FROM THE RECTOR: REDISCOVERING PENTECOST
Massey Shepherd in his commentary on the 1928 Prayer Book wrote, “Three Jewish observances were adopted by the Church from the very earliest days, and transformed and charged with new meaning” (Commentary on the American Prayer Book , xlvi). These were the Sabbath, Passover, and Pentecost. The gathering on the Sabbath, Saturday, was the first adopted. Christians gathered in the evening weekly for a meal focused on Christ’s Second Coming. (Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson, Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity , 13). By the end of the first century, Sundays are beginning gradually to replace Saturdays as the Christian Sabbath (Ibid., 7).
Next comes the Christian Passover, or Pascha (or for us English speakers, “Easter”). It began to be celebrated in the middle of the second century (Ibid., 40) with a focus on Christ’s death (Ibid., 56)—not his resurrection. The references in the New Testament to Pentecost (pentekoste—Greek for 50) all refer to the one-day Jewish festival of Jesus’ time. The first references to a fifty-day commemoration by Christians comes from the end of the second century from North Africa, Asia Minor, and Lyon (Ibid., 70). At that time Pascha (Easter) was about Christ’s death, the fifty days about his resurrection, his ascension, his gift of the Spirit, and his still-looked-for Second Coming (Ibid., 71).
This original season of Pentecost was prominent enough that it received a specific mention in the canons of the Council of Nicaea in AD 325: Since there are some who kneel on Sunday and during the season of Pentecost, this holy synod decrees that, so that the same observances may be maintained in every diocese, one should offer one's prayers to the Lord standing [Canon 20].
But it may be that the church’s leaders were trying to impose a discipline of prayer and understanding of calendar that was not at all universal. People knew that Jesus, his disciples, and Christians of the first centuries of believers shared their weekly meal as they shared other important meals: while lying on couches (Andrew McGowan, Ancient Christian Worship , 48–49). Bradshaw and Johnson note that the fifty-day season was not strong enough not to be overwhelmed by other celebrations of events in the life of Jesus (Ibid., 73). Epiphany is already a festival in the east by the end of the second or the beginning of the third century (Ibid., 137). Others, like the Ascension. would soon be added.
By the time of the Protestant Reformation, Easter is an eight-day celebration that begins with Easter Day and concludes with what earlier Prayer Books called, “The First Sunday after Easter.” I invite you to look at the collects and lessons in the 1928 book for these Sundays. Easter is absent from the Second Sunday after Easter through the Sunday after Ascension Day (BCP , 171–179). Anglicans, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics repossessed the fifty-day season in the 1970s. The 1979 Prayer Book has certainly been reshaped by an emphasis that brings together Christ’s death and resurrection in so many prayers. That said, I don’t know if there was ever a time until our time when so many Sunday Eucharists were celebrated with prayers that proclaimed so clearly not just Jesus’ death but also his resurrection. I like what we have a lot, but I know there’s still more to learn. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR William, Sandy, Walter, Julie, Carol, Eileen, Sharon, Margaret, Penny, Alex, Santiago, Donald, Sam, Jean, Heidi, Catherine, Sally, Benjamin, Chaim, Burton, Toussaint, Dennis, Arpene, Takeem, Sidney, DEACON, Paulette, PRIEST, Gaylord, PRIEST, Harry, PRIEST, and Louis, PRIEST; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the soul of Alfonso Moreno . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 15: 1875 Charles Frederic Peters; 1893 Louise S. Stiger; 1917 Guillaume Stengel; 1947 Gayle Reese Southall; 1955 Helena D. Appleton; 1958 Alice Leavit Eastman; 1981 James Thomas Gordon.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, May 15, The Day of Pentecost: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Adult Forum 10:00 AM, Holy Baptism & Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, May 18, 12:10 PM, Sung Mass . . . Thursday, May 19, 12:10 PM, Mass with Healing Service.
SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM 2016 . . . This weekend Saint Mary’s will join the thirty-first annual AIDS Walk. We invite you to contribute to our Team’s efforts. Last year, the Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team, eighteen people strong, ranked Number 7 in fundraising among all of the teams that walked. We raised $56,813.00. We were able to do that because we received nearly 400 separate, and very generous, contributions. Our goal this year is a very ambitious $60,000 as we walk in solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS and with those who support and care for them. As of Friday, May 13, 2016, we have raised $48,818.00. We invite you to make a donation to our very determined Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk Team. You can make a contribution by clicking on this link. You can also direct your questions to Father Jay Smith or to co-leaders MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell. We are very grateful to all those who continue to support this very important outreach effort so faithfully and so generously.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . During the next year or so, we hope to offer an ongoing series in the Adult Forum entitled Dealing with the Hard Stuff, in which we will hear presentations on such issues as depression, anger, and grief. On Sunday, May 15 & Sunday, May 22, parishioner Charles J. Morgan will be discussing bereavement and grief. Dr. Morgan is a member of Saint Mary’s. He is a psychiatrist who lives and practices in Connecticut. His particular areas of interest are alcoholism, mood disorders, and substance abuse. He studied at the Cornell University Medical College and did his medical residency at Yale New Haven Hospital.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, May 7, Abraham and Suzanne Rochester renewed their marriage vows during a Eucharist in the Lady Chapel. Abe and Suzanne celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary this month. Please keep them and their family in your prayers . . . Daniel Okobi sings with the Choral Society of Grace Church in New York. The Choral Society will be performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah on Friday, May 13, at 8:00 PM, and on Saturday, May 14, at 3:00 PM. He invites all Saint Marians to attend one of the performances of this beautiful and powerful oratorio. Tickets may be purchased online . . . Altar Flowers are needed for the following Sundays: June 12 and for most Sundays during the summer months. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish from the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, until Thursday, May 19. He will return to the office on Friday, May 20. He will be attending a Leadership in Ministry Conference. . . Attendance: Last Sunday 184.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Missa Euge Bone by English composer Christopher Tye (c. 1505–c. 1572). Tye was very much a composer for the services of the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) and flourished chiefly in the reign of King Edward VI. Indeed, a play written in 1605 suggests that Tye actually taught music to the king, who is reported as quoting his father, Henry VIII, as saying, “England hath one God, one truth, one doctor hath for music’s art, and that is Doctor Tye, admired for skill in music’s harmony.” His Mass was possibly written as his doctoral exercise for Cambridge University in 1545. It is in the form of a “parody Mass,” where the music is modeled on an existing tune, in this case an antiphon, now lost. The motet on Sunday is Loquebantur variis linguis by Thomas Tallis (1505–1585).
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Originally a Dutch festival, Pinkster is a celebration of the coming of spring and a time of rest to be enjoyed among friends and family. To the Dutch, Pinkster originated as a religious holiday derived from the Christian feast of Pentecost as well as an observation of the change in seasons and spring renewal. Dutch colonists brought this celebration to settlements in the New York area during the seventeenth century; however, this holiday evolved over the subsequent decades into a primarily African-American holiday infused with the African Bantu culture of Congo and Angola. The holiday became a chance for Northern enslaved and freed families to reunite and experience a brief sense of independence as well as share and pass on important African traditions, especially to those born in North America. The celebration here in New York flourished and expanded throughout the eighteenth century, but it was disbanded as racial tensions in the city increased and the Civil War drew near. Beginning in the 1970s, the celebration was revived, first in the Hudson Valley, and then here in New York City. Today, Pinkster is recognized as the oldest African-American holiday of the original Thirteen Colonies that became the United States of America. The African Burial Ground National Monument, in partnership with the African-American Pinkster Committee of New York (AAPCNY) annually celebrates and invites the general public to a commemorative celebration featuring the pouring of libations, lectures, songs, performances, reading of proclamations, and the laying of flowers on the burial mounds. Celebrate New York's vibrant African-American history and culture at one of New York City's most sacred sites, the African Burial Ground National Monument Memorial, 290 Broadway, New York, New York. This year's celebration will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016, beginning at 12:00 PM
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Sunday, May 22, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, May 29, Corpus Christi . . . Saint Mary’s Summer Sunday Worship Schedule begins on May 29. The offices are said, not sung, during the summer; the Adult Forum begins its summer recess; and the choir season comes to an end. The academic-year schedule will resume on the first Sunday in October.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves), packets of socks and underwear, dress shirts (useful for job interviews), jeans, and T-shirts for distribution here at the parish. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith or Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. Sister Monica and parishioner Clint Best have been organizing the clothing in recent weeks in order to expedite distribution . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street. —Jay Smith