FROM THE RECTOR: MORE THAN FRIENDS
In this lectionary year (BCP , 904-06), the gospel appointed for the Eucharist on Easter Day was from Mark; on the third Sunday of Easter it will be from Luke. On the other Sundays in Eastertide the gospel is from John. This "fourth gospel"-so named, I think, because of its order in the New Testament canon, and because it is thought to be the latest of the four gospels-has a distinctive theological point of view on two issues of continuing relevance. Both invite us to think in a different way about our relationship to Jesus Christ and to each other. (One of those issues is the Eucharist-a subject for another day!)
My journey with relationships in light of John's gospel began while I was attending the formation courses of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, when I was rector of Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana. That formation work for children is named for what Sofia Cavalletti (1917-2011) called "the parable-allegory of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-16)" (The Religious Potential of the Child , 63). It's the proclamation about Jesus to which three- to six-year-old children respond most deeply. But, "The central element in the catechesis for the older children is the other great Johannine parable-allegory, the True Vine (15:1-10)" (Ibid.). Both images of relationship-shepherd/sheep, vine/branches-are revelations of God's plan for humankind.
In Cavalletti's second book, The Religious Potential of the Child: 6 to 12 Years Old (2002), she asks, "Where does Jesus draw the boundaries between himself and us when he says he is the whole plant?" (page 54). She continued, "Who are we in relationship to Jesus if he says we are the branches of the vine, which is Jesus?" (Ibid.). Cavalletti writes, "a catechist asked, 'What do you think happens when a person who is a branch on the vine dies?' Emily (age 6, USA) responded, 'They are still on the vine because of the sap. The sap doesn't die' " (Ibid.). She goes on to record how the children come to understand that the Shepherd and the Vine are one (page 55).
The next stage in this journey of exploration took place when the Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh, an anesthesiologist who was sponsored for ordination to the priesthood by our parish, gave me a book written by New Testament scholar, Sandra Schneiders. Ryan had studied with Prof. Schneiders during his seminary years, and the book he gave me was Schneiders' Written That You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (2003). As I read the book, Schneiders' interpretation of the Fourth Gospel reminded me of what Cavalletti, herself a biblical scholar, had observed while working with children. Schneiders writes, "The purpose of the encounter between reader and text, according to John, is 'that you may believe' " (page 11). She continued, "John always uses the verb "to believe," because the interaction between Jesus the teacher and his disciples is . . . an ongoing relationship that either incessantly deepens or ceases. It is a friendship, a love relationship, which cannot remain static without stagnating" (pages 11-12).
Now when I turn to John's gospel, I want to read the text in light of what the Greek says in as straightforward a way as I can. Schneiders, a Roman Catholic religious, is careful not to read into John's text Peter's "apostolic authority," although others do. (See for example the commentaries on John by the late Raymond Brown and by Francis J. Maloney.) Schneiders writes, "John's community, bound together by their absolute commitment to Jesus as the Son of God and their love for one another as Jesus' sisters and brothers, is highly egalitarian" (page 47). She points out, "Even in John 21, where Simon Peter is commissioned to 'feed' Jesus' lambs and sheep, he is not made the shepherd of the sheep" (Ibid., 47).
On the morning of the resurrection, Jesus is able to declare that his disciples, that is, his students, whom he called "friends" at the supper on the night before the Passover (John 15:15), are now his "brothers and sisters" and the one whom he addresses as "my Father" is now their Father also (20:17). Jesus knows they will all become believers. I think God wants you and me to know the gospel as the child Emily did: in both life and death we remain on the Vine. -Stephen Gerth
MONDAY, APRIL 9: THE ANNUNCIATION. . . The Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on Monday of the Second Week of Easter when the rules of the calendar do not permit it to be celebrated on March 25. Here's the schedule for the day: Sung 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. A reception will follow in Saint Joseph's Hall.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dora, Dick, Marilouise, Dennis, Bob, Randy, Mary, Barbara, Burt, Mike, Kathleen, Kyle, Greta, Carlos, Bill, Mickie, Jerry, Eleanor, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, and Sandy; for Horace, David, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for the repose of the soul of Juan Luriano; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 8: 1886 William Fritz; 1900 Elias H. Owens; 1903 William Scolley Whitwell; 1917 Wilhelmina Schober Gecheidle; 1964 Grieg Taber, priest and rector of Saint Mary's; 1971 Carl Francis Hugger; 1996 Donald L. Garfield, priest and rector of Saint Mary's.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.
AVE ONLINE . . . "Project Canterbury is a free online archive of out-of-print Anglican texts and related modern documents. It was founded in 1999 by Richard Mammana and is an all-volunteer effort; it is not affiliated officially with any church body." Richard, Wayne Kempton, archivist and historiographer of the diocese of New York, and Mary Robison, parishioner and secretary of the board of trustees, have been working to put our parish's second newsletter, AVE, in this archive. The first nine issues from 1932 and from January 1939 through October 1940 are now online. We believe we have a complete collection available to us. More to come! AVE is the most important record we have of the common life of Saint Mary's during the years of its publication. The Angelus succeeded AVE when we began to publish the weekly Angelus in February 1999. We owe many, many thanks to Richard, Wayne, and Mary for this project-and to Richard and many others for the great resource that Project Canterbury has become. -S.G.
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.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Holy Week at Saint Mary's is a deeply demanding season for the many parishioners and friends of the parish, who offer their time, energy, skills, and creativity, so that the parish community, and our visitors, can celebrate the Paschal mystery. We are very grateful for all these many gifts of service, so generously offered . . . Attendance: Maundy Thursday 124; Good Friday 234; Easter 633.
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 Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on April 11, at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study in the Parish House . . . Friday, April 13, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor. Please enter at 145 West Forty-sixth Street, just west of the main doors to the church, and press buzzer 1 in the vestibule. Then climb up one flight of stairs, make a U-turn, and climb up another small flight of stairs. The Atrium will be on your left.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION. . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, April 8. The class 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 musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa paschalis by Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594), or Orlande de Lassus, as he was also known. Lassus was one of the most prolific and admired European composers of his time. Born at Mons in the Franco-Flemish province of Hainaut, Lassus was well traveled, particularly in northern Italy, but was centered in Munich much his adult life. His compositions include about sixty authenticated Mass settings, most of which are elaborate parody works based upon motets-often his own-as well as French chansons, and Italian madrigals from such composers as Gombert, Willaert, Resta, Arcadelt, Rore, and Palestrina. Missa paschalis (1576), however, is one of Lassus' few Masses based upon chant. Only in the Kyrie (not sung this morning) is the cantus firmus plainly stated in long notes in soprano and tenor voices. Following the Kyrie the chant elements are integrated into the polyphonic texture. The present performing edition derives from a 1579 collection of various composers' works entitled Liber primus Missarum quinque vocum ("First Book of Masses for Five Voices"). Notable in this Mass setting are several passages where polyphony turns to chordal writing, giving particular emphasis to certain phrases of the text.
Jacob Handl (1550-1591), also known as Jacobus Gallus, is credited with over five hundred compositions, both sacred and secular, including twenty Masses and hundreds of motets. Handl was Slovenian by birth, yet his compositions incorporate the influences of the leading Franco-Flemish and Venetian musical schools of his time. His motet Stetit Jesus from Opus musicum III (1587), sung during the administration of Communion on Sunday morning, sings the post-resurrection appearance of our Lord reported in John 20:19-20. Handl's motet captures the drama of the narrative.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, born in Weimar as the second son of Maria Barbara and Johann Sebastian Bach, was, like his father, the most distinguished musician of his generation of Bachs. He served as harpsichordist to Frederick the Great and later as director of music to five principal churches in Hamburg. C. P. E. Bach's catalogue of compositions was impressive, but included surprisingly little organ music. The Prelude in D Major, played as the organ prelude this morning, resembles a string concerto movement. It begins grandly in the manner of an Italian overture, and then gives way to a playful dialogue between larger and smaller forces of the organ. The postlude, Deep River, is the last of the suite Four Spiritual Preludes, composed in 2001 by David Hurd, organist and music director at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. It is a brief and exuberant interpretation of the spiritual's vision of the home over the Jordan. -David Hurd
LOOKING AHEAD . . .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 . . . Sunday, May 6, May Crowning and Annual Meeting of the Congregation . . . Wednesday, May 9, Eve of Ascension Day, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 10, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Office 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM.
AT THE GALLERIES. . . At the Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue at Eighty-sixth Street, March 8-May 28, 2018, Before the Fall: German and Austrian Art of the 1930s, an exhibition devoted to the development of the arts in Germany and Austria during a decade marked by economic crisis, political disintegration, and social chaos. This exhibition, comprised of nearly 150 paintings and works on paper, will trace the many routes traveled by German and Austrian artists and will demonstrate the artistic developments that foreshadowed, reflected, and accompanied the beginning of World War II. Central topics of the exhibition will be the reaction of the artists toward their historical circumstances, the development of style with regard to the appropriation of various artistic idioms, the personal fate of artists, and major political events that shaped the era. The show assembles key works by leading artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Oskar Kokoschka, and Alfred Kubin, and a number of other artists less familiar to audiences in the United States.