FROM THE RECTOR: MORE FROM SAINT MARK
Until Father Pete Powell introduced me to Ulrich Luz’s commentary on Matthew, I never found the commentaries I owned very useful for preaching. Luz changed my mind about how I think about commentaries and how I read them. Now I have another one that I value highly, Joel Marcus’s two-volume commentary on Mark (Anchor Yale Bible series). The current lectionary year is the second time I have been working with it. Marcus gives his readers a sense of the perspective and the unity of the whole of Mark’s gospel. Unfortunately, this sense is missing from the structure of our lectionary, both of the original 1979 lectionary, which we use, and of the Revised Common Lectionary, now used in most parishes. Fortunately, there is something we can do about it. The Prayer Book gives us this permission, “Any Reading may be lengthened at discretion. Suggested lengthenings are shown in parentheses” (BCP, 888).
So, this Sunday, August 30, the appointed gospel passage is Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23. One immediately wonders what was left out. First, by editing the passage this way it makes it seem as if Jesus is speaking to “the people” from verse 14 on—the initial verses in the passage were addressed to “the Pharisees” and “some of the scribes.”
These are the omitted verses 17 and 18a: “And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples ask about the parable. And he said to them, ‘Then are you also without understanding?’ ”
This is what the disciples did not understand, Mark 7:14–15: “And [Jesus] called the people to him again, and said to them, ‘Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.’ ”
Now, the whole passage which we are going to hear at the Sunday Masses, Mark 7:1–23, will sound familiar. Matthew’s use of Mark is heard in Year A, when Matthew 15:10–20 is the Sunday gospel. But Mark used this material first. Matthew’s Jesus does not say, “There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him.” Matthew’s Jesus also does not say in the parallel passage, “Thus he declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19b).
Ulrich Luz notes, “The Matthean changes of Mark’s text are relatively minor, but significant in content” (Matthew 8–20: A Commentary , 326). Mark and Matthew understand the law differently—and scholars have no clear agreement about many of the obvious differences (p. 327). Well okay, I would like to know more, not less about Mark. So, I have been reworking the gospels for the remaining Sundays of the church year—only two are not lengthened. We will hear all of chapter 7 and more from chapters 8, 9, 10, and 12.
For example, on Sunday, September 20, we will hear a passage from Mark that echoes very much for me the merciful understanding we find in John’s gospel for the slow journey to belief made by those who knew Jesus. For reasons completely unclear to me, the 1979 lectionary makes this story from Mark of Jesus healing a boy the disciples could not heal (Mark 9:14–29) optional; the new lectionary omits it entirely. The parallel passages in Matthew 17:24–21 and Luke 9:37–43a are not used in either lectionary. I think this is a significant loss.
Matthew and Luke both omit dialogue between Jesus and the father of the boy. The father says to Jesus, “ ‘If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ ” Those are words the disciples who left Jesus did not know; those are words I hope I can always say when I need them.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Rick, Jean, Priscilla, JoAnn, Quinn, Dick, Robin, Jane, Mala, Mark, Natasha, Gerry, Kenneth, Yves, Heidi, Nancy, Rasheed, Toussaint, Linda, Sam, Catherine, Babak, Mazdak, Trevor, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Pamela, religious, Erika, priest, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 30: 1905 Mary Oakley Place; 1914 William Washington; 1915 James Robert Adams.
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 . . . On Saturday, August 29, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith. On Saturday, September 5, confessions will be heard by Father Jim Pace
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The members of the Stewardship Committee are hard at work, planning this year’s campaign. Stewardship packets will be mailed in mid-October. If you have questions about stewardship or pledging, please speak to a member of the committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels, or to Father Gerth or Father Smith. We are grateful to all those who support Saint Mary’s so generously . . . Matthew Jacobson, a middler at the General Theological Seminary, will be joining us in mid-September as our seminarian intern for 2015–2016. Matt, who is also a physician, is a member of Christ and Saint Stephen’s Church and a postulant for holy orders in the diocese of New York. Some members of Saint Mary’s will have met him last spring since, on occasion, he served at the altar. Matt has been a good friend of the parish for many years. Before he entered the ordination process, he often worshipped with us during the week. Matt will be serving at the altar, reading at Mass and the Daily Office, learning the ropes in the sacristy, teaching a class in the Adult Forum in early December, and helping with outreach. Please introduce yourself to him and make him welcome. We are happy that he is joining us . . . The Rector will be away from Friday, September 4, through Friday, September 11 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 177.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on October 7, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. We will continue our reading of the Book of Isaiah, beginning at chapter 40. In the Adult Forum on Sunday mornings we have offered a number of classes in recent years that explore the links between religion, spirituality, and the arts, thanks to our able corps of teachers, which have included Dr. Dennis Raverty, Mr. Zachary Roesemann, and Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. This year, on Sundays during the month of October, Dr. Raverty (October 4 & 11) and Father Jay Smith (October 18 & 25), will discuss the work of “the two Michelangelos,” Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475–1564), famed painter and sculptor of the Italian Renaissance, and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), the great Italian painter of the early Baroque period, who was known for his use of light and dark as well as his naturalistic portrayals of the human figure. Both painters had strong views about the relationship between body and spirit, the portrayal of biblical themes and stories, and the proper way to depict Christian heroes and saints. The Adult Forum meets at 10:00 AM on Sunday mornings in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. All are welcome to attend all of our adult-education classes. No prior experience is necessary. Following the October series on these two great artists, the attention of the members of the Adult Forum will turn, once again, to the Bible. On November 1, 8, 15, and 22, Father Peter Powell will be teaching a class on the so-called “Succession Narrative” in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings. A fuller description of Father Powell’s class, and other fall and winter classes, will appear in an upcoming edition of the newsletter. —Jay Smith
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . There is a current of nineteenth-century music flowing through this Sunday’s Solemn Mass, evoking a variety of moods and attitudes. Before the service we shall hear two movements from Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata No. 2 in C minor. A grandiose and stern opening Grave precedes a gently flowing Adagio, highlighting the “hautbois” stop and this will prepare us well for the introit, quoting the supplicatory words of Psalm 85. The majestic fugue from the close of the Mendelssohn sonata will be played as the postlude, and this will follow happily from the stirring tune by George James Webb (1803–1887) that we sing to the words of George Duffield, Jr. (1818–1888): “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” The splendor of this closing hymn, with its images of royal banners and valiant hearts triumphant, contrasts with the more delicate sentiments of John Keble (1792–1866), whose words “Blest are the pure in heart” are sung as our postcommunion hymn. His gently poeticized invocation of the Beatitudes, written originally as part of a hymn of seventeen stanzas for the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has none of the muscularity of Duffield’s words. Keble was a gentle and humble man, and in much of his poetry we can detect a voice that echoes the psalmists at their most self-effacing. Precisely this sentiment is heard in our communion anthem. Cantor Brittany Palmer, soprano, will sing the solo “O for the wings of a dove!” from the Mendelssohn setting of words derived from Psalm 55, “Hear my prayer.” —Simon Whalley
LIFE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD . . . Many friends and longtime members of the parish know that the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School across the street and down the block from Saint Mary’s used to be the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the setting for the 1980 hit movie Fame. On Tuesday night, there was a screening of the popular film in a field between the Sheep Meadow and the 72nd Street Cross Drive as part of the Central Park Conservancy Film Festival. Apparently, nearly 6,000 people, including a large contingent of LaGuardia alumni, showed up to watch the film. The New York Times published an article about the event in Thursday’s newspaper. The article is both a joyous and a bittersweet reflection on the school, its history, and its students’ pursuit of fame and artistic fulfillment. Saint Mary’s is mentioned in the article, because, it turns out, our church building “doubled for entrances and exits.” Parishioner Clint Best, who alerted us to the article, remembers that Saint Joseph’s Hall was used for costume and make-up changes during the shooting of the film and that “it helped us balance our budget that year.”
REPORT ON GENERAL CONVENTION . . . The deputation of the diocese of New York to the General Convention will give a report on its activities and actions on Thursday, September 24, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM in Donegan Hall, located in Diocesan House on the close of the cathedral, Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street. (There is a guard stationed in the driveway to the right of the Cathedral who can provide directions.) The General Convention took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, from June 25 to July 3, 2015.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Need help finding food or know someone who does? Call 1-800-5-HUNGRY (Why Hunger Hotline, Monday–Friday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM EST) or 1-866-3-HUNGRY (USDA National Hunger Hotline, 8:00 AM–8:00 PM EST) . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Looking for some light theatrical fare at summer’s end? Our friends at the Peccadillo Theater Company at Saint Clement’s Church (“where classic American theater lives!”) are currently presenting a comedy by Erasmus Fenn, starring Everett Quinton (of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company), and directed by Joe Brancato, entitled Drop Dead Perfect. The production’s original run in 2013 at another theater was very well received. The play opened in mid-August for a limited run at Saint Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. The Peccadillo’s artistic and managing directors, Dan Wackerman and Kevin Kennedy, are well-known to the members of Saint Mary’s, since they worship with us frequently on Sunday mornings. Call (845) 786-2873 to buy tickets and for more information. Discounted tickets are now available through September 2.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, September 7, Labor 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 . . . September 8, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Monday, September 14, Holy Cross Day, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Monday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, October 4, Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Summer worship schedule ends: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass with full choir, 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM.