FROM THE RECTOR: PENTECOST BRETHREN
At the end of Luke, Jesus said to his apostles, "Stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49b). In the Acts of the Apostles, on the day called "Pentecost" (from the Greek for "fiftieth"), the people of Jerusalem are celebrating a harvest festival, "the feast of weeks" described in Exodus 23:16, Leviticus 23:15-21, and Deuteronomy 16:9-12. But some are not. "They" (Acts 2:1) are together waiting for Jesus' promised gift, and on the day of the festival the gift arrives (Acts 2:2-13).
Far more important than the symbolic (poetic?) tongues of fire is the inclusive nature of the Spirit's work: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). There were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, and Cappadocians. There are also people from Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libyans from Cyrene, Romans, Jews, proselytes (non-Jews who had converted to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabians.
In Luke the twelve disciples are called "apostles"-language used by Mark, Matthew, and Paul, but pointedly not by John. These apostles are all males, though in John the first person who is sent (the root meaning of "apostle") to proclaim the resurrection is Mary Magdalene (John 20:17). As Acts begins, there are only eleven apostles--the ones "whom [Jesus] had chosen" (Acts 1:2). We learn in Acts that Judas died in a fall (1:18), though in Matthew Judas hangs himself (Matthew 27:5). Matthias takes the place of Judas (Acts 1:15-26).
After Jesus' ascension, the apostles go to an upper room "where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:13-14). Ok, but what about Jesus' sisters? Matthew follows Mark in mentioning Jesus' brothers and sisters. Luke does not-or does he? What did Luke understand when he wrote the Greek word adelphoi? Like the English word "brethren," adelphoi can mean "brothers" or "brothers and sisters." I bring this up, because it matters for how we understand the account of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts.
On Pentecost, also called "Whitsunday," that is, "white Sunday" because Pentecost was a day for baptism--think unheated churches in Britain at Easter in March or April versus Pentecost in May or June—the Spirit fell on those who were gathered in that upper room. The apostles, now including Matthias, the unnamed women, Jesus' mother, and Jesus' "adelphoi."
We can't know that Jesus' sisters were there, but we can't know that they weren't. Acts 2:1-13 is the appointed lesson for the day of Pentecost, but in Acts the day continues with one of the most important speeches Peter gives. Standing with the other apostles, he addresses the "men of Judea" and "all who dwell in Jerusalem" This passage is called "Peter's Pentecost Sermon" (Acts 2:14-16). I think this word "all" includes everyone, especially Jesus' sisters. As the children's song goes, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world." Alleluia. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Michael, Dick, Angie, Maxine, Alex, Mary, Dora, Marilouise, Dennis, Bob, Abe, Randy, Burt, Mike, Melissa, Kyle, Greta, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Ridhima, Takeem, David, and Sandy; for Yamily, Horace, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, and Jude, o.s.b., priests; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 20: 1892 Charles William Montague; 1963 Annie Louise Arnold; 1996 Walter Edgar Hartlove, priest.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
AIDS WALK 2018 . . . Saint Mary's AIDS Walk will take place this coming Sunday, May 20. The Team will attend and serve at Mass, have a brief photo-op, and then walk the walk that everyone else did earlier in the day. Thanks to so many friends and parishioners at Saint Mary's, we are very close to our goal of raising $55,000 for this very important cause. As of Thursday, May 17, we have raised $53, 555. Please join us by clicking on this link or by giving a check paid to the order of AIDS Walk New York to Father Smith or to one of the two coordinators, Clark Mitchell or MaryJane Boland. Please note: Sunday is not the final deadline for making a donation! You can contribute through mid-June-and we would love to exceed our goal. We also urge you to watch the members of the Team reflect on their reasons for taking part in the Walk in a video available for viewing on YouTube.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN: WE NEED YOUR HELP!
. . . We need your help to reach our annual goal. With each pledge we get closer to meeting that goal. You can easily make a pledge online. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the parish and its ministries so generously.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, May 20, The Day of Pentecost, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM, Mass 10:00 AM, Adult Forum led by Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Friday, May 18, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Laura Katharine's "Candle Sale" will be held on Trinity Sunday, May 27, in Saint Joseph's Hall following the Solemn Mass. This will be her final sale-big discounts are promised! . . . The Rector will be away on behalf of the parish Tuesday, May 22, through Friday, May 25 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 216.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . On May 20, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict's Study, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will conclude her 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 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class met for the last time on April 25 to discuss the Passion Narrative in the Gospel of Mark. The group will gather on Wednesday, May 23, for its annual end-of-year dinner. Classes will resume in the fall.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The Mass setting on Sunday morning is the Mass in G minor by the noted English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). This Mass was composed in 1921 and is dedicated to another noted English composer, Gustav Holst (1874-1934), and the Whitsuntide Singers at Thaxted in north Essex. Its first performance was in concert by the City of Birmingham Choir on December 6, 1922. While first performed in concert, The Mass in G minor was intended to be sung liturgically and was subsequently premiered as such at Westminster Cathedral under the direction of Sir Richard Terry. Vaughan Williams's Mass is clearly in his own distinctive twentieth-century musical vocabulary, but it derives its sonic and affective character from the great heritage of English choral composition of earlier centuries. His Mass is often considered the most significant English work of its kind since the sixteenth century, and it has been an inspiration to many composers who have followed Vaughan Williams. The original conception is a work for double chorus and four soloists. This morning four of its movements will be performed by a choir of nine singers in which the differentiation between choruses and soloists will merge more into a unified choral texture.
Eternal Spirit of the Living Christ-composed by Saint Mary's music director, David Hurd, and sung as the Communion motet today-was commissioned by the 2006 Association of Anglican Musicians Conference and the Anglican Musicians Foundation in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Association of Anglican Musicians in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this choral setting of a hymn by the Finnish theologian Frank von Christierson (1900-1996), the text alternates between chant-based and freely-composed statements of each of its three stanzas. The melodic foundation of the chant-styled sections is drawn from the plainsong Lord's Prayer as previously adapted by Winfred Douglas and well-known to Episcopalians for generations. Since Christierson's text centers on the pursuit of right prayer, this musical reminder of the most foundational and seminal prayer of all Christians, which Jesus himself taught his disciples, seemed particularly apt.
The organ prelude on Sunday morning is a Fantasia on the chorale "Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God" from J. S. Bach's Leipzig Great Eighteen Chorales. The chorale melody is heard in long tones in the bass voice, played on the organ pedals, while a dense three-voice fantasia is woven above it and played by the hands.
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) distinguished himself as organist, teacher, and titular organist at the church of St. Etienne-du-Mont from 1930 until his death. He is well remembered for his relatively small number of compositions, which are works of remarkable distinctiveness and refinement. Duruflé brought to the organ the colors and flavors of impressionism, which flourished in the larger world of French music in his time through the compositions of such composers as Debussy and Ravel. Duruflé's Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié, Opus 4, is a work of symphonic proportion which ends with the Holy Spirit hymn Veni Creator and four variations. The final variation, which presents and develops the plainsong hymn melody in a stirring crescendo, will be played as postlude today.
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 Days on May 23, June 27, and July 11, 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.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Sunday, May 27, Trinity Sunday . . . Monday, May 28, Memorial Day . . . Thursday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Sunday, June 3, Corpus Christi . . . Friday, June 8, 2018, 10:00 AM, Convent of the Community of St. John Baptist, Mendham, New Jersey, Life Profession of Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. . . . Sunday, June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist . . . Friday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . Saturday, May 19, 3:00-6:00 PM, sponsored by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY, Walking Harlem: The Ultimate Guide to the Cultural Capital of Black America. From the Center's website, "The Schomburg Shop is hosting Karen Taborn and the launch of her new book from Rutgers University Press, Walking Harlem: The Ultimate Guide to the Capital of Black America. Walking Harlem is an illustrated guide of five different walking tours throughout Harlem, each revealing distinctly rich histories of the neighborhood through past and present landmarks. The afternoon will include a short walking tour with the author which will begin and end at the Schomburg Center, followed by a Q&A and signing reception in the Langston Hughes Lobby.