St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Friday, August 28, 2015
There's a place for you here.

20's and 30's

Are you in your 20s or 30s? Young adults are part of every facet of parish life at St. Stephen's, and you are always welcome at any worship serviceadult education opportunity or social event—membership is NOT required. You (and your friends and family) are always welcome here. 
Some activities and ministries at St. Stephen's are designed especially for young adults, including a young adult Bible study group, social gatherings, and outreach and volunteer opportunities. The best way to keep up with what young adults are doing at St. Stephen's is to sign up for our e-newsletter. You are also invited to attend planning meetings, where young adults work with the Rev. Weston Mathews and other staff to brainstorm and plan offerings for the coming months. The announcement of these periodic meetings is included in our emails; you can sign up to receive them below.
Unless specified otherwise, you don't need to sign up for our offerings. Just come. Feel free to bring friends.

Examples of events planned especially for young adults include a monthly gathering--we call it Thirdsday because it takes place on the third Thursday of each month--at a local restaurant or bar; outreach projects such as preparing holiday food boxes for families in need; serving on a volunteer cooking team for our Sunday Community Supper; participating in a Bible study group; attending a baseball game together; going to one of our Sunday evening services and supper as a group; going to brunch after our Sunday morning service; going to someone's house for an informal Christmas party and taking part in "Yankee Swap" or a White Elephant gift exchange. Again, these are just examples. If you have ideas--or questions--please be in touch with Weston Mathews in the parish office (804.288.2867).
A reflection by Weston Mathews | September 12, 2014

Recently, I read a New York Times piece called “Losing our Touch,” by Boston College philosophy professor Richard Kearney. Kearney laments what he believes is a loss of physicality and embodiment in the collective consciousness of our society as our lives become increasingly integrated with technology.  In other words, even as we appear to be more connected, human relationship is at risk because we are becoming disembodied from ourselves and one another. As an individual who embraces technology as a tool, and as a follower of an incarnate Christ, I am challenged by Kearney’s suggestion that we are “entering an age of ‘excarnation,’ where we obsess about the body in increasingly disembodied ways.” His concern is that if incarnation is the image become flesh, then “excarnation is flesh become image. If incarnation invests flesh,” he says, “excarnation divests it.” 
Increasingly, as I find parts of my own life mediated by touch screens, apps, and virtual relationships, I wonder about my own participation in the excarnation process. Am I becoming divested from the people around me? Is it possible, as I live and move and have my being in different digital networks, that my own identity made in God’s image is disintegrating from my physical presence? For me, despite the changes I feel on a soul level from “excarnational” experiences, touch remains the most universal human sense—I feel loved from a simple embrace, understood by a handshake, and alive on a dance floor. When I am still, and when I pray, my soul still longs to be enfleshed. My own journey toward becoming more fully human means being incarnate in this world and developing the ability to sense and be sensed in return.
And yet, despite my own concern regarding excarnate living in this world, I find hope and signs of incarnation through the power of touch in the Celtic service that takes place at St. Stephen’s each Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Through this community, I’ve recently had the privilege of getting to know some of our extraordinary healing prayer ministers. One minister compared the mystery of God working through touch and incarnate love to a special form of Holy Communion. For her, healing prayer is a time to know and to be known by God through touch. For her, this healing happens in a world where individuals sometimes feel cut off from knowing the healing hands of community. For her, the reconciling power of Jesus where two or three are gathered is realized in the stillness where God is in control. For me, the act of healing prayer and loving touch is a form of empathy that our hurting world needs more than ever.
It takes selfless love to truly know another person. Selfless love transcends division because, in this love, there is moment of vulnerability—of both knowing and being known by God. Affection motivates us to want to see everything about one another. Empathy opens up our hearts to absorb the good and the bad. Love impels us not just to observe at a distance, but to seek union in Wisdom’s incarnate presence—to think as another thinks and feel as another feels. 
In this excarnate world, I have a tendency to want to use technology to make life more predictable and control outcomes. But my life in God isn’t predictable. Intimacy—LOVE—is not predictable nor neat nor easy. It is not achieved with clicks and taps on a phone screen. Intimacy is touch. It requires being incarnate—invested and touching the lives of those around me. 
As we learn to become more embodied and incarnate in Christ, what are the small and loving ways you might reach out and touch the lives of those around you in your work space, at home, and in the relationships that matter most?