FROM FATHER SMITH: SURPRISED BY GOD’S HOLY WORD
William Tyndale (c. 1494–1536) is arguably the most gifted English-speaking translator of the Bible who ever lived. His clear, simple, but elegant prose influenced all of his successors, including the translators of the King James Version. Some of Tyndale’s work is famous and often-quoted, none of it more so than his rendering of Genesis 3:1-4, “But the serpent was subtler than all the beasts of the field…And the woman said unto the serpent, of the fruit of the trees in the garden we may eat, but of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden (said God) see that ye eat not, and see that ye touch it not, lest ye die. Then said the serpent unto the woman: tush, ye shall not die…”
That idiomatic and free translation (the brilliantly colloquial and sibilant “tush” was too free for the King James translators) is so effective because it helps us visualize the serpent as a character with a clear set of motivations and intentions.
At the Ash Wednesday liturgy, the celebrant invites us “to read and meditate on God’s Holy Word.” It has become too easy for many of us to hear this as a very dreary sort of invitation. If we think of Lent as a set of penitential practices to be endured, then reading and hearing Scripture will tend to become a burden, an atoning penance rather than a practice that might actually lead to surprising pleasures.
In his book Great Lent: Journey to Pascha (SVS Press, 1969), the late Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann laments modern Christians’ tendency to regard Easter as a commemoration of a past event and to view Lent as a season for doing a few things that will put us “in order” so that we can celebrate Easter with a relatively clear conscience. Schmemann urges his readers to regard Lent as a journey to Easter and Easter as a time to “celebrate Christ’s Resurrection as something that happened and still happens to us” (p. 12, emphasis in the original). Schmemann suggests that we can enliven our experience of Lent and Easter by finding ways to engage in “a deep meditation on the great biblical story which is indeed the story of sin, repentance, and forgiveness…[so we can] understand that…the Bible reveals something essential about our own life…” (pp. 65-66).
There are a number of ways we can engage with Scripture during Lent: by praying the Way of the Cross; by choosing a book of the Bible and reading it slowly and closely, attentive to the ways the Spirit might be speaking to us through the Word of God; and, perhaps most important, through the liturgy. On Sundays during Lent we will be hearing about Jesus’ encounters with some great biblical characters: Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the man born blind, as well as Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. As you listen to those stories, perhaps you might ask yourself, where do I belong in the narrative, what character am I, what would I like to say to Jesus? Don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Who knows, you may be surprised by the answers. Jay Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Sharon, Emily, Doreen, Margaret, Julia, Dennis, Dorothy, Grace, Joyce, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, Daisy, William, Rick, Russell, and Laurence, deacon; for the repose of the soul of Anthony Gaines; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 20: 1919 Mary Barry Whitehead; 1927 Eliza Burton Harris; 1938 Frank S.B. Gavin; 1946 Florence May Haslam, Belinda Marvin; 2000 Thomas F.D. Haines.
WELCOME, BISHOP JENKINS . . . The Right Reverend Charles E. Jenkins, X Bishop of Louisiana, will be here at Saint Mary’s while I am away on vacation from March 15 through March 23. I served as Bishop Jenkins’s first curate while he was rector at Saint Luke’s Church, in Baton Rouge. He is known to many at Saint Mary’s, having been with us before, and to the wider Church for his courageous leadership after the devastations of hurricanes Katrina and Gustav in his diocese. Bishop Jenkins will be assisting at weekday Offices and Masses and will preside and preach at the 10:00 AM Said Mass and at the 11:00 AM Solemn Pontifical Mass on Sunday, March 20. It’s a great honor for us as a community, and for me personally, that he has come to the parish. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, March 18, Stations of the Cross, 6:30 PM, following Evening Prayer . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, March 20 . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish until Wednesday, March 23. He returns to the office on Thursday, March 24 . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, March 19. Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, March 26.
HOLY DAYS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Joseph’s Day is Saturday, March 19. In the calendar of the Church it is not a weekday of Lent and abstinence is not observed. Mass will be offered for this feast only on Saturday at 12:10 PM. On Friday evening, March 18, the Eve of Saint Joseph’s Day, Evening Prayer will be offered at 6:00 PM and Stations of the Cross at 6:30 PM. The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ is Friday, March 25. Like Saint Joseph’s Day, this holy day is not a weekday of Lent and abstinence is not observed. The celebration of the feast begins on Thursday, March 24, with Solemn Evensong at 6:00 PM. On Friday, March 25, Matins will be sung at 8:30 AM. The Noonday Office will be said at 12:00 PM. There will be a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. At 5:30 PM, there will be an organ recital. James Kennerley is the recitalist and his program includes music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Solemn Mass is at 6:00 PM, with the Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh as our guest preacher. Father Lesh is well known to many Saint Marians. He was sponsored for ordination by this parish. At present, he serves as rector of Christ Church, Red Hook, New York. A reception follows the Solemn Mass at 7:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. All are welcome.
THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. In addition, the Fridays of Lent are observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS . . . On Fridays in Lent we offer the service of Stations of the Cross at 6:30 PM. The service lasts about thirty-five minutes and includes the singing of Stabat Mater (“At the cross her station keeping”). We use the exceptionally fine version of the service published by the Episcopal Church in its Book of Occasional Services. We will not pray Stations of the Cross on Friday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to Dennis Raverty for his ongoing help with our publicity efforts. Dennis designed our Lenten poster, which can now be seen both in Saint Joseph’s Hall and on the ushers’ table near the church’s 46th Street entrance. Dennis also provided help and advice with the design of our Lenten postcard. Thank you also to James Kennerley, who designed the postcard and has also been producing the signs at both entrances of the church. We appreciate his willingness to help in this area . . . As our Stewardship Campaign begins to draw to a close, it seems right to thank the members of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, and Marie Rosseels, who have worked so hard and so well on this crucial ministry . . . Charles Arthur Schaefer has been a member of Saint Mary’s since 1948. On Saturday, March 19, Charles will celebrate his ninety-eighth birthday. Congratulations and happy birthday, Charles . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 211.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis (1977) by Jackson Hill (b. 1941), professor of music at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. This setting for unaccompanied choir was written for Louise Basbas and her choir at Corpus Christi Church, New York. The piece reflects a variety of moods, and the composer shows himself remarkably sensitive to the texts of each movement. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet God so loved the world by Bob Chilcott (b. 1955). Chilcott, whose musical career began as a chorister in the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, went on to become a singer and arranger for the male a cappella group, the King’s Singers. The organ is used only minimally at services during Lent, and there are no organ recitals before Evensong on Sundays until Easter Day. James Kennerley
CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, March 26, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Music of Humperdinck, Martinu, and Rachmaninoff. David Leibowitz, music director and Susie Park, violin. Admission is free. For more information, please visit the NYRO website, www.nyro.org
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Cash gifts are needed to fund the reception planned for the Easter Vigil on April 23. We are also looking for some additional help for the reception on Ascension Day, June 2. Please contact Father Smith or Aaron Koch in the Finance Office if you would like to help; and thank you to all who have given so generously to support this crucial ministry.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class 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 and is currently reading the Book of Ecclesiasticus. Newcomers are most welcome! . . . On Sundays during Lent, Father Peter Powell will lead the Adult Forum in a discussion of First Corinthians 15 . . . On the four Sundays in May, Grace Bruni will lead a church-history series on the complex relationship between civil and ecclesiastical authority during the Middle Ages . . . On Sunday, June 5, Dr. Dennis Raverty, will give a lecture on The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood & the British Arts and Crafts Movement.
A MESSAGE FROM BISHOP SISK . . . Since Friday, we have all watched scenes of unspeakable horror in northeastern Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. Though the extent of the devastation is still unfolding, it seems clear that thousands have died, millions are displaced, and the infrastructure of an entire region of the country will have to be rebuilt. In times of great natural disaster it is difficult to know how best to help, but here are some suggestions for response: Episcopal Relief and Development has established a Japan Earthquake Response Fund which will support rescue and relief efforts through Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican province of Japan. Donations may be made through the Episcopal Diocese of New York by using a credit card on the diocesan website: www.episcopaldioceseny.org/payment_form or by sending a check to the diocesan offices at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025. (Please make your check payable to "Episcopal Diocese of New York" and note "Japan" in the memo line.) Funds collected through the Episcopal Diocese of New York will be distributed in consultation with the Diocese's Metropolitan Japanese Ministry with the two-fold goal of providing relief and building relationships with the Church in Japan. Above all, please keep the people of Japan in your prayers during this time of enormous need.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. 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. . . . Father Smith resumes his Book Sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday morning. All proceeds benefit the Food Pantry and other outreach efforts . . . Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15, AIDS Walk. Please speak to MaryJane Boland about registering for the Walk and to begin fundraising efforts.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Thursday, April 21, Maundy Thursday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper 6:00 PM . . . Friday, April 22, Good Friday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord 12:30 PM and 6:00 PM. Confessions will be heard by the parish clergy following both liturgies . . . Saturday, April 23, Holy Saturday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, the Great Vigil of Easter 7:00 PM . . . Sunday, April 24, Easter Day, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Organ Recital 4:30 PM, Solemn Paschal Evensong 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 1, 1:00 PM, Annual Meeting of the Parish.
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus
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