The Angelus

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 31

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 31

FROM THE RECTOR: TWO APOSTLES

This year the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, falls on Thursday, June 29. Evening Prayer on the Eve, Wednesday, June 28, will be for this feast. On Thursday, in addition to Morning Prayer and the regular noonday services, Noonday Office and Mass, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM in place of Evening Prayer. "In by six and out before seven" is my own slogan, as it were, for our "Evening Sung Masses." There's singing and incense, but not everything is sung that would be sung at Solemn Mass.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 30

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 30

FROM THE RECTOR: EATING AND SEEING
 
When I first started attending the Episcopal Church during my college years, my soul was captured by the beauty of the Prayer Book and with the reverence with which the words were prayed. Having been brought up Southern Baptist, I found that the prayers of the book and the place of the Eucharist in the life of the Episcopal Church offered a broader spirituality than I had known. When I think back about the journey of my adult Christian life, the Sunday Eucharist is at its heart. I think that would be true even if I were not a priest.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 29

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 29

FROM THE RECTOR: GESTURES
 

At Canon Carl Gerdau's funeral at Saint Luke's Lutheran Church, I was celebrant at a free-standing altar, facing not a tabernacle as at Saint Mary's, but instead the congregation for the Great Thanksgiving. I think I probably read from the altar book more than I usually need to do-to keep my mind from being distracted. One thing I hadn't thought through was where to place the flagon of wine so that the bread, the cup, and the flagon could all be seen-I fiddled a little with it.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 28

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 28

From The Rector: Carlson Gerdau, Priest, 1933-2017

 The Reverend Canon Carlson Gerdau died on Saturday, May 27. His funeral was held on Wednesday, May 31, at Saint Luke's Lutheran Church, 308 West Forty-sixth Street, the congregation in which Carl was baptized. It is worth noting that, in 2001, after thirty years of theological dialogue, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America entered into "full communion." The generous hospitality of Saint Luke's senior pastor, the Reverend Dr. Paul Schmiege, made it possible for Carl to be buried by the Episcopal Church at Saint Luke's.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 27

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 27

FROM THE RECTOR: SHADES OF DEATH

I was celebrant for the noonday services on Thursday, May 18. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The church doors were open. As the congregation began to pray the

Regina Coeli before the Noonday Office and the Eucharist, we did not know that a driver heading south on Seventh Avenue had a few minutes earlier made a U-turn. He drove his car into a crowd of people to kill and maim. As Mass ended, my phone started to vibrate-my brother and his wife were checking up on me. Those of us at Mass learned why we had heard so many sirens during the services. There was an immediate response to assist the many who were injured and to care for the body of Alyssa Elsman, the eighteen-year-old woman who was killed.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 26

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 26

FROM THE RECTOR: CELEBRATE ASCENSION

Our celebration will begin on Ascension Eve, Wednesday, May 24, with Solemn Evensong at 6:00 PM. On Ascension Day, Thursday, May 25, there will be a Sung Eucharist at 12:10 PM. Dr. David Hurd will play an organ recital at 5:30 PM. And at the 6:00 PM Solemn Mass, we will welcome the Reverend Michael Basden to the pulpit. Father Basden was last in the pulpit at Saint Mary's on Friday, September 14, 2001, for Holy Cross Day. He and his wife, Jill Basden, had arrived at Saint Mary's rectory on Sunday evening, September 9. I and many others will always be grateful for their presence here during that difficult week.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 25

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 25

Earlier this week a small group of us heard the Reverend Caroline Stacey, rector, Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, speak about the work their vestry and congregation have been doing to envision their ministry in their church home in future years. The West Village has long since ceased to be a neighborhood for dockworkers and people working in shipping, but their school, for example, was designed and built to serve that population. Of course, it now serves children of a very different background.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 24

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 24

FROM THE RECTOR: A SPECIAL PLACE

There are two notes in my calendar for May 2. In 2009 Rebecca Weiner Tompkins was ordained deacon. (Happy Anniversary, Rebecca!) In 1965, Father Donald Garfield, seventh rector of Saint Mary's, fundamentally changed the pattern of Sunday worship of the parish. He started offering communion to the congregation at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. This was new for Saint Mary's.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 23

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 23

FROM THE RECTOR: TRANSLATIONS

Many years ago, in a parish I served before becoming a rector, I complained to a semi-retired senior colleague about a particular, and remarkably disruptive, three-year-old child. Week after week the mother let the child have free run of the church during the Sunday service. (Those who know me know it is the rare child who can disturb me even a little during Mass.) The mother, not the child, was out of control. In the sacristy after Mass I said something to my colleague about looking forward to the child to being a little older. He replied, "There will always be a three-year-old in church."

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 22

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 22

At the Reformation, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) chose the beginning of John's account of Easter morning (John 20:1-10) as the gospel for Easter Day and Mark's account (Mark 16:1-8) as the gospel for a second celebration. John included Jesus' appearance to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, but Cranmer did not. Cranmer gave the Sunday after Easter Day the beginning of John's account of Jesus' appearance on the evening of Easter Day-Jesus' breathing on the disciples and giving them power to forgive sins-not John's narrative of Jesus's appearance on the Sunday after the Sunday of the Resurrection. (Yes, you are reading this correctly.)

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 21

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 21

From the Rector:  Easter Thinking

As I write on the morning of Good Friday, the church can be said to be empty. It awaits the gathering of the community later today to hear the Word of God, to pray, to venerate the cross, and to receive Holy Communion. Saint Joseph's Hall, by contrast, is sea of flowers. On Saturday these flowers will fill the church with beauty and the rich smell of spring. I've never stopped to count the number of times the liturgy and our music will have the word "Alleluia" on our lips between sunset on Easter Eve and sunset on Easter Day; but it will be a lot.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 20

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 20

For Episcopalians, the Lenten Season ends at sunset on the eve of the Sunday of the Passion, commonly called Palm Sunday, and Holy Week begins (The Book of Common Prayer [1979], 31). The history of our church calendar is complex and rich. Many varied and often competing strands of history, theology, and devotion have shaped what has come down to us. Choices have to be made. In spite of the rubric in the Prayer Book that the congregation should take the role of the crowd on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, you and I did not crucify Jesus. You and I are the people who begin as Jesus' disciples, his students (John 13:13). But like the men and women at the supper before the Passover, God's mercy, love, and grace has brought us to become not just Jesus' friends (John 13:15),

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 19

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 19

Linda Bridges died on Saturday evening, March 25, 2017, at Calvary Hospital, Bronx, New York. She was sixty-seven years old. She had been a member of Saint Mary's since her baptism here on July 30, 1995. She was confirmed here at the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday, April 6, 1996, by the Right Reverend Walter Dennis, suffragan bishop of the diocese of New York. Her funeral will be at Saint Mary's on Monday in Holy Week, April 10, at 10:00 AM. Her ashes will be reposed in the Vault in the Lady Chapel at the end of the Mass. May her soul rest in peace.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 18

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 18

FROM THE RECTOR:  A JOYFUL WEEKEND

We have two celebrations this weekend. Each can lay claim, respectively, to a Greek or Latin verb for the command, "Rejoice!" On Annunciation Eve, Friday, March 24, Gabriel's greeting to Mary in New Testament Greek, chaîre, can be translated as "Hail!" (Revised Standard Version), "Greetings" (New Revised Standard Versions), or by its very common, even ordinary, imperative sense, "Rejoice." Count me as one who can easily imagine the word carrying the sense of greeting and rejoicing as God's messenger speaks to the young woman God has chosen to be the mother of his son (Luke 1:28). You'll hear this gospel at the Solemn Mass on Friday night and at the 12:10 PM Eucharist on Saturday.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 17

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 17

FROM FATHER SMITH:

TRAINING FOR THE KINGDOM  

Julie Sandri died on December 20, 2016, after a year-long and very courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Julie was a parishioner, who almost always attended the 9:00 AM Mass on Sunday mornings, and she was well-known among that small community of friends and parishioners who gather at that early hour to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together. Julie was many things--a Christian, a mother, a teacher, an artist, a potter, a friend, a Saint Marian, and a fiercely loyal, though not native, New Yorker. She was also, and very happily so, a resident of this neighborhood. For many years, Julie lived in a great apartment on Seventh Avenue, just south of Carnegie Hall. The apartment had a number of highly desirable features, including many windows and great light, not so common in Manhattan apartments.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 16

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 16

ANNOUNCEMENT: SMOKELESS NO MORE

All of the new fixtures are not in, but on Sunday, March 12, 2017, incense will return. The smoke room has been out of commission since a very small fire on Sunday, January 22, 2017. Great thanks go to architect and parishioner José Vidal and to office manager Chris Howatt for getting the job done.

FROM THE RECTOR: GOVERNANCE

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 15

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 15

The rite of imposition of ashes on the first day of Lent, when Jesus' words in Matthew about not showing any sign that one is fasting are still hanging in the air, is not the only scriptural contradiction that has come down to us for Lent. In their book Liturgy for Living (1979), Charles P. Price (1920-1999) and Louis Weil wrote, "For as long as we have records, the passage read as the Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent has been the account of Jesus' temptations" (page 230). Yet Jesus' encounter with Satan happens immediately after, not before, his baptism. 

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 14

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 14

The big news for the coming week is the beginning of Lent on Wednesday, March 1. That said, I want to begin by looking at Sunday, now called, "The Last Sunday after the Epiphany." In earlier Prayer Books it was, "The Sunday called Quinquagesima, or the Sunday next before Lent." Quinquagesima-from the Latin for fiftieth-is exactly fifty days from Easter Day.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 13

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 13

FROM THE RECTOR: ISHMAEL

There's more to the story of Ishmael than the famous opening sentence of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But I don't think Melville's use of Ishmael's name was fair. Ishmael was not the child of the covenant-though Genesis notes Ishmael was thirteen years old when he, along with his father and all of the enslaved males belonging to Abraham were circumcised (Genesis 17:23-27). "Ishmael" means "God hears" (Genesis 16:11). He, like Isaac, was a child of promise.

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VOLUME 19, NUMBER 12

VOLUME 19, NUMBER 12

FROM THE RECTOR: A BIBLICAL FAMILY

Abram, later Abraham, makes his first appearance in Genesis in a list of the descendants of Noah's oldest son, Shem (Genesis 11:26). We've been hearing Abraham's story at Evening Prayer since the second Friday after the Epiphany, this year, January 20. A few years ago I discovered that the Daily Office Lectionary omitted the passage where Abraham's two sons, half-brothers Ishmael and Isaac, come together to bury him (Genesis 25:9). I also discovered that the only other time they are found together is after Isaac is born. Isaac's mother Sarah sees them playing together. She reacts by insisting that Abraham send Ishmael and his enslaved mother Hagar away. Neither Sarah nor Abraham come off very well in this story. Yet sending Hagar and Ishmael away opens the door for God to rescue them when they are near death in the wilderness.

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