The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 12


This coming Sunday there’s a long gospel lesson.  It’s another part of the Sermon on the Mount.  This week we will hear two passages that have been omitted in our old lectionary.  The new passage is Matthew 5:21-37.  Previously, we did not hear the following:

Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

(Matthew 5:26-27)

It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.”  But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

(Matthew 5:31-32)

The first of these omissions reminds me of Luke’s story of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-12), as much as it does of the parallel passage in Luke 12:57-59.  In Matthew, it reads almost as if it’s a dishonest accuser one needs to settle with, or perhaps it’s an admonition that you and I will face justice one way or another.

More interesting to me was the decision in 1976, and formally adopted with the 1979 Prayer Book, for the Church to omit the second of these.  Remember, it was the 1970s, and divorce was hitting the Church and society in general very hard.  I’m sure some people wanted to forget these verses.  I’m also sure there was a genuine pastoral concern not to beat up people with Scripture.  I don’t like pretending Scripture is always right, even when it asserts it is quoting Jesus himself or the Lord God almighty.

This Monday, February 14, will be the fourth anniversary of my stepfather’s death.  He and my mother married on February 27, 1981.  Both were divorced.  Life is never easy or simple, but I know their marriage made them happy and was life-giving for them and for their children, his and hers.  Had they been members of more than a few Christian denominations, their remarriage would have made them excommunicate.  Fortunately, they both found their way to communities where they were always welcome.  I miss my stepfather, William Knoeller – I knew him as “Bill” – very, very much.  A Green Bay native, though not much of a football fan, he would have been very proud of his hometown team this year.

It’s hard to know why we ended up with these formerly omitted verses in the new lectionary.  There are so many editorial and theological issues with it that it’s hard to know what was going on.  That said, I’m glad the Church is not omitting these “hard sayings of Jesus” – a phrase I remember hearing first from Thomas Shaw, S.S.J.E., bishop of Massachusetts.  At this point in my life, such “hard sayings” goad me towards knowing and living life as it really is, not as I might want it to be.  There are many who think a marriage without love is more worthy than a remarriage.  Not me.  I’m on the side of life, on the side of love.  Reading Scripture, all of it, sometimes may be boring, but it does not need to lead to doubt.  It seems to offer the grace of greater faith in the things that never pass away.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Valmai, Sharon, Doreen, Margaret, Julia, Ann, Michael, Lee, Dorothy, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, William, Daisy, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine; and for Michael Milliken, to be ordained bishop of Western Kansas and for the people and clergy of that diocese, on Saturday, February 19. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 13: 1895 Barbara Hoffmann; 1902 Conrad C. Colburn; 1903 Harriett E. Sleight; 1949 Frederick J. Nixon.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, February 13 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on February 16, at 6:30 PM . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, February 12.  Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, February 19.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, February 5, parishioner Wayne Mahlke was elected to the board of directors of Episcopal Response to AIDS for a three-year term.  He was also elected the board’s treasurer.  Congratulations, Wayne! . . . On Friday, February 11, our seminarian Thomas Remington Slone will be ordained deacon in Valdosta, Georgia.  Father Gerth will be one of his presenters (and will be away from the parish on Friday, returning Saturday, February 12) . . . Thank you to Grace Bruni, Richard Theilmann, MaryJane Boland, Marie Rosseels, and our sextons, Miguel Gonzalez and Tony Santiago, who worked so hard to make last Sunday’s Super Bowl Party a great success.  Thank you to all those who made contributions to the potluck supper on Super Bowl Sunday . . . There are a few copies of Stephen Cherry’s Barefoot Disciple: Walking the Way of Passionate Humility are now available in the gift shop.  This is the archbishop of Canterbury’s book recommendation for Lent . . . Saint Mary’s edition of the 2011 Episcopal Church Calendar, with a wonderful photo of a child at work in the atrium by Daniel Craig, is also available in the gift shop . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 209.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa vidi speciosam by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611). The most celebrated composer and organist in Spain during the sixteenth-century, Victoria printed almost all of his surviving works during his lifetime.  The six-part mass setting is based on his own motet of the same name. At the ministration of Communion, the motet is Alma redemptoris mater by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599), one of the greatest Spanish composers of the 16th century, is sung.  Unlike the more famous Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), the vast majority of Guerrero’s career was spent in Spain, much of it as maestro de capilla of Seville Cathedral (Victoria spent many years in Rome).   James Kennerley


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010-2011 . . . As of February 9, we have received pledges from 172 households.  $423,781.00 has been pledged to date.  We are still 7% short of our goal and have received pledges from 80% of the households that pledged during last year’s campaign.  We still have some significant work to do, but we still think we are going to make it!  We are very close.  Every single gift, no matter its size, brings us closer to our goal!  Thank you to all who have pledged during this year’s campaign.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class normally meets in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM.  The class is led by the sisters.  Newcomers are most welcome! . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, February 13, when Father Jay Smith will continue his five-part series on The History of the Bible in English (February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6) to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible . . . On Sundays during Lent, March 13 through April 10, Father Peter Powell will teach a class on First Corinthians 15.  Father Powell writes, “When we say that we believe in Christ crucified and risen what do we mean? Is it a metaphor?  Or is it central to Christianity that it really happened?  If the latter then what difference does it mean to us?  The late scholar of Paul, Professor Christiaan Beker of Princeton Seminary, taught that 1 Corinthians 15 is the heart of the Gospel.  We will devote Lent to studying the heart of the Gospel.  1 Corinthians 15 predates the written Gospels.  It is Paul’s summary of the central message of hope to Christians.  Christ died for our sins and was resurrected.  Our hope rests in our believing that we too will be resurrected.  It is possible to be a very good person without believing in the resurrection.  It is impossible to be a Christian, of any sort, without believing in it.  Together we will unpack this lengthy complex chapter as our way of preparing for Easter.”


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Donations to this effort have begun to lag a bit.  However, the need for supplemental food assistance in our neighborhood has not decreased.  Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry.  Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  If you would like more information about how the Food Pantry works or if you would like to volunteer, please speak to Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.  Jay Smith


THE ARTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Visual AIDS is a New York-based arts organization that “utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy.”  The organization has a large image archive and they invite writers and curators to discuss the images on the organization’s website.  Clergy spouse and longtime Saint Marian José Vidal is this month’s web gallery curator.  He has posted an article entitled, “Why religious images now?”  You may read the article and view the images at the Visual Aids website . . . American Globe Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, February 25–March 20, in the theater on the third floor of the Parish House.  Tickets are $18.00 and performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM and on Sundays at 3:00 PM.  On Saturday, March 12, there is a Gala Benefit Performance at 6:00 PM.  For more information or to reserve tickets, please call 212-869-9809 or visit


LOOKING AHEAD . . .  Monday, February 21, Washington’s Birthday, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Thursday, February 24, Saint Matthias, Masses at 12:10 and 6:00 PM . . . The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday is March 9 . . . Fridays in Lent, 6:30 PM, Stations of the Cross . . . Friday, March 25, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, the Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh, preacher . . . Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15, AIDS Walk.  Please speak to MaryJane Boland about registering for the Walk and to begin fundraising efforts.




The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus


Saint Mary’s Mission House
Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.
The Community of St. John Baptist


The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator


The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager

Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons