From the Rector: Identity and Commitment
A curious thing happened to me on vacation this year. A parish priest recognized me and said he was surprised to see me in church on a vacation Sunday. I can’t help myself. I’ve gone to church almost every Sunday of my life, the majority of years of which, still, I was not ordained. I go to church on Sundays because I am a Christian. Even on my vacation. It is part of the basic Christian commitment. It’s identity.
I believe Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead. I believe the words of the great Creeds of the Church. I believe in the Christian Church in its many expressions. I believe God’s love for all people is revealed by his Son. I believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God and contain everything necessary for salvation. I am not a fundamentalist about the Church or the Bible. I try to keep focused on what seem to be important things and to let go of anxiety I may have about things that are not important.
I am an Episcopal Christian by choice. I started going to the Episcopal Church as an undergraduate. I have now been an Episcopalian for most of my life. And I really don’t want to be any other kind of Christian even when my denomination is not at its best. For all of its problems, it is no more ridiculous than anyone other Christian community. All have sinned. No Christian community is without very serious problems.
I think I am an Episcopalian in large part because I don’t have to pretend either the Bible or the Church is infallible. And I am an Episcopalian because this tradition at its best offers a vision of Christian community that encompasses Protestant and Catholic expressions of Christian living and dying.
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had gone to business school instead of seminary. (I remember quite clearly sitting in my room at Nashotah House Seminary in May 1981 working on a New Testament passage in Greek, when I knew that had I gone to business school I would have been getting an MBA that very day.) I’d like to think I would be a faithful practicing Episcopal layperson. I would go to church on Sunday and look forward to the great feast days of the year. If I lived any where near Manhattan I would certainly be a member of Saint Mary’s! I’d like to think I’d also tithe my income to the parish I attended. I’d like to think I would read some part of the Bible everyday. I’d hope that religion would be part of my life and not in any sense an eccentric hobby.
I write lots of letters these days to thank people for visiting Saint Mary’s and for giving money to Saint Mary’s. These are letters that take time but really are easy to write. I believe deeply in the mission of Saint Mary’s to be one expression of all that is best about Christian life and worship.
While on vacation in August I had dinner with one of our former trustees, Dan Franks. Dan grew up in the parish where I served as rector before coming to New York, but I didn’t know him then. (I had met his parents, his sister and his brother-in-law.) Work took Dan to Tampa a year ago. We talked about Saint Mary’s and its financial challenges. He made the point that Saint Mary’s has always invested all of its talents (money) so that it can bear fruit for the Master. He’s absolutely right. Gifts to Saint Mary’s have borne and are bearing great fruit for God’s kingdom.
Saint Mary’s needs to continue its growth in numbers and stewardship to sustain its mission. This summer our Sunday attendance never dropped below 200 – this is great, especially in light of the absence of air conditioning here – and air conditioning’s presence at both of the other great midtown Episcopal churches. On the last five Sundays of the choir season in the spring our attendance was always over 300. It’s back there and I expect it to continue through the rest of the year and for us to have more than a few 400 Sundays before the end of the year.
And Saint Mary’s needs a great December financially to meet our budgeted pledges of $400,000. It’s going to be close but I have faith in our community, in our identity. Saint Mary’s is going to need more budgeted pledges in 2006. And you and I already have the gifts that can make it happen. We can be ready when our Master comes. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Emil and Elizabeth who are hospitalized, for Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Matthew, Donna, Lloyd, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Tony, Ibo, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Marc, Joseph, Timothy, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Derrick and Christina, and for the repose of the souls of Hugh and Patty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October: 19, 1993 Jerome Branch Terrell; October 21: 1988 Philip W. Callanan.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Jason Daniel Sachtjen of Brooklyn and Sabrine Salib Faragallah of Staten Island. If any of you can show just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. J.B.
VESTMENT SHOW-AND-TELL . . . This Sunday at 3:30 PM join the Saint Mary’s Guild and Father Mead for a good old-fashioned show-and-tell on the new and older vestments of Saint Mary’s. The Saint Mary’s Guild maintains all of the parish vestments, altar furnishings, and altar vessels. If you are interested in joining the Saint Mary's Guild , please contact Father Mead.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Brother Emil Denworth remains at Saint Luke’s Hospital. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Saint Mary’s Fall Home Gatherings continue. Invitations are sent directly from our hosts, so please RSVP when you can to allow for appropriate planning and insure generous hospitality . . . On Sunday, October 16, the Spirituality and Reading Group meets to discuss the second section of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Jim Wallis. The group meets from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. If you can, bring a bite to eat and something to share . . . Father Beddingfield will be attending a Leadership in Ministry workshop near Boston from October 17 through October 19 . . . Brochures for the fall retreat at Mount Saviour Monastery are in the back of the church . . . The Rector will be away Thursday, October 20, through Wednesday, October 26 . . . Attendance Last Sunday 387.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before Mass is Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 711 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Allegro con spirito in B-flat from Three pieces (1905) by Frank Bridge (1879-1941). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (Kleine Orgelmesse, Hob. XXI:7) by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Probably composed in the 1770s, this setting is one of Haydn’s most popular. It earned its nickname, “Little Organ Mass”, because of the extended organ solo in Benedictus. Gloria in excelsis Deo is particularly brief due to a compositional device whereby each voice part sings different words at the same time. This practice was not uncommon at the time of composition, though it was suppressed not long afterwards. The anthem at Communion is The heavens are telling from Haydn’s The Creation, Hob. XXI:2 . . . The recital at 4:40 is given this week by Ansgar Wallenhorst of Ratingen, Germany . . . At Solemn Evensong, we welcome the choir of Saint Peter’s Church, Morristown, New Jersey. The music includes Evening Service in E by Herbert Murrill (1909-1952) and motets of Bruckner and Duruflé. Robert McCormick
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Tickets for the 2005-2006 season are available from www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys or 212.869.5830, ext. 25. Our next concert is by the famed Choir of Gloucester Cathedral, England, on Friday, October 28.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION THIS WEEK . . . Sunday School for children meets in Saint Benedicts Study from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM . . . On October 18, Father Mead’s Bible Study continues with the Gospel According to John, Chapter 11 in the Parish House Third Floor Conference Room from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Martyr, c. 115
Eve of Saint Luke the Evangelist 6:00 PM
Tuesday Saint Luke the Evangelist
Wednesday Henry Martyn, Priest, and Missionary to India and Persia, 1812 Thursday Weekday
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass,
6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung.
Saturday: 11:30 AM Confessions, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 4:00 PM Confessions,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass