From the Rector: Living Members
I’ve been thinking about the phrase “living members” from the postcommunion prayer we use at the end of Mass and, in particular, about the words, “you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ” (Prayer Book, page 365). I’m pretty sure I have taken it to refer to the Eucharist. On reflection, it seems to me to be a baptismal reference. It is at our baptism that we become “living members” of the Body of Christ.
Eucharistic piety has overwhelmed baptismal piety among Western Christians pretty much since the end of the classical age. I know I pick up on Eucharistic references much more quickly and easily than baptismal ones. I’m pretty slow sometimes. I read and reread my copy of Aidan Kavanagh’s The Shape of Baptism for over a decade before I realized the cover’s background was blue and based on a photograph of waves.
I was baptized at the age of ten. I remember the baptism itself quite well. I was baptized by immersion in a pool of warm water. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to wash all of my body the next time I climbed into the tub. The water of baptism was very special to this ten-year old’s experience of baptism. Perhaps that is one reason why I insist on generous amounts of water when we celebrate baptism by pouring.
My mother’s Alzheimer’s has occasioned many reflections about relationships, especially when I travel to see her and back. She’s there and she’s not there, at least not in the way she has been all my life. I think my sister and brother would agree that, as is often the case, it was our mother who was the rock of our family life. I say this with no disrespect to our father. It is a wise husband who focuses his attention on his wife and doesn’t try to get in the way of her nurturing of her children. (Think mama bear and her cubs.)
I’ve found a new sense of relationship to my mother, one that is not dependent on her being capable of doing anything for me ever again. Sometimes when I visit it happens to be a day when she’s just not in the frame of mind even to hold my hand or to give me more than the briefest kiss. There are other times when I sense a relationship that is even deeper in its own way than it was before she became sick. I sense something coming from her, relationship, connection that surpasses understanding. This is very much the shape of the relationship God has with us through Christ. It’s there even when we may not be aware of it. And it is unbreakable.
My reflections on this postcommunion prayer were sparked a while back when I realized that for visitors at said Masses, for which we use the Prayer Book in the pews, it would be better to use the second prayer on page 366, not the one we have been using for a decade. (It is followed immediately by a rubric about a blessing – which cues newcomers to what happens next.) I am loathe to experiment with the liturgy in any way. I’m still thinking about the change. But I wonder what else I may be missing – or what wonderful things have been in front of me in this prayer that I have missed. Again, through baptism you and I are living members of the Body of Christ.
Christianity is, and at its best has been and always will be, an Easter religion. It’s about Jesus’ death and resurrection. And the first and great Sacrament of this mystery is Holy Baptism. And by baptism I mean the water rite and the rite of communion. No child of God, young or old, should ever come to the Lord’s Table and go away hungry, except hungry to return again. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Jean Marie, David, Jane, Dorothy, Charisse, Malika, LaVerne, Kirk, Jack, Alice, Harold, Marcia, Richard, Mary, Stephen, Brooke, Laura, Donna, Madeleine, Marc, William, Gert, Mary, Daisy, Rozalind, and Rick; and for the repose of the soul of Robert Sanderson . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 10: 1873 William Clark Pancoast; 1898 Mary Elizabeth Leute, William Husenetter Kies; 1926 John Priest; 1948 Florence Webb; 1957 Rhea McKee Scott; 1959 Everertt Bertram Bosshard, priest; 1994 James Barth.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Saint Mary’s Guild will meet on Saturday, May 9, from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM beginning with the noon services in the church . . . Sunday School for children meets at 10:00 AM on Sunday . . . On Monday, May 11, Andrew Yeargin, The Manhattan School of Music, will play a recital open to the public at 7:30 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Altar flowers are needed for the following dates during Eastertide: May 17 and May 31, the Day of Pentecost. Please contact the parish office if you would like to make a donation . . . Many thanks to Kenny Isler for the wonderful new blend of incense. Kenny was with us for several days during the week of April 20. He gives very generously of his time and enables us to make a very generous offering of incense. Kenny, as always, thank you! . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, May 9 . . . Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, May 16. Confessions are also heard by appointment . . . Attendance: The Fourth Sunday of Easter 341.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the chorale prelude on Kommst du nun, Jesu, von Himmel herunter (“Comest Thou, Jesu, from Heaven to Earth now descending?”) BWV 650, taken from the Schübler Chorales, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The collection was one of the few groups of works to be engraved and published during Bach’s lifetime. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (Kleine Orgelmesse, Hob. XXI:7) by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Probably composed in the 1770s, this setting is one of Haydn’s most popular. It earned its nickname, “Little Organ Mass,” because of the extended organ solo in the Benedictus. The Gloria in excelsis Deo is particularly brief due to a compositional device whereby each voice part sings different words at the same time. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet The Heavens are telling from the oratorio Die Schöpfung (“The Creation”) by Haydn, considered by many to be the composer’s finest work . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers will meet on Sunday, May 10, at 3:00 PM to rehearse and sing for Evensong and Benediction. 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 at email@example.com. James Kennerley
FROM THE REVEREND REBECCA WEINER TOMPKINS . . . I would like to thank the parish community for the overwhelming support and generosity on my path toward ordination, and at the event itself last Saturday at the Cathedral. The beginning of this new part of my journey as a deacon is enriched by the loving presence of the people of Saint Mary’s and I am very grateful.
–Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
HEAR THE DIRECTOR OF THE ANGLICAN CENTRE IN ROME . . . Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church and The American Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome invite you to a talk by the Very Reverend David Richardson, director of the Centre. The talk, “A Road Not Taken? Ecumenism, The Anglican Centre and Making a Difference,” with time for questions, will take place on Friday, May 29, at 2:00 PM at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, 529 West 121st Street.
RITES OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION . . . Sunday, May 31, is the Day of Pentecost. At 11:00 AM the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will be celebrant and preacher for the service. Holy Baptism and Confirmation will be celebrated. If you are considering being prepared to join the parish community and the Episcopal Church, please speak with one of the parish priests, all of whom would be glad to answer any questions you might have. As I write this, on May 6, we think that there will be one candidate for baptism, two candidates for confirmation, and one candidate for reaffirmation of baptismal vows. There is always room for more! Jay Smith
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . AIDS Walk 2009: Please support us as 31 Saint Marians and friends walk to support the struggle against HIV and AIDS on Sunday, May 17! We have raised a little more than $10,000 of our $25,000 goal. Contribute to the Saint Mary's team by clicking here. If you prefer, put a check made out to AWNY in the plate or give it to a priest or to the parish team captains, MaryJane Boland or Andrew Smith. To learn more, or to walk with us, please contact MaryJane or Andrew or call the parish office. M.J.B. & A.S. . . . Food Pantry: You are invited to bring non-perishable food items on Sundays. The food is then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues . . . The Gay, Lesbian & Friends Small Group Ministry of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church has contacted us and asked if there might be Saint Marians who are interested in meeting with their group at some point, for fellowship, a tour of their church (5th Avenue & 55th Street), and a discussion of mutual concerns and the possibility of cooperation between members of the two churches. If you are interested in finding out more about the Small Group Ministry or in discussing a possible meeting, please contact Father Jay Smith. J.R.S.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . During this time of belt-tightening and budget cuts, we would like to invite the members and friends of Saint Mary's to consider making a donation to support the parish's hospitality efforts. There are several ways that one can do that. First, you can sponsor a feast-day reception. (We try, when possible, to pay for such receptions through the generous gifts of friends and parishioners.) We now have donors for the reception on Ascension Day. If you would like to sponsor (or co-sponsor) another upcoming reception, please let me know, or, if you would like to plan and host a reception, please contact me. Second, you can donate unopened boxes of cookies or other sweets or pastries – or make a cash donation – for hospitality on Sundays. Checks should be written to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and “Hospitality Fund” should be written in the memo line. Finally, if you feel called to be a server and host at a reception, please let me know. We have had an enthusiastic and generous response to our appeal for help with our hospitality costs and we are very grateful. Thanks to all who have helped with this important ministry! Jay Smith
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, May 11, 7:30 PM, Organ Recital: Andrew Yeargin, The Manhattan School of Music; free entry. Thursday, May 14, 7:30 PM, Organ recital: Chad Levitt, The Manhattan School of Music; free entry. Wednesday, June 14, 7:30 PM, Organ recital: Katie Meloan, The Manhattan School of Music; free entry.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Sixth Sunday of Easter
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday School for Children, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction (through and including Trinity Sunday). 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: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass.
Confessions are normally heard on Saturdays 11:30-11:55 AM & 4:00-4:55 PM.