From the Rector: Mostly Advent
A few well-known feast days happen at the beginning of the Advent Season. These are Saint Nicholas’s Day on December 6, Saint Ambrose’s Day on December 7, the Conception of the Virgin Mary on December 8 and Saint Lucy’s Day on December 13. December 21 is the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. Yet, in this parish church, Advent is still Advent for the four weeks before Christmas Day.
This is a wonderful accomplishment considering the reality that for most people, and even most practicing Christians, the Christmas season in our country now starts the day after Thanksgiving Day. Advent as such has never been an American sensibility – visit Sweden and you will discover a country where everyone knows what Advent is. But when I was a child, most people didn’t celebrate birthdays early, especially Jesus’. Sometime between the fall of 1972 when I entered college and the spring of 1983 when I finished seminary, secular Christmas took over December. I’m not sure how it happened. I’m not sure of its value.
Sadly, one is almost as likely to find Christmas decorations and services in an Episcopal Church during Advent as any other. Advent is still Advent at Saint Mary’s because we continue to find something here of great value. I think it has something to do with the reality of our lives. Christians live much more like Advent, perhaps than any other season.
Advent is not Lent. Lent is the season of preparation for those to be baptized at Easter. Advent is the season of preparation for celebration of Christ’s birth. Our Christian lives now are preparation for our birth to eternal life at death. We, as God’s children now, are already a part of the unfolding of God’s kingdom. We are making the journey home.
You and I don’t have to worry about how to keep Advent when we want to worship – Saint Mary’s traditions will take care of us. You and I can keep Advent in our homes. You and I can be generous hosts during this season too – and please enjoy for Jesus’ sake Christmas parties during Advent. Most of all, you and I can keep Advent hearts, lifting up our souls to God, rejoicing in the Lord and living in awe as we recall and celebrate the birth of the greatest Sun in the midst of the darkest time of the year. Our lives can be mostly Advent and that will make Christmas very, very special. I promise. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Patrick, Samuel, Russell, Brooke, Stephen, Donna, Laura, Madeleine, Marc, Janelle, Jennie, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Rozalind, Connie, Rick, and Charles, Priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Omar, Curtis, Timothy, Benjamin, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew, and Brendan; and for the repose of the souls of Lucien and Maureen . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 14: 1893 James Campbell; 1901 William Peper; 1903 Susannah Willis; 1905 Charles Champlain; 1997 Edward D. Miller.
STEWARDSHIP MATTERS . . . As of December 7, we have received pledges from 100 households. Twelve of those households are pledging for the first time. The total amount pledged thus far is $283,299.00, which is 54.6% of our goal of $518,970.00. We have not heard from 54% of the households who made pledges for 2008. In these difficult times, Saint Mary’s needs your financial support more than ever! Our church is an important part of the community and, we hope, an important part of your life. We join in God’s love and sacrifice for us by our personal sacrifices for others. Again, now is the time when your help is needed. If you need another pledge card or have questions, please speak with Father Jay Smith.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is Chorale by William Mathias (1934-1992). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Benjamin Britten’s (1913–1976) Missa Brevis, and was written in 1959 for the boys of Westminster Cathedral Choir, London. The communion Motet is a setting of the Eucharistic hymn O salutaris Hostia by French organist-composer Jean Langlais (1907–1991). On December 24 at 5 PM, the choir sings Missa Resurrectionis (1976) by Gerre Hancock (b. 1934), and a selection of carols by Rutter, Willcocks and Warlock, accompanied by the Saint Mary’s Brass. At 11 PM, the setting of the Mass ordinary is the ethereal Mass in G Minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958). During the prelude and the service, the choral music will include works by Tavener, Howells and Pearsall. At Solemn Mass on Christmas Day, the choir sings Missa ‘Dixit Maria’ by Hans Leo Hassler (bapt. 1564–1612), and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck’s (1562–1621) rousing setting of the antiphon Hodie Christus natus est . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers rehearse on December 21 at 3:00 PM (NB earlier time) to sing for Solemn Evensong, and to rehearse Christmas music. On December 28, we will sing a special service of Christmas Lessons and Carols, with a rehearsal at 2:30 PM. Please contact me if you are interested in singing – we would love you to join us! James Kennerley
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to Liz Tommasino for providing Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom with a great variety of new toys for the children! . . . Thanks so much to all those who made the patronal feast such a beautiful and special day here at Saint Mary’s: to James Kennerley, Robert McDermitt, and our choir; to the two generous parishioners who sponsored the reception after Solemn Mass; to Rick Austill for the flowers on the altar and throughout the building; and to Brenda and Randy Morgan, Wayne Mahlke, Reha Sterbin, Luis Carle, José Vidal, and our sextons for organizing and providing hospitality at the reception . . . Many thanks to Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch and Andrew Smith for sending out the Christmas Appeal mailing . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study resumes in January . . . Volunteers are needed to decorate the church for Christmas on Saturday, December 20, from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM and on Tuesday, December 23, from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Please contact either Dale Bonenberger or MaryJane Boland for more details or to confirm that you can help . . . Flowers are needed for many Sundays and feast days following Christmas. If you would like to donate the flowers for any one of these days, please contact Father Mead . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 339, Immaculate Conception 290.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Celebrate the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church with Sung Mass at 6:00 PM on Friday, December 12. . . Saturday, December 13, 8:00 PM: New York Repertory Orchestra concert at Saint Mary’s . . . The class on “Ritual and Ceremony” continues this Sunday, December 14, at 10:00 AM . . . James Kennerley will be away on Sunday afternoon . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, December 15, 7:00 PM . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, December 13, Father Gerth on Saturday, December 20.
COMING EVENTS . . . Sunday, December 21, is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Father Gerth’s ordination to the priesthood. We celebrate with receptions after Solemn Mass and Solemn Evensong & Benediction. The Rev. Dr. Louis Weil, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, preaches at Evensong . . . Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24: 4:30 PM Carols & Music, 5:00 PM Sung Mass, 10:30 PM Carols & Music, 11:00 PM Procession & Solemn Mass . . . Christmas Day, Thursday, December 25, : 11:00 AM Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche . . . The First Sunday after Christmas Day, December 28: 5:00 PM Christmas Lessons & Carols (this is a particularly good opportunity to invite friends to Saint Mary’s) . . . New Year’s Eve, Wednesday, December 31: the church and the parish office close at 2:00 PM.
SPECIAL NOTES FOR TAX YEAR 2008 . . . The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 includes important provisions relating to charitable giving. If you are 70½ years or older, you can instruct your IRA trustee to distribute funds directly to Saint Mary’s for tax years 2008 and 2009. You will not have to report the withdrawal as income for tax purposes. This distribution will also count toward your mandatory withdrawal amount. Please contact Steven Heffner or Barbara Klett to discuss how to make this special contribution. Both can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . . . Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of the year count for 2008. This is true even if the credit-card bill isn’t paid until next year. Also, checks count for 2008 as long as they are mailed this year. For further details, please see the IRS web page (www.irs.gov) and consult your tax professional.
OUTREACH & MISSION . . . We are hoping to begin a cooperative venture with our neighbor, Saint Clement’s Episcopal Church, 46th Street. Saint Clement’s runs a Food Pantry every Saturday, except the first Saturday of the month. One of the things we would like to do right away is donate non-perishable food items to the Pantry, things like soup, pasta, rice, canned tuna fish, Parmalat milk, canned fruits and vegetables. If you bring food items on Sunday, please place them in the basket in Saint Joseph’s Hall and thank you for your generosity . . . Meeting of the Mission & Outreach Committee . . . Members and friends who are interested in talking about outreach at Saint Mary’s are gathering in Saint Joseph’s Hall after Coffee Hour on Sunday, December 7, around 1:00 PM. A light lunch will be served. All are invited! If you have questions, please contact Father Smith.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday of Advent
Monday Advent Weekday
Tuesday Advent Weekday
Wednesday Advent Weekday
Thursday Advent Weekday
Friday Advent Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Advent Weekday
Eve of the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Christian Education & Sunday School, 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.