From the Rector: Go
On Saturday, June 11, the Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle, I attended the Ordination of Deacons in the Diocese of Newark at their cathedral, Trinity & Saint Philip’s. There were seven ordinands. Twenty-two years ago, on the same feast, a Saturday then as well, I was one of seven ordained deacon in the Diocese of Chicago at Chicago’s cathedral, Saint James’s. It was great to see Clare Nesmith, Nick Szobota and the others ordained on a Saturday that was also the Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle.
The highlight of the day was the sermon preached by Canon Carter Echols. I’ve not heard a better one at an ordination. The gospel for the feast was from Matthew. She preached powerfully on the passage and on the command Jesus gave to the Twelve to “Go” (Matthew 10:5). As Canon Echols, a layperson, made clear, these are words for all of the baptized.
My mind kept wandering back to June 11, 1983. Although now air-conditioned, Saint James’s Cathedral, Chicago, was not in 1983. The only cool place in the building was the marble floor of the chancel where we ordinands lay prostrate during the litany. I can still remember the feel of the cool marble with a smile. Like Saint Mary’s, Trinity & Saint Philip’s is not air conditioned yet.
Twenty-two years ago the service when I was ordained was half the length of last Saturday’s. The Diocese of Chicago followed the instructions in the Prayer Book that allow almost all prayers for the ordinands to be said only once, not everything seven times. At my ordination, all of the newly ordained didn’t need to do everything. Only three of us were asked to administer a chalice. Another new deacon did the dismissal. One assisted with the preparation of the gifts. Two assisted the bishop at the altar. Each of us only got to do what the assembly and the rite needed us to do. We were ordained to be servants of the Church and the service made that clear in every way it could. The 1983 service had a very different feel than ordination services I attend nowadays. There are some reasons for this.
Twenty-two years ago we were closer to Prayer Book revision. The book was new. People were less inclined to do their own thing. General liturgical knowledge generally was greater too. Prayer Book revision had not been easy, but one of its fruits was that there had been many conferences and courses on worship for over a decade in almost every part of the Church. The Episcopal Church probably is more ceremonious now than it was then, but I’m not sure we or other church communities have really gotten it.
When I speak with Roman Catholic colleagues and friends, I observe, respectfully, let me repeat, respectfully, that their tradition is clear about the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus Christ and the necessity of a priest for the celebration of Mass. In their heart of hearts, most Roman Catholic Christians don’t feel the congregation is necessary. The latest revision of the Roman Missal has renamed “Mass without a Congregation” as “Mass at which Only One Minister Participates.” Referring to the assembly of the baptized gathered for Mass, I am wont to ask my Roman Catholic friends, “Who are these people?”
The congregation matters fundamentally in Christian worship. Reverence for the Eucharistic Body of Christ finds its meaning when members of the assembly experience the other members truly as brothers and sisters, when Christians have same reverence for each other as they do for the Bread and Wine, when every member of the assembly experiences his or her presence as essential. This makes worship more than ceremony. This is rite. I believe rite is worship, a primary place for our conversion and growth in Christ, and a place for us to be commissioned for Christ’s work. We are so lucky at Saint Mary’s to have this treasure. But having this treasure is not the only point.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) just before he speaks of the Great Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). These are Jesus’ last public teachings. I don’t know how many talents you and I have been given, but it is clear that you and I are to use what we have been given. No human should presume that he or she will not hear the terrible judgment of the Son of man, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, and in prison and you did not visit me” (Matthew 25:41-43). I heard Canon Echols’s sermon and her prophetic words very clearly. I know you and I are to “Go.”
Some of us we will meet Christ first outside the Church. Others will meet him first in the assembly. Others may meet him in Scripture or in the smile of welcome. He’s here. His Spirit fills the whole world. “Where are you going today?” is a question an ad campaign asks. It’s something that Jesus asks of every member of his Church. 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 souls of Henry, John and Patricia. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 22: 1958 Rachel Reed Todd, 1967 Edith Kellock Brown; June 24: 1993 William Ray Kirby.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Jeremiah 20:7-13, Psalm 69:7-10, 16-18, Romans 5:15b-19, Matthew 10:16-33. . . The Rector will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM and the 5:20 PM Masses. The Reverend James Ross Smith will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass . . . On Saturday, June 18 Father Gerth will hear confessions. On Saturday, June 25 Father Mead will hear confessions . . . Friday, June 24, is the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. It is a Feast of our Lord. In addition to Said Mass on its eve at 6:20 PM and on the day at 12:15 PM, the evening service of the day will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. The Rector will be celebrant and preacher . . . Mark Your Calendars: There will be a Sung Mass on Wednesday, June 29, at 6:00 PM for the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Abstinence is dispensed on Friday, June 24, for the observance of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on the chorale ‘Gott sei Dank’ in the form of a chorale partita (a set of variations on a given hymn tune), a musical form often found in German Baroque music. The postlude is Präludium d-moll by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). The cantor this Sunday is Mr. Scott Dispensa, baritone. Mr. Dispensa is an alumnus of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey (both parish organists also are alumni of this school) and has sung with our choir for several years. A versatile singer, he is at home with musical theater just as much as with Renaissance polyphony. At Communion, he will sing I got me flowers from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Composed in 1911, this work for baritone solo, choir and orchestra sets words by George Herbert (1593-1633). This particular text provides an eloquent reminder of how each Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection. Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . A very special welcome to Father Smith who will be with us on Sunday to celebrate and preach the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. Father Beddingfield is on vacation and this weekend Father Mead is also away . . . Makes us Proud: There was a great representation of the parish community at Clare Nesmith’s ordination . . . It was an honor for us to have the Bishop of Missouri with us for Morning Prayer this past week . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, June 20, at 7:00 PM . . . Attendance Last Sunday.241.
MOVIE NIGHT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Join Father Mead in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Friday evening, June 24, after the Sung Mass for our second voyage across the silver screen. This week we will explore a mystery that has been the subject of enormously popular books and movies as well as an award winning Broadway show: the mystery of the Holy Grail! Come and find out what really happened to the Grail when we watch the classic adventure Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Please bring a few extra dollars if you are able for food so that we can order pizza and soda for everyone.
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’s 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 Kidd. For 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 Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Wednesday Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304
Thursday Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, 1752
Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist 6:00 PM
Friday The Nativity of Saint John The Baptist 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.