Christmas in the Present
I am looking forward to the first Christmas since 1979 that I have been with a members of my own family on Christmas Eve. I entered seminary in the fall of 1980. From that time forward I have always been with my parish community on Christmas Eve - frankly, in the Anglo-catholic world of the Diocese of Chicago it was never suggested to me that there was any other option for a person studying to be a priest.
In seminary I would still fly home on Christmas Day to be with my family. That ended with ordination. My vocation meant that my parish was where I would be on Christian holidays for the future. Lots of people aren't home for Christmas when they have grown up. If I had another profession I might have gotten home no more or not much more than I have as a member of the clergy. If I weren't a parish priest I would hope that my parish community would be a place where I was happy to be at Christmas. Perhaps because I am single I feel this more keenly than members of the clergy who are married.
If I could ask one gift for our parish community this year it would be that the Holy Spirit strengthen within us our gifts for being a community. I would ask that it would be easier for us to learn each other's names within the parish. I would ask that no person would think he or she could be a member of the parish and not want to know other people within the community. I would ask that the members within the parish community would be so helpful to newcomers that all who enter would immediately think their presence mattered. We do all of these things of course already to some extent. I would pray that it would be easier for us to do just a little more and with just a little more confidence. God can use us in ways we haven't yet imagined if we will let him.
Memory can be a very sweet thing and I think it is good for you and me to remember things that made us happy in the past. I think memories of the past can help us appreciate and look for happiness in the present. I hope most of the people who come to the Christmas services will be able to come bringing joy and thankfulness for God's gifts, looking for healing, looking to leave burdens with Christ. Do not come, however, expecting or needing the Christmas of your childhood or your Christmas of last year. This is 1999. Christmas is unique every year, as it always must be in human history.
I can remember the first time the Charlie Brown Christmas special came on in 1965. I think I can remember sitting on the floor to watch it. I am sure my brother and sister were watching it with me. It's a very good memory and I never watch the program without thinking of them. But we're grown now and I like adult memories too. Once when they were in their twenties and I was just in my thirties the three of us took a short summer vacation together. We learned that we all liked gin and tonic in the summer time - another good memory. Life is too short, too precious, not to be enjoyed. Life itself is the great sign of God's love and presence. I invite you to enjoy it and I ask you to help me and others to enjoy it, this great gift, here at Saint Mary's at Christmas.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Helen, Jack, Herbert, Margaret, Warren, Katherine Rose, Margo, Shirley, Rich, Julia, Owanah, Clara, Daniel and Samuel John and for the repose of the soul of Marceline . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 28: 1953 Martha May Cockrill Lewis; December 29: 1957 Mary Isobel Sonnenberg; December 30: 1977 Josephine Thompson; December 31: 196l Everett Phillips Irwin, 1985: Frances Bulkley Hirsch, Anna Marie Schuman.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . William Poston's aunt, Marceline Purdom, died on December 18. Pray for her, for William and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 147:13-21, Galatians 3:23-25,4:4-7, John 1:1-18 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Christmas Note: The chasuble to be worn on Christmas Eve will be the one owned and used here by the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, the Father Founder of the Saint Mary's . . . Many thanks to Andrew Adams for the party for our parish choir last Sunday at the rectory. In addition to his considerable gifts as a director, Andrew is also an excellent host! . . . Many thanks to Howard Christian and Roseanne Talbird for coordinating the decorating of the Christmas
tree last Sunday. The kids, young and old, really enjoyed it! . . . The 400 Christmas Eve service programs were collated, folded, stapled and inserted by Kevin Farley, George and Helena Handy, and Esther Kamm. Thank you! (And they did the Christmas Day bulletin too!) . . . As we go to press seventy-five pledges have been received for the 2000 Operating Budget that total $131,583 . . . The parish office will be closed on Friday, December 31. Contributions for tax year 1999 must be postmarked by December 31 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 196.
COMITES CHRISTI . . . The holy days immediately following Christmas are called in Latin "Comites Christi," that is, the companions of Christ. These are the Feasts of Saint Stephen, Saint John and the Holy Innocents. The observance of this sequence of celebrations begins most years on December 26. This year because December 26 is a Sunday the observance is transferred one day.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions will not be heard on the regular schedule during Christmastide. Appointments can be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at any time.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar for the Week
Monday Saint Stephen, Deacon & Martyr
Tuesday Saint John, Apostle & Evangelist
Wednesday The Holy Innocents
Thursday Christmas Weekday
Friday Christmas Weekday
Saturday The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.
The Parish Office Telephone 212-869-5830