From The Rector: A Real Christmas
As the 11:00 PM Solemn Mass began on Christmas Eve I was clustered with others who would be at the end of the procession in the 47th Street doorway. The introit had started. Three young women entered. Smiles and words of welcome from the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Grein and yours truly encourage them to enter. As they slip through the clergy and servers, one turns to another and says, “This is great. It’s a real Christmas.” And indeed it was and is a real Christmas at Saint Mary’s. Perhaps none of us captured the beginning of the Christmas Season better than Father Beddingfield who began his sermon on Christmas Day with these words, “The doors are open. Come on in. Sit down for a few minutes. We’re going to eat in just a little while.”
I learned just the other day that the 46th Street doors of the church have not always had glass panels in them. It was Father Donald Garfield, who was rector from 1964 through 1979, who had them installed. I think you and I are called to have same imagination to let people see something new, something they have not seen before. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were great occasions for us to open our doors and to let people see something new. I hope many were able to see new hope in you and me. Christmas is real at Saint Mary’s in 2005 because our doors are open, daily we invite people in, and, I pray, daily we let people see Christ in us, his community, his Body.
Jesus wasn’t born in isolation in his world. He is the incarnate, that is, in the flesh, God-Man. He doesn’t hover above or apart from people. He reveals himself to people and seeks to be seen and known by them. Among the multitude of reasons why authentic Christianity has never nor ever can be a personal or private religion is Jesus’ revelation of himself. It is Jesus who revealed that all who believe in him are children of God. It’s Jesus who decided to make us one. Yes, he can still work with us in our divisions, our opinions, and our sins. But when we use these to say “No, thank you” to God, we alter the course of our lives. I’m glad Mary did not say “No” to God. I’m glad Zacchaeus let Jesus into his house. I’m glad Peter and the rest of them finally became people who heard the word and did it. (Cleary there’s hope for us too.)
You and I can never know all the lives that were touched as the first Masses of Christmas were celebrated. You and I can never know all of the lives that will be touched on these Twelve Days of Christmas. Students of the present Prayer Book know that one of our former rectors was largely responsible for some important work in it. It is so right that Saint Mary’s is very loyal to the Prayer Book – one of our rectors and the life of this parish really did help shape it. But I think that far more important than Father Garfield’s work on the Prayer Book was the serendipity of his decision to let people see into our extraordinary church building. Again, this imagination invites you and me to think of good new ways to help others and ourselves see Christ. And, as Father Beddingfield put it so very well, The doors are open and we will be eating soon. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Clare, Vesta, Jan, Ida, Brian, Mary, Michael, MaryAnne, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie and Derrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 1: 1983 Gertrude Schrage.
NEW YEAR’S EVE AND NEW YEAR’S DAY . . . The church closes at 2:00 PM on New Year’s Eve because of the celebrations in Times Square. The only services on Saturday, December 31 will be the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Mass at 12:10 PM. Confessions are not scheduled. On Sunday, January 1, the Feast of the Holy Name, there will be one Mass only, Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. The Reverend Louis Weil will be celebrant and preacher. Father Weil is the James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. January 1, 2006 is the forty-fourth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS GIFT . . . A new ambo, that is, folding wooden lectern, was commissioned for Saint Mary’s last fall by the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold and Mrs. Griswold. It was used for the first time at the Solemn Mass on Christmas Eve. We are extraordinarily thankful for the gift.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The parish clergy are not scheduled to hear confessions on Saturday, December 31. Father Beddingfield will hear confessions on the regular schedule (11:30 AM and 4:00 PM) on Saturday, January 7 . . . On Friday, December 30, a Christmas Weekday, and Friday, January 6, The Epiphany, traditional Friday abstinence in commemoration of the crucifixion is not observed.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is In dulci jubilo by Johann Michael Bach (1648-1694). The postlude is In dulci jubilo, BWV 729 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Three Voices by William Byrd (1543-1623). The music at Communion is a fifteenth century English carol, Coventry Carol. Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Monday, January 2, the church will observe its federal holiday schedule. The parish office will be closed. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM only. The only services of the day will be the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Mass at 12:10 PM . . . Christian Education and Sunday School will resume in the new year after the Baptism of Our Lord. Please look online at www.stmvirgin.org for details . . . Flowers are needed for 2006. Send your request to Sandra Schubert at firstname.lastname@example.org. . . Also email Sandra if you are interested in getting the Angelus by email. . . . Ordo Calendars for 2006 now available in the Gift shop . . . Lunch with Sister Deborah Francis continues on Wednesdays after the 12:10 Mass. Bring a lunch and eat with Sister and others in Saint Joseph’s Hall. No agenda, just Christian fellowship . . . 2006 pledge envelopes are available at the back of the Church. . . Christmas Attendance: 5:00 PM Sung Mass 214, 11:00 PM Solemn Mass 527, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass 190, 2005 Total 931. (2004 Christmas Total was 718)
SUNDAY SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR HONDURAS . . . Bring supplies for vacation Bible school: On the mission trip in January, we have anywhere from 60-100 children for activities that will include drawing, coloring, creative writing, and mural-making. Especially useful are lots of crayons, watercolor markers, colored pencils, plain pencils, pens, and plenty of unlined and lined paper, including construction paper. Some glue sticks, school scissors in packages, fun stickers/stars, a stapler and staples, and bright pocket folders will definitely come in handy. Please bring your supplies to Saint Mary’s and place them in the bin in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
THE EPIPHANY . . . The Church celebrates Christ’s birthday beginning on December 25 for twelve days. December 25 is the beginning and “principal feast” among these twelve days. On January 6, the Church celebrates another principal feast, The Epiphany. The word “Epiphany” is Greek in origin. It refers to the “showing” or “manifestation” of Christ. It’s on Epiphany that we hear Matthew’s account of the coming of the Wise Men from the East. It’s the original feast of the kingship of Christ. At Saint Mary’s our celebration begins on the eve, Thursday, January 5, with Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM and Said Mass at 6:20 PM. On Friday, January 6 we will sing Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM. The Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM. The 12:10 Mass is a simple Sung Mass. At 6:00 PM, Solemn Mass is offered. The Rector is celebrant and preacher. This is the Mass where we get to sing two of our great hymns, Brightest and best of the sons of the morning and We three kings of Orient are. A reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall follows the evening Mass.
CHRISTMAS THANKS AND THOUGHTS. . . It was close on Christmas Eve! Our wonderful decorating team just finished before the 5:00 PM Mass began. And what a wonderful job they did. Many thanks to all who helped and to all who whose gift made the decorations possible. The Rector especially appreciated the lilies in the Christmas arrangements – linking Christmas so clearly to Easter. Brilliant. The renewal of our crèche figures was just right. We are sure the baby Jesus is glad to have all of his fingers again . . . The 5:00 PM Christmas Eve service will become part of our regular Christmas schedule. It met the needs of many parishioners and visitors. There were plenty of children here too – which seems so right on Christmas Eve. (And yes, we know that Christmas Eve 2006 will be a Sunday. It’s going to be great fun figuring out how to get the church decorated between the Solemn Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent on December 24 at 11:00 AM and the First Mass of Christmas at 5:00 PM.) . . The altar servers were out in force for all of the Christmas services. This included special rehearsals for both of the Christmas Eve Masses. More brass was polished this year than has been polished for many years – and every candle we could fit on the altar made it there. It was glorious . . . The church staff worked very, very hard for which we are all very thankful . . . The Gift Shop was open! Its freshness seems just right . . . The ushers had more to do than in previous years on Christmas. We are delighted we kept them so busy! . . . It was very, very special to have the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Grein with us for the 11:00 PM Solemn Mass . . And to all parishioners and friends whose smiles and words helped newcomers feel welcome, your Rector, on behalf of the parish community and clergy, is most thankful. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Church closes at 2:00 PM today, New Year’s Eve
Monday Christmas Weekday – Federal Holiday Schedule'
Tuesday Christmas Weekday
Wednesday Christmas Weekday
Thursday Christmas Weekday
Eve of the Epiphany
Friday The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Saturday Of Our Lady
Sunday, January 1: One service only: Solemn Mass 11:00 AM. Childcare is provided from 10:45 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday, January 2: Federal Holiday Schedule: Noonday Office 12:00 PM, Mass 12:100 PM.
Tuesday– 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