I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s new movie. It’s hard to avoid knowing something about it. I don’t plan to see it anytime soon. I don’t like to watch gore, especially after seeing the photograph in the New York Times of Jesus on the cross, I think this movie will have to much.
In the New Testament there are four related yet very distinct accounts of the passion. The more important event, his resurrection, gets less space in all four gospels than his trial and execution. Jesus’ death, however, by itself did not bring people to faith. His resurrection did. His crucifixion was the horrible and almost incomprehensible prelude – perhaps because we human beings know that evil is real and that any human being has the potential to become evil.
Yesterday more people came through Saint Mary’s than will be in our church than on any other day of the year. The vast majority came simply for ashes. One person asked me, after she had received the ashes, what the point of the ashes is. I responded (briefly because there was a line of people waiting behind her) that it was the sign of a beginning, of a commitment to prepare for Easter.
Wedding engagements are great, but they would miss the point if there were no marriage. Lent is great but it’s not the point. Easter is. Jesus’ birth is a beginning not an end. His death was not the end. We Christians believe our own deaths are not the end either, ever.
It is interesting that we know so little about how people responded to Jesus’ resurrection in comparison to the account of his death. Yes, the four evangelists write about Jesus. I would like to know more of what it was like for those who were in the room when Jesus came and stood among them on that first day of the new creation. Perhaps it is the vocation of every human being to discover this for themselves. Is it easier for human beings to look on evil than to see the glory of the risen Christ in the person of others or in himself?
Lent can and should be a time of beginnings. Even if we cannot see God’s glory as we at our best might want to, maybe we can catch a new glimpse, a new vision that will deepen our faith and our hope in the power of God’s love for humankind. Good Friday can be more of a beginning than an end. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for William, Gilbert and William who are hospitalized, and for Joseph, Barbara, Sean, Jean, Lynn, Nancy, Margaret, Kristina, Mabel, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Harold, Billie, Matthew, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Jonathan, Jeffrey, Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David and Colin . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 4: 1989 Timothy Francis Meyers.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:9-15, Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 28, by Father Beddingfield and March 6 by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: The Presiding Bishop will officiate at Stations of the Cross on Friday, February 27, at 7:00 PM . . . Take a virtual tour of Saint Mary’s! If you go to our website, www.stmvirgin.org, you’ll notice a new button on the left side, bottom “virtual tours.” When you click on the link you will be asked to download new software. Then you will have the option to view five different locations in the church. You can click and navigate around within the picture and see 360 degrees in any direction, up, down and around each of the locations. Don’t do it too quickly or you might get dizzy! . . . Lenten service cards are available on the ushers’ tables in the church. Again, many thanks to Robert Loper for them . . . Many thanks to all who helped on Ash Wednesday . . . Attendance last Sunday 401, Ash Wednesday Masses 626.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HONDURAS . . . Canon Sylvia Vasquez will be with us on Tuesday, March 2 at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study to share a presentation and talk about her seven-year relationship with Villanueva, a village located just outside Tegucigalpa. Come and find out more about the mission trip that will be going to Honduras November 11-18, 2004. Whatever your interest, please join us on March 2 to welcome Canon Vasquez to Saint Mary’s.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION IN MARCH . . . This Lent, you’re invited to take advantage of a class offered at Saint Mary’s through the Center for Christian Studies, a program of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Father Beddingfield will be teaching a course entitled, “Sand in our Shoes: The Theology and Practice of Christian Spirituality.” For more information on the five-week course, call the parish office; see the booklet at the back of the church. Visit online at (www.christianstudies.org).
A LENTEN QUIET DAY, OF SORTS . . .Walking The Way: The Body In Christian Spirituality will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2004. The day is co-sponsored by Saint Bartholomew’s Church, The Diocese of New York Spirituality Committee, and The Center of Christian Spirituality of General Theological Seminary. It will be held at Saint Bartholomew’s, Park Avenue at 51st Street, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. The day will include a talk by the Rev. Dr. Anne Brewer, physician and priest. Workshops include Taoist & Christian Embodied Spiritual Practice (Dr. Elisabeth Koenig), Using the Voice and the Body to Pray the Psalms (The Rev. Canon Tom Miller), Reclaiming the Body as God’s Beloved: A Workshop for Women (Ms. Hondi Brasco), Saint Dominic’s Nine Postures of Prayer (The Rev. John Beddingfield), and more on Walking the Labyrinth, Practicing Centering Prayer, and Yoga. Cost is $35.00 per registrant, which includes lunch provided by Café St. Barts. Register by calling St. Bart’s Central at 212-378-0222 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Organ voluntaries and improvisation are not heard in our liturgies during Lent (with the exception of the Annunciation and, to a lesser extent, the Fourth Sunday in Lent). Organ accompaniments for hymns will also be far more subdued than usual during the season . . . This week at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa quatuor vocem by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). The sixth child of composer Alessandro Scarlatti, he may be best known for his sonatas for solo keyboard (though he composed numerous operas, cantatas and other church and vocal music). The motet at Communion is Exaudi, Domine by Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1553/56-1612), nephew of Andrea Gabrieli and organist of Saint Mark’s, Venice . . . In addition, organ recitals are not played prior to Evensong during Lent. There is a recital before the Solemn Mass on the Annunciation, played by English organist David Phillips. The Sunday series resumes on Easter Day with a recital played by associate organist Robert McDermitt.
SUMMARY OF FEBRUARY 17, 2004, BOARD MEETING . . . At its February 2004 meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Received from Mr. Howard Christian, with regret, a letter of resignation from the Board. 2. Heard a presentation from Mr. Paul Segal, architect, of Paul Segal Associates, regarding proposed plans for renovation of the interior of the Mission House. These would include a wheel chair-accessible entrance on the 47th Street side of the parish complex, an elevator up to the third floor of the Mission House, and apartments on the fourth and fifth floors. 3. Heard of progress of plans for possible development of the Parish House. 4. Discussed details of a long-range planning meeting, for members of the Board of Trustees. 5. Signed a certificate to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of New York for Ryan Edwin Lesh to be made a Candidate for Holy Orders. Leroy Sharer, secretary.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The First Sunday in lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Stations of the Cross 7:00 PM
Saturday Weekday of Lent
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.