FROM THE RECTOR: DINAH AND OTHER STORIES
In the lectionary for weekday Eucharists, selections from Genesis were read this year early in Epiphany Season and were picked up and continued in the sixth week after Pentecost. Although there are other options for weekday Eucharists, we use this lectionary because it's essentially the only one available to us. It is really the Roman Catholic Church's daily Mass lectionary. Their theological agenda shows up in the selections a little too often for me, but that is a subject for another time.
As I was reviewing the lessons for this month, I realized that our Daily Office Lectionary omitted what is called the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Genesis 33:18-34:31), when we jumped from Epiphany Season into Lent. Dinah is the only daughter of Jacob who is given a name (Genesis 30:21), and now I know why. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann in his commentary on Genesis begins his remarks about the story of Dinah by asserting that the story "seems to have no relationship with anything before or after" (Genesis , 274), yet he ends up making a compelling case for knowing it and preaching on it. With respect, I think there's more relationship than Brueggemann the preacher, not Brueggemann the scholar, would like there to be.
Jacob bought land in the Canaanite city of Shechem. There, Shechem, the son of "the prince of the land," forced himself on Jacob's daughter Dinah-who never speaks at any point in the story. Shechem immediately falls in love with her. Note that in Genesis "love" is used to describe only three relationships, those of Rebekah and Isaac (Genesis 24:67), Rachel and Jacob (Genesis 29:18), and Dinah and Shechem (Genesis 34:3). Though we call this the story of Dinah and her rape sets the scene, it's really about evil using ideology to kill and to steal.
So after Shechem falls in love, Hamor negotiates with Jacob for his son to marry Dinah. The deal will include Jacob and his family living among them and intermarriage. Jacob has only one condition: that all the males be circumcised. Hamor and Shechem talk all of the men of the city into doing that. But "the third day, when they were sore" (Genesis 34:25) was not a happy day. Two of Dinah's brothers killed Hamor and Shechem. They and their other brothers killed the rest of the men. Then Jacob's sons took everything these Canaanites possessed. The Canaanite children and their mothers became Jacob's slaves. When it's all over, Jacob's great concern is the need to move to another place where they will be safe from the other Canaanites and the Perizzites. Brueggemann writes that the passage, "speaks about the convergence of elemental passion, economic advantage, religious scruple, and ecumenical vision. It asks the community of faith to decide for faith in the midst of such convergences" (Ibid., 279). It's a horrible story. Jacob is still very much Jacob, the one who stole his brother's blessing (Genesis 27:1-45). The murdering brothers are those who will sell Jacob's favorite son, Joseph, into slavery (Genesis 37:1-36).
I keep a Bible at my stall with the lessons that we hear at Daily Morning and Evening Prayer marked. We read all of the New Testament-an option, but not a requirement. One really doesn't want to do that with the Old Testament. That said, I like to know what the editors of the Daily Office Lectionary have omitted. I'm glad this lectionary omits, for example, the thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis. It begins, "These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom)"-and the list goes on and on. I'm not happy when I discover that we are omitting stories that are hard to hear. Unfortunately, the way the lectionary is structured, it's not practical to add a story of this length to the lessons that come before and after it. The story of the destruction of Shechem and other stories like it don't weaken my faith, but they invite me to be more responsible for what I think and believe about God. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR
Dick, Brian, Michael, Jerry, Olutoyin, Lenore, Mary, 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, Anne, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 30: 1940 Mary Almack; 1944 Charles McFall; 1956 George Brannick; 1986 Edith Collins, Clifford Licorish.
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 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 PARISH . . . On Thursday, July 27, Sister Monica Clare, CSJB, gave the invocation at the Women of Valor Awards Tea at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. The event benefits the Saint Francis Food Pantries and Shelters program. This program recently became one of our outreach partners, providing us with supplies to distribute on our Drop-in Days . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch is now at Amsterdam House doing physical therapy after a recent fall. Please keep him in your prayers . . . On Saturday, July 29, Juan Sierra starts work as our new weekend sexton. Please welcome him to the parish community . . . Confirmation and Reception: Bishop Dietsche will be with us on November 1, All Saints' Day. If you are thinking about baptism, confirmation, or being received into the Episcopal Church, please contact Father Jay Smith . . . Sister Monica Clare will be away from the parish from Saturday, July 29, until Sunday, August 13. She returns to the office on Monday, August 14 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 168.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . Elaine Lachica, soprano and member of the Choir of Saint Mary's, is the cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning, July 30. During the ministration of Communion, she will sing Laudate Dominum from Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, K. 339, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Mozart's Solemn Vespers is a large-scale work for chorus, soloists, and orchestra, composed in 1780 for liturgical use in the Salzburg Cathedral. The lyric Laudate Dominum is the fifth of the Vespers' six movements. This movement is often performed separately from the others, sometimes omitting its original choral conclusion. The text is from Psalm 117.
Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748), like his slightly younger cousin Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), transcribed several concerti of Italian Baroque composers for organ or harpsichord. In the case of works by well-documented composers such as Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), the original scoring for strings is extant along with the transcriptions. In other cases, however, only the transcription survives, and the identity of the original composer may be in some doubt. Walther's Organ Concerto in B-minor is of the latter sort, being an adaptation of a no longer extant score by a Signor Meck about whom little is known. At the Solemn Mass on Sunday, the Prelude will be the first two movements of this Concerto in B-minor, and the Postlude will be its third and final movement.
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . The next Homeless Ministry Drop-in Day will take place on Friday, August 18. For more information, or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Father Jay Smith.
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 . . . 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 . . . Monday, September 4, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Friday, September 8, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM.