FROM THE RECTOR: NOT DRILLS, NOT MAGIC
This Sunday is “The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is one of the commemorations of the calendar adopted by the Church with the new Prayer Book in 1979. In a sense, the Episcopal Church already had this feast. The 1928 Prayer Book introduced to our old lectionary the beginning of Mark’s gospel, with its account of Jesus’ baptism, on the Second Sunday after Epiphany.
Remarkably, before then no account of Jesus’ baptism was read at the Eucharist from the historic lectionary generally used by Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Liturgical study, the ecumenical movement, and, for the Roman Church, the Second Vatican Council provided an extraordinary opportunity for a new approach to Scripture at Mass. In particular, the West recovered the reading of the Old Testament at their Eucharists. These had been, of course, the Scriptures for the first Christians. These are the Scriptures that shaped the early Church – the gospels are examples of this.
One of the most important phrases of our Anglican tradition is “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace” (Prayer Book, p. 857). It’s used in the Catechism in the definition of “The Sacraments” (Prayer Book, p. 857-858). “Grace is God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved.” As God loved his only Son and revealed his love for him and others at his Son’s baptism, so God helps us know his love when he leads us to the water. Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are not drills, not magic. They are “sure and certain signs by which we receive” God’s grace (p.857).
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of our understanding of God’s work in our world. In Baptism, we humans embrace God’s Easter embrace of us. In Baptism we are reborn to eternal life; in Eucharist we are sustained in this new life. In Baptism and in Eucharist we profess our faith in our Easter God.
I’ve continued to think about the sentence I quoted in last week’s Angelus from Aidan Kavanagh in Worship, “We don’t have Sunday because of the Eucharist; we have Eucharist because of Sunday” (Volume 85, Number 1, 84-85). Can we say, “We don’t have Baptism because of the Eucharist; we have Eucharist because of Baptism”? We certainly can say we have Christmas, Epiphany, Sunday and every other day because of Easter.
Newly born babies are normally washed before they are fed. Anciently, humans wash their dead before they are buried. Bathing and eating are fundamental to life and to death. All people bathe and eat. At a river called Jordon, God revealed what our lives really meant. We began to understand his gift on a morning when a tomb was empty. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Sharon, Wayne, Stephen, João, Alan, Chris, Averie, Lin, Tom, José, Daisy, Rolf, Gert, Rick, John, priest, and Matthew, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine; and for the repose of the souls of Mildred and Mary . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 9: 1903 Wanda Marguerite Goodrich; 1904 Etta Dinning; 1964 John Louis Scholz; 1970 Percy Gould Rigby.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Ricardo Eugenio Miranda and Julia Elizabeth Heard, of Brooklyn, New York. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the third time of asking. Jay Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Holy Baptism will be celebrated at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, January 9. The baptismal candidate is Louis Emery Eggleston Dobyns, grandson of the Reverend Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, January 9, but will not meet on Sunday, January 16. The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on January 12. The Bible Study class resumes its regular schedule on Wednesday, January 19 . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 8. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, January 15.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Leonard Surdyk and Mercedes Colwin were married in the church on Thursday, January 6. Mercedes works in the neighborhood and is a member of our noonday congregation. Please keep them in your prayers . . . George Handy continues to recuperate and is doing well. He is grateful to all those who have written to him or called to express their concern. He continues in our prayers . . . Parishioner Wayne Mahlke had surgery at Mount Sinai on Tuesday. He is now at home and is doing well. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Father Matthew Mead had surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital on Monday. He is now at home. He writes, “Done with surgery. Seems to be a success. I am sore and sorely in need of pizza. Thanks for all of the prayers” . . . Sponsors are needed for the reception following the Solemn Mass on Candlemas, Wednesday, February 2. If you would like to sponsor the reception, please call the finance office or speak with Father Smith . . . Altar flowers are needed for February 13 and 20 and for March 6. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Attendance: Holy Name 38, Last Sunday 200, Epiphany 255.
AN INVITATION . . . On Saturday, January 15, at 3:00 PM, parishioners Julia Heard and Ricardo Miranda are to be married here in the church. They would like to extend an invitation to all the members of the parish to join in the celebration that day. All are welcome.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is the chorale prelude on Wir glauben all an einen Gott, BWV 681, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis D–dur, KV 194 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Laudate Dominum from Vesperae solennes de confessore, KV 339, by Mozart, with its famously elegant solo for soprano voice. James Kennerley
CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION TRAINING . . . During the Solemn Mass on the Epiphany 2009, a member of the congregation, Dr. Leroy Sharer, had a cardiac arrest. Of course you know Dr. Sharer is fine. But the event made it apparent that more of the members of our community need to be able to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Gifts have been given to pay for the equipment and the fees associated with the placement of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at our church. We’ve penciled in Saturday, January 29, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM for the training to be conducted. Eight people are needed to take the course. Clint Best and Leroy Sharer have been helping this project along. Both may be able to answer many questions better than me. Right now, I’m recruiting. I repeat, we need eight people. We were very fortunate that a nurse, Maria Axiotis, was visiting us on Epiphany 2009 and that Rick Miranda and Father Smith had had this training – and that MaryJane Boland immediately got out her cell phone and called 911 when Leroy collapsed. Please let me know if you will do the training. If Saturday, January 29, is not possible for you, you may be able to take the training at another time at Emergency Skills, Inc. But we need eight people from our community to do the training so we can be a site for an AED. S.G.
SOME WORDS OF THANKS . . . Thank you to all those who volunteered so many hours and worked so hard at Christmas and Epiphany; we thanked many people by name in last week’s newsletter, but have some additions this week: thank you to Marie Rosseels, who put in many hours decorating the church, in addition to her regular work as acolyte, usher, and trustee; thank you to Clint Best and Dick Leitsch, who have been helping business manager Aaron Koch with his many end-of-year tasks; thank you to our faithful ushers who have take on extra tasks at this busy time of year, especially in Mr. Handy’s absence . . . We are grateful to the parishioner who very generously funded the reception on January 6; thank you to Heather Peskin and Violet Greene, who made, and donated, the delicious desserts for the reception . . . Thank you to all those who generously donated clothes, food, and toys for our outreach efforts in recent weeks.
SAVE THE DATE . . . Super Bowl Sunday is February 6, and, once again, our Super Bowl party and potluck dinner will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall, beginning at 6:00 PM. Grace Bruni has agreed to organize the event. Details about the provision of food and beverages will follow shortly, but we hope that many Saint Marians and their friends will be able to join us for what is always a fun evening and a good opportunity to spend time together. This is a wonderful way to introduce your friends to the parish. (And, if truth be told, you can have a good time even if you don’t know anything about football!). J.R.S.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010-2011 . . . As of December 30, we have received pledges from 166 households. $409,566.00 has been pledged to date. We are still 10% short of our goal and have received pledges from 78% of the households that pledged during last year’s campaign. We still have some significant work to do, but we 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.
WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of our Stewardship Campaign, we continue our ongoing series of articles in which parishioners and friends of the parish reflect on how they came to Saint Mary’s and what the parish has meant in their lives. This week we hear from parishioner and former trustee Jane Daniels Lear. She writes, “Curiosity led me to walk into Saint Mary’s one Sunday afternoon, on my way to lunch nearby. The 80-foot nave, the splendid ceiling, the exceptional windows all cast their usual spell. But I’ve been around churches my entire life – my father was an Episcopal priest – and there was something else that was a little worrisome. Beneath the warm, spicy incense that still hung in the air, I caught the faintest trace of mildew, and the marble floor was gritty rather than gleaming under my feet. There was a thin layer of Times Square grime in the pew I slipped into. I sneezed. A month or so later, I found myself walking past Saint Mary’s again, and peered in. Something was different. I climbed the steps and wandered down a side aisle. Someone had washed the pews. The floor was clean. I made a point of returning for an evening service, and, like so many people, was drawn in hook, line, and sinker. The clincher came the following Sunday, at Solemn Mass. After the announcements, Father Gerth—the new rector, I discovered, after an interim—beamed at the congregation and said, “Now please stand for one of the greatest hymns in the Church, “Christ is made the sure foundation.” One of my dad’s favorites. He would love it here, I thought. And I knew that even my one pledge – far, far short of a tithe – would help make a difference. Today, some ten or so years later, my economic circumstances have changed, as they have for many. My annual pledge is, unfortunately, still far short of a tithe. But Saint Mary’s shines with love and care, and I feel more strongly than ever before that it is a privilege to financially support this parish. The church, the mission house, and the rectory all hum with forward momentum and people doing purposeful work, for others and for God. But unless we grow the pledging congregation (remember, it’s tax deductible!), the church will not continue to flourish. We will never be able to stop worrying about paying the bills, let alone provide for long-term maintenance. Those are both distractions from giving to the greater Christian community, giving to something much larger than ourselves. After all, that is how hungry people are fed, how lost people are found, how wounded people are healed. To be a part of that is truly a blessing.” Jane Daniels Lear
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet next on January 19 at 7:00 PM, following Solemn Evensong. The class will be led by the sisters . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 16, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will begin a three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission. The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.” Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century. The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . Father Jay Smith will lead a 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.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall. J.R.S.
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