From the Rector: September 11, 2011
September 11, 2011, will be observed at Saint Mary’s according to the calendar of the Church. It is “The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.” The victims of the attack on our country on this day in 2001 will be remembered in our prayers. We will pray for our nation and ourselves. The final hymn at the Solemn Mass will be A mighty fortress is our God. We will look forward.
My body, not just my mind, can recall, if I let it, the fear that day brought, the fear and the sadness for the evil that had been done. I can feel it in my body as well as my heart and mind. But even on that terrible day, I can remember moments of courage, faith and hope. Many died too suddenly; none of us were prepared. But faith, of course, did not die that day. Faith, hope and love, as Saint Paul wrote, never die.
No member of Saint Mary’s died in the attacks ten years ago, but many in our parish still mourn those they knew personally who died. Many of our community attended more than one funeral for persons they knew who had died. Lives changed that day. Life changed that day. Before a month had passed, our armed forces were on the ground in Afghanistan. Since October 6, 2001, the day the war began, when we began praying at every Mass for the men and women on active duty, few would guess we would still be fighting two wars a decade later – and frankly, personally speaking, something doesn’t seem right about this to me.
At some point, a guest at the Rectory left behind a copy of Amitav Ghosh’s book, In An Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler’s Tale (New York: Vintage Books, 1994). It’s about Ghosh’s search for the life story of a twelfth-century merchant, Abraham Ben Yijû, and his slave, known at the beginning of the search as the “Slave of MS (manuscript) H.6.” Ben Yijû was born in what we now call Tunisia. His adult life was spent in the great trading cities of Cairo (Egypt), Aden (Yemen) and Mangalore (India). The slave lived in Mangalore. The documents about their lives were discovered in the “Geniza” of a synagogue in Cairo – a geniza is a synagogue storeroom in which documents written in Hebrew were kept until they were disposed of by burial. It’s a fascinating read not only for its historical information but for what Ghosh tells us about his own life.
Ghosh was born in India. His family’s religious tradition is Hindu. In 1980 he lived for a period in a small rural village in Egypt. He recounts living with a Muslim family there, and gradually being included in their private life – that is, among other things, being allowed to be at meals where the women of the family were present. His book brought back memories of my own experiences of living with a family in Pakistan for three months in the winter of 1978.
Somewhere I have a picture of myself and another student from Pakistan in 1978. We are standing with a group of ten- or eleven-year old boys in Panchnad, the area where the last of the five rivers that form the River Indus meets. They were very proud of teaching us to say, “lā ʾilāha ʾillallāh, Muḥammad rasūlu-llāh” – there is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet. They then pronounced with great delight that we were now Muslims. Looking back, it was the innocence of childhood. It would be useful to know if those boys had heard of both the slaughter of native Hindus there by their Muslim neighbors and the slaughter of native Muslims by their Hindu neighbors elsewhere in 1947, the year of Pakistani and Indian independence. It mattered not to them that we were Americans or that I was not a close male relative of the other student. These would be matters of life and death today.
I don’t know if Ghosh would be permitted to visit or live with the same family in Egypt today. I’m sure I would not be able to do so in Pakistan. Something changed across the Islamic world after the revolution in Iran in January 1979. That change has altered the wider Islamic community in ways few foresaw. But things are changing again in their world and in ours, as they always do.
Trade, among other things, has driven change from the beginning of history. It still does. Many things are the same about us human beings today as they were 1000 years ago when Ben Yijû lived. One thing that is different is how we exchange information. Almost everywhere the Internet has altered and is altering what people know about others – and about how we trade. What has not changed is the ability of human beings to do evil. But God has not abandoned us to evil and death. He has given us Easter, that is, life in resurrection.
As the years pass, I remain a person of faith. I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe in the resurrection of the dead. We live and die with faith in “joyful expectation of eternal life” (The Book of Common Prayer , 505). We know that beyond the evil of Good Friday and beyond every evil, is our Easter faith. As Martin Luther wrote, “A mighty fortress is our God . . . his kingdom is for ever.” Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Donald, Sharon, Bob, Natasha, Julia, Caleb, Dianne, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, and Lorraine, deacon; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Christine, and Rob; and for the repose of the soul of Philip . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 11:1954 William Charles Wates Durand; 1957 Alice Maixner.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD . . . The Burial of the Dead will be celebrated with Solemn Mass for Philip Dean Parker on Thursday, September 15, at 10:00 AM. Your prayers and presence are requested.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Holy Cross Day is Wednesday, September 14. Holy Cross Day is observed at Evening Prayer on Tuesday, September 13 at 6:00 PM and on Wednesday at 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Sung Mass and 6:00 PM Sung Mass . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, September 10. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, September 17.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Rector will be attending a course, Leadership in Ministry, in Lost River, West Virginia on Monday, September 12 through Wednesday, September 14 . . . Altar flowers are needed for September 25 and October 16 and 23. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office . . . The members of the Stewardship Committee have already begun to plan for the launch of this year’s Stewardship Campaign. This has reminded us of the following: our Treasurer, Randy Morgan, tells us that income from pledge donations has been down over the summer months. If you would like to take this opportunity to bring your pledge up to date, we would be most grateful . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 250.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass on Sunday is Nimrod from Variations on an Original Theme (“Enigma”) (1898–1899) by Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934). The cantor is Ms. Ruth Cunningham, soprano, and I will accompany on the organ. Ms. Emily Werne and Dr. Mark Risinger will also sing the communion motet. The Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei movements of the Mass ordinary are improvised by Ms. Cunningham and myself. Improvisation results in a very powerful, exciting and direct communication of the text that is set. The communion motet is the Lux aeterna from Missa pro defunctis (1583) Spanish composer by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611). The postlude is Adagio for Strings (from String Quartet, Op 11) by Samuel Barber (1910–1981), arranged for organ by William Strickland (1914-1991). James Kennerley
RECITAL SPONSORS STILL NEEDED . . . Many thanks for two donations totaling three hundred dollars to the Organ Recital Fund for the new season. Seventeen hundred dollars is still needed. The Recital Fund provides a modest honorarium to the musicians who play before our Sunday Evensong services. Your support is much appreciated. The witness of our music never fails to bring people into the church, even in the winter when the doors are closed. Aeolian Skinner Opus 891 is a mighty instrument. Thank you for your support! S.G.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2012 . . . The Episcopal Church Office of Stewardship has developed a six-week series of readings, reflections and questions called “Feasting on Gratitude” to assist in discerning the practice of intentional giving to one’s faith community.
“Feasting on Gratitude” invites individuals and congregations to reflect and discuss stewardship principles and practices, based on the Sunday gospel readings from Matthew for October 2 through November 6, which is the Sunday after All Saints Day. Series resources may be accessed at www.episcopalchurch.org/feastingongratitude.
THE COMMITTEE TO ELECT A BISHOP . . . The report of the Committee to Elect a Bishop, with details concerning all five nominees, is available by visiting the special website for the election, www.nybishopsearch2011.org; you may also download the report from the diocesan website at www.dioceseny.org. The convention to elect a Bishop Coadjutor for the Diocese of New York will take place on Saturday, October 29, 2011, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The Committee has scheduled “walkabouts” at locations throughout the diocese October 11-14 so that delegates to the convention, and others who are interested, can meet the candidates. The Manhattan walkabout is scheduled for Friday, October 14, 1:00 PM, at Saint James, Madison Avenue. Other times and locations are listed on the diocesan website.
The voting members of the Diocesan Convention are lay delegates from all of the congregations of the diocese and the members of the clergy who are “canonically resident” in the diocese and who serve in an active ministry. Saint Mary’s lay delegates are Steven Heffner and Leroy Sharer. Our alternate delegates are Randy Morgan and Mark Risinger. The Rector, Father Smith, and Deacon Weiner Tompkins are voting members of convention of the diocese. Father Pace, who is a priest of the diocese of Tennessee, will take the Saturday duty at Saint Mary’s on October 29, for which the Rector is very thankful indeed.
OKTOBERFEST & HYMN SING 2011 . . . Our annual Oktoberfest and Hymn Sing is on Saturday, October 15, 6:00-9:00 PM. Dinner is potluck. Please contact Grace Bruni or Father Smith if you think you might be able to bring a dish to share. Beverages will be provided. All are welcome!