FROM THE RECTOR: CHILDREN OF GOD
As I write on the morning after our bishop's visitation on our patronal feast, I want those who were not able to be here to know that Bishop Andrew Dietsche preached a sermon on the annunciation to Mary that none of us who heard it will forget. He recently returned from a mission trip to southern India to see the work Anglicans are doing with the outcasts of South Asian society. You probably know the word "Untouchables." Mohandas Gandhi called the Hindus without a caste, "Harijans," that is, "Children of God." The most common name for the group now is "Dalit," from the Sanskrit word meaning "oppressed." Among the most despised are the very young girls who are given or sold by their families to become temple prostitutes. They can almost never leave. They have no education, no hope, no choice; they face a life of poverty, sexual abuse, shame, and violence. Their children are known as "children of God" because the names of their fathers are unknown. Gandhi's "Harijan" is a now a term of degradation.
On December 7, 2006, the then bishop of New York, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, was with us to preach at Solemn Evensong on the eve of the Conception of Mary and to inaugurate our Saint Mary's Legacy Society. Because our parish chose to celebrate its opening and dedication to a traditional commemoration listed in the English Prayer Book, but not in the American book even today, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary meant we looked to other denominations for suggestions for appropriate psalms and lessons. That night, while listening to the gospel lesson, I heard something I had never heard read before: Jesus' genealogy in Luke.
The genealogy from Matthew is read every other year at Evening Prayer on the First Sunday after Christmas Day. Matthew's genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17) begins with Abraham. Luke's genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) begins with Jesus. I heard something at the end of the second reading that night that I had never heard before, "...the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." So in Luke two are called "son of God," Jesus and Adam.
Since reading the late Raymond Brown's essays on the first chapters of Matthew and Luke (A Coming Christ in Advent , I have appreciated how important Matthew's genealogy is for theological, not historical, reasons. It turns out that Luke's genealogy is never read at any Eucharist in the Roman Catholic or Episcopal Church and has not been appointed to be read in our Daily Office since 1928. Yet, theologically it too has a statement to make. Luke is all about the mission to the gentiles. Matthew's Jesus is descended from Abraham; theologically, all people are descended from Adam and Eve.
I want to share one more thing that I learned about a month ago. While coming to the end of a standard work on the attack on Pearl Harbor, At Dawn We Slept (1991) by the late Gordon Prange, and reading between the lines, I learned that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were excluded from all of California, from the western halves of Oregon and Washington, and from the southern half of Arizona, but not from Hawaii. They were too much a part of the fabric of the islands' community. Hawaiian leaders resisted all demands from Washington to "exclude" them. I wonder how many of our elected leaders know this piece of our history; I wonder why I didn't learn about this before now.
Well, we've been reading Luke's and Matthew's genealogies at the Daily Office for ten years now-rectors may lengthen, but not shorten, lessons at the Offices. I know I will think about how Matthew and Luke tell the story of Mary very differently because of our bishop's encounter with Dalit women and girls, unmarried, with child, with children. I hope I continue to grow in my understanding of who my neighbor is and of who my brothers and sisters are. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mario, Robert, Julie, Patricia, May, Penny, Donald, Linda, George, Sharon, Barbara, Jean, Sally, Cliff, Clara, Antonia, Robert, Nicole, Robin, Joanna, Jason, Dolly, Melissa, Juliana, Heidi, Catherine, Sam, Burton, Takeem, Toussaint, Abraham; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Gaylord, Harry, and Louis, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Karen Carlson and Nelsa Martinez . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . 1930 Oliver E. Holmes; 1959 Harriet O'Connor Sullivan; 1962 Carol Elizabeth Hollister; 1975 Margaret B. James.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Nelsa Martinez, the mother of sexton Mario Martinez, died last week. Please keep her, Mario, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, December 9, 2016, 6:30-9:00 PM, Art Exhibit Opening in Saint Joseph's Hall, Water, Light, City: Paintings by Ricardo Mulero . . . Saturday, December 10, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre, Columbia University School of the Arts, will present a concert, "A Renaissance Christmas," at Saint Mary's by the Tallis Scholars. Click here for more information and tickets . . . Sunday, December 11, Third Sunday of Advent ("Rose" or "Gaudete" Sunday) Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, December 11, 12:15 PM, Coffee Hour and Flower Guild Fair . . . Sunday, December 11, 1:00 PM, Adult Education: Keeping the Season of Advent with Handel's "Messiah," led by Dr. Mark Risinger . . . December 14, 6:30 PM, in the Nursery, Wednesday Night Bible Study Class.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . At the Solemn Mass on Thursday, December 8, the Feast of the Conception, four Saint Marians were confirmed by Bishop Andrew M. L. Dietsche, Dexter Baksh, Alexandra Brackett, Grace Fernandez, and Donald Harper. It was wonderful to be with them and to support them as they reaffirmed their commitment to Jesus Christ. We are grateful for their ministry here at the parish. Please keep them in your prayers . . . We are grateful to Bishop Dietsche, who presided and preached at the Solemn Mass on Thursday. It was wonderful to have the bishop and Mrs. Dietsche with us once again. We are grateful to all those who did so much this past week, and especially on Thursday, to prepare for the patronal feast and the bishop's visitation . . . Sister Eleanor Francis, C.S.J.B., the superior of the Community of Saint John Baptist, has been staying in the with the resident sisters this week, visiting with them, attending worship, talking with parishioners and visitors, and learning more about the parish and the sisters' ministry here. Sister is easy to talk to and is a great friend of Saint Mary's. It has been good to have her with us. She will be with us on Sunday . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 226; Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary 259.
MUSIC NOTES . . . The setting at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is the Missa in contrapuncto a 4 vocibus by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c. 1656-1746). Fischer was recognized in his day as one of the finest German composers of keyboard music. He was strongly influenced by the French composer Jean Baptiste Lully, with whom he may have studied, and he conveyed French influences to the Italian-influenced German music of his time. J. S. Bach (1685-1750) and G. F. Handel (1685-1759) were two of the most notable musicians who knew and were influenced by Fischer's work. Unfortunately, the record of Fischer's life and career seems best documented in writings devoted to others, that mention him only in passing. Of Fischer's works that were published in his lifetime are collections of sacred music from 1701 and 1711. His Mass for four voices begins with a fugal Kyrie which references the opening phrase of the chorale "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" and is therefore particularly appropriate for Advent. While evidencing aspects of the stile antico, this Mass also clearly embraces German Baroque style.
The motet Canite Tuba by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594) will be sung during the administration of Communion on Sunday. This classic Advent motet "sounds the trumpet" thrillingly in five-voice chorus with two soprano parts. The motet begins with the three interior voices, to which soon are added the outer two. Palestrina alternates moments of full choir with trio passages featuring the upper three or lower three voices, almost giving the effect of a double choir. The text is the first antiphon at Lauds and Vespers for Advent IV and is derived from Joel 2:1 and Isaiah 40:4.
Sunday's organ voluntaries are, as they have been the past two weeks, based upon Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland ("Come now, Savior of the Gentiles"). The chorale (#54 in The Hymnal 1982) is Martin Luther's sixteenth-century adaptation of the fourth-century Latin hymn Veni Redemptor gentium attributed to Ambrose of Milan (#55 in The Hymnal 1982). The Prelude is a set of three short modern pieces based on the old chorale melody. They were composed in 2008 for a series of hymn-prelude collections released by Selah Publishing that year. The Postlude is a chorale fantasia by south German composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). Pachelbel wrote several chorale-based pieces on the same essential model. They begin with a fugal section whose theme quotes the opening phrase of the chorale. Eventually the chorale melody is stated in the bass (pedals) in long notes under an accompaniment of more rapid figuration. Pachelbel's setting of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland is typical of this model. -David Hurd
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, December 11, 1:00 PM, Saint Joseph's Hall, Keeping the Season of Advent with Handel's "Messiah," led by Dr. Mark Risinger. Note change of location and time: The classes will take place in Saint Joseph's Hall at around 1:00 PM, at the end of Coffee Hour. During this series Mark will use portions of Handel's great oratorio to help us enter in the season of Advent and prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Mark is a member of the parish and of the Saint Mary's Choir, and a former member of the parish's board of trustees. He is also an accomplished musicologist and Handel scholar. He teaches at Saint Bernard's School here in Manhattan . . . Sunday, January 15, 22, and 29, Dealing with the Hard Stuff: Talking about Anger, led by Dr. Charles Morgan. Charles is a member of the parish and a practicing psychiatrist. Last season he led several sessions on dying, death, and grief in the Dealing with the Hard Stuff series . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on December 14, at 6:30 PM in the Nursery. This is the final class of the year before the Christmas break. The class will resume in January.
The Altar on the Patronal Feast
FLOWER GUILD NEWS . . . The Flower Guild is making plans to decorate the church for Christmas. This year the effort will be led by Guild members Rick Austill and Marie Rosseels. Decorating the church is hard work, but it is also a lot of fun, and there is a great sense of fulfillment as the church is made ready for the liturgies of Christmas. If you would like to help out, or if you would like to find out more about what the Guild does and how it does it, please speak to Marie or Rick . . . On Sunday, December 11, the Third Sunday of Advent, the members of the Flower Guild will host a Flower Guild Fair during Coffee Hour. The members of the Guild will be introduced and will be available to answer questions. Photographs of the Guild's creations will be on display, and the members of the Guild will give tours of the Flower Room in the basement. During that time, they will discuss some of their plans for Christmas. Members of the parish will have an opportunity to ask additional questions about the Guild's ministry, to discuss membership in the Guild, and to sign up to volunteer to decorate the church for Christmas. We are very grateful to the members of the Guild for their dedication to their ministry and for the ways in which they enhance our worship.
FOR MARINERS AT CHRISTMAS . . . One of the great ministries of the Episcopal Church is its association with the Seamen's Church Institute, which ministers to merchant ship sailors in New York City; Newark, New Jersey; the San Francisco Bay area; and in the Gulf of Mexico. You can read about their work and ministries here. We've been asked to collect travel-size toiletries (as one finds in hotel rooms) that can be distributed at Christmastide to the men and women who sail, men and women who often don't have a visa to permit them to shop ashore. There is a basket in Saint Joseph's Hall for collection of items. Money is welcome too. Make your checks payable to Saint Mary's, and note that it's for Seamen's Church Institute.
HOMELESS MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Plans are moving ahead for our first Drop-In Day. The plan is this. On a weekday afternoon in February, two or more volunteers will greet our homeless guests in the Mission House, and two or more volunteers are needed also to accompany them downstairs to our clothes closet. They will then have the opportunity to receive needed clothing items, as well as a bag with toiletry items, our recently designed book of prayers, as well as some information about the parish. At some point, if not in February, we hope to have a social worker or two present on these Drop-In Days to discuss other services. We hope also to have a chance to talk to our guests to hear more from them about the struggles they face in the Times Square neighborhood and to discover ways to shape our ministry based on the actual needs of the homeless in our area . . . Our Wish List: as the weather grows colder, we are looking for donations of socks, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coats, backpacks, gloves, winter hats, earmuffs, rain ponchos, and, most important, gift cards for McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts. If you'd like to volunteer to help distribute clothing and other items, please contact Sister Monica. We are grateful to all those who have been supporting this ministry so generously. -Members of the Homeless Ministry Committee
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, December 21, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve, Music 4:30 PM, Sung Mass 5:00 PM; Music 10:30 PM, Solemn Mass 11:00 PM . . . Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM . . . On Sunday, January 1, 2017, The Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church will be open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. There will be only one service, Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM . . . Thursday, January 5, Eve of the Epiphany, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Friday, January 6, The Epiphany, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, celebrant and preacher . . . Saturday, February 11, 10:30 AM, Blessed Absalom Jones Celebration, at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. At the Eucharist, Bishop Dietsche will celebrate and the Reverend Canon Gregory Jacobs will preach.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Morgan Library, 225 Madison Avenue, at Thirty-sixth Street, until January 8, 2017: Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece. From the Morgan's website, "Completed around 1470 in Bruges, Hans Memling's Triptych of Jan Crabbe [which depicts the Crucifixion] was dismembered in the eighteenth century and has never before been reconstructed for an American audience. Two panels from the altarpiece are among the finest paintings owned by the Morgan Library & Museum, where they have long been on permanent view in Pierpont Morgan's Study. This exhibition brings together the scattered elements of the famous triptych, reuniting the Morgan inner wings with the central panel now owned by the Musei Civici in Vicenza, Italy, and the outer wings from the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium" . . . Fellowship for Performing Arts at the Pearl Theatre, 555 W Forty-second Street, New York, NY 10036, (212) 563-9261, Martin Luther on Trial, by Chris Cragin-Day & Max McLean, directed by Michael Parva. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the theater website.
For this week's schedule, click here.