FROM THE RECTOR: RESURRECTION
In the gospels, the words about the Risen Lord were met at first with fear, confusion, and disbelief by all, except in the gospel of Matthew. In Mark, the empty tomb and the word of the resurrection bring fear and silence to the women who have gone to the tomb (Mark 16:1-8). They go inside the tomb. A young man tells them, " 'Do not be amazed . . . He has risen . . . go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' And they went out and fled from the tomb . . . and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid."
In Matthew's account (28:1-10), two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, go to the tomb "before dawn." The words of an angel steady their fears. But they receive the words with "fear and great joy." They can tell his disciples also that they have seen the Risen Jesus, have prostrated themselves before him, and have touched his feet. Matthew doesn't tell us how the disciples received the news, but they did obey. They went to Galilee, where Matthew tells us that the disciples "worshiped him; but some doubted."
It doesn't come across in our English translations, but as Andrew McGowan points out in his book Ancient Christian Worship (2014), "So when, for instance, the apostles are depicted 'worshiping' the risen Christ, they are not singing, reciting prayer, or (only) experiencing a feeling or attitude; they are flat on their faces" (page 6). The response of the disciples to the presence of the Risen Lord, like that of the two women, is to bow their faces to the ground before him, along with their doubts.
Because the church calendar celebrates Jesus' ascension on the fortieth day, following the chronology of Luke's second book, the Acts of the Apostles, it's easy for me to forget that in Luke's gospel, the day of resurrection begins with women going to the tomb, but ends with Jesus' ascension (Luke 24:1-53). As in Mark and Matthew, three women who are named, along with "the other women [from Galilee]," entered the tomb and found "two men in dazzling apparel." Yes, the women were afraid and they "bowed their faces to the ground" (worship!). They receive the news of resurrection and told everything "to the eleven and to all the rest." But, "they did not believe them." Then, Luke tells the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35). When they return to Jerusalem, they learn Jesus has appeared to Simon (24:33-35).
Almost immediately the Risen Jesus is present. The disciples are "startled and frightened." Luke's Risen Jesus shows them his hands and feet, and he asks for something to eat. "They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them (24:36-43). Jesus explains what has happened and that the disciples will be "clothed with power from on high" (24:44-49). Then Jesus leads them out of the city to Bethany and "was carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50-52). I note that neither in Luke nor in Acts are the disciples said to greet the Risen Lord with worship.
Now in John, there is a much more complex narrative (John 20:1-25). Jesus has been buried before sunset as a king, with a weight of spices almost as much as he would have weighed. There was no rush to bury him in John, only "fear of the Jews" (19:38). (The tragic origins of what becomes Christian anti-Judaism are threads in all the gospels that we should not ignore.)
In the morning, Mary Magdalene alone goes to the tomb and finds it open. She "runs" and finds Simon Peter and the always nameless "other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved" (20:2). The men race to the tomb. (I leave the details of the race to your own reading.)
The evangelist tells us that, when the disciple whom Jesus loved enters the tomb, he believes (20:8). The men leave. Mary Magdalene remains outside. Looking in, she sees two angels in white. She weeps because she does not know where her "Lord" is-even in death, for Mary, Jesus is her Lord. Still outside, she turns around, and Jesus speaks to her. The Lord speaks her name. Jesus makes her the first evangelist-not Simon Peter or even the disciple Jesus loved. He says, "Go to my brothers and sisters and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (20:17). With these words, believers become the children of God.
One more scene. The disciples received Mary's report. Their response was not faith, but fear. Then, Jesus appears to the disciples. After they hear him speak and after he shows them his hands and side, "they were glad" (20:19-20). Jesus leaves. The day ends with the absent disciple proclaiming, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe" (20:25).
I love all of these stories. As is traditional, we hear Matthew at the Easter Vigil. This year the gospel at the Masses on Easter morning is from Mark. Then, at Easter Evensong, every year, we hear first the evening resurrection story from John as the second lesson. During Eucharistic Benediction, with the Sacrament exposed for adoration, we hear the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus—lessons I find very hard to read aloud at this service without emotion. This reflection comes with my thanks for all whose lives may be drawn closer to Christ by the witness, work, and love of this worshipping community of believers in the Risen Lord.
FROM DEACON REBECCA WEINER TOMPKINS . . . The Daily Office reading for March 30, 2018, is John 13:36-38, where Jesus tells Peter it's not time for the latter to follow Him; despite Peter's professed devotion, he turns away in the foretold betrayal of Jesus. Perhaps we have our own struggles with how to follow, and not always following, and what being a follower of Christ even means. In the movie Sister Act, the popular Peggy March song (with lyrics reminiscent of the apostles going with Jesus-those who lose their life will find it) is first sung sedately by the nuns, until Whoopi Goldberg's character signals them to rock it; then the power of the promise of love lets loose, from their whole selves, not just with words.
This week I participated in a renewal of ordination vows with hundreds of others from the diocese at the Cathedral. To do that, and then be served a celebratory, and very lovely, luncheon somehow seemed to miss the point. To go out and minister- lay-people and ordained alike-as in the Post-Communion prayer, is a better refreshing of commitment: Follow Him!
Sometimes like Peter we might turn from God. Peter, who "wept bitterly" as Jesus was led to death, clearly suffered from that loss of faithfulness, as we do too when our belief falters.
"I will follow..." serves best as I follow, which Peter finally did, even to his own crucifixion. On Good Friday, clergy prostrate themselves before the altar, cool stone against their faces. That submission shows we "will walk in your ways" and follow. —Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Marilouise, Dennis, Bob, Randy, Mary, Barbara, Burt, Mike, Kathleen, Kyle, Greta, Carlos, Bill, Mickie, Jerry, Eleanor, Wendell, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, and Sandy; for Horace, Clayton, David, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and James; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 1: 1889 Charles Hermann Sundermeyer, George Alfred Denslow; 1890 George Charles Edward Mortimer Nicholas; 1900 Ricia Eckstrum; 1912 Charlotte Standbridge Emmens; 1920 John Prince Ray; 1922 John Ballot; 1924 Charles Edgerton Horner; 1937 Harriett Holley Dall Aldrich; 1974 Homer Alexander; 1993 Charles Christian.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.
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, 2018. Please help us to reach that goal. We need your help. To make a pledge for 2018, 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.
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 . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our next Drop-in Day on April 25 and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The church is open on the regular schedule on Easter Monday, April 2, but only the noonday services are offered . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on April 4, at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study in the Parish House . . . The parish clergy hear confessions during Easter Week by appointment only.
AROUND THE PARISH. . . Palm Sunday was a day of prayer, beauty, celebration, public witness, and reflection here at the parish. We are very grateful to all those who did so much and worked so hard to make our worship possible on Sunday . . . We have heard from a number of members and friends of the parish that the recent Sunday Half Marathon made getting to and from Saint Mary's difficult, especially for those who live west of Seventh Avenue and south of Forty-second Street. We plan to contact the sponsors of the race to request that future races be more carefully planned to prevent a repeat of this problem. We will keep you posted . . . We spoke to a foreman at the job site on Forty-seventh Street this week. The workers are still "chopping bedrock," preparing to lay the planned hotel's foundation. The next stage will be to place "rock anchors" in the bedrock-this will be a noisy procedure. These anchors will provide a stable foundation for the high-rise building. We can expect that noise will continue Monday through Saturday, during daytime hours, for several more weeks at least . . . Attendance: Palm Sunday 241.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . The Adult Forum will resume on Sunday, April 15, at 10:00 AM. Father Peter Powell will introduce our series on the psalms . . . 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 . . . Sunday, May 6, at 10:00 AM, topic and presenter to be determined . . . 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: bird, fire, wind, water, cloud, light, and other depictions of the Holy Spirit in readings from scripture and beyond (primarily poetry). This is a two-Sunday survey of symbol and significance, ending on the Day of Pentecost.
ABOUT THE MUSIC. . . The setting of the Mass on Easter morning includes the Gloria in excelsis and Sanctus from the Communion Service in C from Opus 115 of Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Since Stanford's Service in C does not include settings of Benedictus and Agnus Dei, these portions are borrowed from Stanford's Communion Service in F, Opus 36. Born in Dublin, Stanford was educated at the University of Cambridge-where he was appointed organist of Trinity College while an undergraduate-and later studied music in Leipzig and Berlin. In 1882 he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music. In addition, from 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge. Among his students was a generation of distinguished composers including Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Stanford was a prolific composer whose works included seven symphonies and nine operas. He is perhaps most dearly appreciated and revered today, however, for his enduring church anthems and settings for Anglican worship.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594) is a composer who is regarded today more as source and inspiration for what came after him than as the product of already established musical practice. However, it may be said that Palestrina stood on foundations largely laid by the Netherlandish composers Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397-1474) and Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521). He is responsible for setting the canons for Renaissance polyphony and an enduring standard for catholic liturgical music. Among his compositions are more than 100 Masses and more than 300 motets. Among his motets are settings of the Easter antiphon Haec dies for four, six, and eight voices. Sunday's Communion motet will be Palestrina's Haec dies for four voices. The incipit of the plainsong upon which Palestrina's setting is based is clearly recognizable as each the four voices enters in turn.
The organ prelude is from the Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book") of J. S. Bach (1685-1750). Christ ist erstanden ("Christ is arisen") is a three-stanza Easter chorale, found in The Hymnal 1982 at #184. Bach's Orgelbüchlein setting treats each stanza separately in three individual sections, each for three manual voices and pedal.
LOOKING AHEAD . . .Monday, April 9, Annunciation Day (transferred), Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, April 24, Genocide Remembrance Day . . . Wednesday, April 25, Saint Mark, Sung Mass 12:10 PM and Mass 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, May 1, Saint Philip and Saint James, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM.
AT THE MUSEUMS . . . At the Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014, (212) 570-3600, Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables, March 2-June 10, 2018, From the museum website, "Grant Wood's American Gothic-the double portrait of a pitchfork-wielding farmer and a woman commonly presumed to be his wife-is perhaps the most recognizable painting in twentieth-century American art, an indelible icon of Americana, and certainly Wood's most famous artwork. But Wood's career consists of far more than one single painting. [This exhibition] brings together the full range of his art, from his early Arts and Crafts decorative objects and Impressionist oils through his mature paintings, murals, and book illustrations. The exhibition reveals a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. Wood sought pictorially to fashion a world of harmony and prosperity that would answer America's need for reassurance at a time of economic and social upheaval occasioned by the Depression. Yet underneath its bucolic exterior, his art reflects the anxiety of being an artist and a deeply repressed homosexual in the Midwest in the 1930s. By depicting his subconscious anxieties through populist images of rural America, Wood crafted images that speak both to American identity and to the estrangement and isolation of modern life."