From the Rector: Who are these people?
This is not really an article about new members and new friends of Saint Mary’s, although the title may suggest just that. It could be. But it isn’t. We’ve almost reached the point over the last year when people who think of themselves as regular members but who only are here once every other month have realized what some of us have known for a while. Saint Mary’s is growing. There are more people getting to know us and becoming part of our community all of the time. It’s really exciting.
“Who are these people?” is the question I pose to other people when I try to talk about the People of God. For some, the Body of Christ is the Bread and the Wine. Yes, I believe the Bread and the Wine is the Body and Blood of Christ with every part of my being. But I don’t believe that we should ever be very comfortable saying that what makes the bread the Body is the right minister, saying the right words, over the right kind of bread and wine. It’s rarely a useful formation. Before we go there, I want to know who the people are in the pews. Who are the baptized?
The Episcopal Church is not always very straightforward about its intentions. Many who opposed the introduction of the current Prayer Book were really right when they objected that no one proposing changes was really talking about many of the theological shifts of the new book. Overall, I think we did better than we should have hoped for.
The old and the current Prayer Books have some good and clear answers to the question, “Who are these people?” The 1928 Office of Instruction is set in a form of question and answers. To the question of who gives a person his or her Christian name, the answer is, “My Sponsors gave me this Name in Baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven” (page 283). The Catechism of the Prayer Book is also in a form of questions and answers. To the question, “What is Holy Baptism”, the answer is, “Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God” (page 858).
We show a great deal of reverence in our tradition for Bread and Wine. No less respect should be paid to the People of God. Just as in Jesus’ time people objected to a Messiah without a crown of gold, so through time people in and outside of the Church object to Christ as he really is present among us.
I’m sure in some Protestant Christian traditions pastors have a challenge in helping people to see a sacramental sign in bread and wine. I don’t think that’s the primary challenge for Anglicans and other liturgical Christians. The challenge is to discover that we as a community and as individuals really are God’s children. I wish it were as easy for me to reverence other people, as it is to genuflect in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
In the traditional language rite, the general absolution prays that the Father, among other things, will “bring” us to “everlasting” life. In the contemporary rite we pray that the Father will “keep” us in “eternal” life. I prefer the latter. Not because I think I’m too good to be judged or that God is too good to judge me. In the face of all the challenges of life and the challenges in history, I believe in God. I believe in life. I believe we are already the living Body of Christ. I think it is God’s work and not ours that has given us everlasting life. And I think here at Saint Mary’s I am not alone at all in this belief. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Kaylee, Thomas, Ruth, June, William, Jenny, Rick, Jane, Brian, John, Deborah, May, Tanya, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest, Charles, priest, Gene, priest and George, bishop; for the repose of the soul of Anthony; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Jeffrey, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 19: 1958 Harry Osmond; February 20: 1985 Theresa Anne Furlong; February 23: 1999 George Everston Dix.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 12:1-8, Psalm 33:12-22, Romans 4:1-17, John 3:1-17 . . . The Rector will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass . . . Father Beddingfield will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses . . . Father Beddingfield will be the officiant and Father Montgomery will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, February 19, Father Beddingfield will hear confessions and on Saturday, February 26, Father Mead will hear confessions . . . Thursday is the Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle. As is our custom, it will be observed beginning with Evening Prayer and Mass on the Eve as well as on the day.
LENTEN DISCIPLINE . . . The weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are meatless.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish office will be closed on Monday, February 21, in observance of Presidents’ Day. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The only services will be the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Mass at 12:15 PM, though the American Guild of Organists’ Presidents Day Conference will take place at Saint Mary’s that day . . . Many thanks to all who helped with Stations on Friday night. It was certainly great to have so many here when our Bishop was the officiant . . . Monday Night Basics meets in Saint Benedict’s Study from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM (even though it’s Presidents’ Day) . . . Father Mead’s Tuesday night Bible Study will not meet on February 22 . . . A Photographic Pilgrimage to Santiago with Mrs. Nancy Mead continues on Wednesdays, February 22 and March 2 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . It’s not too late to join other others from Saint Mary’s in the overnight count of the homeless in west Midtown on February 28. For more information or to sign up, see http://www.commonground.org/S2Hi . . . Looking ahead: we are delighted that the Very Reverend Robert Willis, dean of Canterbury Cathedral, will preach at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass on April 17 . . . Attendance last Sunday 254.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Our Lenten discipline of silence in place of organ music and improvisation continues throughout the season (with the exception of the Fourth Sunday in Lent) . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis in G by Healey Willan (1880-1968). Born in England, Willan immigrated to Canada at the age of 33 and lived in Toronto for most of his life. His national identification as a Canadian was of great importance to him, and indeed he is widely recognized as the most important composer in that nation’s history. Though versatile as a composer, he wrote a great deal of liturgical choral music; for many years he was organist and choirmaster of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Toronto, a venerable Anglo-catholic shrine parish. This Mass for men’s voices was written in 1955 for Concordia Seminary (Lutheran), St. Louis, Missouri. The motet at Communion is Si iniquitates observaveris by Samuel Wesley (1766-1837). He was the younger brother of Charles Wesley (the hymn-writer and would be Methodist) and, though a remarkable musician in his day, is not well known today. His illegitimate son, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, is the more famous composer. Robert McCormick
HIGH WORSHIP AND HIGH HOPES . . . Join Father Beddingfield in Saint Benedict’s Study Sundays, February 20 and March 6 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM on for a discussion based on the writings and lives of those who have found a close connection between worship and social outreach.
A LENTEN LOOK AHEAD . . . Saturday, March 5 from 9:30 AM to Noon. Does Holy Week catch you off guard? Is the congregational chant difficult for you, or do the hymns seem new every year? Come and learn about the history of the liturgy and practice some of the music. We’ll look ahead at the worship and music for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
STEPHEN THARP IN RECITAL . . . The recital previously to be performed at Saint Mary’s by McNeil Robinson is now to be played by Stephen Tharp, an internationally renowned organ recitalist. This recital is this Sunday, February 20 at 7:30 PM, as a part of the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists Presidents’ Day Conference. The all-French program includes works of Vierne, Guilmant, Cochereau and Duruflé. The event is open to the public and tickets may be purchased at the door. For further information, please see www.nycago.org.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Presidents’ Day – Federal Holiday Schedule
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Eve of Saint Mathias the Apostle 6:00 PM
Thursday Saint Mathias The Apostle
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent
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.