FROM THE RECTOR: EPIPHANY SEASON
On the day after the Epiphany, January 6, most years there will be one or more pictures of Orthodox Christian men and boys diving into often frigid waters to retrieve a cross that has been tossed into the waters. In the Christian East, the Epiphany is not about the visit of the wise men-probably astrologers, but about the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. The history of this feast is complicated, but after Easter and Pentecost, it is the third most ancient festival.
The first evidence a celebration of the Epiphany comes from the Egyptian church from "the late second or early third centuries" (Bradshaw and Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity , 137). It celebrated both Jesus' birth and his baptism (Ibid.). In the West, the Nativity is a feast of Jesus' birth in Rome sometime before A.D. 336 (page 123). The actual development of both of these celebrations in the West is unclear. That said, for us it was the romance of the three magi that began to capture the imagination of Western Christians theologically from the writings of Justin Martyr (d. c. 167) onward.
New Testament scholar Matthew Luz in his commentary on Matthew presents wonderful illustrations of Christian art, beginning with an early fifth-century mosaic in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, that depicts the Epiphany. A very young Jesus is sitting on a large throne. His mother is on a smaller throne next to him. The magi are bowing as they bring gifts to the child, depicted in the iconography of the mosaic as ruler of the world (Matthew 1-7 , 107-08). In A.D. 1164, the relics of the magi were moved from Milan to Cologne. I've never been to a Christmas pageant without the three kings appearing.
In addition to Christ's birth and baptism, his first miracle at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-12) is regarded as an Epiphany, that is, as a "Manifestation of Christ," to borrow from the full title of our January 6 celebration, "The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles." The other great "Epiphany," I think, would be Jesus's transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8; Matthew 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36).
The Prayer Book speaks of "The Season after Pentecost" but not a "Pentecost Season." It doesn't follow the same logic with "The Season after the Epiphany." We have an "Epiphany Season" now (The Book of Common Prayer , 31-32). I'm not sure this was a good idea. I don't think the gospel lessons we hear between the First Sunday after the Epiphany and the Last Sunday after the Epiphany (that is, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday) are any more manifestations of Jesus' identity than any of the gospel lessons that we hear proclaimed on the Sundays after Pentecost.
As I write on Friday, January 5, I am looking forward to Bishop Mary Glasspool, assistant bishop, being with us tonight for our principal celebration of the Epiphany-this year on the eve. I'm looking forward to the hymns tonight. It's winter. It's very cold in New York City. The snow is on the ground. And the True Light shines. As it is still Christmas as I write, I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a blessed Season after the Epiphany. -Stephen Gerth
CORRECTION . . . One of our sympathetic readers, a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, after reading last week's Angelus, gently pointed out to me that I was wrong about Roman Catholics never hearing Matthew's birth story (1:18-25) as a complete birth story. It is appointed for what Roman Catholics call a "Vigil" of Christmas Day-an early first Mass on Christmas Eve. I'm sorry to have gotten that wrong. I still think we Anglicans ought to be hearing it every year on the First Sunday after Christmas Day. -S. G.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Bob, Greta, Brian, Aiden, Mary, John, Carlos, Paul, Bill, Mickie, Jerry, Barbara, Jean, Mike, Dick, Eleanor, Wendell, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, Jon, Dennis, and George; for Matthew, Horace, Clayton, Anne, David, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and James; and for the repose of the soul of Ione Georganna White Gatch . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 7: 1872 Ida Hardy; 1890 Edward Henry Wells; 1903 Gulielma Perry; 1906 Annie Gentle; 1923 Annie Currie; 1933 John Shenton Eland; 1968 Lillian Forge; 1977 Robert Howell Schumann.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . In early October, we kicked off our 2018 Stewardship Campaign, sending stewardship packets to nearly 1,000 members and friends of Saint Mary's. The Campaign has done fairly well, but we still have a ways to go. Some statistics: as of Wednesday, January 3, we have received 105 pledges and $345,948.00 has been pledged. This is 81% of our pledge goal of $425,000.00. Nearly 73% of those who pledged for 2017 have made pledges for 2018 thus far during the Campaign. This 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).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, January 7, 2018, The First Sunday after the Epiphany, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, January 7, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on Wednesday, January 10, at 6:30 PM. Father Peter Powell will lead the class . . . The Centering Prayer Group will meet on Friday, January 12.
ALTAR FLOWER DONATIONS REQUESTED . . . Donations are needed for the remaining Sundays in January, 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.
MASS IN SAINT JOSEPH'S HALL . . . On Sunday, December 24, morning and evening, and on Christmas Day, the temperature in the church was cool, but manageable. It would be a couple of days before our plumber and another contractor determined that the motor that controlled the valve that allows steam to heat the church was broken. And the weather just got colder. So, after the noonday services on Saturday, we set up Saint Joseph's Hall for the Saturday evening services and the Sunday morning services on December 31 and January 1. It all worked out just fine. There's a fine piano in the hall. Dr. David Hurd surprised us at the 11:00 AM Sunday Mass by playing the recorder. The acoustics are great in the hall. The beautiful oak table that was given to the parish in 2016 by a friend of Saint Mary's, Elizabeth Lowell, was used for the Great Thanksgiving. I think it's worth repeating an excerpt from the letter she wrote to me that summer:
"Now about this dining room table. It is a treasure trove of wonderful and loving memories. My father [the Reverend Howard Marshall Lowell] bought it for $25 from the estate of John W. Davis, who was a parishioner at St. John's of Lattingtown. (My Dad [his rector] buried him.) He had been the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, was the Democratic Presidential candidate in the election which took Calvin Coolidge to office, founded the NYC law firm of Davis, Polk, Wardwell.
"My parents were the consummate hosts, so every Sunday morning after the 8:00 service, the acolytes and lay readers joined us for breakfast. Not fancy, but scrambled eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice. (My mother hated to cook!) It was all about the relationships . . . Church School teachers (and spouses) gatherings, all the holiday meals, etc. were all around this table. And for 36 years, I continued the tradition. So, it is rich with "felt history," and I rejoice that it is going to Saint Mary's. I can see it in place now and know that you will honor it. Forgive me for going on so about a "thing," but of all the items in my home, this is the most treasured. Knowing that you will have it brings me great joy!"
This table is now part of the patrimony of our parish. And it seems very right that a table used so faithfully and lovingly for meals continues to feed us. And the heat is back on in the church! -S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Call for volunteers: The members of the Flower Guild will be gathering in Saint Joseph's Hall on Saturday, January 6, at 10:00 AM, to begin the process of "un-decorating" the church. This is in some ways a bittersweet task, to see the decorations being dismantled and the Christmas season coming to an end. However, the members of the Guild are friendly and welcoming, and it can be satisfying to work with them and to make sure that the church is in good order for Sunday's services. If you are able to help, come to 145 West 46th Street a little after 10:00 AM on Saturday. All are welcome . . . The new Saint Mary's 2018 Calendar of the Church Year will be on sale on Sunday, January 7, in Saint Joseph's Hall. The cost 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 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 70; Holy Name 18.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa "In illo tempore" by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Monteverdi, the great Italian madrigalist, was one of the most important composers to flourish at the juncture of European Renaissance music and the emergence of Baroque musical art. He was one of the legendary musicians who directed music at San Marco, Venice, and later in his life was ordained a priest. With his L'Orfeo (1609), Monteverdi is considered a founder of opera as we know it today. His Vespro della Beata Vergine of 1610 may well have provided a model and an inspiration for the great Passions and oratorios of the later Baroque composers-notably Bach and Handel-that stand as monumental pillars of sacred music even to our own day. Monteverdi's Missa "In illo tempore" ("In that time") is scored for four voices throughout. It is a parody Mass with themes drawn from the motet of the same name composed by the Spanish-born Cristóbal Morales (c.1500-1553). Morales's motet sets the text of John 16:16-19 in which Jesus speaks to his disciples of his going to the Father.
Calvin Hampton (1938-1984) was a vibrant member of the New York music scene his entire adult life. A brilliant organist and an imaginative composer, Hampton was music director at Calvary Church, Gramercy Park, from the early 1960s until shortly before his death. His distinctive art-song styled hymn tunes and service music are sung widely, particularly in the Episcopal Church. The motet on Sunday is one of Hampton's yet unpublished choral pieces which was shared with the Mississippi Liturgy and Music conference in 1985. The bookend events of the Epiphany season are the Baptism of Christ and the Transfiguration. In both events, according to the synoptic Gospels, a voice from heaven affirms Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 3:17, 17:5 and parallels). Hampton musically illuminates a small segment of scripture that is common to these two occasions.
The organ prelude on Sunday morning is an extended setting from the third part of J. S. Bach's Clavierübung which is based upon the traditional melody for Luther's text on the baptism of our Lord, translated "Christ, our Lord, to the Jordan came." The melody is played on the pedals of the organ, sounding in the alto register, while consistent scale-wise motion of the left hand suggests the flowing of the Jordan River, and the right hand provides additional rhythmic and harmonic texture. The postlude is Bach's chorale prelude In dir ist Freude ("In thee is joy") from his Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book"), a chorale traditionally associated with the New Year. -David Hurd
ADULT EDUCATION. . . On Sunday, January 7, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study, Father Jay Smith will begin 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. This week: Late-medieval Catholicism and the beginnings of the English Reformation. The series will continue on January 14 and 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.
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 email or speak to her on Sunday morning.
HOMELESS MINISTRY. . . 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.
RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, February 2, 2018, 5:30, The Presentation: Candlemas, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, Church of the Transfiguration, New York City . . . Monday, April 9, 2018, 5:30 PM, The Annunciation, Mr. Bálint Karosi, Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, New York City . . . Thursday, May 10, 5:30 PM Ascension Day, Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City.
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.