From Father Beddingfield: Living Stones
Villanueva is a section of Tegucigalpa, Honduras that does not appear on official maps of the capital city. It was formed as a squatter’s village on steep sides of the mountainous outskirts. Some 200,000 people live there in quarters that range from shacks of tin and cardboard to small dwellings of cinderblock. Some have electricity. Few have plumbing. The first working toilet in the area was installed last year in the Episcopal Church of San Juan Evangelista.
Riding up the mountain, one begins to notice that wherever there is color, it seems to be in some shade of tan, since a layer of dust covers everything. Even the scraggly plants that somehow manage to survive are more brown than green. Wherever a little section of earth is carved out for life, dirt and rock have to be moved. Children move rock. Women move rock. Trucks move rock.
San Juan Evangelista is built on rock. Over several years, they have constructed a cinder block building used for worship, with another room used for storage, sacristy and office. Last year they added a room on the back to be used as a kindergarten and gathering hall. Underneath they have built a bakery that they hope can become a business. There is also a room used for a new sewing center, where they hope one day to make and sell clergy shirts. Behind the church building, a jackhammer pummels more rock. Just to the side of the jackhammer, kids use pickaxes and haul the rubble away. They are clearing a space for a new children’s lunchroom, to be built this year.
I thought of my new friends in Honduras Tuesday when, at Saint Mary’s, we observed the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle. The Gospel includes the words of Jesus to his disciple, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). These words remind me of the incredible risk that God has taken in building the Church upon people as its foundation. Beginning with Saint Peter and continuing through each newly baptized person, we are the rocks that build the Church. With God’s help we are rock, and death will not prevail against us.
The church in Villanueva is being built on physical rock, but its real strength, like any church, is in the people who bring their love, their faith, their pain, their dreams, their gifts, and themselves. Last week Rebecca Weiner and I joined others from our diocese and from the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, in getting to know many of the “rocks” who form the foundation of San Juan Evangelista. They are little children filled with fun and mischief. They are old women whose faces carry a kind of tired beauty. They are men who work late into the night to help the church to grow and build.
On behalf of Saint Mary’s we took them some of our old de-accessioned vestments that they will reinforce and use, or share with the other twelve mission parishes nearby. We took them money that helped to provide lumber, tools, paint and other construction materials. We helped them paint part of the building and we helped them begin the construction of church pews. Realizing that the children were still out of school on Christmas break, Rebecca and some of the others designed an impromptu Vacation Bible School. We sang together, worked together, ate together and prayed together. We celebrated Mass together.
Last week I learned a lot about love and generosity. I learned how to whittle pegs for church pews and how to ask for Phillips-head screws in Spanish. I learned about faith that can move mountains, whether by the mysteries of God, a jackhammer, or some combination thereof. And most of all, I was reminded that churches grow when they are built on rocks. Churches grow not so much because they look good or sound good, but because they are filled with good people, who through God’s grace, grow in love with one another and the world around them. I pray that we, like our friends in Villanueva, might be “like living stones,” being “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2). John Beddingfield
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for June who is hospitalized, and for John, Deborah, Nicholas, Tanya, Tony, Cecil, Ibo, Mary, Rick, Pamela, Charles, Gloria, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Jason, Bart, Hugh, Marion, Mamie, Judith, Thomas and Charles, priest, for those on the mission trip to Honduras, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Bruce, Paul, Brenden, Jonathan, Jeffrey, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, Colin, Christina, David, Nestor, Freddie, Matthew and Bennett and for the repose of the souls of Philip, JC, Nelson and Linda . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 23: 1964 Walter R. Noe, Jr., 1990 Mary Grantham Adams; January 25: 1995 Giselle Klopstock; January 28: 1987 Wan Tang Jou.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Amos 3:1-8, Psalm 139:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Matthew 4:12-23 . . . Father Beddingfield will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass . . . Father Mead will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses . . . Father Montgomery will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, January 22, Father Mead will hear confessions. On Saturday, January 29, Father Smith will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The 2005 Ordo Calendars are here and will be available for $5.00 in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Solemn Mass on Sunday . . . The Rector will be on vacation January 18 through January 27 . . . Attendance Last Sunday 211.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Chorale Prelude on ‘Melcombe’ by C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918) and the postlude is Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott by Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Rhosymedre from Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes (Hymn 587, Hymnal 1982) by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and the postlude is Passacaglia (1966) by eminent American composer Gerald Near (b. 1942). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Vaughan Williams’s Communion Service in D minor. Vaughan Williams was certainly among the most important composers of his generation, and erhaps his most important contribution to Church music was his role as musical editor of The English Hymnal (1906), a publication for which he realized and harmonized many English folk tunes that we continue to sing today. Much of his music, considered the essence of “Englishness,” has a modal, folk-like simplicity. Long identified as an agnostic, many have believed that there was some faith inherent in the composer that enabled him to write such profound religious music. The anthem at Communion is Jesus Christ the apple tree, a setting of the familiar text (most famously set by Elizabeth Poston) by American composer Daniel Pinkham (b. 1923), who for many years was music director of King’s Chapel, Boston, a Unitarian establishment known for maintaining an Anglican style of worship . . . The organ recital at 4:40 on Sunday is by Jason Abel of Huntsville, Alabama . . . Plan to attend the concert by the Quink Vocal Ensemble at Saint Mary’s on Sunday, February 6 at 7:30 PM. This internationally renowned group, with many recital and recording credits, will sing a diverse program entitled Pour vos plaisirs, including Alexander Agricola’s rondeau Pour vos plaisirs, as well as chansons and madrigals by Clément Jannequin, Adrian Willaert, Nicholas Gombert, Pierre de Manchicourt, Orlande de Lassus and others. Also featured are Samuel Barber’s To be sung on the water, Three Short Elegies by Gerald Finzi and Randall Thompson’s Fare well. Purchase tickets now for what promised to be an amazing program – print and fill out the form found at www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys or phone 212.869.5830, extension 25. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . Join Father Mead most Tuesdays throughout the winter and spring as we continue our thorough study of the Gospel and Epistles of Saint John. The class will not meet on Tuesday, January 25 but will on Tuesday February 1.
MISSION MATTERS . . . On Sunday, February 6 at 3:00 PM, join Father Beddingfield and Rebecca Weiner as they offer stories, pictures and reflections form the mission trip to Honduras. Plan to stay for Solemn Evensong & Benediction following the presentation.
A HISTORY OF ANGLICAN LITURGICAL VESTMENTS . . . Mark your calendars for Thursday, February 17 and get ready for an evening filled with information, history and a good dose of piety. The Reverend James Ross Smith offers an overview of the history of liturgical vesture, Catholic and Reformed, Anglican and otherwise. Father Smith is an assisting priest at Saint Mary’s and is a doctoral candidate at Yale Divinity School. The lecture will be in Saint Joseph’s Hall from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. A $10 suggested donation helps to insure the quality of future presentations by the Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s. For more information on future exhibitions and lectures, see the Visual Arts section in the church web site.
FEBRUARY 28, 2005: STAY OUT ALL NIGHT AND HELP THE HOMELESS . . . Twice a year, Common Ground Community’s Street to Home Initiative organizes street counts in the middle of the night in the 250 blocks that comprise West Midtown. Street counts provide a basis from which to infer the number of homeless people living outside of the shelter system and help Common Ground, their partners, and the City of New York assist them in finding their way to housing. Several people from Saint Mary’s helped with the count in September 2004 and we will plan to have a group once again. We meet at the Times Square Hotel (corner of West 43rd and Eighth Avenue) around 11:00 PM and continue outside until around 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM (the more people we have counting, the quicker it goes.) If you’re interested in being a part of the count, let Father Beddingfield know so that we can help Common Ground know what to expect from us.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Eve of The Conversion of Saint Paul 6:00 PM
Tuesday The Conversion of Saint Paul The Apostle
Wednesday Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul
Thursday John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407
Friday Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Friar, 1274 Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, The Reverend Matthew Mead, curates,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.