From the Rector: Perspective
The children’s formation program known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is called that because young children respond more deeply to the parable of the Good Shepherd than to any other proclamation of scripture. In the Catechesis, scripture is read to the children from the Bible and there are materials that children work with to illustrate the lesson. The Good Shepherd material is shown when John 10 is read. The children invariably do something with it that the adults don’t do. And that’s what I want to tell you about.
The material consists of a “sheepfold” – a green disk about the size of a dinner plate with a short peg and rope fence, a figure of the Good Shepherd holding a sheep on his shoulders, ten sheep and the booklet containing the scripture. When the children are shown this material they see the Shepherd with the sheep in a line behind him. They see them all in the fold with the Shepherd where the Shepherd has led them. Then the child does something the adult doesn’t do. He or she places all of the sheep directly in contact with the Shepherd – likes spokes of a wheel. Every sheep is connected to him.
Whenever the Christian community loses the perspective that the sheep are directly connected to the Lord Jesus or that all of the sheep are not welcome to be in direct relationship with him, the Christian community has lost something at the heart of the gospel.
The Good Shepherd is the one who feeds all of his sheep and protects them from others who would take them away from his flock. All of his sheep follow him because they know his voice. He’s the one who leads the sheep. When a sheep is lost, the Shepherd does not punish the sheep. He goes to find him and put him gently on his shoulders to bring him back to the fold.
The Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion have been much in the news over the past few weeks and ever since a small diocese in New England elected a non-celibate homosexual as its bishop. As I write on the morning of the Feast of Saint Peter & Saint Paul, I have in front of me the “above the fold” article from yesterday’s New York Times, “Anglican Plan Threatens Split on Gay Issues.” Today we are treated to the news that “Three Diocese Appeal to Distance Themselves from Episcopal Church.” I expect headlines of this sort to continue. I expect a few people and leaders will leave the Episcopal Church because they don’t want women in leadership or non-celibate homosexuals even in their pews, much less in their pulpits.
I want you to know that as a Christian, as an Episcopal priest, and as rector of this parish I am committed to a community where all are welcome. I believe you and I are connected to the Lord Jesus Christ himself and that it is the Lord himself who feeds us when we break Bread and drink Wine. I am willing to err on the side of welcome, if that ever can be an error.
I’m not sure who is welcome at the table where the present archbishop of Canterbury is standing. I’m not sure who is allowed to stand where. I’m not sure who is welcome at the font when the present archbishop of Canterbury is presiding. I’m not sure he’s clear that the font and table belong to the Shepherd and that all of the members of the clergy, whatever our rank, are described by Jesus in John’s gospel as “hirelings.” The sheep belong only to the Lord. From reading the Archbishop’s statements, it seems that all of us are going to have to live with an absence of clarity for quite a while.
In the meantime, I want to remind members of this parish community far and wide that the doors of this parish remain open seven days a week. This week, with a federal holiday on Tuesday, there will only be thirty-four regularly scheduled services from the Prayer Book across the course of the week. (We omit Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and one low Mass on an ordinary federal holiday. Yes, most weeks we conduct thirty-seven services across the week.) Sermons will be preached on the gospel, as is our custom.
I plan to leave headlines to the newspapers and anxiety to those who have time to worry. I’m concerned about getting the Mission House ready for the Sisters from the Community of St. John Baptist to join us in October and the rest of the projects going on around here. I do worry about one thing. I worry about making sure that every person whom the Lord may be calling to faith finds a full welcome in a parish that has a long history of opening her doors to all people. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Daniel, Gloria, Roxanne, Grace, Tony, Michelle, Ray, Isa, Joy, Christine, Danny, Ann, William, John, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, 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.
CONFESSIONS . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 1, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, July 8, by Father Mead.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Prayer Book provides us with a commemoration for Independence Day, July 4. Because this is a federal holiday, the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The Noonday Office will be offered at 12:00 PM. Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM. On Sunday, July 2, the hymns at the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and 11:00 AM Solemn Mass are selected with our national heritage in mind.
SUMMER SCHEDULES . . . In July and August the parish office will be open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and on Fridays from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM . . . Father Mead returns from vacation on Thursday, July 6 . . . The Rector will be on vacation from July 6 through July 18 . . . There are five “Sunday” Masses during the summer at Saint Mary’s, Saturdays at 5:20 PM, Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM and Sunday evenings at 5:20 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Daniel Craig continues to recuperate at home and Gloria Fitzgerald is recuperating at the Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Center in West Haverstraw, New York. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Congratulations to Robin and Sally Landis who were married here on Saturday, June 24 . . . Congratulations to the Reverend Rosemarie Sullivan who has been called to be rector of Saint Paul’s Church, Rock Creek Parish, in Washington, DC . . . Congratulations to Saint Mary’s friends Peter Anthony and Peter McBride who will be ordained to the diaconate this Saturday in England . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The next meeting, on Sunday, July 23, will continue with its discussion of The Cost of Discipleship and will also begin to discuss Letters and Papers from Prison . . . Flowers are needed for the Sundays in July. Please contact the parish office if you wish to give them . . . Attendance on Sacred Heart 47, Nativity of Saint John the Baptist 69, Attendance Last Sunday 276.
CHILD CARE & SUNDAY SCHOOL. . . Child care is offered from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM each Sunday and during Solemn Masses celebrated during the week. Sunday School is offered October through May from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM. Please contact Father Mead for more information.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on the Gregorian Introit, Omnes gentes, and the postlude is Fuge d-moll, BWV 538 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Mellissa Hughes, soprano and Geoffrey Williams, countertenor, are the cantors. The music during communion is Et in unum Dominum (a portion of Credo, or the Nicene Creed) from Bach’s incomparable Messe h-moll, BWV 232. Robert McCormick
HELPING THOSE AFFECTING BY THE FLOODS . . . For several days straight, heavy rain has fallen on the nation’s capital flooding and shutting down government buildings. More than seven inches fell in the Washington D.C. area. The residents in the suburbs of Maryland saw up to five feet of water climb over their homes forcing families to evacuate. In Delaware and Pennsylvania, roads were transformed to a sea of floating vehicles, causing people to wait on high ground for rescue. The National Weather Service is predicting continued rain for the remainder of the week. Episcopal Relief & Development has contacted the dioceses in the affected regions and is monitoring the situation in order to respond when needs become apparent. To see the latest or contribute online go to https://www.servicenetwork.com/Olg/ERD/Donate.asp
Lord God almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Independence Day – Federal Holiday Schedule
Friday Weekday Friday 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 Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Said Mass. 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