FROM THE RECTOR: URBAN CHRISTIANITY
Last week as a guest at the annual conference of the Society of Catholic Priests (Episcopalians!), I heard presentations by the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop, the Reverend Albert Cutié, rector, Saint Benedict’s Church, Plantation, Florida, and the Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I was very glad I was able to attend. Bishop Griswold spoke about the work of the society. Father Cutié spoke on “Católicos Latinos.” Pastor Bolz-Weber called her meditation, “Emergent Catholicity from a Cranky Lutheran.”
Nadia—as she would want us to address her—is a pastor and an evangelist. She started a new congregation, the House for All Sinners and Saints, Denver. They actually meet on Sunday evenings at an Episcopal parish church. She’s published several books about her ministry. In an interview with Terri Gross on National Public Radio, Nadia said, “I don’t look like a pastor, I’m very heavily tattooed, I have sleeve tattoos, basically, and very short hair, and I’m, like, 6-feet-1-inch [tall]. I don’t actually act like a pastor either . . . I just don’t have that warm, cozy personality, and I’m kind of cranky and a little bit sarcastic, I guess.” She writes, describing her congregation, “We are an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination.”
As she spoke at the conference about the work she had done with mostly unchurched people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, I heard the Good News being proclaimed and lived out in creative ways. Apart from the sermons and the Eucharistic Prayer, the other elements of worship in the congregation she serves are very much up for grabs. One example: she showed us slides of the congregation’s response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. As Lent began that year, a group brought together photographs of the human and physical carnage there and matched fourteen of them to the fourteen Stations of the Cross. It wasn’t the only time during her presentation that I needed to wipe my eyes.
She credits her bishop with giving her a great deal of latitude—and suggested he did this because she is firmly grounded theologically in the Lutheran tradition. And, listening to her, it seemed to me that this really was true of her—although her congregation’s practice of offering communion before baptism is at odds with the Lutheran tradition, and this is not theologically insignificant, I think.
There are new congregations too in the Episcopal Church that share a lot that is very good with the House for All Sinners and Saints. One that comes to mind is the Common Cathedral, an Episcopal community that worships weekly out of doors on Boston Common. On Ash Wednesday last winter, one of their priests walked around the Common to share ashes amid the high drifts left from the winter’s record snowfalls in Boston. She explained, “I’m sharing ashes and reminding people that we don't have to be perfect. We just have to try and be good.” She found people ready to receive.
While Nadia was speaking I found myself reflecting on how we Episcopalians deliver the Good News. We differ from Lutherans in certain ways. Our identity is not so firmly rooted in confessions and creeds, such as the Augsburg Confession. Despite the divisions in the Anglican Communion, liturgy and worship unite us and shape our identity. We Anglicans worship using The Book of Common Prayer. I think congregations with clergy who are grounded in the “doctrine, discipline, and worship” of the Episcopal Church can find ways to do very similar things to the House of Sinners and Saints, while reading from the Bible, preaching the Gospel, and praying over bread and wine using one of our Eucharistic Prayers.
Saint Mary’s doors are open every day to people who are homeless and unemployed. I wonder how we might make it more clear to those who are sleeping or resting in our pews that they are welcome to participate in our services. For this group, receiving the Eucharist on weekdays can be problematic. Many have bundles of possessions with them that they don’t like to leave unattended. That said, I’m always happy when a homeless person asks for communion. Let me quickly note, daily we see other people in our pews, who may not be homeless but who are in distress of another kind. We also see many, many people who seem to feel very much at home in this house of God.
I’ve been working this week with materials for the capital campaign that Bishop Griswold will launch at the Solemn Mass on our patronal feast on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, at 6:00 PM. It’s time to get rid of the scaffolding—to fix stones and roofs; it’s time for us to be more accessible—to have a real ramp and new restrooms. Saint Mary’s has been a home for “all sorts and conditions of men [and women!]”—to use traditional Prayer Book language—since our doors opened on December 8, 1870. There’s a sesquicentennial celebration coming in 2020. We’re getting ready now for the next hundred years in Times Square.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Albert, Pat, Nargis, Peggy, Dianne, Vicki, Maxine, Veronica, Jean, JoAnn, Quinn, Mala, Mark, Gerry, Kenneth, Yves, Heidi, Nancy, Rasheed, Toussaint, Linda, Catherine, Babak, Mazdak, Trevor, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Jonas, José, Pamela, religious, Sidney, deacon, Erika, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew; and for the repose of the soul of Sandra Schlender . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 18: 1879 Otto Sundermeyer; 1899 Ann Wall; 1903 Maurice Pilgrim; 2003 Bernard Flannery.
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 . . . Sunday, October 18, 10:00 AM, Arch Room, Mission House, Second Floor, Adult Education: The Two Michelangelos, Part III: The Religious Art of Caravaggio . . . Monday, October 19, Saint Luke the Evangelist (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, October 21, 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall, Wednesday Night Bible Study Class (please note that next week’s class, on October 28, will begin at 7:00 PM) . . . Friday, October 23, Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Martyr, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Saturday, October 24, 6:00–9:00 PM, Oktoberfest: Potluck Supper & Hymn Sing . . . On Saturday, October 17, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith, and on Saturday, October 24, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Stewardship packets were mailed on Friday, October 16. We invite you prayerfully to consider your commitment, including your financial commitment, to the parish for 2016. If you have questions about pledging, please contact a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays: November 8, 15, and 22, and December 13 (Rose Sunday). If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 229.
SOME HAPPY NEWS . . . The Reverend John F. Beddingfield, who was a curate at Saint Mary’s between 2003 and 2007, has been called as rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East Eighty-eighth Street, here in Manhattan. John’s first Sunday at Holy Trinity will be November 22. We are very happy that he and his husband Erwin de Leon will be returning to New York. Please keep them in your prayers.
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Orlande de Lassus was one of the most prolific and accomplished composers of the sixteenth century. Like many of the leading musicians of his day, he was employed at a number of European courts, including the Mantuan Court of the Gonzaga family and, from 1556, that of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in Munich. Here music was regarded as a vital symbol of the patron’s power and wealth, and composers’ work was highly valued. He was certainly adept at writing lavishly rich contrapuntal music when the occasion called for it; he was renowned for his various sets of inventive madrigals and for his abundant sacred music. Of his sixty or so known Masses, the Missae breves were generally composed in a quite simple and syllabic style, as is the case with the setting heard at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, Lassus’s Missa quinti toni. The text for Sunday’s Communion motet, published in 1594, comes from the sentence sung during the Gospel acclamation at the Solemn Mass: it is the opening verse of Psalm 146 (Psalm 145 in the Vulgate version which Lassus would have used). In the motet, the composer includes not just the first verse of the psalm, but also the following three verses. The texture is quite dense since the composer employs six vocal parts here. The voices are used with great invention as different combinations of singers share phrases of the text. An especially interesting moment occurs in the second verse where Lassus affirms that we should “not put our trust in Princes . . . for there is no help in them.” He sets this moment with some humor and irony; as a composer he was generally in the employ of a number of different princes, and we can tell from his letters to Duke Wilhelm, son and heir of Albrecht V, that he enjoyed very positive and friendly relations with his princely employers. In his setting, however, he reiterates “non est” between the voices countless times as if to demonstrate how untrustworthy such princes can be. —Simon Whalley
OKTOBERFEST RETURNS . . . On Saturday, October 24, 6:00–9:00 PM, we will welcome the arrival of autumn with a potluck supper in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Supper will be followed by a hymn sing in the organ loft. Please bring a dish to share; and please contact Grace Bruni or Father Jay Smith if you are able to bring a dish with you. Beverages will be provided. This has been a popular event in the past. It is a good opportunity to spend some time with fellow parishioners and to meet those who are new to the parish. It is also a good way to introduce Saint Mary’s to those looking for a parish home.
ALL SOULS’ DAY REMEMBRANCE . . . On Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, there will be a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. The Solemn Mass and Blessing of the Vault will take place at 6:00 PM. The annual Requiem Masses will be said on the days that follow (Tuesday through Friday, November 3–6, and Monday, November 9, each day at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM). The All Souls’ Day packets were mailed to members and friends of the parish at the end of last week. You may also send your prayer requests via e-mail. The envelope enclosed in the All Souls’ Day packet may be mailed back to the parish or placed in the offering basket at any Mass.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, October 18, 10:00 AM, Arch Room, Mission House, Second Floor, Adult Forum: “The Two Michelangelos, Part III”—Father Jay Smith will discuss the work of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, that great Italian painter of the early Baroque period, who is known for his striking naturalistic technique and the direct and deeply human power of his religious art. (We are grateful to Dr. Dennis Raverty, who led the first two classes in the series on the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on October 21 at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class will continue its reading of the Book of Isaiah, beginning at chapter 40 . . . Sundays, November 1, 8, 15, 22, at 10:00 AM, The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11-20; 1 Kings 1-2, Led by Father Peter Powell.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . The Saint Mary’s Book Sale continues on Sunday mornings. All proceeds are used to serve those in need, at Saint Mary’s, in our neighborhood, and beyond . . . 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).
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 PM, Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East Eighty-eighth Street, Panel Discussion with community leaders, Every Life Is Sacred: Ending Gun Violence—It’s Possible . . . December 3, 2015–January 3, 2016, The Peccadillo Theater Company at Saint Clement’s, 423 West Forty-sixth Street, presents two one-act plays by Thornton Wilder: The Long Christmas Dinner and Pullman Car Hiawatha, directed by Dan Wackerman. Only 24 performances. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 866-811-4111.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Wednesday, October 28, Saint Simon & Saint Jude, Apostles, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . All Saints’ Day, Sunday, November 1, Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass & Blessing of the Vault 6:00 PM . . . November 3 through 6, and 9 at 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM, Annual Parish Requiem Masses.