FROM THE RECTOR: LITERALLY OPEN
The doors were literally wide open at Saint Mary’s on Christmas Eve. It was so warm in the city that the doors were open during the day on December 24 and through the evening for the 5:00 PM and the 11:00 PM Christmas Eve Masses. Large congregations were in the pews at both services. People (hundreds) kept coming in during the evening to see what was going on. Lucky ones observed the church (meaning the people) in worship and caught some really great music. It was a happy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Times Square.
This year our neighborhood seemed unusually crowded in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas. Large numbers of people continued to make their presence felt through New Year’s Day. Perhaps because of this year’s calendar the crowds were gone by Monday morning, January 4. As a resident of this unique neighborhood, quite honestly I’m happy for a little bit of a break from the jammed sidewalks and roads. I may grow a little weary of it all from time to time, but Christmastide and the Epiphany seemed not only just right to me this year, but also happy.
In the January 1944 issue of the then-monthly parish bulletin AVE, the Reverend Grieg Taber, sixth rector of the parish (1939–1964), began a practice he would continue in AVE at the beginning of every year. It was one way he fulfilled one of his duties as rector. He wrote,
In this first ‘open letter’ of the new year, I purpose to fulfill the injunction placed on me through a rubric of the Book of Common Prayer. This rubric orders me “from time to time to advise the People, whilst they are in health, to make Wills, arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, and when, of ability, to leave Bequests for religious and charitable uses.”
In the 1928 Prayer Book these words were placed at the end of the rite for the Unction of the Sick (page 320). In the 1979 Prayer Book the words were expanded and placed at the end of the rite of Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child (page 445). The revised words are worth reading. I quote the beginning because this is where the change occurred:
The Minister of the Congregation is directed to instruct the people, from time to time, about the duty of Christian parents to make prudent provision for the well-being of their families, and of all persons to make wills, while they are in health…
In my now more than three decades of experience in parish ministry, I have found it unusual for parents with children to have a will. It’s a reality that leaves me speechless.
In most situations, a good wills-and-estates attorney can provide one for several hundred dollars. So, for all who are responsible for the care of a child or another person, please make the first gift you give to them in this new year a good will. (And update an old one, if it’s time to do that.)
Therefore, this year I am using this Angelus to call to every reader’s attention the Prayer Book’s admonition that all persons who are able should not neglect “to leave bequests for religious and charitable uses.” I want every reader of this newsletter whose life has been touched by this parish to know that it was Father Taber’s annual message about wills, and the gifts that came from them, that enabled this congregation to stay alive in the years after his death when Times Square became an unsafe place, even in broad daylight.
Because of our country’s complex tax codes, there are many ways one can leave a bequest to a church. In my own case, I made the parish the beneficiary of a traditional IRA. It will pass to Saint Mary’s without taxes being due. But that’s not the only way it could have been done. Please seek out professionals for assistance.
Our church reminds me of the really old churches I have seen in Europe, buildings that continue to speak of faith in Jesus Christ. When God touched my life very directly in my university years, the local Episcopal church’s doors were open. You can help ensure that they will be open for others in the century to come. If you haven’t already, please make a will. The Prayer Book really does have it right. Happy New Year. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Anita, Julia, Anthony, Donna, Noel, Jason, Charlie, Sylvia, Michelle, Mary Lou, Yolanda, Stephen, Chuck, Walter, Martha, Sally, Sam, Maxine, Jean, Quinn, Kenneth, Heidi, Rasheed, Billy, Karen, Catherine, Trevor, Takeem, Arpene, Sidney, deacon, Horace, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the soul of Andre Green. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 10: 1900 Beatrice L. Wright; 1917 Elida Clark; 1994 William F. Lata.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Andre Green, the grandson of former parishioner Larry Green, died this week in Petersburg, Virginia. He was twenty-nine years old. Please keep Andre, Larry, their family, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY . . . The Flower Guild needs your help on Saturday, January 9, 10:30 AM–3:00 PM! Please come and join the members of the Guild as they remove the Christmas decorations from the church. This is a big job, and not as glamorous as decorating the church, but it can be fun to work together with your fellow Saint Marians to accomplish something important in the life of the community. Many hands make light work! If you have questions, please contact Marie Rosseels.
OUR LOCAL TIME WARNER MONOPOLY . . . As I write just before noon on Friday, January 08, cable service to the church and to the rest of our city block disappeared without warning. This is the third day it has happened this week. All day Tuesday and until late afternoon on Wednesday we had almost no service. A very few telephone calls could be made, and a very few emails could be received and sent. That was it for two days. I suspect that today some part is being replaced. Fine. But no notice was given, and, as readers served by Time Warner know, no one can be reached by telephone who has any useful information about what’s going on. Unfortunately, on our city block no other broadband Internet options are available to us. This newsletter may be late in arriving. I think it may be time to switch our telephones back to Verizon. —S.G.
OPEN DOORS: THE CAMPAIGN FOR SAINT MARY’S . . . At $2,634,392 we are more than halfway to our absolute goal of $4,775,000, though our ultimate target of more than $6 million will enable us to complete much needed interior restoration as well. Another $200,000 was raised outside the campaign, and work on the rectory roof has already begun. This is a long-term, multiyear campaign on which we will report periodically. Our success is posted to the Open Doors campaign website several times per week. We are keen to have every friend and member of Saint Mary's join us in this effort at any level, large or small. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact a member of the Committee: MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, David Jette, Mark Risinger, or Marie Rosseels.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2016 . . . This year’s Campaign is going well, but there is still some work to do. As of December 31, we have received $372,307.00 in pledges for the coming year. This is 88% of our 2016 goal of $425,000.00. If you plan to make a pledge for 2016, but haven’t found the time to fill out a pledge card, please call the finance office. Our staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have questions about stewardship, please ask to speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels.
A SPECIAL ADULT FORUM . . . On Sundays, January 10 and 17, The Reverend Canon Michael Barlowe, executive officer of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will lead the class in a discussion of Episcopal Church polity and governance. This will be a very useful class for those preparing for Confirmation or Reception, as well as for those who want to learn more about what our church believes and how it works. In this series, Canon Barlowe will address such topics as the workings of General Convention, legislation passed at this summer’s convention in Salt Lake City, and the election and role of the presiding bishop in the church. —Jay Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday Worship: January 10, the First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord, Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. Janet Sora Chung will play the service of Evensong . . . Wednesday Night Bible Study: Class resumes on Wednesday at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
SUPERBOWL PARTY 2016 . . . The Annual Super Bowl Party will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday, February 7, beginning at 6:00 PM. This will be Super Bowl LXX, so even if you aren’t a huge football fan, come for the fellowship, the food, and the halftime show! Admission, for those who are able to pay, is $10.00. We also encourage those who attend to bring a dish to share. Beverages will be provided. Please contact Grace Bruni if you are bringing a dish to share.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Simon Whalley, organist & music director, will be on vacation and away from the parish from the afternoon of Sunday, January 10, until Saturday, January 16. He will return to the parish on Sunday, January 17 . . . Sister Laura Katharine and Sister Monica Clare will be on retreat in Mendham, New Jersey, and away from the parish from the afternoon of Sunday, January 10, until Friday, January 15. They will return to New York on Saturday, January 16 . . . Attendance: Holy Name 46; Last Sunday 216; Epiphany 221.
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . In the history of church music we encounter many a twist and turn that result in unexpected marriages of music and text. A fortnight back, our Christmas services were culminating in hearty renditions of Mendelssohn’s great tune, which we associate with “Hark! The Herald angels sing.” This tune was, in fact, written for a cantata celebrating the four-hundredth anniversary of the invention of printing with movable type by Johannes Gutenberg: Charles Wesley’s stirring words rescued that tune from what might otherwise have been a sad obscurity. At the Solemn Mass on Sunday we shall hear Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (“How beautifully shines the morning star”), the 1597 hymn by Philipp Nicolai (1556–1608) three times during the Solemn Mass. It was originally a wedding song, making reference to Christ as the morning star as found in the Book of Revelation. Many composers, including Buxtehude and J. S. Bach created organ chorale preludes based upon it. The German composer Peter Cornelius (1824–1874) transcribed the hymn tune onto the pianoforte and used it as an accompaniment for a baritone song about “Die Könige,” those kings whose star-gazing led them to the Christ child. The final stage of the journey for the elegant hymn tune, though, was the arrangement by Ivor Atkins (1869–1953) of the Cornelius song for choir and baritone soloist. It became the Epiphany anthem from the middle of the last century following its publication in the popular anthology Carols for Choirs in 1961. It is pleasingly apt that the tune itself has traveled so far to reveal the manifestation of Christ that we continue to celebrate this season . . . The Mass setting at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Missa brevis by David Hurd (b. 1950). —Simon Whalley
HOPE COUNT 2016 . . . On Monday night and Tuesday morning, January 25–26, 2016, from 10:00 PM until 4:00 AM, some 3,000 volunteers will help the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to conduct its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), a HUD-mandated citywide community volunteer effort to count each chronically homeless person living in public spaces across the five boroughs during the coldest time of the year. A Saint Mary’s Team has been formed to help with the count. If you would like to join the Team, please do the following: go to the Hope Count website to register; when asked, indicate that you are a member of “The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square Team”; when asked to sign up for a training site, choose PS 191–Amsterdam School, 210 West 61st Street, 10023; then contact Father Jay Smith to tell him that you have joined the Team. The HOPE Count is an opportunity to get involved in New York City's effort to reduce chronic street homelessness at a time when the number of homeless people in New York City is on the rise. —J.R.S.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves) for distribution here at the parish. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . The Saint Mary’s Book Sale continues on Sunday mornings. All proceeds are used to serve those in need at Saint Mary’s, in our neighborhood, and beyond . . . 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). —Jay Smith
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. This day is also Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. The church will open at 10:00 AM and close at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered, and the parish offices will be closed . . . Monday, January 25, The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM.
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . Natasha Singh, a talented photographer and a good friend of the parish, has been exhibiting her work this month in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The show, entitled This Most Holy Night, consists of photographs taken at last year’s Easter Vigil. Natasha works in both color and in black and white. Her images are remarkably varied. Some are crystal clear and detailed, a moment frozen in time; others are hazy, slightly dreamy, and quite evocative. All the images reveal moments and places that are familiar to Saint Marians, but in new and sometimes startling ways. Natasha is offering prints for sale to Saint Marians and their friends. The prices are as follows: 24” × 36” for $150 (thick foam-core mount, unframed); 24” x 36” print for $275 (thick foam-core mount, with frame); 8” x 10” print for $45 (framed with matte); 5” × 7” print for $35 (framed with matte). There is an order sheet available in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall.