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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday 2016: Celebration of Holy Baptism & a Loving Farewell to our Rector

Flowering bulbs and lilies decorated the altar

On Easter Sunday, the large congregation at St. Stephen's were witnesses and supporters at Katrina's baptism, a joyful occasion.

Katrina's baptism

We also celebrated, with joy, the 9-year ministry of The Rev. Curtis Metzger as Rector. We send him to the North Country with love and the gift of a new stole in Advent blue, as a remembrance and a thank-you.

A new blue stole for Fr. Curtis

The children of the parish receive pansies every Easter

After the service, we went down the block to Jitters Cafe for a party in honor of Katrina, and a chance to say farewell to Fr. Curtis.

The celebration
Katrina received a Faith Chest from our parish, filled with items, cards, and best wishes to accompany on her faith journey.

And we had cake!

Here is Fr. Curtis's message to the parish:

St. Stephen's Beloved,

Today we baptize Katrina! I hope you use it as a time to renew your baptismal vows also. At our baptism we are welcomed into the family of God and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Part of this gift means that God is constantly developing us as ministers--the 'ministry of the baptized,' the 'priesthood of all believers' we call it in the church.

In this last Easter message as your pastor I want to encourage you to continuously find your ministry, offer it to God, and celebrate it in your life. As time goes by different ministries will emerge; and if our ears are tuned to the Holy Spirit we will hear those calls and move boldly into those areas where God is calling us. In this world of ours do you really doubt that each of us who are called by his name are not desperately needed in whatever God has given us to do? Every gift, every ministry is needed...and here at St. Stephen's we have an abundance of gifts and ministry. Celebrate them and in each other!

Several years ago I wrote this little Easter poem. I share it with you again today...

Happy Easter!

Fr. Curtis


Dear God,
Life is full of woe,
If it were no ttrue,
I'm sure you would have told me so,
And yet it hurts, and shadows swirl around,
Sometimes death seems always at the door...
Friends and family, dreams and hopes,
                   love and laughter and light,
The turning of the seasons,
                   and the coming of the night.
But in the morning you started a fire,
That thousands of firefighters can never put out,
Because it fell inside of us--YOU fell inside of us,
It isn't hot, or spicey-full-of-heartburn,
But tickles and makes us laugh and smile,
And snicker and chuckle and belch out little sparks.
So the burning holy laughter spread,
And we get the joke that Jesus knew,
Who had the last laugh--
Those tickling sparks of fire are never bound,
By simple flesh and bone, or closed within the ground!

                                    ---The Rev. Curtis E. Metzger

And in the evening came the following message:

St. Stephen's Beloved,

The evening of the Resurrection. A last epistle. How can I say thanks or give thanks to God for such a wonderful service this morning and a wonderful community of faith for 9+ years?! The baptism of Katrina was such a wonderful way to round out my service to you and with you....welcoming a new member to the 'household of faith'! Your words of grace and thanksgiving to and about each other were what our Lord spoke of when he said that we would be known by our love for each other.

Your gifts and words and cards were so wonderful and deeply appreciated....even by snow birds so far away! The blue stole was beautiful and I can promise you that when I wear it I will not be 'blue', but thinking of you with joy and gratitude!

Though the frequency of seeing each other will definitely be the cost of this parting, we know that we are still brothers and sisters in the diocese of N.H., and in the Kingdom of God. I will always know you and think of you as 'the little church with the big heart'!

Return now to the place where God has given you responsibility.
Remember the peace and love we have celebrated. And do not fail to show to all people the new life that is already among us.
Have courage. Hold on to what is good.
Return no one evil for evil.
Strengthen those who fail.
Support the weak, and honor all life.
And the blessing of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, go with you and remain with you now and always.

Fr. Curtis+