Jesus’ resurrection gift to his disciples was the Holy Spirit. In the presence of the risen Lord the disciples are able to accept this gift and to let it transform their lives. In Luke’s gospel it is a gift that has always been present, almost always unclaimed, with people all their lives. In John’s gospel it is a gift given from the cross and on the evening of the first Easter Day. There is a unity of Easter and the gift of the Spirit that is like the unity of Jesus’ death and resurrection. One follows on the other and when one leaves any of these out there is something missing from Christian preaching and Christian experience.
If one poses the question “What is the most important Christian belief?” I have always thought one needed to be ready to give full credit for two answers. The first answer, my favorite, is simply that Jesus rose from the dead. My second, to which I think one must give equal weight, is that God has revealed himself as the Holy Trinity. There are almost always problems with simple questions and simple answers. One problem with my first answer is that it doesn’t mention the Father and the Spirit. One problem with my second answer is that it could be said to be an answer just about God, not about God and humankind.
One observation I would make about my journey as a Christian and as a Christian preacher is that I have a tendency to want to downplay the gift of the Spirit as an Easter gift. I want to bask in the spiritual glow and the promise of Easter. Easter encounters with the risen Lord were not about devotion and meditation. The risen Lord left the women and the other disciples transformed. You and I should expect signs in our lives whenever we may have a renewed sense of God’s presence in our lives.
Jesus’ Easter gift of the Spirit to his disciples was a gift of witness and mission. There is every reason to expect us as individuals and as a Christian community to be led in new ways of witness and mission this Easter season. One of the clearest teachings of the Old and New Testaments and of our Reformation heritage is that those of us who try to practice our faith are constantly in need of renewal and growth. Our faith is always going to be calling us to move to a new and closer relationship to God and to others. Our faith is always going to be calling us to repent and grow closer to the Lord.
Somewhere I still have a poster from the Oxford Movement Sesquicentennial with a quotation from either Newman or Keble. If I recall correctly the punch line is, “I’m sure the apostles did not sit still.” No, they didn’t. And their work began on that evening of the first day of that week when all creation was renewed. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Mary who is hospitalized, for Doreen, Steve, Gilbert, Robert, Jason, Harold, Matthew, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, Carlson, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Jonathan, Jeffrey, Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, Colin, Christina, David, Nestor, Freddie, Matthew and Bennett, and for the repose of the soul of Russell.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 25: 1999 Helen Kingman; April 27: 1953 Hugh M. Smallwood, 1994 Frances Flagg.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 9:1-19a, Psalm 33:1-11, Revelation 5:6-14; John 21:1-14 . . . Because of the Messiaen Recital, confessions will be heard on Saturday, April 24, only at 11:30 AM . . . On Sunday, April 25, Mr. John Hamilton, seminarian, will preach at the 9:00 AM Mass. The Rector will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses. Father Beddingfield will be the preacher for Solemn Evensong at 5:00 PM.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Your prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of Russell Bagley who died on April 21, 2004 in Bennington, Vermont. Mr. Bagley was formerly a member of the parish and served for many years as a trustee and as the treasurer of Saint Mary’s. He will be buried from Saint Peter’s Church, Bennington, Vermont on Saturday, April 24, at 11:00 AM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Mary Heffner has been hospitalized at New York University Medical Center. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Doreen Swan is at the Village Nursing Home, continuing to improve as she recovers from a fall . . . The Rector will be out of town Monday, April 26, through Friday, April 30. We are thankful that Father Jay Smith will be able to assist with some of the weekday Masses and Offices while he is away . . . Father Andrew Sloane, former curate of this parish and presently rector of Saint Paul’s Church, K Street, Washington, D.C., will celebrate his twenty-fifth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on Tuesday, June 8, at Saint Paul’s. Please call Saint Paul’s parish office for full details, 202-337-2020 . . . Anyone interested in joining the rota of servers for weekday Masses should speak with the Rector or with Father Beddingfield . . . Attendance last Sunday 247.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Andante from Sonata No. 3 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and the postlude is Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 by J. S. Bach . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 and Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der den Tod überwand, BWV 626 by Bach. The postlude is Carillon from Vingt-quatre pièces en style libre, Op. 31, No. 21 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis in B-dur, KV 275 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). This setting, written in Salzburg in 1777, is believed to have been a favorite of the composer. The motet at Communion is Mozart’s very familiar Ave verum corpus, KV 618. This beautiful gem was written in 1791, the year of Mozart’s death, for the choirmaster of the parish church in Baden. Records also show that the above Mass setting was sung at this church that same year . . . This Sunday afternoon, in lieu of the customary of the normal organ recital, a vocal recital will be offered by Ms. Mellissa Hughes, Ms. Jennifer Paulino and Ms. Emilie Ball, all of whom sing in our choir either regularly or occasionally. They will sing music of Dunstable, Dufay, Monteverdi and Andrew Smith.
UNIQUE VISITORS . . . Saint Mary’s reaches out to many people in many ways. One of the ways is through our website. The following is a snapshot from Palm Sunday to Easter Day of the visitors to our site. 222 Returning Visitors – a person is returning to the website for another visit an hour or more after the initial visit. 736 First Time Visitors – First time at our website. 958 Unique Visitor – This is the total of the returning visitors and first time visitors - all visitors to the site. 1518 Page Loads -- The number of times a page has been visited; in this case our web page. Most of the visitors came from the United States; one came from Canada and one from New Zealand. Google is the search engine where most of our visitors come from, followed by MSN and then Yahoo. Keywords reflect what people were searching for when they found us. Different forms of Saint Mary’s name were the most popular keywords. People were also looking for a church in New York City, incense or music. Saint Mary’s also shows up on web rings in articles and calendar listings. All of these bring visitors to our site. The next time you sit in church, remember you are part of community of people that reaches past the confines of the building and Times Square. Sandra Schubert
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY . . . Lighthouse International is recruiting volunteers to help with their 32nd Annual POSH Clothing Sale on May 13 – 16. Lana Mullen is an active volunteer and has asked that we help to advertise the need for more volunteers. People are needed to help at many different times and days during the week. For more information, please contact Carmella Chessen, Volunteer Resources, (212) 821-9406, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday of Easter
Monday Saint Mark the Evangelist (transferred)
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Catherine of Siena, religious
Friday Easter Weekday No abstinence
Eve of Saint Philip & Saint James, Apostles
Saturday Saint Philip & Saint James, Apostles
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.