FROM FATHER SMITH: SEEING THE FACES, LEARNING THE NAMES
I am writing to you on Thursday morning, four days after the murders that took place at Pulse, a gay bar and dance club in Orlando. The discussion of these horrifying killings has now blossomed into a conversation about a large number of issues: terrorism, domestic and foreign; gun control; the role of powerful lobbies in our legislative processes; violence in American society; the causes of mass shootings in America; the role that religion plays, or has played, in promoting violence; the role that Islam plays, or does not play, in promoting violence and terrorism; the role that race and ethnicity may have played in the Orlando murders; Islamophobia; homophobia; and the life, background, religion, motivations, sexual orientation, and psyche of the murderer in Orlando.
All of these issues are important, and I am glad that I live in a society where these conversations can take place. Each one of you is unique and uniquely gifted. As Christian disciples, you and I need information in order to address the issues that matter most to us. It is no doubt a good thing that all these conversations are taking place; but I hope that, in the end, effective action and real solutions can emerge from all this talk.
Still, it seems to me, four days on, that we run the risk of losing sight of some important facts. At least forty-nine men and women died in Orlando. A large number of men and women were injured, some critically, during the attack at the gay bar in Orlando. The death toll is likely to rise; and, significantly, most of the men and women who were murdered and wounded on Sunday morning were young members of the LGBT community. A majority of them were Latino; many of them were Puerto Rican. They had gathered on “Latin Night” in what they believed was a safe space. They had gathered to celebrate during a month that is dedicated to reflection, action, and celebration by the LGBT community—and then a man with murderous intent walked into that bar and took the lives of nearly fifty people, injuring and terrorizing many more. Each of those killed or wounded was and is an individual, with a name, a face, a history, and hopes for the future. Most of them were members of the LGBT community. It would be a mistake to forget that.
We Christians have good resources when it comes to talking about diversity within unity and about the role of the individual within a community. When Saint Paul talks to the members of the Corinthian church about the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-31), he reminds them that each member of the community makes a contribution to the whole. This is not just a matter of jobs or ministries. I think that we must imagine Paul’s vision of the Body as rich, colorful, variegated, and three-dimensional. It is not a flimsy cardboard figure. The Body of Christ is constructed of living, breathing persons, each one unique.
When I hear 1 Corinthians 12, I sometimes wonder if this is Paul’s way of talking about what he had heard and learned about Jesus after his conversion. Jesus had a vision of the Kingdom of God, but he never stopped seeing the individual: Jew and Gentile, soldier and tax collector, religious teacher and blind man, Mary and Martha, Peter and the Beloved Disciple, rich man and poor widow. Jesus always seems to be able to truly see each one of them and address them as they really are. For Jesus, a person is never just a symbol of some larger whole. It seems that, for Jesus, no person is ever unimportant or extraneous.
Our parish does not have a huge congregation, but we are a pretty diverse lot. When these terrible events occur, each person brings his or her individual feelings, thoughts, ideas, and concerns back to the community. Remember those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School (December 14, 2012). Remember those killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston just one year ago (June 17, 2015).
There are some things that we can do to respond to the murders in Orlando. We can continue to pray. We can become involved in the political process. We can open our wallets and support the LGBT Community in Orlando. We can be vigilant about scapegoating and intolerance. We can learn more about other faiths, including Islam. And we can continue doing something that we have been doing for a long time, something we are actually pretty good at, it seems to me: we can maintain this parish as a diverse and integrated community that is opposed to homophobia and knows how to fight against it, a parish that knows how to welcome members of the LGBT community, a parish where the lesbian just coming out, or the gay man estranged from his family, or those who feel estranged from God because of their sexual orientation can learn, or remember, that they, too, are God’s children, that they are members of the Body of Christ, that they are unique and indispensable, and that they are loved. —James Ross Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Jean, Juliana, David, Pablo, Jacob, Dolly, Sandy, Walter, Margaret, Sharon, Penny, Heidi, Catherine, Sally, Donald, Sam, Burton, Toussaint, Dennis, Arpene, Takeem, Sidney, deacon, Horace, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, Harry, priest, and Louis, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the souls of Michelle; of those murdered in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, June 12, 2016; and of those murdered at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 19: 1959 Alexander Gordon, Sr.
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, June 24, Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . On Wednesdays, the daily 12:10 PM Eucharist is a Sung Mass; on Thursdays the daily 12:10 Eucharist is a Mass with Healing Service.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Horace Choate suffered a stroke on Tuesday night and is in serious condition. Father Choate worked here at Saint Mary’s as a seminarian in the early 2000s. He is married to the Reverend Yamily Bass-Choate. Please keep Horace, Yamily, and their family in your prayers . . . Saturday, June 18, 12:15 PM, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street, Saint James Chapel: A Requiem for Orlando, Canon Blake Rider, preacher . . . Dr. David Hurd, organist and music director, will be away from the parish attending the convention of the American Guild of Organists from Monday, June 20, until Friday, June 24 . . . Father Gerth is away from the office, on vacation, from Wednesday, June 15, through Friday, June 24. He returns on Saturday, June 25 . . . Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B., and Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., will be away from the parish from the evening of Thursday, June 23, until Saturday evening, June 25. They will be in Mendham, New Jersey, celebrating the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist with the other sisters of the Community of Saint John Baptist and their friends and associates . . . Father Jay Smith will be on vacation from Monday, June 27, until Sunday, July 31. While Father Smith is away, if you need to add a name to the prayer list or if you have questions about stewardship, outreach, or hospitality, or if you would like to make a donation to the Homeless Ministry, the Flower Guild, or the hospitality ministry, please contact the Parish Office. For pastoral matters, please contact Father Gerth, Father Pace, or Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins directly, or call the Parish Office to leave a message . . . Altar Flowers are needed for all of the Sundays in July and August. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 151.
GAY PRIDE SUNDAY . . . Sunday, June 26, New York City LGBT Pride March, on Fifth Avenue, from the lower 30s to the West Village. Religious organizations, including Episcopal parishes and groups, usually march together, often toward the end of the parade, in part so those who wish to do so can attend church in the morning. Organizational details will be available on the diocesan website next week. If you would like to make a donation to defray the costs of the Episcopal Church’s float in the parade, please contact Father Jay Smith.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The choir season ended on Sunday, May 29, the Feast of Corpus Christi. We are very grateful to all of our talented musicians, who sang so beautifully on Sundays and holy days beginning last fall. We look forward to the choir’s return on the Feast of the Assumption, Sunday, August 15, and then on the first Sunday of October, when the choir season begins once again. During the summer months, the Mass ordinary is sung by the Congregation, led by the music director and a cantor. On Sunday, the Mass setting is New Plainsong by David Hurd, who also plays the service at the Solemn Mass. The cantor will be Christopher Howatt. During the administration of Communion, Mr. Howatt will sing “A Simple Song,” from Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers. Mass is a musical theater work that was composed by Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990). Bernstein also wrote, or adapted, most of the text. Additional text and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwartz. Mass was commissioned by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and had its premiere on September 8, 1971, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The performance was a part of the Kennedy Center’s opening-day celebrations.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . There is a new exhibition in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall, “Underwater Emotions,” paintings by Lola de Miguel. For more information about the artist, or her work, or if you would like to purchase one of the pieces, please contact curator José Vidal.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Wednesday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, Sung Mass 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM . . . Monday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal holiday schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. The parish offices are closed . . . Friday, July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, August 5, Eve of the Transfiguration, Mass 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, August 6, Transfiguration, Mass 12:10 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . In anticipation of the inevitable arrival of colder weather, we are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves). We are also collecting packets of socks and underwear, jeans and T-shirts (useful all-year round), and dress shirts (useful for job interviews). All of these will be distributed here at the parish to those in need. 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 parishioners Clint Best and Grace Fernandez 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
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Monday, June 20, and Tuesday, June 21, at 3:00 PM, The Peccadillo Theater Company presents a staged reading of Fancy Was My Name: A New Musical, produced by Kevin Kennedy, with book by Susan DiLallo and Dan Wackerman, and directed by Tom Caruso. At the Howl at the Moon Night Club, 240 W. 52nd Street. Send an e-mail in order to RSVP. Kevin Kennedy and Dan Wackerman often worship with us on Sundays.