FROM THE RECTOR: OPENINGS
One famous opening line is from a novel by L. P. Hartley (1895-1972): "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there" (The Go-Between ). It's a great line, but not entirely true. I think William Faulkner is closer to the truth in his novel Requiem for a Nun (1951) when the defense lawyer remarks, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Right now I'm reading Anne Somerset's book Elizabeth I (1991, iPhone edition). Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland, has lost her life, but the Spanish Armada has not set sail. Faulkner's words are apt.
The role of religion is a continuing theme of sixteenth-century England-and today. Somerset may well be correct when she writes, "Drama was not the only art form protected by the Queen, for choral music might well be unknown in Britain today had it not been for her intervention." Reading about Elizabethan-era fights over music and vestments (and clergy caps!) reminded me of the jailing of Anglo-Catholic priests in England for refusing to comply with the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874-no catholic rituals and ceremonies allowed. More important, I think, was the awareness by the queen and other leaders about the lack of education for the great majority of the clergy, not to mention an acute lack of money for clergy salaries. These trends echo through the centuries to our own day.
When I am a visitor at another parish for Sunday worship, I hope I encounter a church building that looks loved and cared for, people who look happy to be together at church, a service from the Prayer Book, music from the Hymnal, and a priest who is knowledgeable about the ministry of presiding and preaching. It's a real plus for me if a congregation knows that the Peace is about relationship (brothers and sisters in Christ) and not welcome. I like to worship in congregations that are growing or clearly holding their own. I like to be proud of my church and my profession.
So last night, Thursday night, July 20, a link to a new piece in the weekly Houses of Worship column in the Wall Street Journal changed the direction of my thoughts for this newsletter article. I'll complain another time about the continuing decline of theological education in our seminaries-and how too often the purpose of worship is confused with the purpose of the classroom and how field work is confused with study. Instead I want to speak about the wisdom of Elizabeth I with regard to seeking and welcoming a broad church, one that insisted on some outward conformity, but did not enforce uniformity on the private souls of men and women-and what this inheritance might mean for us.
On July 26, 2016, an eighty-five-year-old French Roman Catholic priest, Jacques Hamel, was murdered at the altar during Mass by two Islamic terrorists. I have become a humble admirer of the archbishop of Rouen, France:
Archbishop Lebrun soon received an urgent request from François Hollande, then the French president. Fearful of civil unrest between the nation's Christians and Muslims, Mr. Hollande requested the archbishop speak with him before making any public statements. "What will you say?" the president asked the archbishop. "I am going to pray and ask God to help me love my enemies," he replied (Christopher White, Houses of Worship, July 20, 2017, Wall Street Journal).
Help me love my enemies is not a phrase that's been in my heart. And I can't help thinking about the rhetoric of our American political life today. I know Saint Mary's is a politically diverse congregation, mostly liberal, but many conservatives as well. I have never seen the pulpit as a place for current political discussion. I try to preach Jesus Christ and to let people be responsible for their own thoughts and actions. I hear the archbishop's words not as saying we should not defend those who are being attacked, but as a confession of how very hard it is to love those who do evil to those we know and love. It's an opening I need to follow up on with prayer. The past indeed does die with resurrection. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Jerry, Olutoyin, Lenore, Mary, Howard, Pearl, Brian, Michael, Eugenia, David, Sandy, Mary, Adam, Caryn, Cookie, Irene, Brian, Karen, Ivy, Pat, Peggy, Vera, Cathy, Grady, Mike, May, Marahl, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Mitties, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for all victims of war, famine, poverty, violence, and disaster; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 23: 1877 Sarah Ann Breck; 1877 William Arthur Burchell.
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 . . . Tuesday, July 25, is the Feast of Saint James the Apostle. Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . in commemoration of this apostle of the resurrection . . . The church is open and the regular services of the Episcopal Church are offered daily . . . Friday, July 28, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor.
AROUND THE PROPERTY . . . Early Friday morning, July 14, Utsav Restaurant, the Roundabout Theater, and Saint Mary's Rectory were vandalized by stones being thrown through windows. By comparison, the rectory escaped lightly, although the craft repair of a window on the landmarked façade of the rectory will cost $1,560.00. I am very thankful for the continuing efforts of the police units of our Midtown North Precinct who have increased their daily presence with the homeless who congregate by the church and the now-empty storefronts on West 47th Street. The Times Square Alliance staff are here daily as well to assist. I want you to know that I continue to feel very safe in the rectory. -S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, July 22, Paul Wilson starts work as our new weekend sexton. Please welcome him to the parish community . . . On Sunday, July 23, we welcome back both Dr. David Hurd and the Reverend Matthew Jacobson from their time away from the parish . . . Father Jay Smith returns to the parish office on Tuesday, July 25 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 135.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
. . . Mark Risinger, bass and member of the parish choir, is the cantor for the Solemn Mass on Sunday, July 23. During the ministration of Communion, he will sing "The King's Highway" by David Hurd, organist and music director. This poem by Evelyn Atwater Cummins (1891-1971) was set as a hymn in The Hymnal 1940 and is retained in the present hymnal. Dr. Hurd's setting of Cummins' poem, composed in 1975, is in the manner of an art-song and has been sung by choirs as well as by vocal soloists in concerts and in worship. The music carries the hymn tune name "Haynes" in honor of the composer's maternal grandmother, Mable V. Haynes (1896-1996).
The organ prelude on Sunday is the central section of J. S. Bach's Toccata in C for organ, often referred to as Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, a work from Bach's Weimar period. The Adagio is an aria-like movement in A-minor with a soprano melody and a bass line reminiscent of plucked strings. At its conclusion is a transition to C-major through a lush progression of diminished seventh chords and their resolutions. The postlude is a setting of the chorale Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, my joy), one of the chorales from the Neumeister Collection that were authenticated and published as works of Bach in 1985. It is a quirky setting that freely mixes chordal and polyphonic idioms phrase by phrase. -David Hurd
SAINT MARY'S AIDS WALK TEAM SAYS THANK YOU . . . Our team wishes to report our extraordinary success in the 2017 AIDS Walk and to thank all the friends and parishioners who supported us. Our team ranked No. 9 of all teams walking, and we raised a total of $50,888 of the nearly $5 million raised overall. For facts and figures: 16 people were on our team; more than 250 people supported us; they were from 23 states and 6 countries (Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, the Netherlands and the US); and 10 of our walkers raised more than $1,000 each. This was a Saint Mary's event, and we couldn't do it without you. We will walk again on May 20, 2018.
DONATIONS FOR ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We are very thankful that flowers have been given for all of the Sundays in July and August. Thank you to those who are able to support this ministry! They are seen by hundreds of people every week. Donations for flowers are needed for all of the Sundays in September. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830 or by e-mail.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Tuesday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, August 6, The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mass 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM . . . Tuesday, August 15, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception 7:30 PM.