FROM THE RECTOR: HOLY WEEK 2016
Only once in the seventeen years I have been at Saint Mary’s have we been unable to process through Times Square on Palm Sunday. The usual worry is rain. This year, as I write on Friday, March 18, snow is forecast for the afternoon and evening. I have a hunch that it will be all right—and a memorable start to Holy Week. The focus of our worship on Sunday, of course, is not the Liturgy of the Palms. It’s the Eucharist and the proclamation of the passion, this year, from Luke.
It was Jeffrey Lee, then canon to the ordinary of the diocese of Northern Indiana, now bishop of Chicago, who, just after I arrived to be rector in Michigan City, wondered aloud what it would be like if the congregation read the words of Jesus when the passion is proclaimed. We tried it during my first Holy Week there, and we have done it at Saint Mary’s every year since I became rector.
This reading of the words of Jesus is not about playing the role of Jesus. Instead, in a very direct way it reminds us who we really are: the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), the people Jesus called “my sisters and brothers” on the morning of the resurrection (John 20:17). It also reminds us who we are not: Pilate, Peter, the crowd, or soldiers nailing Jesus to the cross. It puts the focus on Saint Paul’s image of the Christian community, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5).
This year we have experimented with no organ music at all since the First Sunday in Lent—next year I will be brave enough to omit the organ on Ash Wednesday as well. What’s made it so successful was the discovery of the sound that our eight professional singers make when they sing from the chancel instead of the organ loft. It’s been an extraordinary experience for those attending Solemn Mass during Lent us to hear the members of the choir sing and to have their choral leadership for our plainsong and our hymns. The choir has not overwhelmed us, the congregation, though they could have. Instead, they have helped us find one voice for the one body. The same thing has been happening at Sunday Evensong, in the evening without a choir. Thank you, Lord, for this church building and its acoustic, as well as for the willingness of the members and friends of this parish to listen to each other and to do their best to unite their voices in song.
This year we are going to sing Daily Morning Prayer and Daily Evening Prayer on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Holy Week—readers new to the Angelus may not know we sing Morning Prayer on Sundays and greater feasts except during the summer, including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. My guess is that these services will last between 20 and 25 minutes.
Now on to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. In his book Eucharistic Origins (2004), Paul Bradshaw reminds us that in the classical period, “the holy kiss” mentioned in Paul’s letters (1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 16:16) and in the description of the Eucharist in the First Apology of Justin Martyr (c. 100–c. 165) was a real kiss, a mark of familial intimacy (pages 74–75). That Christians kissed non-family members would “have been considered scandalous by outsiders” (Bradshaw, 75).
Thus, “The Peace,” as we know it (BCP, 332, 360), was not a handshake—a sign of greeting and welcome. Perhaps the closest we come to approaching the kind of intimate relationship early first Christians experienced among each other is in our washing of each other’s feet on Maundy Thursday. The Veneration of the Cross during the Good Friday Liturgy offers us another opportunity to mark the relationships we share as we adore the cross in pairs and then take hold of the cross so the next persons can venerate.
Holy Week begins for us on the Eve of Palm Sunday when we celebrate the first liturgy of the day. Holy Week ends on Holy Saturday, as we gather in the darkness of the church and the new fire of Easter is kindled. I look forward to hearing again at Easter Vigil the last refrain we sing before the first “alleluia” is heard, “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God” (Psalm 98:4b). —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Ethel Mary, Patrick, Dennis, John, Connie, Lily, Daniel, Kris, Mary, Sylvia, Sally, Sam, Jean, Heidi, Billy, Karen, Catherine, Takeem, Arpene, Mazdak, Sidney, deacon, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 20: 1888 Minnetta Myers; 1904 Richard S. Jenkins; 1919 Mary Barry Whitehead; 1927 Eliza Burton Harris; 1938 Frank S. B. Gavin, priest; 1946, Florence May Haslam, Belinda Marvin; 2000 Thomas F. D. Haines.
HOLY WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . March 19 and March 20, The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, The Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Vigil Mass on Saturday at 5:00 PM. On Sunday: Liturgy of the Palms and Sung Mass at 9:00 AM. The Liturgy of the Palms, Procession to Times Square, and Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM. There will be no 10:00 AM Eucharist on Palm Sunday . . . March 21–23, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday in Holy Week, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, March 24, Maundy Thursday, Matins 8:30 AM, Holy Eucharist 6:00 PM, Watch before the Blessed Sacrament 7:30 PM until the Good Friday Liturgy at 12:30 PM . . . Friday, March 25, Good Friday, Matins 8:30 AM, Liturgy of Good Friday 12:30 PM & 6:00 PM. Confessions are heard by the parish clergy after both liturgies . . . Saturday, March 26, Holy Saturday, Matins 8:30 AM, Great Vigil of Easter 7:00 PM. A reception follows the Vigil at around 10:30 PM.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2016 . . . This year’s Campaign has gone very well, but there is still a bit more work to do. As of March 16, we have received $415,833.00 in pledges for the coming year. This is 98% of our 2016 goal of $425,000.00. We are so very close! If you have not yet made a pledge, but would like to do so, please call the finance office. Our staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have questions about stewardship, please ask to speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on March 23 or 30. The class will resume on April 6 . . . Friday, March 25, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM & Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Recent sermons by Father Smith and the Rector have been posted on the parish webpage . . . Flowers are needed for all the Sundays in Eastertide. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . If you would like to make a donation to help pay for the reception after the Easter Vigil (March 26), please speak to Father Jay Smith or contact the parish office. We have already gratefully received one donation to help with these costs, but would be happy to receive additional assistance to cover the weekend’s hospitality costs . . . Two rugs, one normally in the chancel and the other, on the top step of the high altar, have been sent out for conservation. They will return! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 178.
GUILD OF USHERS . . . We encourage all ushers, full-time and part-time, to be in touch with Jason Mudd as soon as possible to confirm their availability for the liturgies of Holy Week. We are very grateful to all those who volunteer for this essential ministry.
FLOWER GUILD . . . On Saturday, March 19, at 10:00 AM there will be an acolyte rehearsal for Palm Sunday in the church. Immediately after the rehearsal, at around 10:30 AM, volunteers are needed to help prepare palms for distribution during the procession to Times Square the following day. Volunteers are also welcome during Holy Week when the Flower Guild makes preparations to decorate the church for Easter. If you would like to help, please contact Scott Holman, or speak to a member of the Guild after church on Sunday.
OPEN DOORS . . . A special donation was received to replace the rectory roof before the Open Doors Capital Campaign started. Of all the projects identified by the “Existing Conditions Assessment and Report” by our architects, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, Inc., the rectory roof was the most urgent project. Scaffolding went up in December to enable the removal of terracotta stones that need to be replaced. The stones were sent to be replicated by our contractors, West New York Restoration of CT, to Boston Valley in Orchard Park, New York. We expect the replacement of the slate roof will begin, as weather permits, in late April.
MUSIC ON SUNDAY . . . Hymnals fashion our experience of hymns in many ways. In the United Kingdom, Anglo-Catholic churches generally use The New English Hymnal, published in 1986, as an updated and revised version of The English Hymnal of 1906. This is a great resource, with Ralph Vaughan Williams as music editor ensuring that the quality of melodies and harmonization was at a very high standard and that a richly varied repertoire of tunes was included. Here at Saint Mary’s, as at most Episcopal churches, we generally use The Hymnal 1982 as our in-house resource for hymns. (Thankfully, the bulletins that are created each week allow us to avoid juggling the heavy hard-backed hymnal and Prayer Book in an attempt to keep up with the liturgy.) It’s a respected and intelligent hymnal, successful in attaining a judicious balance between ancient melodies—many notable examples of plainchant among them—and more contemporary ones. It also includes many distinguished and powerful American melodies. Sometimes well-known hymns are set to different tunes on either side of the Atlantic: “I heard the voice of Jesus say” is usually sung to Kingsfold in the United Kingdom; here we use Tallis’s Third Tune. “Love divine, all loves excelling” is often sung to the Welsh tune Blaenwern and not Hyfrydol. In England, Anglicans usually sing “Ride on, Ride on in majesty” to the seventeenth-century German tune, Winchester New. Episcopalians might know it as the tune for “On Jordan’s bank, the Baptist’s cry.” It is a serviceable tune with a decent measure of pomp, but it doesn’t quite have the power of The King’s Majesty, written by Canadian composer Graham George (1912–1993). This tune has different lengths of measures, allowing a flexible response to the words, and its melodic shapes are powerfully drawn. It captures also something of the bittersweet essence of Palm Sunday; for all the exultant cries of “Hosanna,” this tune is in a minor key, and there is something in that closing measure that emphasizes this and conveys the darkness of “the approaching sacrifice.”
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . A new exhibition, “Recent Work by José Camacho,” will open soon in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall (STJH). A reception to celebrate the opening will take place in STJH on Thursday, March 31, 7:30–10:00 PM. For more information, please contact the gallery curator, José Vidal.
WE ARE GRATEFUL TO OUR NEIGHBORS . . . We have recently received donations of cash, clothing, food, furniture, and toiletry articles from a number of our neighbors, which we are using to assist with our ministry to the homeless, our work with the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry, and for use here in the parish. We are very grateful to the following for their generosity: Actors’ Equity; Forever 21; Fox News; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; The Muse Hotel; and US Trust. It’s wonderful to have such good neighbors!
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, March 20, at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House, Father Peter Powell will continue his series on The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11–20; 1 Kings 1–2. This class has continued throughout the season of Lent. The final session of the class will take place on Palm Sunday, March 20 . . . Next up: Beginning on Sunday, April 3, Matthew Jacobson will begin his four-part series, Reading the Fathers: An Exploration of the History, Spirituality & Theology of the Early Church. A notice about the class has now been posted on the parish website. Take a look at the icon there of Saint Polycarp, who was martyred around AD 155. An early and important account of Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom will be read during this series . . . On Sunday, May 8, Stephen Morris will give a presentation on his new book, When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality (McFarland, 2015) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on March 23 or 30. The class will resume on April 6 at 6:30 PM.
JOHN DONNE: GOOD FRIDAY AND THE ANNUNCIATION . . . March 25, 2016, is Good Friday. In years when March 25 does not fall during Holy Week or Easter Week, that day is kept as the Feast of the Annunciation, and for many Christians March 25 is closely associated with that holy day. The “symbolically rich concurrence” of Annunciation and Good Friday rarely happens. In the twentieth century it happened only three times (in 1910, 1921, and 1932). In the twenty-first century it happens only twice (2005 and 2016). It also took place in 1608 (according to the Julian calendar). The great Anglican poet John Donne wrote a poem to mark the occasion, “Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day, 1608.” This year at Saint Mary’s we will celebrate the Annunciation on Monday, April 4. The Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves) for distribution here at the parish. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith . . . 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
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Monday, March 21, 7:30 PM, The Peccadillo Theater Company presents a staged reading of It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis & John C. Moffitt, adapted from Lewis’s novel, starring Greg Mullavey and directed by Dan Wackerman. The reading is part of “The-Plays-You-Should-Know-But-Probably-Don't
Reading Series.” At The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South. Admission is free. Reservations must be made in advance via e-mail. Dan Wackerman, and his husband Kevin Kennedy, are good friends of Saint Mary’s and often worship with us on Sunday mornings.