My Dad always told me that I was named after Stephen in the Bible. I thought that was cool until I learned that Stephen was stoned to death for proclaiming Christ. It made me wonder a bit about what my Dad had in mind… (In actual fact, I think I was named after my older cousin, Stephen Jenks, who has lived in Portland, ME, for the last twenty years. We’ve reconnected since my election.)
In any case, I felt right at home at St. Stephen the Martyr. My GPS always over-estimates the time it takes to get places (no… I’m not speeding) so Gretchen and I arrived well before our planned arrival of 9 a.m. That gave us time to sit with the folk in the parish hall as they prepared for the reception to come. We had the luxury of leisurely conversation about the winter, the high water on the lake, the ice fishing derby, the ice houses still on the lake, the noise ordinance that keeps snow-mobiles away from the church on Sunday morning, etc., etc. We also had a chance to tour the food pantry which is broadly supported by the greater Waterboro community and now serves 70 families a month! Contributions come from the school, from community groups and from the ice fishing derby.
There were no baptisms or confirmations, so our service was the usual sort for Lent. We did bless quilts and caps and mittens crafted by members of the parish and the Sunday School. The children gathered to help me bless them for those who would use them. It’s the ancient custom of the church that things are blessed by their use. It’s our hands and hearts that make things holy. But it’s always good to set aside a moment to remind ourselves that things have not only practical purposes, but also carry the grace of God.
A festive reception followed the service. There was food in abundance. Then I met with the Vicar, Kit Wang, and Bishop’s Committee. St. Stephen’s is small but mighty, very engaged in ministry and very happy about it. Finances are struggle, but the Bishop’s Committee is constantly looking for ways to save money. They’ve had some good success with saving energy.
The visit ended with some time with the Vicar in reflecting on her first months of service at St. Stephen’s. It’s good to share my name with such a place.