FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER THINKING
As I write on the morning of Good Friday, the church can be said to be empty. It awaits the gathering of the community later today to hear the Word of God, to pray, to venerate the cross, and to receive Holy Communion. Saint Joseph's Hall, by contrast, is sea of flowers. On Saturday these flowers will fill the church with beauty and the rich smell of spring. I've never stopped to count the number of times the liturgy and our music will have the word "Alleluia" on our lips between sunset on Easter Eve and sunset on Easter Day; but it will be a lot.
Today, the Very Reverend Andrew B. McGowan, dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, will be preacher for the Good Friday Liturgy at both the 12:30 PM and 6:00 PM services. Tomorrow, Easter Eve, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, will be celebrant and preacher for the Great Vigil of Easter at 7:00 PM. Father Jim Pace is celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Said Mass with Hymns. I'm on for the 10:00 AM Said Mass with Hymns and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. Father Jay Smith is preacher for Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM.
In preparation for my sermon for Maundy Thursday, I spent some time looking at my copy of Sandra Schneiders' Written That You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (2003). On page (Roman numeral) vi, she lets us know where she is taking us. She quotes what scholars consider to be the original ending of this gospel, "...these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). She does not wander far from this organizing principle as she takes us through nine of the great narratives of this gospel. She presents us with a theological and spiritual challenge when she writes, "the meaning of the text is not in the past to be recovered but in the present to be discovered" (page 201). The meaning of the text, and I would add equally, the meaning of our worship and our lives, lies ahead of us, not behind us.
On Monday in Holy Week we buried Linda Kay Bridges. Bishop Allen Shin, who had known Linda when he was a priest here, was with us and officiated at the commendation and committal. There was a large congregation of family, friends, parishioners, and colleagues. And for an hour or so on Monday morning, it wasn't Holy Week at Saint Mary's; it was Easter, eternal Easter. And yes, at the commendation, we raised up our glad song, "Alleluia, alleluia." At the grave, created time gives way to the Creator.
In John, after Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a young donkey, "The Pharisees then said to one another, 'You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him' " (John 12:19). You and I are still going after him. I'm profoundly thankful for being a part of a church community that strives to share the substance of its life and its love with so many. To all who are members and friends of this community and to all who may stumble upon us at this time of the year, I wish you a very Happy Easter. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Clint, William Henry, Huston, Michael, Miguel, Rick, Patricia, Gloria, Primi, Jerry, Kevin, Elsa, Kelly, May, Robert, Nicole, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Donald, Dennis; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Park, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; all those preparing for baptism at Easter, especially Rami, James, and Jordan; all victims of war, persecution, poverty, famine, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the soul of Paul Hamilton Fuller IV, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 16: 1883 N. A. Heckroth; 1936 Abigail Burt; 1940 Mary Ann Baughan Kind.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.
PALM SUNDAY THANKSGIVINGS . . . I can only begin to acknowledge the tremendous work so many have done during the last weeks of Lent to make Holy Week so wonderful. Today I want to say a special word of thanks to all who made such a joyful witness during the procession through Times Square on Palm Sunday. The security guards from the Times Square Alliance help us cross the streets and weave our way through the crowds. I was at the very end of the Palm Sunday procession. I only handed out one palm: to the young man manning the Halal Food Cart that was near the church on West 46th Street. Many Saint Marians returned to the church with no palms left-they'd distributed all they'd taken with them. One reason I'm sure I wasn't asked for more palms was Dorothy Rowan and Michael McCourt's energy in distributing palms-I know others must have been doing the very same thing, but I was at the end of the procession and I no doubt missed some of the action. Thank you to all who distributed palms so energetically and with such friendly smiles. One final image remains in my mind: as the procession began, and just before I reached the food cart, I looked between the cart and the buildings into Times Square and saw the cross moving through the square. I was still almost a quarter block from Seventh Avenue. I didn't have my camera out, but I won't soon forget that image. Again, thanks to all. -S.G.
AIDS WALK 2017. . . On May 21, 2017, the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team, supported by their friends and fellow parishioners, will join the 32nd Annual AIDS Walk here in New York. We invite you to join the Team or to make a contribution to the Team. Last year, the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team, fourteen people strong, ranked Number 9 in fundraising among all teams walking. We raised $55,035 from almost 300 generous contributions. Our goal this year is a very ambitious $60,000 as we walk in solidarity with people living with HIV or AIDS and with those who support and care for them. We invite you to join our Team and raise money with us or simply to make a donation to our very determined Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team. You can join or contribute by clicking here. You can also direct your questions to Father Jay Smith or to Team co-leaders MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN. . . Our pledge campaign continues, since we have not yet reached our goal for 2017. We hope to reach our goal of $425,000.00 by June 1, 2017. Please help us to reach that goal. We need your help. To make a pledge for 2017, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the parish so generously.
CANDLE SALE . . . Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B., is the sacristan of the parish. She has been saving candle remnants for some time now in order to prepare for Saint Mary's first Candle Sale. On Sunday, April 9, Palm Sunday, following Solemn Mass, sister and a team of volunteers displayed their waxen wares in Saint Joseph's Hall. The next sale will be after the Solemn Mass on Sunday, April 23. We invite you to purchase a candle-or two, or three-for use in your home. All proceeds will be used to fund repairs in the frontal room, the doors of which are badly in need of attention.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The church is open on the regular schedule on Monday in Easter Week, but only the noonday services are offered . . . Wednesday, April 19, Wednesday in Easter Week, 12:10 PM Sung Mass. There is no Bible Study Class during Easter Week . . . Thursday, April 20, Thursday in Easter Week, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM . . . The parish clergy hear confessions during Easter Week by appointment only.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Clint Best was admitted to Bellevue Hospital on Wednesday for testing. He underwent a surgical procedure on Thursday. He hopes to go home on Holy Saturday. Please keep him in your prayers . . . The Homeless Ministry's Drop-in Day, originally planned for early February, has been re-scheduled. The event will now take place on Friday, April 28, 2:00-5:00 PM. We hope to provide items from our clothes closet to those in need. A social worker who works with our outreach partner at Breaking Ground will be here in order to provide information about services available to the homeless here in New York. For more information, please speak to Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., or Clint Best . . . Father Jim Pace was ordained to the priesthood on April 22, 1980. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 275; Maundy Thursday 132
ADULT EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, April 23 and 30, and May 7, in the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will present a series of classes on the theme "Rising / Rose / Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry." Deacon Rebecca writes, "Beginning with biblical texts we will follow our theme into poems, by various writers, as diverse as Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, John Milton, Claude McKay, Vachel Lindsay, Theodore Roethke, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, Christina Rossetti, and more." . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet during Easter Week (April 19). The class resumes on April 26. Newcomers are especially welcome; no prior study or attendance is needed.
LOOKING AHEAD . . .Tuesday, April 25, Saint Mark, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, May 1, Saint Philip and Saint James, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, May 24, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 25, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, May 31, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 6:00 PM.