From the Rector: In the News
I’ve resigned myself to the Episcopal Church being in the news for the foreseeable future. This morning’s Times reported that six rectors in the Diocese of Connecticut are about to be punished for “abandoning the Communion of this Church” because they cannot accept being in communion with a bishop who supported the ordination of the present bishop of New Hampshire. The Episcopal News Service reported yesterday that the Episcopal Church’s Executive Committee has decided that our Church will accede to the request that we not send representatives to the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
I regret that it’s not at all clear to me that our bishops, clergy and lay leaders in the Anglican Communion will want to address the theological issue at the heart of all the debates over Christian sexuality: Who is welcome to receive Holy Communion? The question comes up in the New Testament and remains with us today.
The great majority of Christian communities would normatively exclude non-celibate homosexuals from Holy Communion. The number of Christian churches that officially welcome non-celibate homosexuals to receive Communion is small. Most Christians are Roman Catholics. Anglicans comprise only four percent of the world’s Christian community. Most churches have no place at their altars formally for divorced and remarried persons either without a lot of canonical gymnastics (annulments in the case of Roman Catholics).
Since the time of the New Testament, Christian communities have practiced excommunication over issues of sexual morality and marital fidelity. I hope that the wider Church will eventually embrace a theological position that welcomes all to the Lord’s Table. This too is a New Testament position.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus didn’t ask the woman at the well for a confession and he didn’t tell her to leave the man she was living with, a sixth man after five husbands. In John’s Gospel, where Jesus knows all things, he doesn’t have any trouble washing the feet of and eating with Judas and all of the others who will betray him. Frederick William Faber captured the spirit of the Church all too well in a verse of his great hymn There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, a verse that is omitted from our own Hymnal, “But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own; and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own.”
Again, I expect us to continue to be in the news for a while to come, in pretty much the same way, because it will take a while for our Church to take a clear stand, one way or another, on the issue of who can be ordained. This really is a theological question of the second not first order. The Anglican Communion will probably continue to want to dodge the more important issue at hand.
I want to encourage you not to be discouraged about our Episcopal Church despite its shortcomings and challenges. There will be another theological crisis after this one. The Good Shepherd still plans to call all of his sheep by their own names and to bring all of them into his fold. That’s his plan. I think you and I should continue to try to be thankful for God’s gift of life and of the mercy that cares for us along the way to his home. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Tony, Christina, Charlton, Patrick, Eileen, John, Virginia, Mary, Ruth, William, Jane, Thomas, Brian, Deborah, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina; and for the repose of the soul of Barbara . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 19: 1997 Gudrun Lagergren.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 6:1-9,7:2a, 51-60, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10 . . . Father Beddingfield will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass . . . Father Gerth will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass . . . The Very Reverend Robert Willis, dean of Canterbury Cathedral, will be the preacher at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass . . . Father Mead will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, April 16, Father Gerth will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, April 23, Father Mead will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Because of Robert McCormick’s organ recital on Tuesday, April 19, Father Mead’s Bible Study on the Gospel according to Saint John will not meet that evening . . . The parish rejoices with Esther and Tom Kamm upon the birth of their granddaughter and with Christopher and Amy Kamm upon the birth of their daughter, Mackenzie Lee Kamm, last week . . . Sandra Schubert, Vince Amodei and Father Beddingfield will be attending the ACS Technologies Conference on database and financial management Tuesday, April 19 through Thursday, April 21 . . . The Rector will be attending the Leadership in Ministry class he is a part of the week. This class is held for two days twice a year in Lost River, West Virginia . . . Attendance last Sunday 246.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is the second movement, [Allegretto], from Symphonie I, Opus 13/1 by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). The postlude is Widor’s Intermezzo from the same Symphonie. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). Regarded as the greatest of the late Renaissance masters (perhaps his only rivals are William Byrd and Orlande de Lassus), most of Palestrina’s career was spent in Rome (his name comes from the town of his birth, not far from Rome). He was a boy chorister at St. Mary Major, and at various points in his career was maestro di cappella of the Basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. Palestrina composed an extraordinary quantity of liturgical music including 104 masses; Missa brevis is one of his most popular, a rich and elegant yet relatively simple setting for 4-part choir (5 voices in the final Agnus Dei). The title Missa brevis generally indicates an especially brief setting (more or less); the title in the case is a matter of debate among musicologists – it does not seem particularly relevant as this piece is of average length. The motet at Communion is Ego sum pastor bonus by a contemporary of Palestrina, Costanzo Porta (1528/29-1601) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 is played by David Chalmers . . . This Sunday we welcome the Christ Church Choir, Bronxville, who will sing works of Day, Shephard and Bruckner at Evensong & Benediction. Robert McCormick
ROBERT McCORMICK IN RECITAL . . . For the first time since he came to Saint Mary’s in 2001, the organist and music director will present a full length organ recital in the church on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 at 7:30 PM. The program features Charles-Marie Widor’s monumental, engaging, colorful and highly entertaining Symphonie I, Opus 13/1 and concludes with an Improvisation on submitted themes. Tickets may be purchased by printing and mailing the form found at www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys, by calling 212.869.5830, extension 25, from MaryJane Boland after the Solemn Mass this Sunday or at the door.
CHORAL RECITALS THIS SATURDAY . . . You’re invited to “drop by” Saint Mary’s this Saturday afternoon, April 16, to hear informal recitals by two Wisconsin High School choirs. The Muskego High School choir will sing at 12:45, and the choir of Hartford Union High School sings at 2:30. R. McC.
FROM SAINT ANDREW’S GUILD: BRING A FRIEND TO CHURCH . . . Saint Mary’s is vibrant. We pray here. We form friendships here. People come to explore our liturgy and stay to become a part of our community. But the first step is the hard one. Ask most of the newcomers how long they thought about coming to Saint Mary’s and you typically get a big number. Make it easy for your friends. Invite them to church. Pray for them to accept your offer. Wait a few weeks and ask again. Find the right balance between being a pest and making a wonderful offer. If half the 260 local Saint Marians brought a friend to church and half those friends joined Saint Mary’s, we would have 65 new members. Help Saint Mary’s grow to 400 parishioners by Christmas 2005.
MISSION NOTES . . . On Sunday, April 17 and Sunday, May 22, join with others for “High Worship and High Hopes: Anglo-Catholicism and Social Change,” a continued discussion based on the writing of those who have seen the close connection between worship and social outreach. There is a possibility of having an ongoing study and discussion group that might be led by a different person each week, focusing on a particular reading or topic, with time for prayer and discussion. Bring your thoughts and ideas . . . Canon Vásquez invites all interested persons to join us at 11:00 AM at Saint Luke’s Church in the Bronx this Saturday, April 16 for “Getting ready for the next mission trip.” We will be joined by some of January’s mission team from Delaware. Lunch will be provided and we will enjoy a power point presentation about mission training during the meal. If you are interested in finding out more about doing short-term foreign missions, please come to this event. Let Father Beddingfield know if you would like information on attending.
CHRISTIAN INITIATION ON PENTECOST . . . Holy Baptism and the other rites of Christian initiation will be celebrated on the Day of Pentecost, Sunday, May 15, at the Solemn Mass. We are delighted that the Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, will be with us as celebrant and preacher. If you wish to be baptized or to present someone for baptism, or if you wish to be confirmed or received as a member of the Episcopal Church, please speak with Father Beddingfield or one of the other parish priests. These rites will next be celebrated on All Saints’ Day, Tuesday, November 1.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1109
Friday Easter Weekday No 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.