From the Rector: Expulsion
Most days of the past quarter century I have been in church for Morning and Evening Prayer. Most days, not every day. Over the years I have experienced some periods of fairly intense devotion but rarely intense boredom. The Office is the ongoing liturgical prayer of the Church. I experience the Office as something of which I am a part but not as something that depends on me. Ita a gift. Its part of life. Saint Benedict referred to the monastic Office as the "Work of God." In a sense going to the Office is part of my job but rarely does it feel that way. Its just one aspect of life as a parish priest, one of the many, many good things about this vocation.
It didn't used to matter much to me whether I said the Office by myself or with others, but for several years now I have realized that I really don't like to pray the Office by myself anymore. I usually take my office book with me when I travel, but I confess at present I probably only use it half the time. I do know many, many people who pray the Office privately all the time. I trust the Holy Spirit will bring me to repentance on this one.
One of my many favorite hymns, The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended, is by John Ellerton (1826-1893), a priest of the Church of England and a great hymn writer. This is an evening hymn, perhaps my single favorite hymn for Evensong. Like most hymns at Saint Marys, we sing it only once a year(This really is spiritual discipline!) The familiar tune St. Clement was composed for this text by another English priest, Clement Scholefield (1839-1904. )The hymn sounds like an evening hymn and the text is about the continuing praise of God throughout the world. The Church never sleeps. These are my two favorite verses:
We thank thee that thy Church, unsleeping
while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world her watch is keeping
and rests not now by day or night.
So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never,
thy kingdom stand, and grows for ever,
till all thy creatures own thy sway.
At Saint Marys, except on early Saturday mornings when the church building is closed for some cleaning that can only be done when the doors are shut, Morning and Evening Prayer are offered. Except on our days off, the parish clergy are there. Usually there are members of the parish communities - Sunday or weekday parishioners - present. Together we pray the psalms and canticles and listen to the Bible.
Most of the time we, laity and clergy, pronounce unfamiliar biblical words correctly - sometimes we do not. We try to get it right but theres is not always time to prepare. And that's okay. Maybe once a year we get the giggles. And then at times its very hard to read and pray psalms and lessons that recount God's pleasure in the death of the innocent.
I've exercised the discretion the Prayer Book gives to include all of the New Testament at Morning and Evening Prayer across the year. The Daily Office Lectionary (Prayer Book, page 933) omits some parts of the New Testament that most of us would not consider necessary or normative - instructions, for example, that women must have their heads covered in church (1 Corinthians 11:3-16) or passages about homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27) Continual encounter with the biblical record is the single greatest defense one can have against fundamentalism. If it were practical to do the same thing with the Old Testament, I would do that too. Its not practical simply because the Old Testament is so much bigger. And, after all, we are a parish church, not a monastery.
We follow a scheme for canticles at Saint Mary's that Father Louis Weil introduced at Nashotah House when he taught there. It is very traditional in its daily use of the three New Testament canticles from Luke, the Song of Zechariah at Morning Prayer and the Song of Mary and the Song of Simeon at Evening Prayer. The other canticles are assigned to particular days for historical, seasonal or topical reasons(If you would like a copy, please e-mail or call Sandra Schubert in the parish office.)
At present, the core of my experience, energy and prayer in the Office is to hear the Bible, to listen to and for the Word of God. Daily Bible reading is not the property of fundamentalist Protestant Christians. It is a Christian heritage. And because of some accidents of history, we Anglicans are privileged to have the opportunity daily to hear an abundance of Scripture proclaimed in our services. I venture to say there is no Christian community in Manhattan where more of the Bible is prayed daily than the Episcopal Cathedral and the parishes of this city that offer Daily Morning and Evening Prayer and a daily Eucharist.
I invite you to join us at the altar for Morning or Evening Prayer. I invite you to let the Holy Spirit lead your prayer life in new directions. Daily the record of God's work in history can be a source of strength, faith and conversion. -Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Virginia, Tony, Ibo, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Hobart, PRIEST, Thomas, PRIEST, and Charles, PRIEST; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Joseph, Timothy, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Derrick, Christina, and Barbara and for the repose of the soul of Bart . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 12: 1986 James P. Gregory; June 17: 1972 Charles Henry Genet.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Jane Daniels Lear brother, Bart Lear, died on Thursday, June 9, after a long illness. Please pray for Bart, for Jane and for all you mourn S.G.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . THE SUNDAY PROPER: Exodus 19:2-8, Psalm 50:7-15, Romans 5:6-11, Matthew 9:35-10:8-15 . . . Father Mead will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM and 5:20 PM Masses. The Rector will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass . . . On Saturday, June 11 Father Mead will hear confessions On Saturday, June 18 the Rector will hear confessions.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on the chorale Nun danket alle Gott in the form of a chorale partita (a set of variations on a given hymn tune), a musical form common in 17th century Germany. The postlude is an improvisation on ‘Old 100th (All people that on earth do dwell), Sunday offertory hymn. This improvisation will take the form and style of a North German Baroque (in the manner of Buxtehude, Bruhns, and other composers of that period) Both of these improvisations are in preparation for my participation next month in the semi-finals of the St. Alban's International Organ Festival Improvisation Competition (www.organfestival.com), held in St. Albans, England. The cantor this Sunday is Elizabeth Baber, soprano. Ms. Baber, a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, is a relatively new addition to our professional choir. She is developing an excellent reputation in New York and beyond as a stellar performer of early music and is a member of New York Continuo Collective. At Communion, she will sing O Jesu, Nomen dulce, SWV 308 from Heinrich Schütz(1585-1672) Kleine Geistliche Konzerte IRobert McCormick.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Clare Nesmith is to be ordained deacon on Saturday, June 11, at Trinity & Saint Philip's Cathedral, Newark, at 10:00 AM. The Rector has been asked to be one of her presenters at the ordination. Your prayers and presence are requested. Clare will serve as deacon for the first time at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, June 12 . . . Father Beddingfield is on vacation through July 2 . . . Periodically we revise the Parish Prayer List. Please contact the parish office for additions or corrections. Thank you very much! . . . Position Open: The parish needs to hire a new person to do altar and kitchen linens and to iron them. This is an eight-hour per week position. Please refer interested persons to Sandra Schubert in the parish office . . . Flowers are needed for Sundays in July. If you would like to give them, please contact Sandra . . . Attendance Sacred Heart 99, Last Sunday 216.
SPIRITUALITY AND READING GROUP . . . Coordinated by Rosemary Kulp, this group will meet on the third Sunday of each month, from approximately 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM, in Saint Benedict. Study Participants are asked to bring a little something to eat and some to share, if possible. The book that will be discussed at the June 19 meeting is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk KiddFor more information, see the Spirituality and Reading Group flyer in the back of the church or the summer edition of Life at Saint Mary's.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday after Pentecost
Thursday Columba, Abbot of Iona, 597
Friday Ephrem of Edessa, Syria, Deacon, 373 Abstinence
Eve of Saint Barnabas the Apostle 6:00 PM
Saturday Saint Barnabas the Apostle
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.