From Father Smith: When Words Become Word
Those of you who have been around this parish long enough will have heard the Rector refer to Saint Mary’s as a “full-gospel church.” It’s a phrase that Father Gerth, raised a Baptist in the great commonwealth of Virginia, always uses with a smile on his face – and in his voice. He knows full well the cultural and denominational connotations of the phrase “full-gospel”; and he also knows that those Christians who emblazon their church signboards with it are seldom, if ever, high-church Anglo-Catholics. The joke almost always makes me smile, too. I like the quality of contrast and surprise. I like the fact that three short words can be so culturally loaded – it’s a very American joke; but I also like it that it’s not just a joke. I don’t want to speak for the Rector and he and I have never really talked about what he means by the phrase, but what I think he might mean, in part, is that at Saint Mary’s we believe that the Eucharist is composed of two essential parts “The Word of God” and “The Holy Communion”; and maybe he also means to say that around here we are serious when we pray “for all bishops, priests and deacons, that that they may be faithful ministers of [the Father’s] Word and Sacraments.”
At Saint Mary’s there are a lot of opportunities to worship God. That’s part of who we are and what we do; and what that means is that there are lots of chances “to hear and meditate on God’s holy Word” [Liturgy for Ash Wednesday, Book of Common Prayer, page 265]. Because Saint Mary’s is a “full-gospel” church, a whole lot of Scripture is read each and every week of the year; and so, what can happen here is that, without even thinking about it, more and more Bible begins to seep into your mind (and, one hopes, into your heart and into your bones). Interesting snippets of Scripture suddenly come to mind at the oddest moments; and, perhaps more important, you begin to make connections among things that had never seemed at all connected.
For instance, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” which we heard at the end of Epiphany, reminds you of “the Lamb that was slain” out of Revelation, a book we’ve been studying this winter, which makes you think of the ram-for-a-sacrifice that took Isaac’s place, a story we heard last Sunday; and the story of Isaac, who was not sacrificed, make you think of the Son who was given, the Son who died on a cross, and who rose again; and so when you hear the priest say “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” you maybe think of Abraham, Isaac, and, of course, Moses – and then you think once again of the Lamb that was slain and it occurs to you “God is taking the long view. He has a plan. God doesn’t give up on us; there’s a purpose to things even if that purpose isn’t always obvious”; or as you walk the Stations of the Cross, and head past the baptistery, maybe you think of being washed, made pure, in the Blood of the Lamb, which is a very odd image, when you think of it; and it’s an image that raises all kinds of strange and fruitful questions and makes you think “‘washed in the Blood of the Lamb’ – now that’s something that would only make sense to a Christian,” which makes you ask yourself, and not for the first time, what baptism and lambs and shepherds and shepherding and crosses and lifting up crosses and sacrifice and death and resurrection have to do with this thing called “the Christian life.”
And the nice thing about belonging to a “full-gospel” church is that you can let the Scripture in and you don’t even have to work that hard at it. Just come to church and do some listening. Let the Word of God into your heart and into your imagination; and then interesting things happen. The Holy Spirit helps you make connections that are your own, connections that maybe make sense only to you, connections that sustain you in time of need. How wonderful – to be surprised by the Word of God. How beautiful, when the Spirit breaks through boredom and weariness and, suddenly, words become Word. James Ross Smith
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Lawrence, Kirk, Wayne, Patrick, Angie, Jack, Ben, Alice, Harold, Marcia, Richard, Mary, Stephen, Laura, Brooke, Donna, Madeleine, Marc, William, Gert, Mary, Daisy, Rozalind, Rick, and Stephen, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Omar, Curtis, Timothy, Benjamin, Marc, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, and Patrick; and for the repose of the souls of Janice, Edward, Vivian and Malva . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 15: 1876 Samuel Stevens; 1895 Robert Cochran; 1940 Pauline Dunn; 1969 Peter Chan
LENT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Fridays during Lent are observed with special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Stations of the Cross are offered on Fridays in Lent at 7:00 PM . . . Sister Laura Katharine will offer a Lenten Meditation Day of Personal Reflection through the use of the Mandala on Saturday, March 14, from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM . . . The Reverend Peter Powell will offer an Adult-Education Class on the Psalms at 10:00 AM each Sunday in Lent . . . During Lent we are excited to have a number of guest preachers at Sunday Evensong & Benediction: the Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh, and the Reverend Robert Rhodes will preach on March 15 and March 29, respectively . . . Lent is a season of simplicity: throughout the season there are no flowers on the high altar, organ music is used only to accompany singing, and there are no pre-service organ recitals, preludes, or postludes . . . In addition to our regular observance of Lent, this year Father Mead and Father Smith will offer a six-part, fifteen-minute midday Bible study on the Gospel narratives of the Passion of Jesus. The class will meet in the choir area every Wednesday in Lent (not in Holy Week) immediately following the 12:10 PM Sung Mass: on Wednesday, March 18, Father Mead will discuss the gospel accounts of Jesus’ Crucifixion.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary this Sunday is Missa “Pange lingua” by Josquin Desprez (c. 1440-1521). Commonly referred to simply as Josquin, he was considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish school during the Renaissance. During the sixteenth century, Josquin gradually acquired the reputation as the greatest composer of the age, and his masterful technique was widely admired. The theorist Gioseffo Zarlino (who would produce a stylistic “guide” to Palestrina’s style) held his style as that best representing perfection. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet O vos omnes qui transitis (“O all ye that pass by”) by Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa (1566-1613). Gesualdo is famous for brutally murdering his wife, Donna Maria d’Avalos, and her lover, Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria, after catching them in flagrante delicto. Being of noble birth, he was immune from prosecution but not from revenge, so he fled to his castle at Gesualdo. Written in 1603, the motet O vos omnes is highly demonstrative of the composer’s madrigalian word-painting. At the words sicut dolor meus (“like to my sorrow”), for example, we hear a heart-wrenching chromatic twist in the harmony that sounds shocking even to our weathered ears. It must have been quite extraordinary in the seventeenth century . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers do not meet this week; our next rehearsal and service is on March 22 at 3:30 PM (note later start time). Please note that we have professional singers leading each voice part, so, if you were thinking of joining us, do not be worried that you’d be the only one in your section! If you have any questions, please email me on email@example.com
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, March 13–Sunday, March 15: Youth Group of the Church of the Mediator, Allentown, PA, Visit to Saint Mary’s . . . Saturday, March 14, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM: Lenten Meditation Day of Personal Reflection through the Use of the Mandala . . . Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, March 14 . . . Father Peter Powell will continue his class on the Psalms on Sunday, March 15, at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House . . . Our guest preacher at Evensong on Sunday, March 15, at 5:00 PM, will be the Reverend Doctor Ryan Lesh, Vicar of Christ Church, Red Hook, New York. Father Lesh, a graduate of the Church Divinity School, was sponsored for ordination by Saint Mary’s . . . Monday, March 16, 7:30 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: The Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra of Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire . . . Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., will be away from the parish from March 17 until March 24 . . . The fifteen-minute Bible Study will meet immediately after Wednesday’s Sung Mass on March 18, at 12:45 PM, in the chancel choir. This week Father Mead will look at the accounts of Jesus’ Crucifixion . . . Thursday, March 19, The Feast of Saint Joseph . . . Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, March 21. Confessions are also heard by appointment . . . Saturday, March 21, 1:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: The US premiere of Requiem by composer David Bednall, performed by the Choir of Saint Mary’s School, Calne (near Salisbury), England. Admission is free.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Please look for the Maundy Thursday sign-up sheet in Saint Joseph Hall. Beginning this Sunday, we will be asking Saint Marians to sign up for the all-night watch before the Blessed Sacrament on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday . . . James Kennerley will be away from Evensong on Sunday March 15 for a concert, and also from March 18 until lunchtime on March 22, for a graduation ceremony at Cambridge University . . . Sunday, March 22, 1:00 PM, Meeting of the Mission & Outreach Committee in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Tuesday, March 24, Eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, Solemn Evensong at 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, March 22, Solemn Evensong and Benediction, the Reverend Deacon Jedediah W. Fox, preacher . . . Wednesday, March 25, The Feast of the Annunciation: Sung Matins at 8:30 AM, Sung Mass at 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM, the Reverend Kathleen Liles, Rector of the Church of Christ and Saint Stephen, Manhattan, preacher . . . Theater at Saint Mary’s: Resident theater, The American Globe Theatre, presents Henry V, by William Shakespeare, March 26–April 25, Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM (no performances during Holy Week). Tickets are $15.00 . . . Anjellicle Cats Rescue, a local cat and kitten rescue and adoption agency, will host an adoption event on Saturday, March 28, from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. If you want to adopt a cat or a kitten, please stop in! . . . Sunday, March 29, Solemn Evensong and Benediction, the Reverend Robert Rhodes, preacher. Father Rhodes is a graduate of the General Theological Seminary. He worked here at the parish as a seminarian. He is, at present, the Rector of Grace Church, Westwood, New Jersey . . . Thursday, April 2, 8:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: Music for Double Choir, The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director. The concert is a presentation of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. For tickets, please call the theater box office at 212.854.7799. Admission is $40.00 . . . We are sorry to have to announce that Father Allen Shin, Chaplain of Keble College, Oxford, and former curate at Saint Mary’s, will not be with us during Holy Week. He had been scheduled to preach at Evensong on Palm Sunday and on Easter Day . . . Saturday, May 2, 10:30 PM, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Ordination to the Diaconate: Rebecca Weiner Tompkins . . . Holy Week rehearsals for members of the Saint Vincent’s Guild: Saturday, April 4, at 10:00 AM, Rehearsal for Palm Sunday followed by Stripping of Palms; Sunday, April 5, at 1:00 PM, Rehearsal (1 of 2) for Maundy Thursday; Thursday, April 9, at 5:00 PM, Rehearsal (2 of 2) for Maundy Thursday; Friday, April 10, at 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Rehearsals for the Good Friday services; Saturday, April 11, at 4:00 PM Rehearsal for the Easter Vigil . . . The Rector began his sabbatical on January 1. He returns to New York at the end of March and to the office on April 1, in time for Holy Week . . . Attendance: Last Sunday, 2 Lent 275
CHILDREN AT SAINT MARY’S . . . 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 for younger children is available 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 meets on Sundays during the academic year at 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room (follow the blue signs in Saint Joseph’s Hall to the Morning Room). Sunday School is led by Deacon Jedediah Fox and Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . The next meeting of the Mission & Outreach Committee will be on Sunday, March 22, at 1:00 PM, following the Solemn Mass. A light lunch will be served. All are welcome to attend . . . The Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Episcopal Church, 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues: Saint Marians are invited to bring non-perishable food items on Sundays and place them in the basket at the ushers’ table in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall during Coffee Hour. (The Food Pantry is looking for items such as canned tuna fish, peanut butter, jelly or preserves, Parmalat milk, dried milk, coffee, pasta, rice, tomato sauce, canned soup, canned beans and other canned vegetables, etc.) The food is then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. Thank you to all who continue to give so generously to the Food Pantry! Jay Smith
AIDS Walk 2009 . . . The AIDS Walk is Sunday, May 17, and Saint Mary’s team will walk for the fourth year in a row. So far, eleven Saint Marians have signed up to walk along with 45,000 other New Yorkers. To learn how to participate, please pick up an information sheet at church, online, or contact the parish team captains, MaryJane Boland and Andrew Smith. Our goal is to have thirty walkers from Saint Mar’s and to raise at least $25,000 towards a cure for HIV/AIDS. MaryJane Boland & Andrew Smith
LENTEN POEM WITH ONE WORD MISSING
By Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
Mid-March in the country,
that late night the thawed world
slept, patchy grasses still,
while inside we curled
in our own breaths and outside
shut blinds, the surprising snow
came on silently, spreading
over everything with its sudden
coat of heavy quiet. Now
we discover morning’s usual
brightness piled right up to
our eyes at the window,
the sky seeming like
sun could shine behind
but wouldn't. Instead
the lightest flakes are falling
all coming down
to the only color left, its
feathery close cover not
closing, but holding us too
and we open the door and our
hands and faces, even
our eyes, to know that slight touch
able to change everything, so
much waiting, finally slowed
by this steadiness,
but of such deep mind.
Rebecca Weiner Tompkins is a member of Saint Mary’s and is preparing for ordination to the diaconate. She will be ordained at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Saturday, May 2, 2009, at 10:30 AM.
COME AND SING WITH US! . . . Saint Mary’s Singers is looking for members. We are a group of parishioners and non-parishioners who now sing twice a month at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square. The church has one of the finest acoustics in the city, as well as one of the city’s greatest organs. Why don’t YOU consider taking a break from work on Sunday afternoons to come sing and socialize with a group of Saint Mary’s neighbors, friends, and parishioners. If you are able to match pitch and have a desire to sing, especially some of the great Anglican choral repertoire, why not consider being part of our new choir? We promise that you will have fun! Professional singers lead each voice part, so you will never be alone! If you would like to join, or just come along for a rehearsal, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. James Kennerley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Mary’s offers a wide variety of concerts each year. In addition to concerts offered by our music department, we also host a number of outside groups who offer concerts in the church . . . Every Sunday, 4:40 PM (October to June, except during Lent): Before Sunday Evensong & Benediction Saint Mary’s offers a weekly organ recital by a visiting musician. Monday, March 16, 7:30 PM: Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra of Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH . . . Saturday, March 21, 1:00 PM: Lenten Recital by the Choir of Saint Mary’s School, Calne (near Salisbury), England. Admission is free . . . Sunday, March 29, 5:00 PM: The Service of Evensong and Benediction is sung by the Choir of the Church of Saint Paul, Fairfield, Connecticut, Jonathan Abdenour, director . . . Thursday, April 2, 2009, 8:00 PM: Music for Double Choir, The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director . . . Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:15 PM: The Choir of the Royal Memorial Chapel, Sandhurst, UK, Peter Beaven, director
FROM THE ARCHIVES . . . At Saint Mary’s not everything remains the same through the generations, and change is often quite a good thing. The following is a letter to the parish that appeared in the parish’s monthly newsletter in May 1945. (It is interesting to read the letter and consider how daily life continued to go on at the same moment as cataclysmic events were taking place in the outside world: V-E Day was May 8, 1945). The letter was written by the then Rector, Father Grieg Taber. Those of you who have seen photos of Father Taber will perhaps think of him as a stern and humorless man. This apparently was not the case.
Dick Leitsch & Jay Smith
“Dear Parishioners of Saint Mary’s:
“Everyone who worships regularly at Saint Mary’s likes to feel that he belongs somewhere in the church. Thus it happens that practically each individual worshipper desires and expects to occupy the same pew each Sunday. Your Parish Treasurer has therefore mailed to each individual known to contribute regularly for the support of Saint Mary’s a card designating a sitting in a certain pew. This does not mean that Saint Mary’s rents pews at an annual charge. It does mean, however, that every faithful parishioner who regularly contributes, whether his contribution be large or small, is assigned by a seating committee a sitting on the assumption that he will wish to occupy a place in the same pew each Sunday. Indeed, in churches where sittings are not assigned regular worshippers will be found in the same pews week by week. They seem to pre-empt such pews. Now Saint Mary’s happily welcomes many strangers. Sometimes half of the congregation at a High Mass will be visitors from other parishes all over this country and other countries too. The sittings for Saint Mary’s parishioners are scattered all over the church, from front to back and from aisle to aisle. This means that the unassigned sittings which may be used for guest-worshippers are likewise scattered all over the church. It is expected that under this system both parishioners and visitors may equally share in the use of the church. Rarely is a pew filled with assigned sittings. Therefore, expect and welcome visitors to your pew. Should such visitors be already in your accustomed place before your arrival, thank God that they are there and ask an usher where you may conveniently sit for that service. You will not, of course, expect an usher to shift visitors about as this would seem ungracious to guests. Your Rector writes feelingly on this subject since on one occasion when he was visiting an Episcopal Church he was moved three times before it was finally decided to allow him to feel secure in a pew. In fact, he became startled with every approach of an usher and wondered if it was suspected that he might recline at Mass and thus occupy more than one humble sitting! You will note that your card designating for you a space in a pew bears this notation: ‘Will you please help the ushers by showing this card.’ If you will kindly observe this suggestion our ushers will come to know who you are and will be greatly assisted in avoiding mistakes. It is not easy to serve as an usher and for the sake of our faithful band of ushers I confidently bespeak your good-natured assistance. Affectionately, Grieg Taber. P.S. If everyone should decide that his sitting must always be at the end of a pew, the Rector must appeal for a fund to erect skyscrapers at each pew end. P.P.S. If you are late for High Mass, expect to sit anywhere.”
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Tuesday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Wednesday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Eve of Saint Joseph
Thursday Saint Joseph
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Eve of the Fourth Sunday In Lent
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday School & Adult Christian Education, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 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.
A service of Stations of the Cross is offered every Friday in Lent at 7:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. Confessions are heard Saturdays at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM or by appointment.