From The Rector: Primary Things
For several years, and through several curates, your parish priests have kicked around the idea of having an annual liturgical conference at Saint Mary’s. This spring Matt Mead came into my office with a proposal for a one-day conference for fall 2008. I knew we could do it if we had the right speaker to get it started. Bishop Frank Griswold was excited by the idea and agreed to be the keynote speaker for our first conference. The brochure for the conference is already on the parish webpage and has been mailed to members of the clergy who are on our parish mailing list. More publicity is planned. The conference is called “Primary Things.” It’s not about “smells and bells” but it’s a time for priests to reflect on their ministry as stewards of the sacraments and servants of the assembly.
It’s one thing to be at ease physically as a celebrant and preacher, to master the use of the thurible or the chanting of tongue-twisting prayers. The important moments of learning have occurred when connections have been made between liturgy and life, between the words and gestures, between now and eternity. Worship finds its purpose and meaning in faith, in living and in dying, in relationship to God. Christian worship finds its integrity and meaning in the service of the baptized. The accounts of the martyrdoms of the apostles do not appear in Scripture. But John’s gospel concludes with Jesus telling Peter three times, “Feed my sheep.”
Primary Things will begin with Solemn Evensong on Sunday evening, September 28, 2008, the Eve of Saint Michael and All Angels. I’m delighted that the Reverend Dr. Clayton L. Morris, program officer for liturgical and spiritual resources, The Episcopal Church Center, will be our preacher for Evensong. Father Morris earned his doctorate in theology at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. He is a musician and has served the Church locally, nationally and internationally in a number of ministries. Following Evensong there will be a reception and brief opening remarks to all who are at Evensong are invited.
Monday, September 29, is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. The principal address of the conference will be given by Bishop Griswold on “Pastors, Priests and Teachers.” As a priest, Bishop Griswold served with the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church that prepared the present Prayer Book. While bishop of Chicago, and before becoming presiding bishop, he served as chair of this commission.
In the afternoon, I will give an address on the ministry of the clergy as “Servants of the Assembly.” The final address of the day will be a joint presentation by me, Father Mead and Father Jay Smith called “Details Matter” about how the history and theology of worship intersect with the church building here at Saint Mary’s and the rites of worship. The day concludes with Solemn Pontifical Mass at which Bishop Griswold will be celebrant and preacher. Of course, a reception for all follows. The conference is geared for parish priests, but others who are interested in liturgical study may also attend. The conference is limited to fifty persons. The registration form is available at our web page.
Michaelmas (the traditional name for the feast) is a favorite day for many. In recent years we have had a Sung Mass on this day and a solemn celebration when the feast falls on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the solemn celebration this year in part because of the great hymns that are sung on that day. If you don’t know Michaelmas as a great festival, please put Solemn Evensong on Sunday, September 28, and Solemn Pontifical Mass on Monday, September 29, on your calendar.
Finally, there are many reasons why I think it is a good thing for us to have a conference like this. Saint Mary’s is a place where a commitment to the ideals of Prayer Book worship has shaped the community since its inception. Our parish was founded for the renewal of congregational worship, and Episcopalians are worshipers. Despite all the challenges that our Church now faces, worship is the place where we unite in mission and, I think, where we want to be united in a profound way with each other, both in and for Christ.
This kind of conference is also a part of our mission and witness to the wider Church. I met my predecessor, Father Edgar Wells, in my first year at Nashotah House. I never actually visited Saint Mary’s until I came for an interview with the Board of Trustees in 1998, but I had been faithfully reading the then monthly parish newsletter since I had met Father Wells. It mattered to me when I was serving parishes in other places that there was a place like Saint Mary’s, keeping the feasts, praying the Offices, celebrating the Eucharist. Knowing that the Saint Mary’s community was gathered at the altar helped me feel connected to the Church throughout the world.
There will be opportunities to assist with the conference and I will be asking for help. Please take a look at the brochure. If you know someone who might be interested in the conference, please send him or her the link. It’s going to be great. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Kevin, Bill, Debi, Gary, Sandy, Philip, Olga, Jennie, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Katherine, Ovidiu, Rozalind, Marietta, Connie, Rick, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew and Brendan; and for the repose of the soul of Tom . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 4: 1996 Harold Anderson Worrell; August 8: 1963 Charles Augustus Edgar.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Our celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration begins on the eve, Tuesday, August 5, with the evening Office and Mass. On Wednesday, August 6, Mass will be sung at 6:00 PM . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, August 2, and on Saturday, August 9 . . . Saturday, August 9, is Father Wells’s forty-eighth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood . . . Father Mead continues on vacation through August 9.
COMING EVENTS . . . On Thursday, August 14, the Eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong will be sung by the choir of All Saints’ Church, Northampton, England, at 6:00 PM. . . . On Assumption, Friday, August 15, our interim organist and music director, James Kennerley, will play a recital at 5:30 PM. The parish choir will sing at Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Saint Mary’s Guild meets on Saturday, August 2, at 1:00 PM the Arch Room (second floor) of the Mission House . . . As we go to press, donations for flowers for the high altar are still needed for August 3, 24 and 31 . . . James Kennerley joins our staff as interim organist and music director on Monday, August 4. He will play at the Sung Masses on Wednesday, August 6, and at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, August 10. Welcome, James! . . . Raymond DeVries and Cynthea Kimmelman are to be married on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, on August 2, 2008. Ray was received into the Episcopal Church here at Saint Mary’s in 2007. Please keep Ray and Cynthea in your prayers as they begin their new life together . . . Attendance last Sunday 246.
STEWARDSHIP AT SAINT MARY’S . . . “Why I love Saint Mary’s”: In recent months, we have published several short essays, in which parishioners have talked about what brought them here and why they have made Saint Mary’s their parish home. This week we hear from Jim Dennis: “Music made all the difference, but I couldn’t have foreseen that in 1994 when I stepped into the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin for the first time, after a friend suggested I attend one of Kyler Brown’s concerts. I walked through the 46th Street doors and it seemed to me that I had entered another world, an awe-inspiring place, even in its then-rundown condition. And the music? I had never heard an organ played so beautifully; the choir was at its celestial best; and the acoustics gave the music a wonderful luster. Kyler, the parish’s music director at the time, introduced himself after the concert, and suggested that I might like to attend a Sunday service. ‘Why not? What have I got to lose’, I thought. I had been baptized in the Lutheran church, tried out life as both a Methodist and a Baptist – and had been disappointed by each of those traditions. When I eventually did show up that fateful Sunday, I was completely unprepared for the powerful change I would experience. After so many years of not attending church, I had finally found what I’d been missing all my life: the uplifting perfection of the music, the reverence of the ceremony, the sense of the holy everywhere you looked – or listened. I jumped onto the fast track. A short time later I was confirmed, and set out to support my new church home in any way I could: as a trustee – twice!; serving as a principal fundraiser for the 1996 Restoration Program that elevated our church’s interior to its present beauty; serving as a member on the search committee that brought Father Gerth to Saint Mary’s; and, thanks to George Handy’s disarmingly affable but decidedly strong-armed tactics, as an usher who relishes welcoming both parishioners and visitors alike; and, so, the additional position as head of the Brother Lawrence Guild was probably also inevitable. Hospitality is one of our most important ministries, and our measure of success is the reputation we finally enjoy as a friendly parish that welcomes strangers – and, by the way, knows how to party Episcopal-style! I cannot think of anything that has happened in my life that can compare to the feeling I got the evening I walked into Saint Mary’s for that concert. The lasting effect it would have on me has been one of my greatest blessings. Love is a wonderful gift, and I am happy to say I love Saint Mary’s.”
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . This Sunday the prelude before the Solemn Mass is the Sinfonia to Cantata No. 156 and the Arioso and Sinfonia to Cantata No. 106 by J.S. Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is the Finale to the “Royal Fireworks” Suite by George Frederic Handel (1685-1759). The cantor is Mr. Mark Risinger, bass. At Communion, Mr. Risinger will sing the Arisoso from J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 86, “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch.” Robert McDermitt
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Eve of the Transfiguration
Wednesday The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Thursday John Mason Neale, Priest, 1866
Friday Dominic, Priest and Friar, 1221 Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Said Mass. Child care is available from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM every Sunday.
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. Wednesday 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include healing services.
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.