FROM THE RECTOR: ISHMAEL
There's more to the story of Ishmael than the famous opening sentence of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But I don't think Melville's use of Ishmael's name was fair. Ishmael was not the child of the covenant-though Genesis notes Ishmael was thirteen years old when he, along with his father and all of the enslaved males belonging to Abraham were circumcised (Genesis 17:23-27). "Ishmael" means "God hears" (Genesis 16:11). He, like Isaac, was a child of promise.
In the Daily Office Lectionary (DLO) we hear the story of Ishmael's birth-and something of the family dynamics that would plague the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael after they were dead. But in Genesis, they are mentioned as being together only twice. We learn that when Isaac was a boy, he and Ishmael played together (Genesis 21:9). Sarah then persuaded Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham gave them bread and water. When they had nothing left to eat or drink, the angel of God appeared to them and provided for them.
I think Abraham redeemed himself as a father to Ishmael. After Abraham learns that his wife in her old age will bear the promised son of the covenant, he pleads with God, "O that Ishmael might live in thy sight!" (Genesis 17:18). God promises Abraham that Ishmael will be the father of twelve princes (Genesis 17:20).
The DLO, surprisingly for me, appoints the story of Sarah's death to be read (Genesis 23:1-20), but not that of Abraham (Genesis 25:1-11). That passage includes Abraham's next wife, Keturah, the six sons she bore him, and references to concubines and the sons they gave him. There is a certain beauty to the language here too-in English and, I hope, in Hebrew:
This is the length of Abraham's life, one hundred seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with his wife Sarah. (Genesis 25:7-11)
The DLO also omits what follows. Genesis continues with a brief acknowledgment of God's favor to Isaac, but then it turns to Ishmael. It lists the names of twelve sons. They are called princes in this passage, fulfilling the promise the angel of God made to Abraham about his first born. It also chronicles in a very few words Ishmael's death (Genesis 25:12-18). The narrative continues with the story of Isaac. Ishmael is mentioned one more time. One of Esau's wives will be a daughter of Ishmael (Genesis 28:9).
I know there's more to know about Ishmael-the rich heritage of learned Judaism surely has produced voluminous commentaries on his role in salvation history. But as my sister joined me last month in what our younger brother still calls from his "youth," the seventh decade of our lives, I rejoice in the life of Ishmael. He played with his young brother, and later he joined his brother in burying their father. I suspect they felt something of the same bond my brother and I felt when we stood together by the body of our father. Ishmael is a good name. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Gloria, Carol, Kevin, Eloise, Dennis, Matthew, Geneva, Jimmy, Elsa, Paula, Christopher, John, Alexander, Shawna, Rocco, Krystal, May, Robert, Nicole, Heidi, Barbara, Jean, Sam, Sharon, Donald, Takeem, Linda, Abraham; Horace, Hamilton, Peter, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Carl, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and the repose of the souls of Photios Lyras and Eileen Doring . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 19: 1957 Louise Longfellow; 1958 Henry Osmond Weed.
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 . . . On Sunday, February 19, seminarian Matthew Jacobson continues the series Hagiography in the Early Church . . . On Monday, February 20, in observance of Washington's Birthday (still the official name of the national holiday), the church will be open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. The noonday services will be offered. The parish office will be closed . . . The Wednesday night Bible study will meet this week at 6:30 PM. Newcomers are especially welcome; no prior study or attendance is needed . . . On Friday, February 24, The Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle, Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and at 6:20 PM.
STAFF TRANSITIONS . . . Friday, February 17, was Mario Martinez's last day with us. He began work on September 5, 2007. Following the death of his mother in January, he began to make plans to move to Pennsylvania where other members of his family live. He will be missed by those of us who work with him and the many people he has assisted in so many ways during his time here. We wish him the very best . . . On Monday, February 13, we were delighted to welcome Jorge Trujillo as our new morning sexton. We are already getting to know Jorge and look forward to the years to come. -S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Congratulations and best wishes to Gisselle Gutierrez Kandrac and Aaron Kandrac, who were married here on Tuesday, February 14 . . . Many thanks to the parish choirs of Christ's Church, Rye, for singing Evensong on Sunday, February 12. It's always a great joy to have them with us . . . Altar Flowers are needed for the following Sundays: February 26, and March 26 (Rose Sunday). If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on vacation from Monday, February 13, until Monday, February 20. He returns to the office on Tuesday, February 21 . . . Dr. Matthew Daniel Jacobson is to be ordained deacon on Saturday, March 4, at 10:30 AM, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The members of the parish community are invited to attend. Please keep Matt in your prayers . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 205.
LENTEN QUIET DAY. . . On Saturday, March 18, from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., will lead a Quiet Day here at the parish. The day's theme is "Keeping our faith and hope in the midst of fear and despair." Sister Monica will deliver her meditations in the Wedding Chapel. Saint Joseph's Hall, the chapels, and the church will be available for quiet, prayer, reading, and meditation. A light breakfast will be provided at 9:30 AM. The first meditation will begin at 10:00 AM. Noonday Prayer is at 12:00 PM and Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM. Lunch follows in Saint Joseph's Hall. Please RSVP to Father Jay Smith if you plan to attend. A freewill offering of $10.00 is suggested.
MUSIC NOTES . . . On Sunday, February 19, the setting of the ordinary is the Chichester Mass of William Albright (1944-1998). This setting was commissioned for the ninth centenary of Chichester Cathedral and was first performed there on June 14, 1975. Walter Hussey (1909-1985), who was dean of Chichester Cathedral from 1955 until 1977, was a noted patron of the arts, and was the impetus behind the commissioning of an impressive list of choral works beginning in 1943 with Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, which was commissioned while Hussey was vicar of Saint Matthew's, Northampton. William Albright was born in Gary, Indiana, attended The Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Michigan, where he later served on the faculty. He received a Fulbright scholarship in 1968 to study in Paris with Olivier Messiaen, whose influence combined with many others in fueling Albright's "polystylistic" musical range. The Chichester Mass uses traditional Book of Common Prayer texts. It includes chant-like choral writing, reminiscent of Stravinsky, as in the Gloria; random as well as highly structured polyphonic elements as in the Sanctus and Benedictus; and cluster harmonies as in the Agnus Dei.
The motet, sung during the administration of Communion, is Teach me, O Lord by Benjamin Rogers (1614-1698). The text is Psalm 119:33-36, 40. Rogers was a boy chorister and later Lay-Clerk of Saint George's, Windsor. He then served as organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. Still later he enjoyed appointments as organist at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. His compositions were well received at home as well as on the continent.
The Third Part of Bach's Clavierübung, issued in 1739, is a collection containing nine organ chorales for Mass, twelve for the catechism and four keyboard duets, all framed by a massive Prelude and Triple Fugue. Today's organ voluntaries are the two large settings of Kyrie from this collection. The first Kyrie, played as the prelude, is a motet-style setting in four voices with a modestly ornamented cantus firmus stated in long notes in the soprano voice. The final Kyrie, played for the postlude, is a stately fantasia in five voices with the cantus firmus stated boldly in long notes in the bass voice. -David Hurd
. . . On February 19, and 26, seminarian Matthew Jacobson will continue the series Hagiography in the Early Church. Matt writes, "In some ways, hagiographies are similar to biographies, but in many ways they are very different. Hagios is a Greek word used often in the Bible that can be translated as 'holy' or 'set apart,' and it is also used to describe the saints. Christian hagiographies therefore are writings that tell the stories of the lives of the saints. This three-part series will explore the genre of hagiography, focusing on texts from the first five centuries, both as a means to learn more about some early saints as well as the genre itself, in order to better understand the early Church." . . . On Sundays in Lent, March 5, 12, 19, 26, and April 2 and 9, Father Pete Powell will continue his class on the Acts of the Apostles . . . During Eastertide, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will present a series of classes entitled "Rising / Rose / Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry." . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on February 22 at 6:30 PM.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY. . . We have received several donations, including two larger gifts from members of the parish, about $3,200.00 in all, that are intended to reduce the predicted deficit in this area of the budget. These gifts have brought us closer to our goal of a special offering of $4,000.00 for this ministry. Our hospitality efforts include Sunday Coffee Hours and Evensong receptions, holy-day receptions, and special events. Since we welcome so many visitors to the parish, the hospitality ministry is crucial to what we do and who we are. No donation is too small! If you make a donation by check, please include the words "Hospitality Ministry" in the memo line.
ORGAN RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, March 24, 5:30 PM, Richard Robertson, Church of the Holy Ghost, Denver, Colorado; Sunday, April 16, 4:30 PM, Timothy Pyper, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Thursday, May 25, 5:30 PM, David Hurd, organist and music director.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . March 1, Ash Wednesday . . . Sunday, March 12, Daylight Saving Time begins . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM (except on March 24) . . . Monday, March 20, Saint Joseph (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, March 24, Eve of the Annunciation, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, March 25, The Annunciation, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM and Mass 12:10 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH. . . From the website of the Wall Street Journal, "Back in 1517, when it was founded, Oxford's Corpus Christi College was the hot new thing on campus. Unlike the university's other colleges, where the religious concerns of the medieval world usually reigned, the new college fancied itself a Renaissance institution-humanist and enlightened. Its library lay at the heart of that mission." The Corpus Christi library will be sending some of its treasures to the United States this spring, first to the Folger Library in Washington, DC, beginning on February 4, and then to the Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History on Sixteenth Street here in New York, beginning on May 14. It looks like the exhibition will help trace the beginnings of modern critical Biblical scholarship in England, an important subject for all Anglicans. We will keep you posted.
Click here for this week's schedule.