A New Advent
The first full Advent I experienced as a practicing and committed Episcopalian was the fall of my first year in graduate school in Chicago. The days are short in December in Chicago, short and cold. There was snow. It was a time of intense academic effort in my life; but it was also the time when I seemed to have recovered a closeness to God that I had known as a child. The time itself, like the fresh snow, seemed very pure to me.
Thomas Merton in the account of his journey to monasticism, The Seven Storey Mountain, wrote about the joy of becoming a monk at the beginning of the church year. In the liturgical tradition the first words of the Mass of Advent Sunday are the introit of the day, the words which will begin our own solemn Mass, the first verse of the twenty-fifth psalm:
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; *
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
This year there will be a particular joy for our parish community as Angela Allen is presented to become a “catechumen,” that is, a person who is preparing to be baptized. She is part of the Journey in Faith group. The rite will invite us to recognize how God has been working in Angela’s life and in the life of our community. We are not just beginning the journey of the year on Sunday.
We are beginning the journey to the font where death is conquered by resurrection.
When I was in college the main library had a set of bound volumes of Life magazine. I’d like to have an afternoon with such a set sometimes to trace how Christmas evolved from a twelve-day celebration that begins December 25 to something that is now only held in check by the burgeoning Halloween industry. Winston Churchill visited Washington, D.C., in December 1941 and spent Christmas at the White House. In his history of the Second World War he recounts how on Christmas Eve he and the President went to the White House lawn to light the Christmas tree.
You and I will enjoy many things this coming month, but even being a newcomer to Saint Mary’s, I sense that what will be very powerful for this community will not be the Christmas of our culture but the quiet, silent, pure and holy time of preparing for the feast. The greatest gift the Church gives this season is to welcome another person in the “journey in faith.” You and I will receive no greater gift than that which Angela will give when she stands before us and asks us to help her respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in her life.
Into the shadows of this world the Christ came. Into the shadows of our lives he still comes to break the power of death and sin over us and to lead us into light. There is a sweetness to Advent that the world outside does not know, a sweetness which the world passes by. Many people who do not know the Lord Jesus, however, do walk by our doors and some come in to look at our building or to listen to us in worship. The light is in the world. I hope you and I can help people know that the light is calling them. Stephen Gerth
ABOUT THE CATECHUMENATE AND THE RITE . . . In the early Church the process for preparing people to die and rise in Christ is called in modern English, “The Catechumenate.” The First Sunday of Advent is one of the preferred times to recognize and to welcome persons into the full “Rite of Christian Initiation” which we celebrate at Saint Mary’s. At the Solemn Mass this Sunday, after the sermon, we will celebrate the “Admission of a Catechumen.” The “catechumen” [cat-uh-KYU-men], Angela Allen, will be presented to the celebrant by her sponsor.. A series of questions, responses and instructions follow. When this rite is celebrated the Creed and the ordinary Prayers of the People are omitted. The rite will ask of us our commitment to helping the catechumen respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in her life and in the life of our community. The rite we will use is adapted from The Book of Occasional Services of the Episcopal Church, but it comes down to us from the earliest days of the Church.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for James who is to have surgery and for Dennis, Margaret, Warren, Katherine Rose, Margo, Shirley, Thomas, Rich, Julia, Clara, Daniel, Owanah, Samuel John, Marion, Marla, and Jerry. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 30, 1970 Sarah Lucille La Bosse; December 1, 1977 Calvin Nash; December 1, 1980 George William Johnson, Sr.; December 1, 1992 Margaret Louise Rigler; December 3, 1990 Francis Timothy Dlugos; December 3, 1991 Olga Edgar, and Helena Kuo Kingman who died on April 26, 1999.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 64:1-9a, Psalm 80:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Mark 13:24-37 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector. . . On Saturday, November 27, Father Shin will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, December 4, Canon Garrison will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press Dennis Peters has recovered well from heart surgery and is going home just in time for Thanksgiving. . . . Father Shin will be away from the parish Sunday evening, November 28, through Tuesday, November 30, in Tampa, Florida to help begin a new Korean congregation in the Diocese of Southwest Florida . . . Tuesday, November 30, is the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle . . . The Tenth Annual Interfaith Service of Hope and Remembrance on the Eve of World AIDS Day will be held on Tuesday, November 30. A candlelight procession begins at 6:00 PM at the Church of the Living Hope, 161 East 104th Street, to Saint Cecilia's Church, 120 East 106th Street, where the service continues and concludes . . . Our good friends and neighbors at Saint Thomas Church, 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue, are having a "Baroque Christmas Fair" on Thursday, December 2, through Saturday, December 4, at the parish to benefit the Saint Thomas Choir Tour. You are invited! . . . Attendance last Sunday 179.
MUSIC SEARCH COMMITTEE . . . I have asked six members of the community to help me in the search for a new music director as members of the "Music Search Committee." These people are Dale Bonnenberger, Charles Carson, David Gillespie, John Schultz and Elizabeth Seacord. I am delighted also that John has agreed to serve as committee chair. My plan is to ask the committee to conduct a survey of the congregation about the music program. I want the committee to investigate what is going on at some of the other great Anglo-catholic parishes. I want them to help us envision the richest music program that is possible for us, and, of course, a program that serves the mission and ministry of the parish.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . On Sunday morning, November 28, the Rector's Forum on "The Liturgical Act" is at 10:00 AM. . . . Sunday School for children is at 11:00 AM. . . . Two groups of Journey in Faith are in progress -- one on Sundays at 12:45 PM and another on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM.. This class is designed for those who wish to become a Christian or who wish to be confirmed or to renew the baptismal vows. The Tuesday class will not meet on November 30, as Father Shin will be away. . . . Professor Anna Williams will speak on "Marian Devotion in English Poetry" on December 1. . . .Advent Quiet Day on December 11 with Mother Madeleine Mary. Please sign up on the sheet on the bulletin board in the parish hall.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar for the First Week of Advent
Tuesday Saint Andrew the Apostle
Wednesday Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon
Thursday Channing Williams, Bishop
Friday Francis Xavier, Priest
Saturday John of Damascus, Priest
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.