at the incarnation, the eternal Word entered into creation as human. He became a first-century Jew. Became: Became does not mean that he ceased to be God. In becoming man, he did not forsake his divine nature. It means that he became man by taking on human nature in addition to his divine nature. It is essential to the incarnation and very helpful throughout all theology to recognize that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive. The Son of God didn t have to pick between being God and being man. He could be both at the same time. The eternal Word became man. Flesh: Flesh isn t merely a reference to the human body but the entirety of what makes up humanity body, mind, emotions, and will. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews teaches that to save humanity, Jesus had to be made like us in every respect except our sin. In the incarnation, everything proper to humanity was united to the Son of God. The Son of God didn t only become like man; he actually became truly and fully human. So the eternal Son of God, without ceasing to be God, took on a fully human nature. This is the incarnation. What magnificent fuel for worship that is! Jesus didn t just become man because he could. This was no circus stunt performed just for show. He became man for us and for our salvation. The Word became flesh to save us from our sin and to free us to marvel at and enjoy the unique union of divinity and humanity in his one spectacular person. The incarnation is not only the way in which Jesus became Immanuel God With Us, but it s an eternal testimony of the unconditional love of God for each and every one of us.

5 St Stephen Anglican Church Church Location: 8005 Vaughn Mill Rd. Louisville, KY Mailing Address: P.O. Box Louisville, KY Church Office: Church Rector: Father Jim Curry Cell Phone: Associate Rector: Father Rickey Brown Cell Phone: Pastoral Associate: Deacon Clay Cook Cell Phone: Pastor Emeritus: Rt. Rev. Donald Miles Adult Bible Study 9:30 AM Worship & Holy Eucharist 10:45 AM Wednesday Study Sessions 7:00 PM Come and see!

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