FROM THE RECTOR: CERTAINTY
Until the present Prayer Book was adopted, the last anthem prayed at the beginning of the Burial of the Dead was, "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (BCP , 324). The first of these combined sentences is from Job 1:21, the second 1 Timothy 6:7. This anthem was replaced in the traditional language rite of the Prayer Book with these words, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors" (BCP , 469). Even less pastorally successful, I think, is the accurate translation of the New Testament Greek in rite two, "Happy from now on are those who die in the Lord! So it is, says the Spirit, for they rest from their labors" (Ibid., 492). These sentences are from Romans 14:7-8 and Revelation 14:13. "Happy" is a hard word for me to hear at a burial-theologically correct, but pastorally out of place.
I miss the words of Job and 1 Timothy. These words capture our complete dependence on God for life when we face death. I don't understand death. I don't understand tragic sickness or disability or evil. But I believe in God. I believe that the dead live. Which brings me to a few words on the massacre and the context of the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida.
Not so many years ago, rifle teams were common in high schools throughout the United States. Herndon High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, had one in the years I was there (class of 1972). Since the Parkland school massacre, I've heard that New York City public schools had them too back in the day. One could buy guns from the Sears catalogue when I was in high school.
I remember seeing and reading Look and Life magazines in 1966 when the University of Texas clock tower shooting happened. If my internet search was right, there wasn't another school shooting incident, and this time a high school, until Columbine, Colorado, in 1999. In my adolescence in suburban Fairfax County, skipping school, chewing gum, smoking cigarettes, marijuana, and unwed mothers were the worrisome issues. What happened? One thing for sure: for many reasons religious faith and practice have been, and continue to be diminished, sidelined. Religious communities are not without responsibility for much of this, but we've had a lot of help from the wider culture.
Our readings from Genesis and Jeremiah at Morning and Evening Prayer during Lent confirm that knowledge and truth never necessarily lead to right faith and right action. I don't know how evil will manifest itself among us next. It always does. That said, our belief in God and the unfolding of God's plan for God's creation continues, even when we live in "the midst of things we cannot understand" (BCP , 481). I remind myself and you of Saint Paul's words, "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). — Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Rich, Dennis, Bob, Randy, Mary, Mary Hope, Greta, Carlos, Bill, Mickie, Jerry, Eleanor, Wendell, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, Sandy, Barbara, and George; for Horace, Clayton, David, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and James; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Jon Alan Bryant . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 4: 1911 Josephine Wilson; 1944 Harvey Higman.
DAYS OF SPECIAL DEVOTION . . . Ash Wednesday and the other weekdays of Lent and of Holy Week are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD for Jon Alan Bryant will be celebrated at the high altar on Saturday, March 10, at 10:00 AM. Jon was born on May 6, 1947, and died on Sunday, February 18. Our parish register records that Jon transferred his membership to Saint Mary's on August 15, 1985. A lifelong Episcopalian, he grew up at the Church of the Holy Cross, Shreveport, Louisiana. He was an architect by profession. He was an active member of our congregation for many years. In 2015, he moved in retirement to Connecticut and later to Washington, D.C., where he worshiped at St. Paul's Parish, K Street. He was a member of the board of trustees that called me as rector. He made many contributions to our common life and will be mourned by many. Please pray for him, for his brother, William, priest, his sister, Claire, and for all who mourn. —S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, March 4, The Third Sunday in Lent, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Adult Education 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on March 7 at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study, in the Parish House . . . Friday, March 9, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Friday, March 9, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium in the Parish House.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . On March 4 (and on March 11, 12, and 25), at 10:00 AM Saint Benedict's Study, Father Peter Powell will continue his series on the Gospel of Matthew . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on April 1 or April 8. The Adult Forum will resume on Sunday, April 15, topic and presenter to be announced . . . On Sunday, April 22, Brother Aidan Owen, OHC, will lead the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM in a discussion of the monastic practice of chanting the psalms each day as a form of prayer and contemplation . . . On Sunday, April 29, at 1:00 PM in Saint Joseph's Hall (note time and location), poet Chester Johnson will discuss his new book, Auden, the Psalms and Me, and the translation of the psalms used in the Book of Common Prayer 1979 . . . On May 13 and 20, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict's Study, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will teach a two-part series, The Dove Descending: "The dove fluttered down"-bird, fire, wind, water, cloud, and light-depictions of the Holy Spirit in readings from scripture and beyond . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on March 7. The class will be reading the Passion Narrative in the Gospel of Mark, which we will hear this year on Palm Sunday. This coming Wednesday we will be reading the portion of the Passion Narrative dealing with Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Friday afternoons at 1:00 PM, between March 2 and June 8, Saint Paul's Chapel, Broadway and Fulton Street, is offering a series of free recitals to showcase their new organ. David Hurd, organist and music director at Saint Mary's, will play the second recital in the series Pipes at One on Friday, March 9, at 1:00 PM. Saint Paul's new organ was recently featured in an article in the New York Times . . . Donations for the parish's Hospitality Ministry are always welcome. Such donations support an essential ministry here at Saint Mary's, since we welcome so many visitors to the parish. Our hospitality budget helps us to provide refreshments on Sunday mornings and afternoons, at holy-day receptions and at Quiet Days. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Pace's and the Rector's sermons for 2018 have been posted on the parish webpage . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Wednesday morning, March 7. He returns on Friday evening, March 9 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 173.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Short Communion Service by Adrian Batten (1591-1637). Born in Salisbury, Batten was subsequently a chorister and organ scholar at Winchester Cathedral. He moved to London in 1614 to become a lay clerk of Westminster Abbey. He later assumed a similar position at Saint Paul's Cathedral where he also played the organ. As a music copyist in London, Batten is credited with preserving a great deal of significant contemporary music, his copies being the only surviving source. Ironically much of his own music has been lost. However, Batten's surviving compositions show him to be a thoroughly skilled composer of liturgical music, even if not especially daring or original. His modest Mass for four voices models the restraint which was typical of Batten's church music. Maurice Bevan, editor, has produced a liturgically practical edition of Batten's Communion Service, including a nine-fold Kyrie, Benedictus qui venit, and Agnus Dei fashioned from music found elsewhere in the Service.
The Communion motet on Sunday morning is a setting of Psalm 121 by the American composer Jake Runestad (b.1986). Mr. Runestad, who is based in Minneapolis, has built an impressively large and varied catalogue of compositions including music for wind band, chorus, orchestra, chamber ensemble, jazz ensemble and three operas. His I will lift mine eyes, sung this morning, was selected as one of Minnesota Public Radio's top twenty-five choral works in 2014. It is a work flexibly scored for mixed voices from four to eight parts. Runestad uses variants of an upward rising gesture throughout his setting which gently suggest, through melody and harmony, the lifting of eyes to "where the hills meet the sky."
THE VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . On Sunday, February 18, a new art exhibit opened in the Gallery in Saint Joseph's Hall, Scenes from a Natural Bar, works by Matthew Fogarty. Matt is originally from Santa Rosa, California. He received his B.F.A. degree from the Pratt Institute in 2003. He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and his dog, who looks very much like a chihuahua, in Brooklyn. Matt is also a neighbor of Saint Mary's. He works at Oceana, a restaurant on Forty-ninth Street. Matt appears to be a lover of animals. They figure largely in his art, as is clear from his work in the Gallery. When asked about his dog by e-mail, Matt wrote back, "My dog (who is a rescue and only looks like a chihuahua; don't tell him) is Dean." For prices, or if you have questions about the work, please contact the curator of the exhibition, José Vidal.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . We continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church. We delivered several boxes of canned goods to Saint Clement's this week . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our March and April Drop-in Days (Wednesday, March 21, and Wednesday, April 25) and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. As always, the number of those who are homeless who seek refuge in the church and who ask for assistance increases when the weather grows colder. In order to meet some of those requests, we are hoping to receive donations of the following items: blankets, razors, shaving cream; packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items will prove to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . The Episcopal Diocese of New York has created its own Caribbean Recovery Fund to pay for the work that the diocese is proposing, or hopes to support, in the region. This is distinct in nature and purpose from the activities of Episcopal Relief & Development, which directs funds toward the Episcopal Church's broader efforts in recovery. The Caribbean Recovery Fund will be available for individuals and churches to make requests for specific infrastructure and ministry projects, partnerships, and mission with the Diocese of Puerto Rico and other areas in the Caribbean. For more information, please click here. If you wish to make a donation online, please complete the form on the website.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Sunday, March 11, The Fourth Sunday in Lent: Laetare Sunday . . . Sunday, March 11, Daylight Saving Time begins. Clocks move forward one hour . . . Monday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 and 6:20 PM . . . Saturday, March 24, Eve of the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Blessing of the Palms and Vigil Mass 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, March 25, Palm Sunday, Blessing of the Palms and Sung Mass 9:00 AM, Blessing of the Palms, Procession to Times Square and Solemn Mass 11:00 AM. (Please note: the Feast of the Annunciation will be celebrated this year on Monday, April 9.) . . . Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Holy Week, March 26-28, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . March 29, Maundy Thursday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM; The Holy Eucharist with the Footwashing, Procession to the Altar of Repose, and the Washing of the Altar and the Stripping of the Sancturary. The principal celebrant and preacher at the Maundy Thursday liturgy is the Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, suffragan bishop . . . March 30, Good Friday, Liturgy 12:30 PM. The principal celebrant and preacher will be the Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, suffragan bishop; Liturgy 6:00 PM. The principal celebrant and preacher at the evening liturgy will be the Reverend James Ross Smith, curate.