From the Rector: Urban Christian Ministry
Often when I meet people they ask, “What kind of ministries does Saint Mary’s do?” My answer is sometimes one they don’t expect. I say simply, “We do church.” They continue, “Do you have a soup kitchen, a clothing closet?” I say, “No, we do church.” And then I usually end up saying something like, “Our doors are open all day, every day of the week and we have at least five services – every day of the week.”
We do, of course, engage in a lot of other ministries. Elsewhere in this newsletter you will read of the participation of the community in the AIDS Walk last weekend. Gifts and plans are already being made for the mission to Honduras in January. We offer help and hospitality to those who wander into our building and it is an unusual day when a priest or layperson here doesn’t respond pastorally to one or more strangers. But all of our mission work is an extension of our open doors and of our worship.
In some sense, encountering Saint Mary’s interrupts the experience of being in New York. It’s an amazingly unexpected space. One does not need to spend much time here to observe how those who encounter the church for the first time are transformed by the experience. I think most people are refreshed by entering Saint Mary’s. Many leave behind prayers and burdens. Many come away with peace.
Open doors and the “regular services” of the Church are our primary mission at Saint Mary’s. Why have a church on West 46th Street if the doors aren’t open? And it makes all the difference that through the day people observe members of the parish at prayer. Most often this is the simple prayer of the daily Mass or daily Morning and Evening Prayer. On Wednesday afternoons, the fragrance of the incense used at the 12:10 Sung Mass suggests to visitors that this is a place of living prayer.
Lots of ministries are possible for us and for any community. There are always opportunities, religious and secular, in this world to help others. Our ministries are framed by our belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died and rose for us.
This week I have been trying to pay attention to the readings at Morning Prayer from Leviticus. There are passages about how to manage slaves – one wonders if some so-called fundamentalists, Protestant, Anglican or Roman Catholic, really want to go down that road. Distinctions are made in Leviticus between how one would treat one’s own brother who becomes a slave, a fellow Hebrew or a stranger. This is the world in which Jesus grew up. This is also the world he reordered when he gave his Spirit to those who believed in him. They became his sisters and brothers, fellow children of God. Remember the great objection to Jesus in John’s Gospel, “This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
Our doors are open for our sisters and brothers. Jesus didn’t die and rise so that there could be slaves or outcasts. A remark by Father Beddingfield the other day reminded me how radical it was that one of the first baptisms recorded in the Acts of the Apostles is that of the Ethiopian Eunuch – someone no practicing Jew of Jesus’ time and many of the first Christians would want to eat with or touch. Jesus reordered all relationships.
And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mark 3:31-35).
I am one of three children. I have a sister and a brother. When they come to my house I want them to find the doors open to them and a place prepared for them. The church is the place where I can sit down with my other sisters and brothers and eat at the table prepared for us by the Lord. What makes Christian ministry different from secular ministry is that when we care for others we care for our brother, sister, mother and father. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Isa, Christine, Danny, Ann, Judi, Ethan, John, Brendan, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, Betty Ann, Deborah, Virginia, Mary, William, Ana, Gilbert, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 29: 1992 Robert William Anderson; May 31: 1995 Louis Stephen Stancill; June 1: 1993 Kenneth William Cloughley.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . We welcome the Reverend Clare Nesmith, curate, Saint John’s of Lattingtown Church, Locust Valley, as celebrant and preacher for the Sung Mass at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother Nesmith was seminarian at Saint Mary’s while she was a student at the General Theological Seminary. She graduated in May 2005. In addition to the Sung Mass on Wednesday night, the Visitation is observed on its eve beginning with Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM and Said Mass at 6:20 PM. And because it falls on a Wednesday, the 12:10 Mass is also sung . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 27, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, June 3, by Father Mead.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Memorial Day is Monday, May 29. We observe our federal holiday schedule. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The services of the day will be Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Said Mass at 12:10 PM. The parish office will be closed . . . Father Beddingfield, our parish bookkeeper Vince Amodei and our parish administrative assistant Sandra Schubert will be at the “Automated Church Systems” convention in Orlando, Florida from May 30 to June 1 . . . Many thanks to Dale Bonenberger for doing the flower arrangements for the high altar for Ascension Day . . . Congratulations to Abraham and Suzanne Rochester who observe their forty-seventh anniversary of marriage on May 27 . . . Pamela Hall is the director for “Annulla” now playing at Saint Luke’s Theater. The play was reviewed in The New York Times on May 17 . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. At the next meeting, on Sunday, June 11, we will discuss The Cost of Discipleship. All are welcome to attend the discussion . . . Attendance last Sunday 343.
THANKS TO ALL WHO SUPPORTED THE AIDS WALK . . . Fourteen Saint Marians and three friends of the parish walked in the AIDS Walk New York on May 14 and close to $10,000 was raised. Thanks to those who coordinated, who gave, who prayed and who walked. The Saint Mary’s team was one of the largest from an individual church and joined the other ten churches in the Episcopal Response to AIDS group. The entire walk raised over six million dollars that goes to over fifty local agencies who work with persons who have HIV/AIDS, with families of victims and with treatment and prevention.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn, BWV 630 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is an improvisation on hymn 450, ‘Coronation’. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Ascendens Christus in altum’ by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). The Spanish Victoria, one of the great musicians of the late Renaissance, lived and worked for many years in Rome, though he is recognized as Spain’s finest composer of that period. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1575 by the last surviving English Roman Catholic bishop. This exultant setting for five-part choir, one of Victoria’s twenty masses, is based upon the composer’s motet of the same name, sung during Communion . . . The recital at 4:40 is played by Christopher Berry, and includes works of Franck and Messiaen. Robert McCormick
THREE BIG SUNDAYS . . . Beginning June 4, we have a succession of three big Sundays. Two are universal in the Episcopal Church. This year Pentecost is June 4. It’s the last day of Eastertide and a major feast in its own right. After Evensong on Pentecost the Paschal candle is moved from the altar to the baptistery and some of the “alleluias” are trimmed from the liturgy. The Solemn Mass on Pentecost is the last glorious Mass of Easter with some wonderful text. The following two Sundays are in some sense “theme Sundays” – unusual in that they celebrate mysteries and dogmas instead of events in the life of Jesus. The first Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday when we celebrate the revelation of God to us as Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: one God. In the place of the usual postcommunion hymn on Trinity Sunday, the choir sings a setting of Te Deum laudamus (“You are God; we praise you”). Incense is offered by two thuribles and the house of God is filled with smoke. As is our custom, the Second Sunday after Pentecost is observed as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, usually called by its Latin name, Corpus Christi. On Corpus Christi, there is a procession of the Blessed Sacrament through Times Square as part of the Solemn Mass. The service concludes in the church with Benediction. Please join us.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday – Memorial Day -Federal Holiday Schedule
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Eve of The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Thursday Justin, Martyr at Rome, c. 167
Friday Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury, 605 No Abstinence
Saturday The Martyrs of Uganda, 1866
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. This week on Ascension Day, the 12:10 Mass is sung. At 6:00 PM Solemn Mass is celebrated.
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