From The Rector: Epiphany
One can learn a lot from buildings. There are lots of things to be learned from our own church building. Clearly the altar is the heart of Saint Mary’s. But it is also clear the church was built for congregational worship. The altar is visible from every seat in the house. The room has extraordinarily fine acoustics. Generations have sacrificed much to make it a sacred place for the worship of God by the people of God.
Interestingly, our baptistery is almost an afterthought, from a design point of view. This is not surprising. In the nineteenth century, it was all about the Mass for Anglo-catholics. It’s not really so different today. But it’s not just us. It’s most of Christendom.
I love to recount the story of my first visit to the Lateran baptistery in Rome, the oldest baptistery in the Western Church. One could see the ancient pool had been supplanted by a renaissance bathtub. On top of the bathtub there was a board on which what I would call a copper salad bowl with cover was placed. This was the current font. It’s easy to point our fingers at out Roman brothers and sisters, but when have you last seen a font in one of our own cathedrals that mattered?
Sacraments do not matter because they are a sacred drill – the right words said in the right time in the right way and in the right place. Sacraments matter because they are ritual expressions of truth. We are born. We eat. We love. We heal. It is through touch that we have life and love. The sacraments invite us to see Christ in ourselves and others.
In our own church, I encourage members of the assembly at baptisms to pack the area near the font during the liturgy to support in an active way the commitment those coming to faith are making. Among the many reasons I think this is important is the impression it makes on those who are being baptized. It’s not something really for them, done off to the side, delaying the regular service. It is the Easter event among us still.
Christmas, the Western celebration of Jesus’ birth, and the Epiphany, the Eastern celebration, get started about the same time, the fourth century. In the West, the Epiphany is in some sense the original feast of the Christ the King. Because of the star and because of the revelation of Scripture, the Wise Men recognize him as king. The feast also commemorates Jesus’ baptism and his first miracle at Cana. Happily, and in my opinion, very wisely, our present calendar gives each of these three commemorations a focus on the successive Sundays after the Epiphany. And they matter still.
Like the Wise Men, our encounter with Scripture can lead us to Christ and to confess him as king. In baptism Jesus still dies and rises in those he is calling to faith. And though it is often hard to see through all of the hoopla, Christ is present when a man and woman marry. Sacraments don’t make Christ present as much as they reveal, proclaim and nourish the reality of God among us still in the person of the Holy Spirit. Do the rites matter? Yes, of course. But they are not the point. The point is the gift of eternal life God has made to us in Christ.
Our celebration of the Epiphany actually begins with the evening services on Thursday, January 5 – on the greater festivals of the Church year, time is reckoned as Jesus did, from sunset to sunset. On Friday, Morning Prayer will be sung at 8:30 AM. There will be a simple Sung Mass at 12:10. The Solemn Mass of the Day is at 6:00 PM and concludes with the chanting of the Proclamation of the Date of Easter. A reception will be held in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the evening Mass.
The First Sunday after the Epiphany, January 8, is the Feast of the Baptism of Christ. The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will be celebrant and preacher. Three adults will celebrate sacraments of Christian Initiation. Sahoko Sato and Moi Moy (Jesse) Liew will be baptized. Linda Agbaniyaka will be confirmed.
On Sunday evening, January 8, we will welcome the Very Reverend Ronald Clingenpeel, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, as preacher for Evensong. Dean Clingenpeel was called to Christ Church Cathedral in 2002 while serving as canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Louisiana. Our paths crossed briefly in Louisiana, where he served as chaplain at Tulane while I was a curate in Baton Rouge. Tom Heard, one of our seminarians, and his wife, Cheryl Winters Heard, are members of Christ Church Cathedral. It will be great for us to welcome him to Saint Mary’s.
I invite you to be here for all of these celebrations. Famously, Cardinal Montini, later Pope Paul VI, observed that the liturgy was made for man, not man for the liturgy. That being said, we are one of the rare parish communities that is not only able but also chooses and sacrifices to live its life following the calendar and liturgy of the Church. It will be great. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Rick who is hospitalized, 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; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie and Derrick, and for the repose of the soul of William . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 10: 1994 William F. Lata; January 11: 1967 Sarah Bedell McDonald; January 13: 1994 Thomas E. Holz.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Roman Schreiner’s brother, William Howard Schreiner, died on January 3, 2006 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was fifty years old. Please pray for William, for Roman and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 7 by Father Beddingfield and on Saturday, January 14 by Father Gerth.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On the Epiphany, the organ recital at 5:30 is played by Eric Plutz, organist of Princeton University, and includes works of Duruflé and Tournemire . . . At the Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Cum iucunditate’ by Pierre de la Rue (c. 1460-1518), a prominent and influential Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He is remembered chiefly for his mass settings; approximately 30 survive today. This setting for alto, tenor and bass voices is based upon an antiphon for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady (September 8) . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam (“Christ our Lord to the Jordan came”), BuxWV 180 by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). The postlude is an improvisation on ‘Engelberg’. The setting of Gloria in excelsis Deo is from Communion Service in B-flat, Opus 10 by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). The Irish-born Stanford composed a large output of varied music, though he is remembered best, perhaps, for his many contributions to Anglican Church music. The remainder of the Mass ordinary (Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei) is from Missa brevis No. 4 (‘Corde natus ex parentis’) by Healey Willan (1880-1968). Willan’s setting, which does not include a setting of Gloria, is based upon the plainsong Christmas hymn Of the Father’s love begotten. Willan, English by birth and Canadian by adoption, was for many years organist and choirmaster of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Toronto, a renowned Anglo-catholic center. Like Stanford, his numerous compositions are broad and diverse, but little of it is heard today, with the exception of his organ and choral music. His extremely well-crafted music is written in a conservative and often polyphonic style . . . The recital at 4:40 is played by Australian organist Jangoo Chapkhana. Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, we’ve just learned that Rick Austill has been hospitalized. He is at Bellevue Medical Center. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Flowers are needed for 2006. Send your request to Sandra Schubert at firstname.lastname@example.org or online, http://www.stmvirgin.org/ParishClergyAndStaff: click on Reserve Flowers for Sunday and Feast days/Special Services and fill out the form . . . It costs us approximately $30 per person and $7,530.00 per year to send out the Angelus via snail mail. The Angelus is a vital tool of communication with our members and friends across the country and we don’t want to lose it. Our e-mail program costs much less and we reach a broader community. Join online www.stmvirgin.org and use the Angelus logo to sign up for the Angelus . . . 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 . . . Attendance Holy Name 217.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . Sunday School resumes Sunday, January 15 at 10:00 AM . . . Tuesday Night Bible Study meets at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, January 10, 24 and 31. We will read the Gospel according to John, Chapters 15, 16 and 17 . . . The Spirituality and Reading Group meets on Sunday, January 15 at 1:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study.
KEEP THE HONDURAS MISSION TEAM IN YOUR PRAYERS . . . Joining others from the Diocese of New York and Trinity Church in Wilmington, Delaware will be four Saint Marians. Father Beddingfield, Rebecca Weiner, Andrew Smith and Kevin Claiborne will be leaving for Tegucigalpa, Honduras on January 16 for the seven-day mission trip.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Thursday Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167
Friday Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, 367 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