FROM THE RECTOR: WHICH LECTIONARY? WHICH PRAYER BOOK?
Since we use the original 1979 Prayer Book lectionary, over the last two Sundays we heard Mark’s accounts, first, of the feeding of the five thousand, and then, of Jesus walking on the sea. In the new Prayer Book lectionary, adopted in 2006, which the great majority of parishes use, last Sunday they heard John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on the sea. For the next four weeks, all of us will be hearing almost all of the rest of the sixth chapter of John. This Sunday, August 2, we will all be hearing the same passages from Exodus and from John—though we will have different psalms and different passages from Ephesians. Sunday’s gospel begins with the crowds seeking Jesus. It ends with this verse:
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
Both lectionaries omit the very next verse. It seems to me to be the evangelist’s concluding thought before he takes up his next subject: But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. (John 6:36) Remember the original ending of John: Jesus said to [Thomas] “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29) At Saint Mary’s you will hear this omitted verse.
The next Sunday, August 9, our 1979 gospel passage will begin with Jesus saying: “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.” (John 6:37) We continue until it concludes:
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:51)
The new lectionary gospel for August 9 will end in the same place, but it skips these verses:
But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
The new lectionary’s cycle does get one verse that is not appointed for us to hear on Sunday, August 9: The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52) I plan for us to hear this as the beginning of the appointed passage—which it is. (Note: I think it’s really important to hear the anti-Judaism in them. Anti-Judaism is still all too alive and well today.)
In 2000 the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music published a brochure to advocate for the adoption of the Revised Common Lectionary. I saved a PDF of it because it did not really tell the whole truth about what was being proposed. One example: “It is truly a lectionary shared by most Protestant denominations and widely used throughout the Anglican Communion.” Many of my Protestant clergy colleagues identify themselves and their congregations as users of the lectionary; but that doesn’t mean for them what it means for us. Almost always for them it means they use one of the passages or a few verses from one the passages—not quite the same thing.
There are very significant issues in the 1979 lectionary that were not addressed by the new one. For example, we still do not hear Matthew’s birth narrative (Matthew 1:18–25) on a Sunday in Christmastide—in the Anglican tradition it had always been assigned to the First Sunday after Christmas Day. (It was buried on the Fourth Sunday of Advent in Year A by the Roman Catholics who want us to think of it as an annunciation gospel; it is a birth narrative. Their tradition consistently avoids congregations hearing Matthew 1:25: But knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.) There is still no requirement that Episcopalians ever hear John’s full account of Easter morning. (John 20:1–18)
I was sorry to learn the General Convention has asked the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to prepare a plan for the revision of the Prayer Book. Let’s remember that not so long ago, the 2006 General Convention adopted “Liturgies for Rites of Passage,” which began with prayers for a child moving from a crib to a bed and for taking training wheels off a child’s bike. The recession put an end to that publication. It would be hard to argue that the church is as ready today to begin revision as it was in 1964 when the General Convention asked the Standing Liturgical Commission to begin preparation for what became the 1979 Prayer Book began. Fortunately, there is a lot of life left in the 1979 book.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mary, Kenneth, Yves, Heidi, Nancy, Rasheed, Dorothy, Toussaint, Linda, Renee, John, Steve, Thomas, Judi, Sam, Victoria, Catherine, Mazdak, Trevor, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Christopher, religious, Deborah Francis, religious, Pamela, religious, Rebecca, deacon, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the soul of Betty Fikes Mitchell . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 2: 1880 William Schekeler; 1895 Angeline Clark Prentice; 1998 Elizabeth Flinn.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Clark Mitchell’s grandmother, Betty Sue Fikes, died on Saturday, July 25, in Benton, Arkansas. He is one of thirteen grandchildren. Please pray for her, for Clark, and for all who mourn. —S.G.
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 . . . The Feast of the Transfiguration: Thursday, August 6 . . . On Saturday, August 1, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth. On Saturday, August 8, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith.
STAFF TRANSITION . . . As announced, Business Manager Aaron Koch will be leaving Saint Mary’s in August to take a position at another parish here in the city. His last day with us will be Friday, August 7. The job announcement and position description have been posted on the parish web page here. Please let anyone who may be interested in this position know about the job opening. Thank you. —S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Smith has returned from vacation. We’re glad he is back . . . The ushers are looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in sharing in this work, please speak with any of them about their ministry. . . Attendance: Last Sunday 148.
ORGANIST AND MUSIC DIRECTOR TRANSITION . . . Our new parish musician Simon Whalley will arrive in New York on Monday, August 3. His first Sunday to play a service will be Sunday, August 16. I am looking forward to welcoming him to the parish, and I invite you to help me do that. Simon, of course, is moving here from Oxford, England. I’m sure there will be more challenges than he deserves. That said, I know he has been a frequent visitor to New York. One person who has already been a great help to him has been our interim organist and music director, Mark Peterson. Most of you know Mark has been a parishioner here for many years. When we needed an interim musician, I was delighted he was available. He has brought much to a demanding position. Mark will play and conduct his final service as parish musician on Friday, August 14, for the Eve of the Assumption at 6:00 PM. The choir he has worked with will be back with us that night. It’s Friday; the reception following the Mass will be in Mark’s honor. I hope many of our local and metropolitan parish community can be here. —S.G.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Darius Milhaud (1892–1974) was a principal French composer of the 20th century and known especially for his development of polytonal music (simultaneous use of different keys). Born of a Provençal Jewish family, Milhaud studied at the Paris Conservatory. He was grouped by the critic Henri Collet with the young composers who were popularly known as Les Six (Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, and Germaine Tailleferre). In 1940 he became a music professor at Mills College in Oakland, California, but returned to Paris in 1947 to teach at the Paris Conservatory. In his later years he suffered from crippling arthritis, but he continued to compose and conduct. Much of Milhaud’s music is characterized by his use of bitonality and polychords, and although dissonant, his music retains a lyrical quality. A prolific composer, Milhaud wrote more than 400 works, including radio and motion-picture scores, a setting of the Jewish Sabbath Morning Service (1947), thirteen symphonies, and choral works, including a mass and the large-scale Pacem in terris (1963), based on an encyclical by Pope John XXIII. For the organ he wrote a daunting three-movement sonata, several incidental pieces, and a set of nine preludes, one of which we hear as the Postlude at Solemn Mass on Sunday. He wrote an autobiography, My Happy Life (1995, trans. by Donald Evans). During the ministration of Communion, soprano Danielle Buonaiuto will sing a setting of O salutaris by Charles Gounod (1818–1893). —Mark Peterson
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . 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) . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . If you would like to find out more about the work of Saint Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, please speak to Father Gerth.