From The Rector: Tragedy
It is hard to comprehend the scope of the tragedy that has hit the nation of Haiti. Most of the towns and cities of that nation have been leveled. The Roman Catholic archbishop has died. His cathedral and our own cathedral, Holy Trinity, are in ruins. The suffering is unspeakable. One senses from news reports the enormity of the disaster.
As we do every year in the Daily Office on the First Sunday after the Epiphany, we have begun reading The First Book of Moses Commonly Called Genesis – to use its full title in the Revised Standard Version. Yesterday we heard the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder, brother on brother. This is also the very first story after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden.
God is in the middle of this encounter. This is the beginning of one of the themes of the Old Testament narrative: the consequences of a parent’s preferential love for one child over another. It breeds cruelty and heartache again and again. In this case, the preference comes from God approving the fruit of one person’s work more than the fruit of another. If it is a test for Cain, he fails. But why? It is one of the many unanswered questions of the narrative. Pride? The lack of acceptance? The lack of love? This preferential love will not be abolished until a New Testament vision of relationship replaces it.
After the murder, the mark God places on Cain saves his physical life. He marries and begets. One of his descendants is the “father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle” (Genesis 4:20). Another is the “father of all those who play the lyre and pipe” (Genesis 4:21). A third was “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” (Genesis 4:22). This is the last we hear of Cain in the Old Testament. Yet the tragedy of murder continues among humankind.
Across our lives we make choices about what we will do and how we will be in relationship with others. Our stewardship of our lives is a question that begins for us Christians with Jesus himself. Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Matthew 16:26). These words invite, even compel, human hearts and minds to look beyond the temptations of self and of evil and to turn our eyes to God and his will for us.
I don’t know how earthquakes fit into God’s plan for humankind anymore than murder, sickness, disease, cruelty or ordinary death. Those who have read me before know I have a very hard time with what philosophers call “the problem of evil.”
One place I look for direction is the beginning of the dialogue of one of my favorite passages. Jesus has just left the temple in Jerusalem because people are ready to stone him. He is leaving with his disciples and they encounter a man born blind. His disciples ask him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.’” (John 9:2-3).
We don’t know why this tragedy has struck Haiti, any more than we know why any one is born blind or hungry or unloved. The opportunity tragedy presents does not resolve the problem of evil. But I do believe it does give us a genuine opening to serve God as we are able. Stephen Gerth
Disaster Relief for the People of Haiti . . . Donations may be made to Episcopal Relief and Development (https://www.er-d.org/donate-select.php) or through the Diocese of New York (http://www.dioceseny.org/payment_form); type “Haiti Relief” in the description box.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED for Carol, Leroy, Gilbert, Steven, Nicholas, Lucia, Peter, Jack, Sandy, Chris, Robert, Stephen, Elsa, Juan, Chris, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, and Pegram, PRIEST. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 10: 1890 Charles Henry Gwyn; 1894 Charles Wright Kirby; 1895 Katherine Craig Harris; 1900 Beatrice L. Wright; 1917 Elida Clark; 1994 William F. Lata
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Church School for children will not meet on Sunday, January 17, or Sunday, January 24 . . . Weekly Bible Study resumes on Wednesday, January 20 at 6:30 PM . . . Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, January 16; Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 23 . . . On Saturday, January 23, at 8:00 PM Miller Theatre presents Le Poème Harmonique, performing Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s “Lamentations of Jeremiah” as part of its Early Music Series. For details see: http://www.millertheatre.com/Events/EventDetails.aspx?nid=1297.
A NOTE FROM LEROY SHARER . . . I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern for my health from people at Saint Mary’s. I am doing unbelievably well, all things considered. I am resting a bit at home before I venture back into the world, but I expect to be at Church soon, certainly by this Sunday, or even sooner. The Rector told me of his decision to continue with the Solemn Mass of Epiphany after things had settled down, and this was the right thing to do. Finally, to those who came to my rescue, I can only say that we entertain many Angels unawares at Saint Mary’s. I now know this, because they helped me! God bless you all! Leroy Sharer
MONDAY, JANUARY 18 . . . The parish will be on our federal holiday schedule in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The parish office will be closed. January 18 is the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity as we observe the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle at the 12:10 PM Mass.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Overdue News: At the Diocesan Convention on Saturday, November 21, Bishop Sisk presented the Bishop's Cross to parishioner Kyoko Mary Kageyama in recognition of her work with the Metropolitan Japanese Ministry. Congratulations to her and her husband, Hatsuhiko . . . On Saturday, January 9, a Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated for Thomas O’Rourke, a friend of the parish, who died last September. Please keep Tom, Tom’s wife Marcy and his son Preston in your prayers . . . Last Sunday at the Solemn Mass, Shan Agish received the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. Please keep Shan in your prayers and welcome him to the parish . . . Thank you to all those who helped to “un-decorate” the church last weekend: Rick Austill, Emil Bretzger, Grace Bruni, Julie Gillis, Tom Heffernan, John Knight, Marie Rosseels, Tom Sulzer, José Vidal, Harold, and sexton Tim Zimmerman . . . Saint Mary’s 2010 Episcopal Church calendars have arrived and are now available for sale in the Gift Shop . . . We are looking for a donor to help with the costs of the reception on Candlemas on February 2. Please contact Father Smith if you think you might be able to help . . . Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, January 31, and Sunday, February 7 & 14. Please contact the Finance Office if you would like to make a donation . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 232.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is Noël Suisse (Grand Jeu et duo) by Louis Claude d’Aquin (1694-1772). The setting is Missa Mi-Mi (Quarti toni) by Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410-1497), an important Franco-Flemish composer of the generation between Guillaume Dufay and Josquin Desprez. Ockeghem’s output included fourteen masses. Missa Mi-Mi takes its title from the descending fifth heard in the bass at the start of each movement. It is one of several masses that bear the same title. At Communion, the choir sings the motet Tribus miraculis by Luca Marenzio (1556-1599), who flourished as a composer in Italy during the late Renaissance, and is chiefly remembered for his madrigals . . . On Sunday at 4:40 PM, Karen Beaumont, organist at the Church of Saint James, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will play the recital. Her program includes music by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and Peter Maxwell Davies. I will play the service of Evensong and Benediction at 5:00 PM; the postlude is Tu Es Petrus/Marchi by Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968). James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP 2010 CAMPAIGN . . . As of January 5, we have received pledges totaling $436,378. This represents just short of 82% of our goal of $535,044. We have received pledges from 164 households; 17 households are pledging for the first time or after some time away from the parish; 81 households have been able to increase their pledges over their 2009 level and 34 households were able to maintain their pledges at their 2009 level. There are many things about these numbers that are very encouraging! We are moving steadily towards our goal and, although 2010 has begun, the campaign continues. If you have not yet made a pledge, we invite you to prayerfully consider doing so, as a way of thanking God for all his blessings and of supporting Saint Mary’s mission and ministry. Thank you to all who continue to support Saint Mary’s in so many ways. The Stewardship Committee
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . January 17 & 24: The Church Fathers and the Feast of the Epiphany: Saint Gregory Nazianzus’s Oration 38 on the Theophany of Christ. Led by Father Smith . . . January 31 and February 7 & 14: Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Led by Mr. T. Remington Slone, seminarian . . . February 21 & 28 and March 7, 14 & 21: The Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Led by Father Peter Powell . . . We hope that Prof. Dennis Raverty, art historian and friend of Saint Mary’s, will be with us again in May, leading a session on “God & Nature in the 19th-Century American Romantic Landscape” (date to be announced) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on January 20, 2010. The class meets at 6:30 PM on Wednesdays (7:00 PM on Holy Days) in the Mission House. The class is led by Sisters Deborah Francis and Laura Katharine. The class will be reading Ecclesiastes and Job.
OUTREACH MINISTRIES AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and new or “gently used” clothing for the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church. The Pantry serves families living in our own neighborhood. The Pantry fills an increasingly important need during this time of economic difficulty. You are invited to bring food or clothing and place it in the basket in Saint Joseph’s Hall after Mass (or at the ushers’ table before Mass). You can also make a cash donation, if that is more convenient for you (Please speak to Father Smith about how to do that; in fact, cash donations are in some ways more efficient and cost-effective) . . . We recently made another delivery of hand-knitted woolen hats, gloves and scarves to the Seamen’s Church Institute, in Downtown Manhattan. The Institute’s Christmas-at-Sea Program donates warm clothing to merchant mariners visiting the Port of New York and New Jersey, who are not always well-equipped to deal with our region’s winter weather. Please speak to me or to Patricia Mottley for more information about this project, and about acquiring wool from the Institute, or visit the Institute website (http://www.seamenschurch.org/christmas-at-sea). Jay Smith
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today.
Federal Holiday Schedule – Martin Luther King Day
Tuesday Wulfstan, Bishop of Winchester, 1095
Wednesday Fabian, Bishop and Martyr of Rome, 250
Thursday Agnes, Martyr at Rome, 204
Friday Vincent, Deacon of Saragossa and Martyr, 304 Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Second Sunday after Epiphany
Saint Mary’s is open every day of the year for worship, prayer and rest. Most weekdays the church is open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Saturdays the church is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. On Sundays it is open from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM. On holidays the church is open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The regular services of the Church are offered. For the list of the daily services of worship, please see our web page at www.stmvirgin.org.