Once in a vestry meeting I was criticized by a churchwarden for not talking in the pulpit enough about being an Episcopalian. It seems I was talking too much about being a Christian. That was a criticism, I confess, that I have probably worn a little too proudly ever since. In preaching, writing and conversation it is my practice to use the word Christian whenever possible in preference to all other terms.
One of the best videos on Christian initiation that I know is put out by LTP, Liturgical Training Publications, a publishing and teaching ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Unfortunately, this video and many other wonderful materials from LTP are of limited use to Episcopalians and other Christians because whenever possible LTP uses the word “Catholic” in preference to the word “Christian.” Of course they are entitled to do that, but I wonder, in God’s eyes, is anyone baptized to be a “Catholic”? I could also wonder about whether we do the same thing with the word Episcopalian sometimes. The word Anglican and its variants do not appear in the Bible. The word catholic doesn’t either. (I checked the word universal too. It only appears once in the Apocrypha with reference to the Flood.)
The New Testament provides us with another vocabulary for relationship and identity. It is the vocabulary of “rebirth” and “adoption”. The Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Sons for that matter, will not consider a person a “real” descendent of an American revolutionary soldier unless one is a biological descendant. Jesus and his evangelists and apostles stood the whole notion of descent, and a few other things, on its head.
One cannot see the kingdom of God unless one is reborn a second time, unless one has become an heir of the Father by adoption and grace. I believe it is important for you and me to feel and know in our guts that in Christ there is no black or white, rich or poor, weak or strong, male or female. I want to be associated with a Christian community that is clear that its Christian identity is primary. I confess I think of myself as a Christian more than I think of myself as an Episcopalian (yet another thing I didn’t tell the Board of Trustees when they interviewed me!).
If someone asks me whether I’m “high” or ‘low” church, I usually smile and answer “Full Gospel” – and I mean it. I am happy and proud to be a member of this Church. I believe I am called to follow Christ as part of this community. But denominational identity inevitably carries with it a sense of infidelity to the New Testament.
You and I can do very little practically about decisions that were made centuries ago. But you and I can be careful about how we identify ourselves and how we proclaim Christ. You and I can be careful to learn to trust Christ’s presence in this world and in other people. By our biological birth we are born to the accidents of the earth, an earth that is dying. By Christ we are born, by adoption, to a life that is eternal. Stephen Gerth
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for the members our Armed Forces on active duty in Kosovo and for Robert, Thomas, Maxine, Michael, Louise, Barbara, Shirley, Tom, Mark, Donna, Maria, Ellen, Bernadine, Gloria, Louis, Karen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ken, John, Nina, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 27: 1953 Hugh Smallwood; April 27: 1994 Frances Flagg.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 6:1-9,7:2a, 51-60, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10 . . . 9:00 Celebrant Father Parker, Preacher Mr. Burnette, 10:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Choate, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher Father Shin, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . . On Saturday, April 24, Father Parker will hear Confessions. On Saturday, May 1, Father Shin will hear Confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to Dean Driver for doing the flowers last Sunday while Howard Christian (who should more regularly receive our thanks for his ministry) was away . . . The Rector is on vacation. He will return to the parish office on Saturday, May 8 . . . Holy Days this week: Monday, Saint Mark the Evangelist, and Saturday, Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles . . . Nursery Donations to date total: $713.00. More is needed. Please make your checks payable to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and mark them for the nursery. Thank you very much . . . Ashmont Choir Gift: $600.00. Many thanks for your generosity! . . . Attendance last Sunday: 182.
CHOIR COMMUNIONS . . . I want you to know that you may see the parish seminarians assisting with the ministration of Holy Communion from time to time at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, especially for the choir gallery communion station. Most Sundays we have enough clergy for this ministry. Occasionally, however, we do not. It seems entirely appropriate to me for our seminary assistant, when present, to assist in this ministry if needed. S.G.
ABOUT CHURCH TOURS . . . Saint Martin’s Guild conducts tours of Saint Mary’s Church following the Solemn Mass on Sundays. If you are interested in assisting with this ministry we invite you to speak with Philip Parker who is the chairman of this Guild and to follow a tour one Sunday.
AT THE APRIL 12, 1999 BOARD MEETING . . . At its April meeting, the Board of Trustees: (1) Heard a summary of the performance of our investment accounts for 1998 from officers of US Trust; (2) Considered a proposal from a third theater group to use the performance space on the third floor of the Parish House; (3) Considered two proposals for repair of the central air conditioning system in the Rectory; (4) Voted to give the Maundy Thursday offering ($318.00) to the Momentum AIDS Project, a not-for-profit AIDS service organization that provides meals at various locations in our region; (5) Heard plans for renovation of the nursery, which is used on Sunday mornings; (6) Discussed plans to repair the sidewalks in front of the Church, for which proposals will be sought (this work will include building a ramp for wheelchair access adjacent to the Lady Chapel, in the 47th Street side of the Church.); (7) Discussed follow-up of the Stewardship Campaign, to approach those people who have not yet pledged for 1999. Jim Dennis volunteered to chair this effort on the part of the Board; and (8) Heard that various computers in the Church complex will need to be replaced before the end of the year, particularly those that are not Y2K compliant. The Board of Trustees meets on the second Monday evening of the month in Saint Benedict’s Study at 7:00 PM. Visitors are welcome to attend.
Worship at Saint Mary’s During Eastertide
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 are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The Fridays of Eastertide are not observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar of the Week of the Third Sunday of Easter
Monday Saint Mark the Evangelist
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Saint Catherine of Siena
Friday Easter Weekday
Saturday Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend William C. Parker, curate, The Reverend Allen Shin, assistant, The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Paulette Schiff,
The Reverend James Ross Smith, The Reverend Horace Choate, assisting priests.
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.