From The Rector: Looking Back and Looking Forward
I happened to be in Amsterdam with friends in August 2001. It was a wonderful week in many ways. Memories of that week have remained especially sweet in light of what was to happen shortly after I returned. Since then, too, I have read more about the Netherlands and Amsterdam when I have the chance.
If you’ve never read Russell Shorto’s book, The Island at the Center of the World (Random House, 2005), I recommend it. Its subtitle is, “The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America.” Also on point for reflection is an article Shorto wrote for The New York Times in 2006 about a house in old Amsterdam. Some of you may remember it. It’s about the ups and downs of the value of a house built in 1625 on the “Herengracht,” or “Gentleman’s Canal.”
I remembered from the article that despite economic cycles, wars and plague, over time the real value of the house in constant currency appreciated very slowly – it would take 350 years for the real value of the house to double. That house was built as the city expanded outside its medieval walls for the first time. It was a high-end address then and now.
What I had forgotten about Shorto’s article was the debate he highlighted between a scholar who, reviewing the historical data about real estate in Amsterdam, thought we were in a housing bubble in the United States in 2006 and a then vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who thought we were in a new economy. It turns out, of course, history was right.
It’s easy to see political and corporate leaders pandering to constituencies. It’s impossible to know how deep the economic recession we are entering will be. It’s going to be hard and unfair for too many people. In my head for weeks now I keep hearing the second verse from Psalm 146, “Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, for there is no help in them.”
That said, Christianity is always more a faith about the present and future than the past. And I am a Christian. I believe you and I are a part of God’s kingdom, a kingdom that is unfolding in time according to God’s plan for God’s creation.
On the wall of my office there is a chart that Father Matthew Mead did at the end of 2007. It shows attendance and giving totals for the years 1996 through 2006. The trends here are up for both with one exception. In 2001, the attendance number is higher than any other year on the chart – the giving that year was in line with the trend. It was after September 11, 2001, that the 47th Street door of the church was opened daily. And our doors have remained open ever since. You and I can’t know today how the recession will affect our common life. I am confident that our doors will remain open, seven days a week. Saint Mary’s is a larger local and national community than it has been in a generation. Our common life and our programs may change in some respects, just as households will have to adjust their spending. However, the Great Depression did not whip Saint Mary’s and neither did the crime and seediness of Times Square in the later decades of the twentieth century.
Along with Psalm 146:2, another Bible verse that comes to mind readily for me are words of the risen Christ to Thomas, “Do not be faithless, but believing” (John 20:27b). I don’t think you and I need to be naïve about the challenges ahead for us and for people across the world. But I also find myself far from panicked. I’ve never been the type of person who likes to see a glass as half-empty and not half-full. This perspective comes not just from my background and from my faith, but from knowing people like those God brings through the doors of the church where I am privileged to serve. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Samuel, who is hospitalized, and for James, Donna, Laura, Clare, Madeleine, Marc, Linda, Janelle, Joanne, Olga, Jennie, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Katherine, Rozalind, Marietta, Connie, Bill, Rick, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Timothy, Benjamin, Christopher, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew and Brendan; and for the repose of the soul of William, religious. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 19: 1879 William Henry Francis; 1891 Alexander Curtis LaNauze; 1912 Arthur Alexander Campbell; 1993 Jerome Terrell
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, October 18, is the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist . . . Sunday School for children continues on Sunday, October 19 at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The 10:00 AM Sunday Adult Forum, October 19: “Opening the Good Book” (part 3 of 4) will focus on the topic: Interpreting the Bible through Anglican Eyes . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, October 20, at 7:00 PM, in the Mission House . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Tuesday, October 21, until Monday, October 27. He returns to the office on Wednesday, October 29 . . . The 7:00 PM Wednesday Night Dinner & Bible Study, on October 22, will focus on the activities of the prophets who were active during the reigns of Saul and David . . . Thursday, October 23, is the Feast of Saint James of Jerusalem . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, October 18. Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, October 25.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to George Handy, Esther Kamm, Dick Leitsch, and Dennis Smith, who did the All Souls’ mailing this week. If possible, please send in your All Souls’ prayer requests as soon as possible . . . Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, October 26, and for November 9, 16, and 23. Please contact Sandra Schubert in the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 338.
JOINING SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Smith is preparing several people to be presented to the Bishop at the Solemn Mass on the Eve of All Saints’ Day to mark their formal affiliation with the Episcopal Church or with Saint Mary’s. If you would like to know more about baptism, confirmation, or reception into the Episcopal Church, please contact Father Smith.
COMING EVENTS . . . Friday, October 31, 2008, the Eve of All Saints’ Day, Solemn Pontifical Mass, 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend Mark Sisk, bishop of New York, celebrant and preacher . . . Monday, November 3, All Souls’ Day, Solemn Mass and Blessing of the Vault at 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, November 18, The Annual Gift-Gathering Celebration at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
OPPORTUNITY FOR OUTREACH . . . AIDS Action International is once again inviting parishes to collect gift items for people in need, who are living with HIV and AIDS. Gift items will be delivered to the Cathedral and offered at a special liturgy in November. (Though in the past this has been a Saint Nicholas Day celebration, the event has been moved forward due to the cathedral renovation.) We will begin collecting gift items this coming Sunday, October 19 and will continue our effort through and including Sunday, November 16. Gift ideas are: new clothing for men, women and children, games, basic cosmetics, disposable cameras, phone cards, dolls and toys, scarves, gloves, and hats. Jay Smith
STEWARDSHIP MATTERS . . . The Finance Office has mailed third-quarter statements to all those who made pledges for 2008. Please review your statement and let us know if changes are needed. Gifts to be credited to tax year 2008 must be received in the parish office by December 31, 2008. Please remember that less than 10% of the cost of keeping Saint Mary’s doors open is paid for by income derived from our endowment. We depend for our survival on the gifts and support of members, friends, and neighbors.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers will rehearse this coming Sunday, October 19, from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM and will then sing at Solemn Evensong and Benediction at 5:00 PM. We would love to have you join us – if you are interested, please contact me at email@example.com. The prelude to Mass is the chorale prelude on Vater Unser im himmelreich (“Our Father, who art in Heaven”) by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637–1707), played by James Kennerley, interim organist and music director. Buxtehude was one of the greatest composers of the mid-Baroque period, and such was his skill that the young Johann Sebastian Bach walked 250 miles from Arnstadt, in central Germany, to Lübeck, in the north, to hear him play. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa “Ave Virgo sanctissima” by Juan Esquivel (c. 1563–after 1613), and the motet Ego sum panis vivus, also by Esquivel. James Kennerley
CHRISTIAN FORMATION FOR ADULTS . . . The October 10:00 AM Sunday Adult Forum: “Opening the Good Book” (part 2 of 4) continued last week (attendance 21). Part 3 of 4 will be offered this Sunday, October 19. Father Smith will lead the class and focus on methods of biblical interpretation . . . This season’s 7:00 PM Wednesday Night Dinner & Bible Study continued on October 15 (attendance 11). We are examining the Prophets and eating well (we had Indian food for dinner). The class on October 22 will focus on the activities of the prophets who were active during the reigns of Saul and David. A $5 (minimum) donation is requested to cover the cost of the food . . . All are welcome to attend every class. All classes meet on the second-floor Large Classroom in the Mission House (accessible from 133 West 46th Street and from the church Narthex on 46th Street).
CHILDCARE & SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN . . . Children are always welcome at Mass at Saint Mary’s. The Rector encourages families with children to sit at the front of the church – so the children can see easily and clearly. Childcare is for younger children in the Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom which is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM . . . Sunday School for Children is at 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room (follow the blue signs in Saint Joseph’s Hall to the Morning Room), and will be led by Deacon Jedediah Fox.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Eve of Saint James of Jerusalem
Thursday Saint James of Jerusalem
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Christian Formation & Sunday School, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction.
Childcare 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. The Wednesday 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include anointing of the sick.
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.