FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER 2015
In her discussion of John’s account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave, New Testament scholar Sandra Schneiders writes that the theological concern of this story is “the problem of death in the community of eternal life” (Written That You May Believe , 175). How does the community of eternal life live with the continuing reality of death? In raising Lazarus, Jesus, who is resurrection and life, shows “eternal life conquers death without abolishing it” (p. 182).
Schneiders calls her chapter on the raising of Lazarus, “The Community of Eternal Life.” I like the phrase a lot. Remember that John’s Jesus asks only, and repeatedly, one thing: “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
In this gospel those who believe form a community of eternal life. That said, neither the word “community,” nor the Greek word ekklēsίa, “assembly,” generally translated as “church,” appears in the text of the gospel. Instead, we have Jesus’ disciples (John 2:2), children of God (John 1:12), friends (John 15:15), his sisters and brothers (John 20:17), and the True Vine (John 15:5). What will become Christian hierarchy is entirely unknown in John’s gospel; disciples do not become “apostles” in John, but friends, sisters, and brothers.
Adele Reinhartz, professor of New Testament and Second Temple Judaism, in her book, Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John , observes that for the most faithful of Jesus’ disciples, the journey to belief is “an ongoing process.” And if it’s a process for the disciple Jesus loved and for Mary Magdalene, it can be a process for us too (p. 56).
As I write on Maundy Thursday, we have had two Easter celebrations here in the parish in the last week for the Burial of the Dead for Gerald McKelvey and James Dennis. For those who believe in Jesus, Jesus’ absence is one of the great signs of eternal life. Another is death itself. Christian faith looks at death and sees eternal life. As hard as it is to be separated from those we love, for us absence is the sign of the life of the world to come.
I hope readers who live close to Saint Mary’s will be able to join in the celebration of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter here. If it’s your first Holy Week at Saint Mary’s, just come. Trust me on this: the rites speak for themselves. You and I can’t know in advance how God may use our worship to break new ground for any of us as individuals or as a parish community.
In John, there is no narrative of what Jesus and his disciples ate at the supper before the Passover. But it is in John that we hear the great discourse of Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:22–72). Tonight we will celebrate the Eucharist and feed on the life-giving Jesus. On Good Friday, we will praise and glorify Jesus’ resurrection and feed on the life-giving Jesus. And beginning in the darkness of Easter Eve and in the daylight of Easter Day, we will feed on the life-giving Jesus. “Lord, give us this bread always” (John 6:34). Happy Easter.
EASTER AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, April 4, Easter Eve: Sung Matins 8:30 AM; The Great Vigil of Easter 7:00 PM; Sunday, April 5: The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Said Mass with Hymns 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Organ Recital 4:30 PM; Solemn Paschal Evensong 5:00 PM.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR John, Ben, McNeil, Daniel, Lawrence, Mazdak, Trevor, Brayden, Andrew, Barbara, Darrell, Penny, David, Dennis, Dee, Emily, Abalda, Linda, Eric, Takeem, Arpene, Mary, religious, Laura Katharine, religious, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the soul of James Dennis . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 5: 1886 Rachel G. McLellan; 1888 Evelyn V. Tower; 1891 Anna Holbrook Ely, Daniel Cottier; 1901 Henrietta Olive Favor; 1906 Howard Lewsen Rescousie; 1919 Henry Wiedner; 1925 Irene McFall Meyers; 1964 Harold Bosworth Libbey.
ABSTINENCE DISPENSED . . . Friday abstinence is not observed during the Easter Season. —S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Monday, April 6, Easter Monday: the church will be open from 7:00 AM until 6:30 PM. However, only the noonday services will be offered. The finance office will be open . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study class will not meet on April 8 . . . Confessions will be heard by the parish clergy following the Good Friday liturgies on April 3. Confessions during Easter Week, including Saturday in Easter Week, are heard by appointment only.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Monday, March 30, at 10:00 AM, a Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated from James William Dennis, Jr. Jim’s ashes were laid to rest in the Vault here at Saint Mary’s at the end of the service. Please keep Jim and his husband John Delves in your prayers . . . Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B., is now at home at the convent in Mendham, where she continues to recuperate from a recent illness. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Visual Arts Project: There will be an opening in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall, on Friday, April 17, at 6:30 PM . . . Attendance: Palm Sunday 363.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Easter Eve: The setting of the Mass at the Easter Vigil is the Missa paschalis of Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594). Born in what is present day Belgium, de Lassus traveled widely, gaining much experience before going to Naples, where he began to compose in earnest. In 1551 he was appointed organist and maestro di cappella at the Church of Saint John Lateran in Rome. Though he remained at this post for only three years, it is there that he is thought to have composed the Mass that we hear at the Vigil. Well over 2000 compositions have been attributed to de Lassus . . . Easter Day: Gerre Hancock (1934–2012) served as organist and master of the choristers of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue from 1971 to 2004. Educated at the University of Texas and Union Theological Seminary in New York, he rose to prominence for his career as a church musician and for his ability at improvisation. He was an active composer. The Missa resurrectionis was composed in 1975 at the request of the Reverend John Andrew, rector of Saint Thomas. We will also hear a modern treatment of an ancient text, Ad regias Agni dapes, by Quentin Faulkner (b. 1942). Dr. Faulkner, a one-time assistant organist at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and a graduate of the Union Theological Seminary, has been the Larson Professor of organ and music theory and history at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for a number of years . . . Solemn Paschal Evensong: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) was an Irish composer, educator, and conductor. Born to a musical family in Dublin, Stanford was educated at Cambridge before studying in Leipzig and Berlin. While still an undergraduate, Stanford was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. At the age of twenty-nine he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. His Evening Service in B-flat will be sung at Evensong, along with the motet Haec dies quam fecit Dominus by William Byrd (1540–1623). —Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on April 8. The class will resume on April 15 and will begin reading at Isaiah 28 . . . During Eastertide (April 19, 26, and May 3), Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will be leading the class, once again, in a discussion of the links between theology and the arts: “And the angel said, ‘Be not afraid’ ”: God’s Ministering Messengers, From Scripture through the Arts and Literature. All the Sunday-morning adult-education classes begin at 10:00 AM and are held in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House . . . On May 10, Zachary Roesemann will give a presentation on icons and his work as a painter, or writer, of icons. —Jay Smith
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, April 19, 1:00 PM, Annual Meeting of the Parish . . . Saturday, April 25, Saint Mark the Evangelist, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Thursday, May 14, Ascension Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 17, AIDS Walk 2015.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . An exhibition at the Christophe Keller, Jr., Library of the General Theological Seminary, 440 West Twenty-first Street, Thomas Cromwell and the English Bible, opened on Wednesday, March 25, and will continue through June 2015. The General Theological Seminary’s Christoph Keller, Jr. Library is open free to the public Monday–Friday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (closed Good Friday, April 3 and Easter Monday, April 6). Visitors may use the campus entrance at 440 West 21st Street, in Chelsea, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.