FROM THE RECTOR: BACK TO GENESIS
Every year on Monday after the First Sunday after the Epiphany (this year, Monday January 8), the church begins reading Genesis at either Daily Morning Prayer or Daily Evening Prayer (this year in the morning). For some years now, Genesis has ranked in my heart and mind as my very favorite book in the Old Testament. (For the New Testament, John's gospel still has a slight lead over Mark-but it's close.) We're reading more of Genesis than required by the lectionary-it's always permitted to read more, but not less, than the appointed lessons. We don't read everything, but I've been surprised by how much good stuff we've been able to add.
This week we heard all of chapter 4, the story of Cain and Abel, on Wednesday so that we could hear all of omitted chapter 5 on Thursday. Chapter 5 is a genealogy from Adam to Noah, and there's a lot there to think about. Cain and Abel are not mentioned in this listing; it's about the descendants of Adam through his third son, Seth. First-born sons only are named for every generation until we get to Noah. Other sons and daughters are born in every generation after Adam. Noah's birth connects this genealogy with the story of Adam and Eve. Noah's name means, "This one will console us for the pain of our hands' work from the soil which the Lord cursed" [Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary (1996), 25; see also, Walter Brueggemann Genesis (1982), 69-70].
The people in the genealogy lived hundreds of years, Adam nine hundred and thirty years (Genesis 5:5). Noah lived nine hundred and fifty years (Genesis 9:29). But Methuselah would live the longest of all, nine hundred and sixty-nine years (Genesis 5:27)-thus the expression, "as old as Methuselah." Then there's Methuselah's father, Enoch.
Everyone in the genealogy but Enoch lived more than eight or nine hundred years, except Noah's father Lamech-who lived only seven hundred and seventy-seven years (Genesis 5:31). Of Enoch Genesis says, "Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus, all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:22-24).
Enoch appears in Luke's genealogy that traces Jesus' descent as son of Joseph back to "Adam, the son of God" (Luke 3:23-38). More significant is his mention in the Letter to the Hebrews, "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). In the Hebrew Scriptures Elijah also would be taken to heaven by God (2 Kings 2:11-12).
Echoes of the beginnings of our human lives are there in the beginning of Genesis. Genesis continues with the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Another new beginning will be recorded when Jacob's son Joseph is born and goes on to save his people when he is ruler of Egypt. The story of the Exodus really begins with him. Even more, this chapter may well belong to the same generation of writing as Second Isaiah, the part of that great book written during the time of restoration of Israel after the exile in Babylon (Brueggemann, 69-70). The journey continues in our own generation. -Stephen Gerth
A PERSONAL NOTE . . . I write on the morning of January 12, 2018. Nineteen years ago today, I arrived by car (my own car in those days) to move into the rectory. There was some snow on the ground, but the sun was shining. I would begin work as rector officially on February 1, 1999. So much was new to me. I was only vaguely aware of the range of duties that would come my way and the challenges of them to grow, personally and professionally, that lay ahead. Because of moves while growing up and then college, graduate school, and seminary, I have lived longer in this rectory than any other place. There are so many things I love about the work that has come my way. I'm headed to the altar in a few minutes. I remain deeply thankful for the call to serve as the rector of this parish. -S.G.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Bob, Greta, Carlos, Paul, Bill, Mickie, Jon, Jerry, Barbara, Jean, Mike, Dick, Eleanor, Wendell, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, Sandy, Dennis, and George; for Matthew, Horace, Anne, David, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and James; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the souls of Marilyn Falkowski, Terri Griffith, Dorothy Postlewate Hackworth, and Susan White . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 14: 1878 Robert Dyer; 1879 Daisy Mary Denny; 1883 Mary Greuber Scolarie; 1902 Mary Emma Hammond; 1919 Celia Comstock Dexter; 1921 Eugenie Simonson, Jeannette Carswell; 1937 William V. B. Kip; 1983 Frank Gailor Cortner.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Dorothy Postlewate Hackworth, the sister of parishioner Marie Postlewate, died on January 8, in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was eighty-five years old . . . Two members of parishioner Mark Risinger's extended family died recently, Terri Griffith and Susan White . . . Marilyn Falkowski, the great aunt of former parishioner Daniel Craig died this week. Please keep Dorothy, Terri, Susan, Marilyn, Marie, Mark, Daniel, their families and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of this week, nearly 73% of those who made a pledge to the parish for 2017 have made pledges for 2018. This is good news. However, this statistic also means that we have not yet heard from all of our pledgers. The budget committee will be meeting again shortly. In order to do their work, the members of the committee will need to have realistic final numbers for the coming year. If you have not yet made a pledge for 2018, we urge you to do so as soon as possible.
To make a pledge for 2018, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are extraordinarily grateful to all those who made pledges for 2017 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2018. To learn more about stewardship or the Stewardship Campaign, please speak to Father Gerth or to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, Brendon Hunter, or Marie Rosseels, chair).
ALTAR FLOWER DONATIONS REQUESTED. . . We are looking for donors for flowers for January 21 and 28, for February 11, March 11, and for other Sundays and holy days in 2018. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, January 14, 2018, The Second Sunday after the E piphany, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. . . . Sunday, January 14, 10:00 AM, The Adult Forum will meet in Saint Benedict's Study. Father Jay Smith will teach the class . . . Monday, January 15, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Federal Holiday schedule. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. The noonday services are offered. The noonday twelve-step meetings take place in the Mission House. The parish offices are closed . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, January 17, at 6:30 PM. Father Peter Powell will lead the class . . . Thursday, January 18, The Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle: Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . The Centering Prayer Group willmeet on Friday, January 19.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The new Saint Mary's 2018 Calendar of the Church Year and the newly designed Smoky Mary's mugs will be on sale on Sunday, January 14, in Saint Joseph's Hall. The cost of the calendars is $10.00, plus tax. The calendar is illustrated with color photographs of the High Altar, decorated with floral arrangements that were designed by the members of the Flower Guild. The commemorations found in the calendar reflect current practice here at the parish. The cost of the mugs is $20.00, plus tax . . .The Rector will preach at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, on Sunday, January 14, for "An Epiphany Procession and Carols" at 4:00 PM . . . Sister Laura Katharine and Sister Monica Clare will be away from the parish from the afternoon of Sunday, January 14, until Friday, January 19. They will be on retreat at the convent in Mendham, New Jersey. The retreat will be led by Father John Beddingfield, rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Eighty-eighth Street, and a former curate here at Saint Mary's . . . Attendance: Epiphany 75; Last Sunday: 134.
LIFE IN TIMES SQUARE. . . Construction work on the new RIU hotel on Forty-seventh Street, across the street from the rectory, a project regarded as a mixed blessing by some New Yorkers, continues apace. Work on the hotel's foundation began this week. This stage of the construction is quite noisy, though, thankfully, work does not take place on Sundays . . . NYC Broadway Week is back from January 16 until February 4. 2-for-1 tickets will be available for a number of Broadway shows during this time. For more information, visit the NYC & Company website to browse the discounted shows, find the discount code, and buy tickets . . . In January and early February, the number of tourists in Times Square decreases. Special deals are offered during this time, not only for Broadway shows, but also at some restaurants. During NYC Restaurant Week, January 22-February 9, participating restaurants throughout the city offer three-course prix-fixe lunches and dinners at a special price. (Saturdays are excluded, and Sundays are optional. Beverages, gratuities and taxes are not included.) Visit the Times Square Alliance website for more information. Come to Evening Prayer! Come to Mass! Then join friends for a meal at a local restaurant. Don't forget: our neighborhood is for New Yorkers as well as for our many visitors.
A DAY FOR PRAYER, MEDITATION & ART . . . Seeing God in Epiphanytide-Do you have questions about God? Why did Jesus come as a child? Why did the Wise Men visit him? What difference does all of this make for you and for me? Why not try to use art to find some of the answers! Join us on Saturday, January 27, 2018, 1:00-4:00 PM here at Saint Mary's for meditation and art making. No experience required! All materials (and light snacks!) provided. Cost: $50.00. (Scholarships are available). Parishioner Ingrid Sletten will be leading this event. Ingrid has studied art and spirituality for nearly twenty years and is a practicing artist. If interested, or if you have questions, please contact Ingrid via e-mail or speak to her on Sunday morning.
LENT AT SAINT MARY'S . . . February 14, Ash Wednesday, Mass 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM, and 6:00 PM. Ashes distributed during the Masses and from 7:15 AM until 8:00 PM . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Lenten Quiet Day, Saturday, February 17, 9:30 AM-2:30 PM, Saint Joseph's Chapel, Saint Joseph's Hall, and Church. Led by Father John Beddingfield.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . Tomás Luís de Victoria (1548-1611) is considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525-1594), who was maestro di cappella of the Seminario Romano in Rome at the time Victoria was studying at the nearby Jesuit Collegio Germanico. During his years in Rome, Victoria held several positions as singer, organist, and choral master, and published many of his compositions. He was ordained priest in 1575 after a three-day diaconate. There are twenty authenticated Mass settings by Victoria in addition to two Requiems. Although the Missa Dominicalis, sung as the Mass setting on Sunday morning, has long been attributed to Victoria, it is considered spurious by several recent scholars, who have discerned elements in the music that appear uncharacteristic of Victoria's style. No alternative authorship has been determined. The Missa Dominicalis is an alternatim setting, that is, phrases of text are sung in segments which alternate chant with four-voice polyphony. In addition, the polyphonic segments are rigorous in their use of chant phrases as cantus firmus. The cantus firmus for the Kyrie (not sung this morning) and the Gloria is Mass XI, Orbis Factor, the plainsong designated for Sundays throughout the year. The cantus firmus for the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei is Mass XVIII, the plainsong designated for Weekdays in Advent and Lent, and at Masses of the Dead.
The Communion motet on Sunday morning is a setting for four voices of the first stanza of Jesu dulcis memoria, a Latin hymn traditionally attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090-1153). In some manuscripts, the entire hymn has fifty or more stanzas, groups of which were assigned to various offices of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. English adaptations found in many modern hymnals include Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts by Roy Palmer (1808-1887) and Jesus, the very thought of thee by Edward Caswall (1814-1878), both of which are found, slightly altered, at 649/650 and 642 respectively in The Hymnal 1982. The musical setting of today's motet traditionally has been attributed to Victoria, based upon a nineteenth-century French source, but as with today's setting of the Mass, many scholars now consider this attribution spurious.
The organ prelude is a chorale fantasia on Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern ("How brightly shines the Morning Star") by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707). This chorale, associated with the season of Epiphany, is found in two melodic versions in The Hymnal 1982 at 496 and 497. Buxtehude's fantasia begins by quoting the melody literally, although it is cloaked in varying accompaniments. The second variation is more stylistically uniform and in the manner of a gigue. The postlude is Buxtehude's Fugue in C Major, known as his "Gigue" fugue because of its dancing rhythmic figures. -David Hurd
ADULT EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, January 14, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study, Father Jay Smith will continue his series on The English Reformation and the Oxford Movement. The series is the latest offering in our year-long study of the Protestant Reformation, the role of Reformed theology and spirituality in the Anglican Communion, and the sometimes uneasy place of the Reformation in Anglo-Catholic thought and practice. On January 14: The break with Rome and the several "reformations" (Henrician, Edwardian, Marian, and Elizabethan) that make the history of sixteenth-century England so complex-and so interesting. The discussion will also introduce the text of the Thirty-nine Articles (1563/1571), the creedal statement promulgated during Queen Elizabeth's reign. The series will continue on January 28, and on February 4 and 11 . . . Coming up: On January 21, Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., will lead the class in a discussion of the Rise of Religious Orders in the Anglican Communion, focusing on the early history of the Community of Saint John Baptist . . . On Sundays in Lent (February 18 and 25, March 4, 11, 18, and 25), Father Pete Powell will resume his series on the Gospel of Matthew . . . On Wednesday, January 17, 24, and 31, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Benedict's Study, Father Peter Powell will lead the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, February 10, 2018, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra. Program to include: Canning: Fantasy on a Hymn Tune by Justin Morgan;
Martinu: Cello Concerto No. 1, Kajsa William-Olsson, cello; Stenhammar: Symphony No. 2. Admission is free. A donation of $10.00 is welcomed and appreciated. For more information, visit the orchestra's website . . . Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University presents New York Polyphony: The Tallis Lamentations. The members of this very accomplished early-music quartet are good friends and members of this parish. For more information, visit the Miller Theatre website.
. . . Donations and volunteers are needed for January 27, our next Drop-in Day and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. As always, the number of those who are homeless who seek refuge in the church and who ask for assistance increases when the weather grows colder. In order to meet some of those requests, we are hoping to receive donations of the following items: blankets, razors, shaving cream; packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items will prove to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We also continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, January 19-April 29, 2018, Power and Grace: Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens
From the Museum website, "Drawings played a crucial role in the artistic practice of the three giants of the Flemish Baroque, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), and Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678). This exhibition features the greatest works on paper by the artists in the Morgan's collection, as well as a few key loans from local collections. The show highlights the distinctive graphic styles of each artist and their influence on one another. The Morgan is particularly well-suited to tell this fascinating story as its holdings of Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens are unparalleled in the United States.
CLICK HERE for this week's schedule.