FROM THE RECTOR: ONE BODY, ONE BREAD
In June I wrote about the first of a two-part article by the Reverend Dr. Stephen R. Shaver, a liturgical scholar and rector of the Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, California. The second part, "A Eucharistic Origins Story Part II: The Body and the Blood of Christ" (Worship 92 [July 2018], 298-317) has arrived. In his conclusion Shaver writes, "We can in fact draw at least two lines from earliest Christian meals to the later Eucharist: the first is the tradition of sharing a common loaf (and sometimes cup), and the second is the tradition associating the meal with Jesus's body and blood. Neither of these two strands was universal, but both date from the beginning of the Christian movement, and both would eventually be adopted so widely as to be normative" (pages 316-17).
Shaver's thinking about Eucharistic origins led me to look again at the Reverend Dr. Paul F. Bradshaw's Rites of Ordination: Their History and Theology (2013). Beginning with a review of priesthood in the Old Testament, he moves on to leadership positions reflected in the New Testament. We find something of the same kind of ambiguity and wide variety of practices in the first centuries of the Christian era. In Numbers we read, "When you present the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel shall lay their hands upon the Levites" (8:10). In the Acts of the Apostles, seven are picked "to serve tables" (Acts 6:1-7). Then we read, "These [the body of the disciples] they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them" (Acts 6:6). So, was it just the twelve laying on hands or everyone? (Rites of Ordination, 12, n. 12). It's not clear; but with respect to priesthood things will change before too long.
At the Noonday Office on Wednesday, July 18, we read a portion of a homily on a passage from the Book of Joshua, written by the great third-century theologian and biblical scholar, Origen of Alexandria (c. 185-c. 254). Origen had a long and distinguished career as a layman before his ordination to the priesthood at the fairly advanced age of forty-five. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1978) says, "In 250, in the persecution of [the emperor] Decius, [Origen] was imprisoned and subjected to prolonged torture" (page 1008). He died around the year 254. In the passage from the homily on Joshua, Origen makes a comment that struck me as surprisingly clericalist for a man not particularly known for clericalism, "The priests and Levites halted, and the waters, as though out of reverence to the ministers of God, stopped flowing" (Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church , ed. J. Robert Wright, page 309). At the time, I couldn't help thinking that the waters were surely stopped because of the Ark of the Covenant, not because the Ark was being carried by priests and Levites.
After Mass, I looked at the passage again and read, "As a Christian, you should not be amazed to hear of these wonders performed for men of the past [namely, the priests and Levites]. The divine Word promises much greater and more lofty things to you who have passed through Jordan's stream by the sacrament of baptism: he promises you a passage even through the sky. Listen to what Paul says concerning the just: We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in heaven, and so we shall always be with the Lord. There is absolutely nothing for the just man to fear; the whole of creation serves him."
It turns out that Origen thinks of Christians as a "priestly people," following 1 Peter 2; but, for Origen, the priesthood of the people is derived from the unique priesthood of Christ (cf. Pamela Bright, "Priesthood," in The Westminster Handbook to Origen , 179-181.) Still, I can't help wondering: is this "reverence" for God's "special" ministers a sign of things to come? By around the middle of the fourth century, Alexandria's bishops would become some of the most powerful and influential men in Christian society.
Back to Shaver. I am taken by the ancient symbolism of everyone sharing bread from one loaf. We use one small round loaf at the 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM Masses on Sunday and three or four small round loaves at the Solemn Mass. I'm enough of a bread baker to know we can put four of them together to make one loaf-though I'm sure I'll have a learning curve in showing it with the chalice at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer. For many reasons, we'll always have wafer hosts available. Let me conclude with the words of the third stanza of the hymn, "Come, risen Lord" (The Hymnal 1982, hymn 305) by George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959), a priest of the Church of England: "One body we, one Body who partake, one Church united in communion blest; one Name we bear, one Bread of life we break, with all thy saints on earth and saints at rest."
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ilona, Joreman, Stephen, Robert, Alex, Sheila, Eloise, Angie, Maxine, Carlos, Susan, Marilouise, Dennis, Bob, Abe, Randy, Burt, Mike, Eugenia, Kyle, Greta, Karen, Melissa, May, Heidi, Takeem, and Sandy; for Horace, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 22: 1872 Rosamond Adair; 1891 Irene Bieral; 1895 William Ratcliffe; 1910 Elizabeth Marion Morehouse; 1925 Amelia Lloyd; 1929 Maude Amarilla James; 1960 Mary L. Waters.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Monday, July 23, Saint Mary Magdalene (transferred). Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle. Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM. The 12:10 PM Mass is a Sung Mass . . . Thursday, July 26, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 PM . . . Friday, July 27, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor.
SAINT MARY'S 2018-2019 ORGAN RECITALS . . . All recitals begin at 5:30 PM: Wednesday, August 15, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mr. George Bozeman, Deerfield, NH; Thursday, November 1, All Saints' Day, Dr. Paul-Martin Maki, Saint John's Church, Larchmont, NY; Friday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dr. Judith Hancock, New York City; Friday, February 1, Eve of the Presentation of Our Lord, Dr. Timothy Pyper, Church of the Holy Apostles, New York City; Monday, March 25, Annunciation of Our Lord, Mr. Larry Long, Church of the Epiphany, New York City; Thursday, May 30, Ascension Day, Dr. David Hurd, organist and music director.
AROUND THE PARISH. . . We are hoping to receive donations for altar flowers on the following dates: Sunday, July 29; Sunday, August 19; Sunday, September 2; Sunday, September 23; October 14, 21, and 28; November 1, All Saints' Day; Sunday, November 4, 11, 18, and 25; Friday, December 7, the Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Sunday, December 16, Gaudete Sunday. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Parish Office . . . Pledge to keep up with your pledge! During the summer months we sometimes experience cash-flow problems as many friends and members of the parish are away, taking much-needed vacations. We urge all those who made pledges for 2018 to stay current with their pledge payments. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the mission and witness of this parish . . . Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., will be on vacation from Saturday, July 14, through Friday, August 3 . . . Father Jim Pace will be on vacation and away from the parish from Thursday, July 19, through Sunday, July 29 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 159.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S. . . There will not be a Drop-in Day during the month of August. During that time, The Homeless Ministry Team will be planning for the 2018-19 season, saying goodbye to Sister Monica Clare, and making preparations for transition in this ministry. Donations and volunteers are needed for our next Drop-in Day on Wednesday, September 26, and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. We are in particular need of basic items such as the following: packs of new underwear in various sizes for both men and women; slacks for both men and women, including jeans, chinos, khakis, etc.; packs of new socks, white and black; rainwear; knapsacks; and toiletry articles . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . 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.
ABOUT THE MUSIC. . . The cantor on Sunday morning is tenor Christopher Howatt, parish office manager and member of the choir of Saint Mary's. During the ministration of Communion he will sing a setting of How can I keep from singing by Alan Bullard (b. 1947), a British composer and former student of Herbert Howells, who is known mainly for his choral and educational music. Bullard's setting utilizes a hymn melody by the American Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry (1826-1899) for a text of uncertain authorship. This text and Lowry's music were first published together in the 1869 song book Bright Jewels for the Sunday School. The words and melody traveled well together and were adopted by many singing communities, including Quakers and Unitarian Universalists who continue to use them widely.
As is often the case with hymns-especially those of uncertain authorship and those believed to be traditional-oral transmission and the creative spirit yield varied renderings. In this case, an additional stanza authored by Doris Plenn-a family friend of Pete Seeger's-to a version of the hymn which she had learned from her grandmother, propelled the hymn into a large new audience in the folk revival of the 1960s. Seeger and later Arlo Guthrie and other performers and recording artists have continued to extend the life of this hymn of hopefulness which Robert Lowry set to music a century and a half ago. Bullard's setting for voice and keyboard instrument explores a version of the original two stanzas but has been expanded to include Plenn's third stanza.
Sunday's organ voluntaries are two of the eight "Little" Preludes and Fugues, a set of concise organ pieces traditionally attributed to J. S. Bach (1685-1750). More recent scholarship suggests that they might actually have been composed by a Bach pupil, very likely Johann Tobias Krebs (1690-1762), or his son, Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780). The uncertainty of the origin of these works notwithstanding, these eight Preludes and Fugues have figured largely in the instruction of generations of organists and are very suitable as voluntaries in liturgical settings. BWV 555 in E minor, played for the Prelude, is a rather introspective, if not conservative piece, while BWV 557 in the relative major key of G, played for the Postlude, is a more extroverted work in the spirit of the keyboard toccatas of its time. —David Hurd
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Monday, August 6, The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Tuesday, August 14, The Eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Wednesday, August 15, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Friday, August 24, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle . . . Monday, September 3, Labor Day.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . "Learning to Remember" at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280, until August 26, 2018. From the Museum website, "The Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is commemorating twenty years of serving as New York's Holocaust Memorial Museum with a series of special exhibitions and installations, public programs, and community events. Learning to Remember offers a glimpse of some of the most compelling, thought-provoking, and historically significant exhibitions presented by the Museum in the last two decades. These exhibitions explored important topics-from Jewish resistance against the Nazis to the American Jewish connection to Lady Liberty-and attracted diverse audiences to what is now the third largest Holocaust museum in the world."